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Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre,

UJA Federation of Greater Toronto


Sherman Campus
4600 Bathurst Street
Toronto, ON, M2R 3V2
holocaustcentre.com

There are many valuable resources that you can engage to learn about how Theresienstadt
functioned and its history. The following are a few that you can utilise to further your study of
the Holocaust and Theresienstadt.

Websites:

www.bterezin.org.il/en_general_info.htm Beit Theresienstadt at Kibbutz Givat Chaym Ichud in Israel was


erected in memory of the Jews of Theresienstadt who perished during the Nazi persecution. Today it serves as an
educational and resource centre.
www.chgs.umn.edu/histories/documentary/theresienstadt The website for the Center for
Holocaust & Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.
www.pamatnik-terezin.cz/showdoc.do?docid=164 The Terezin Memorial, the only institution of its kind
in the Czech Republic, commemorates the victims of the Nazi political and racial persecution during the
occupation of the Czech lands in World War II.
www.terezinmusic.org A non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and advancing the resilience of the
human spirit as expressed in and inspired by the music and art created in the Terezn concentration camp.
www.terezinstudies.cz/eng/main The Terezin Initiative is an international association of former prisoners of
Terezn Ghetto and other concentration camps. Provides scholarly information about Theresienstadt.

DVDs & Audio CDs:

Brundibar / Czech Son: 1941-1945, CD. Channel Classics, 2003.


Prisoner of Paradise. DVD. PBS Home Video, 2005.
Terezin / Theresienstadt. CD. Deutsche Grammophon, 2007.
Voices of Theresienstadt. Bente Kahan, artist. CD. Plne, 1998

Books of particular interest for educators:

Bondy, Ruth. Elder of the Jews: Jakob Edelstein of Theresienstadt. Grove Press, 1989.
De Silva, Cara. In Memorys Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women in Terezin.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2006.
Dwork, Deborah. The Terezin Album of Marianka Zadikow. University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Friedman, Saul S. (Editor). The Terezin Diary of Gonda Redlich. Scholarly Book Services Inc., 1999.
Karas, Joza. Music in Terezin, 1941-1945. Pendragon Press, 1990.
Krizkova, Marie R. and Paul Wilson, (Editor). We Are Children Just the Same: Vedem, the
Secret Magazine by the Boys of Terezin. Jewish Publication Society of America, 1995.
Makarova, Elena and Regina Seidman Miller. Friedl Dicker-Brandeis: Vienna 1898 - Auschwitz
1944. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1999.
Makarova, Elena,-Sergei Makarov & Victor Kuperman. University Over The Abyss. The story
behind 520 lecturers and 2,430 lectures in KZ Theresienstadt 1942-1944. Verba Publishers Ltd.,
Pressburger, Chava (editor). The Diary of Petr Ginz. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007.
Rubin, Susan Goldman. Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and
the Children of Terezin. Holiday House Inc., 2000.
Schiff, Vera. Hitlers Inferno. Toronto, 2002.
Schiff, Vera. Theresienstadt: the Town the Nazis Gave to the Jews. Toronto, 2006.

About this guide:

This educational program is designed to provide concise background information on the


Theresienstadt concentration camp. It introduces the various manners in which the camp
functioned, as well as the complex ways in which individuals coped with the circumstances
they found themselves in. The activities are designed to engage and develop students critical
thinking skills so that they can analyse the passage from a variety of angles, thereby deepening
their understanding of the Holocaust.
A variety of sources are used to assist students of all ages and backgrounds in engaging in
the study of the Holocaust, and with Theresienstadt specifically. These include memoirs such
as Theresienstadt: The Town the Nazis Gave to the Jews (2006) by Vera Schiff, and archival
images from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Music and film can also be added
to enrich the learning experience.
We welcome your lesson plan and programmatic examples so that we can continue to share
ideas to effectively teach about the Holocaust.
Contact: Carson Phillips, PhD, Assistant Director @ cphillips@ujafed.org
Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre,
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

About Theresienstadt:

Among all the ghettos, labour camps, concentration camps and death camps, Theresienstadt
was unique. Theresienstadt served several purposes for the Nazis: to manage special
categories of Jews who they felt they could not treat as they treated other Jews without raising
questions or suspicion; as a transit camp to facilitate the movement of Jews to the death
camps in Nazi-occupied Poland, and to manipulate international public opinion. As such,
Theresienstadt functioned as a prison for privileged Jews from Western Europe, including
WWI veterans, elderly German and Austrian Jews, half-Jews (referred to as Mischlinge by
the Nazis) with one Jewish parent or one or more Jewish grandparent, and those in mixed
marriages. As a model ghetto, it was the showplace of the Nazi camps, designed to deceive
the outside world about the Final Solution, the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jewry.
Jews were gathered in this ghetto/camp before being sent farther east to the extermination
camps. Jews from all over Europe passed through Theresienstadt on their way to death, although
the main population was made up of German, Austrian and Czech Jews. From November
1941 until Soviet liberation on May 9, 1945, over 60,000 Jews from the Czech provinces
of Bohemia and Moravia, and almost 34,000 German and Austrian Jews passed through.
Another unique fact about the camps makeup was the percentage of the population who selfidentified as Christian. At any given time, a minimum of ten percent of the inmates were socialized
and educated as Christians. Many of these individuals had been sent to the camp for having one
Jewish parent or grandparent, yet they had little or no connection to the Jewish inhabitants of
Theresienstadt. Given the diverse nature of the camps population that also included practicing
Roman Catholic nuns and European royalty (the Countess Seyssel dAix and Baroness von
Bleichrder), the social, political and cultural values of Theresienstadt were indeed varied. Yet the
one common factor between all Theresienstadt inmates was their classification as Jews according
to Nazi racial ideology.

Activity 1:

Journaling & Responding to Holocaust Memoir


In a double or triple entry journal, students can describe their feelings, emotions, or reactions
to reading the following passage. This text is taken from the memoir by Vera Schiff and offers
students the opportunity to learn from the first-hand, personal account of an individual who
survived the Holocaust.

Journaling Prompt:

When you have learned more about Theresienstadt, or finished reading the book, go back
and re-read this specific passage. Have your thoughts changed? Pick out other passages
from the text and include them in your journal following the same pattern noted above. i.e.
describe your reaction when reading them for the first time, again at the end of the entire
book, and once again when you have completed a unit on the Holocaust.
Alternately, you could use the other columns in your journal to express additional thoughts
and feelings. For example, if you could say something to the author, who was not quite 16
years old at the time these events happened, what would you say to her?

About The Reading Passage:

In the following passage the author is describing the process by which her family was detained and registered before being deported to an unknown destination. Only later would
she discover that it was Theresienstadt. The text documents a time of tremendous change
and great uncertainty. She describes not only the physical surroundings, but also how she
was treated by the SS men in charge and what it was like to be a young girl, not quite 16
years of age, removed from her home along with her family to face an uncertain future.

Reading Passage

from Theresienstadt: The Town the Nazis Gave to the Jews. pp 51 -52
It was in this building that, for the first time, I experienced physical violence. It happened by
chance, but I never forgot the first brutal punch to my face. My lack of knowledge of conversational German provoked an SS man who likely interpreted my non-compliance of orders as
defiance. According to the rules, when an SS officer passed through the hall, all the Jews had
to sit down. On the first day there, I had no idea what they were ordering us to do. I was not
really defiant; I was just rushing to the latrines. I had delayed this need for as long as possible;
I dreaded the filthy, crowded place and the total lack of privacy. I was not toughened up yet,
that came much later. SS officer Fiedler did not waste much time looking at me; he motioned
me to get nearer, and when I did, he smashed his fist into my face with such ferocity that I
was sent flying. Somebody pulled me away from the irate SS man; while the representative of
the Jewish community accompanying him tried to soothe his temper, explaining that some
of the Czech Jews did not understand German.

In your journal, record your reaction to this passage. The useless currency, the fake stores
and acidic spread all contributed to the illusion that was Theresienstadt nothing was as it
appeared to be. How might the IRC delegates have been able to decipher these illusions? Why
do you think the delegates accepted what they were shown and told by the Nazis? Why did
they not probe deeper into the day-to-day operations of the camp during their inspection?

Additional Activity Prompt:


The visit by the IRC delegation has been well documented by historians. The members of
the delegation included Dr. Franz Hvass, representative of the Danish Foreign Office; Dr. Yuel
Henningsen, representing the Danish health commissioner on behalf of the Danish Red Cross;
Dr. M. Rossel, commissioner of the IRC in Geneva; the commissioner of the German Red Cross;
the heads of the Gestapo in the Protectorate, the head of the department for Jewish affairs,
representatives of the German Foreign Office, and the Czech propaganda minister.
Many have raised the issue of why the delegates adhered to the schedule and route they were
given instead of trying to investigate conditions further. In her text Elder of the Jews (1989),
Ruth Bondy, also a survivor of Theresienstadt, writes, From the German viewpoint, the visit
had passed satisfactorily in all respects. Since the representatives of the Danish Red Cross were
satisfied that all the Danes had remained in Theresienstadt, and their chief worry after all had
been for the Danish Jews, they did not insist on a visit to an additional labor camp.
In describing the actions of the delegation further Bondy concludes, They saw a performance
of the childrens opera Brundibar. They did not see the mass residences, the quarters of the
old or mentally ill, the transport files, the thousands of cartons containing ashes, the Czech
police on guard. Like obedient children they walked along the route laid out for them, and
their general impression was exceedingly positive, as revealed in their reports, written on
their return to their respective countries. Most impressed was Dr. Rossel, the representative
of the International Red Cross in Geneva, who in a confidential report wondered with surprise
why the Germans had postponed the visit for so long: they had nothing to hide after all.
Theresienstadt was in all respects an admirable Jewish city, unifying the various elements of
the Jewish population, who had come from different countries and diverse economic levels.
(pp 437- 441)
Why do you think the delegates accepted without question what they saw? Do these delegates
bear any responsibility for the deaths of the thousands of Jews who were deported to death
camps upon conclusion of the IRC visit? Or for those who were deported after the positive
reports they wrote about the camp? If they are not responsible, did they have any moral
obligation to probe deeper into the operation of the camp? What do you feel is (or should
be) the role and responsibilities of a member of such a delegation? Defend your position with
examples or evidence.

Writing Prompt:
Activity 4: Deciphering Propaganda and the Role of the Theresienstadt Currency

About the Activity: This is an opportunity for students to use their journals to record their reflections and ideas about the role that propaganda played in creating theillusionary cityof Theresienstadt. In the summer of 1942, the Nazis decided to create a ghetto bank, with each inmate
receiving a fixed amount of money depending on how they were classified within the prisoner
categories. The currency was designed by Maximillian Spiegel, a graphic artist and inmate in
Theresienstadt. He was ordered by the Nazis to design the image of Moses to conform to the
Nazi caricature of a Jew. The other side of the banknote contains the printed signature of Jakob
Edelstein as theElder of the Jews in Theresienstadt. The notes are dated January 1, 1943, but did
not go into circulation until May 1943. They had no real value, and there was nothing that could
be bought with them. The currency was one more element in the Nazi propaganda strategy.
Theresienstadt held an extremely important role as a model of Nazi propaganda. Described
as a model camp or ghetto, its purpose was to persuade the world that Jews under Nazi rule
were not being mistreated. In an attempt to silence speculation and questions about the fate
of the Jews, Nazi leaders allowed delegates from the International Red Cross (IRC) to visit to
Theresienstadt. In preparation for the visit, the camp underwent Verschnerung, a process of
beautification. Dummy shops, cafs and even a bank were opened in addition to a concert
hall and childrens playground. Many prisoners were deported to Auschwitz to alleviate the
severe overcrowding. Additionally, some children were given increased food rations to appear
healthy and well-fed in anticipation of the IRC visit. Fully taken in by the deception, the Red
Cross did not critique the camp or the Nazis treatment of the Jews. In recent years, the IRC has
been severely criticized for giving the Nazis good reports after the inspections.
In reality, up to 58,000 people were crowded into attics and cellars in a town which had been
built to house 3,500. Overcome by disease and exhaustion, thousands perished. Of the 140,000
Jews who passed through the gates of Theresienstadt, only 19,000 survived the war.

You may want to read the passage more than once to consider some of the themes that
the author, who survived three years in this camp, is conveying through the re-telling of
her experiences. As you reflect on this passage, consider some of the following ideas: How
important was language to survival? By assaulting the author what tone does the SS officer set
for the other prisoners? While being detained by armed SS men, the parents and other adults
are unable to come to the defence or assistance of the author, a young girl. How do you think
these actions might have made a parent or adult feel? Why do you think the Nazis treated
families in this manner?

Additional Activity Prompt:

In 1989, the United Nations recognized children, human beings below the age of 18 years of age,
as deserving and requiring special legal care and protection. This resulted in the Convention
on the Rights of the Child. (www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htm ) Considering the
previous reading passage, what were some ways in which children were denied their rights
during the Holocaust? How might children have been protected? (By community members?
By their nations government? By other governments? )

Activity 2: Examining Childrens Art in Theresienstadt


In Theresienstadt, children under the age of 16 were housed in barracks separate from
their families. Their teachers and youth leaders cared for them, taught them in secret, and
encouraged them to engage in art as a means to
express their feelings, to remember happier times,
and to cope with the realities of life in the camp. Many
of the drawings and art pieces have survived. Some
are on display in Jewish Museum of Prague, while
others can be seen at the United States Holocaust
Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., and the
Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to
the Holocaust in New York City.

Writing Prompt: Examine the images of the Theresienstadt currency. What characteristics in the design of Moses seem exaggerated? Why do you think it was important for the Nazis
to create a currency with an image that conformed to the standards of a Nazi caricature? What
other purposes might the currency have served?
On page 126 of her book, Theresienstadt: the Town the Nazis Gave to the Jews (2006), Vera
Schiff describes the one item that the Theresienstadt currency could buy. Some of us owned at
times the Theresienstadt spread, a strange concoction of mustard and vinegar that had a sharp
acidic taste. The Germans introduced this spread during the preparatory stages of the camps beautification. It was, and remained, the only item purchasable by the camps money, distributed at the
place of work. The camps currency elicited little interest because nothing could have been had for
it except for the spread, and few cared for this acidic mixture that failed to fill the stomach and only
intensified the hunger pangs.

Discussion Prompt:

Drawing from a childrens memory book


written in Theresienstadt with a picture of a
skyline of Theresienstadt and a horse

Look closely at this image. What are some unique


characteristics of this drawing? Why do you think the
boy created it? What feelings or emotions might have
gone in this drawing? Does it make you think of hope,
or possibly a happier time? How might such drawings
have functioned to maintain morale even under the
dire conditions of life in a concentration camp? Can
you think of ways in which someone might convey
secret messages in drawings?

For the Educator:

Additional Information about the Drawing - Background information on this picture


can be found in the on-line photograph archives of the USHMM, photograph #29503. It
is a page from a childrens memory book written in Theresienstadt with a picture of a skyline of Theresienstadt and a horse. The book was presented as a gift to Misa Grunbaum.
The message at the top of the drawing is translated as:
When we part from each other, remember your friend Kuzmo, Jenda Hermann.
Michael (Misa) Grunbaum (later Gruenbaum) is the son of Karel (b. 1897 in Ceska Kamenice)
and Margaret Popper Grunbaum. He was born on August 23, 1930 in Prague where his father
was a successful and affluent attorney. Michael has one sister, Marietta, born July 24, 1926.
Karel Grunbaum was attorney to one of the wealthiest families in Czechoslovakia; the Grunbaums lived in a large apartment in a building with an elevator, and they owned their own
automobile which they parked in a garage two blocks away and used mostly for weekend
excursions. In Theresienstadt, Misa had a number of jobs including working in the garden and
later transporting baked goods from the bakery. His older sister worked in the camp laundry,
and his mother manufactured artificial flowers and teddy bears. Margarets sister-in-law was
deported to Auschwitz. She sent Margaret a postcard with downward slanting handwriting.
Margaret understood this to mean that her life was in danger, and she became even more
determined to keep her family off the deportation list. She argued her case based the importance of her work - preparing toys to send to Germany for Christmas -- as well as the role
her husband played and the assistance he gave to the Jewish community before the war. The
Grunbaums remained in Theresienstadt until their liberation by the Soviet Army.

These packages contained butter, jams, cookies and other delicacies, the kinds of which we
had not seen in years. To us, they became an instant aristocracy, living in a near paradise. They
were a class unto themselves, spared all pain, fear, beatings and hunger. The only indignity
imposed on them was the theft of their properties, which were confiscated right after they
wrote the compulsory cards about their safe arrival in beautiful Theresienstadt. We all thought
and marvelled about the extraordinary qualities of the Danish monarch and his subjects.
Though defeated in the war and occupied by the Nazis, he faced up to the military conqueror
and extracted from them the promise of shelter and protection for the weakest among them
- the Jews.

Writing Prompt:

After reading and reflecting on the passage, consider some of the following points to include
in your journal: What was the significance of the additional food packages the Danish Jews
received? Why do you think they author chose to describe the Danish Jews as living in a
near paradise? Why do you think the Nazis had the Danish Jews write the compulsory cards
detailing their safe arrival in a beautiful city?
Develop these ideas further and consider concepts such as: What is the role of government, even
one defeated in war, in protecting its citizens? Why do you think the Danish King continued to
press for the care of the Danish-Jewish citizens? What does it mean to be a responsible citizen?
How can the actions and behaviour of even one person make a difference?

Activity 3: Journaling and Responding to Holocaust Memoir

Additional Activity Prompt:

About the Reading Passage:


In this second passage from Theresienstadt: the Town the Nazis Gave to the Jews (2006) the
author describes how different groups of Jews could be treated by the authorities in Theresienstadt. The arrival of approximately 500 Danish Jews was noticed by all the inmates. They
received supplemental food rations, better living conditions and were not subjected to the
same regulations as other Theresienstadt inmates. The author poignantly recounts not only
the arrival of the Danish Jews, but her surprise at how they were treated both by the Nazi
authorities and their Danish countrymen.

To learn more about how the people of Denmark responded to the situation facing the
approximately 8000 Danish Jews, visit http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/denmark.htm The
majority of Danish Jews were transported to the safety of neutral Sweden. In a truly national
effort, many small fishing boats carried the Danish Jews across the water at night, to safety. As
a result, only about 500 were deported to Theresienstadt, and the Danish king continued to
advocate for their well-being.

Reading Passage from Theresienstadt: The Town the Nazis Gave to the Jews, pp. 93
In early October 1943, a new transport arrived. Surprisingly the new inmates were not shabby,
hungry or frightened Jews. The transport was made up of well-fed and equally well-dressed
people, without any trace of past suffering. They did not even wear the Star of David on their
clothes. Who were they? Were they Jews or some other nationality that displeased the dictator
in Berlin? ... They were Jews alright, but Danish Jews who enjoyed the shelter and protection of
their King, Christian X. They were to receive better shelter than the rest of us, and the Danish
Red Cross was authorised to supply them on a bi-monthly basis with food parcels.

Why do you think the Danish people responded in this manner?


What sort of characteristics do you think can be attributed to those individuals who rescued
Jews during the Holocaust? The author describes her surprise at the arrival of the Danish Jews
why do you think she was so surprised that they were not wearing yellow stars on their
clothing? How might the arrival of these Danish Jews been a source of hope for the inmates
in Theresienstadt?