Newsletter 3/2016

An interview with Terezín Memorial’s historian Tomáš Fedorovič

Historian of the Terezin Memorial Tomáš Fedorovič during the opening of the exhibition, July 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

Historian of the Terezin Memorial Tomáš Fedorovič during the opening of the exhibition, July 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

The exhibition Testimony of the Town’s Changes – Terezín in the Building Plans and Documents of the Jewish Self-Administration 1941-1945.

On July 14, 2016 guests gathered in the lobby of the cinema of the Ghetto Museum in Terezín to attend a preview of a documentary exhibition staged by the Terezín Memorial and called Testimony of the Town’s Changes – Terezín in the Building Plans and Documents of the Jewish Self-Administration 1941-1945.

This exhibition seeks to offer a comprehensive insight into the planned changes of the Terezín Ghetto, some of which had been partly realized, while others remained only on paper.

The art design of the display is the work of Miroslav Veselý, graphic designer of the Terezín Memorial, who has succeeded – in a truly original fashion – to incorporate period archive documents, processed by the Terezín Memorial’s historian, Mgr. Tomáš Fedorovič, into an unusual mosaic that is highly likely to be very impressive for the visitors.

The author of the script for the exhibition, Tomáš Fedorovič, summarized his work and preparations for the exhibition in the following comments.

The exhibition in the Ghetto Museum, July 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

The exhibition in the Ghetto Museum, July 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.


1. Why have you chosen the theme of Terezín and its changes in the building plans and documents of the Jewish Self-administration in the first place?  

Perhaps, to put it into a nutshell, I do not like doing things somebody else has already done before me. To tell the truth, I have known of the file of documents of the Technical Office, stored in the State District Archives Litoměřice in Lovosice, for more than fifteen years, i.e. roughly since the time I joined the Terezín Memorial. But my determination to use these materials for exhibition purposes “matured” this long. Nevertheless, of great importance for me was the unique value of these rare documents, maps and drawings. It is really fascinating to learn how much dedication and efforts, what a great amount of talent and skills the employees of the Technical Office had to expend in an effort to improve – or at least to prevent from deteriorating – the prison conditions for the Terezín inmate. In fact, “not a brick was moved” in the Ghetto without their blueprints and technical drawings. It is a completely different thing that their work was, on the one hand, actually helping the SS office agency in Terezín and, on the other hand, was brutally abused by the SS. Last but not least, I am keen on tracing the development of the Ghetto, as outlined in his Terezín report by Otto Zucker, by going through the background materials prepared on the drawing boards.

 

2. Could you describe the content of your archive research and specify how much time you had to spend in preparations for this exhibition?

In actual fact, the entire package of building blueprints and documents made in the Technical Office was to serve as kindling paper but thanks to many coincidences the file escaped unscathed. Its documents are sorted out according to individual house blocks. Strangely enough, all the documentation concerning the Terezín barracks is missing. These are, on the contrary, to be found in the Jewish Museum in Prague. A significant section of this collection consists of plans of objects lying on the periphery of the Ghetto, i.e. the central mortuary, columbarium, or even beyond its borders, which applies to the central washhouse or the crematorium.

The exhibition in the Ghetto Museum, July 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

The exhibition in the Ghetto Museum, July 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.


Preparations for the exhibition took about six months, I went through the entire file twice; during my first inspection I took notes on the individual documents we wanted to present, on the second occasion, working with my colleague Radim Nytl from the Department of Documentation, we took exhibition-quality photographs of those selected documents.

 

3. Was there something, during your research, that surprised you? What would you like to single out yourself?

I tried to select the most interesting documents for an exhibition divided into 23 thematic areas, and all the documents are actually unique. I would like to mention three areas, which are, in my opinion, worth seeing in particular. The first one is the phenomenon of Terezín attics that had a much greater role to play in the life of Terezín inmates than we have thought so far. We have tried to cram the subjects of their inhabitants, their equipment, persons who gave permission for the construction of such privileged housing since the fall of 1943, into two exhibition panels. The other surprising aspect for me, as a historian studying the former Terezín Ghetto, was the finding that the Jewish Elder (Judenältester) ”did not work in office“ only in the Magdeburg Barracks, as we read in the literature portraying the Ghetto’s history, but also on the first floor of the building of today’s Terezín Post-office (Q 617). And last but not least, definitely worth seeing are the unrealized plans drawn up by the Terezín Administration, projects that bore a purely Germanizing hallmark. These are drawings of the adjustment of the hereditary farm of Erich Oswald Ludwig in Remstädt near Gotha. Paradoxically, there is no mention of these events either in the domestic archives or in foreign sources, and we are, therefore, left to wonder how and why did the Terezín Self-administration or rather the SS office agency in the Ghetto happen to have anything in common with such projects. No less important document is the plan of a grandiosely conceived sporting and cultural center prepared in June 1942. We know from Mahler´s diary that its mock-up was even made according to that plan in November 1942. The time sequence of events could suggest that the plans and the model should have been presented to Himmler during his planned, but unrealized visit to the Terezín Ghetto in December 1942.

 

4. Can you tell us on which subject you are currently working? What will be the topic of your next exhibition?

At present we are just about finishing the script for an eventual permanent exhibition called Terezín Transports. Deportation of Jews to Terezín and from the Terezín Ghetto to Places of Extermination and Slave Labor. In 2018 we plan to open an exhibition on health care in wartime Terezín.

The exhibition Testimony of the Town’s Changes – Terezín in the Building Plans and Documents of the Jewish Self-Administration 1941-1945 is held to mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Terezín Ghetto and the start of deportations of Jews from the Czech lands, commemorated by the Terezín Memorial this year. The exhibition may be viewed until October 31, 2016.

 

Šv

Teaching was strictly forbidden!

foto_4

Anna Janotková: Fairytale from Terezin, 7 years.


The traditional announcement of the names of the winners of the 22nd literary and 20th fine-art competitions, held by the Terezín Memorial as the Hana Greenfield Memorial in honor of the initiator and co-founder of the competitions, took place in the cinema of Terezín´s Ghetto Museum on June 8, 2016. The competitions were held under the joint title Teaching Was Strictly Forbidden!

In addition to the competition winners and runners-up in the individual categories, who were mostly accompanied by their relatives or teachers, the award-giving ceremony was also attended by Terezín´s town councilors and by Mr. Oldřich Bubeníček, the Regional Commissioner of the Ústí Region. Representing the Terezín Initiative, an association of the former Terezín Ghetto inmates, was Dr. Michaela Vidláková, who addressed the gathering and, together with Jiří Polák, son of a former Terezín Ghetto prisoner and later Terezín Memorial historian Erik Polák, also presented the Erik Polák Awards, financed by the Terezín Initiative.

Veronika Mackovčínová: Secret moments, 11 years.

Veronika Mackovčínová: Secret moments, 11 years.


Since this year’s Terezín Memorial art competitions have been incorporated into a joint project called Schoolchild in the War Years, co-organized by the Terezín Memorial, the National Pedagogical Museum and Library of J.A. Comenius, the Terezín Initiative Institute and the National Institute for Further Education, the privilege to award prizes in the individual categories was alternately offered to representatives of all the institutions mentioned above.

The art program of the award-giving ceremony presented the Brno Children’s Choir under the baton of its choir mistress Valerie Maťašová, with piano accompaniment by Lukáš Hurtík. The latter performed part of Act I Avec La Garde Montante of Bizet´s opera Carmen. By the way, this opera was also staged during the war by the children imprisoned in Terezín, among other compositions. The program included a cycle called “Flowered Horse”, written by two former Terezín inmates, writer Norbert Frýd and music composer Karel Reiner. As a matter of record, both authors had originally prepared the performance for children in Jewish orphanages still before their incarceration in the Terezín Ghetto, and its current staging featured poetry readers Jakub Libánek and Vítězslava Ševčíková, members of the DAVA theater group, and producers David Kříž and Renata Fraisová.

Awards ceremony of the art and literary competition of the Mamorial Terezin, Juni 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

Awards ceremony of the art and literary competition of the Mamorial Terezin, Juni 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.


A traditional exhibition of the best entries from this year’s fine-art contest went on display on that day in the lobby of the Ghetto Museum’s cinema, together with four panels tracing the life of Hana Greenfield, her share in founding the Terezín Memorial’s art competitions and their history.

As many as 680 entries from 115 schools all over the Czech Republic were sent in to the competition in the school year 2015/2016. These included 188 entries in the literary contest, and 492 artworks in the fine-art competition. The list of the winners and awarded works can be found on the Terezín Memorial’s website in the section Education.

St

Meeting of the participants in the project “Schoolchild in the war years“

Participants of the project Schoolchild in the war years, pupils of the primary school T.G. Masaryk, Milovice, Juni 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

Participants of the project Schoolchild in the war years, pupils of the primary school T.G. Masaryk, Milovice, Juni 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

Young researchers engaged in the educational project “Schoolchild in the War Years”, co-sponsored by the Terezín Memorial, the National Pedagogical Museum and Library of J. A. Comenius, the Terezín Initiative Institute and the National Institute for Further Education, met in Terezín between June 8 and 9, 2016. The aim of this gathering was to acquaint the young generation with typical manifestations and measures of the Nazi totalitarian regime, taking as an example the school environment in the Protectorate and in the regions of prewar Czechoslovakia seized by Germany after the Munich Agreements. Almost twenty teams and individuals from elementary and secondary schools in the Czech Republic joined the project. During the school year 2015-2016, they worked on the topics connected with the school environment in the Czech lands in the years 1938 to 1945,

The exhibition panels of the project Schoolchild in the war years, Juni 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, památník Terezín.

under the methodological tutelage of their teachers and experts in the above mentioned participating institutions. The key purpose of the meeting in Terezín, attended by almost 70 young students and their teachers, was to share experience and present the researched topics. Its program also included mutual presentations of the work performed by the individual research teams, workshops on the subject of life of young people in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia,

Participants of the project Schoolchild in the war years, Juni 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

in the Terezín Ghetto or in the Gestapo Prison in Terezín´s Small Fortress, activities relating to the history of minority schooling, visits to objects and exhibitions of the Terezín Memorial as well as the screening of a documentary on Czechoslovak schools in Britain in World War II. The first chief outputs of the project to be released this year will be exhibition panels featuring the new findings discovered by the young researchers. The project is supported by a grant received by the Terezín Memorial from the international organization called The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience based in the United States.

Šp

Lost songs in the Magdeburg barracks

The CD cover Lost Songs, 2016, authors: students of the Secondary school of trade and services in Teplice.


In January 2016, the quartet known as Flowered Horse recorded a CD entitled Lost Songs in the premises of the Magdeburg Barracks. This was part of the Humanita project, launched by a secondary school of trade and services in Teplice. The quartet itself is named after the leading song of a prewar program, jointly composed by two former Terezín Ghetto inmates, music composer Karel Reiner (1910 – 1979) and writer Norbert Frýd (1913 – 1976), who created it, still before their deportation to Terezín, for children in Jewish orphanages.

The new album features six selected songs from the original cycle in an arrangement by singer and flutist Zuzana Hanzlová, harmonium player Jaroslav Svoboda, clarinetist Michal Hrubý and double bass player Petr Tichý.

From the recording of CD Lost Songs, from the left side Jaroslav Svoboda, Petr Tichý, Zuzana Hanzlová, Michal Hrubý, 2016, foto: Tomáš Vejmelka.

From the recording of CD Lost Songs, from the left side Jaroslav Svoboda, Petr Tichý, Zuzana Hanzlová, Michal Hrubý, 2016, foto: Tomáš Vejmelka.


Furthermore, the recording contains musical arrangements of six extant tunes from the Old Czech Play Esther (students of the Teplice secondary school presented their own costume designs, originally created by František Zelenka for the Terezín performance, in the Magdeburg Barracks as part of the Humanita project already in June 2015). The songs were originally prepared by E.F. Burian, a Czech postwar playwright and actor, for his Déčko theater (both Frýd and Reiner were known to cooperate with that theater company). Music for the Terezín performance of Esther, directed by Norbert Frýd, was once again composed by Karel Reiner. The new CD also features one of Reiner´s prewar songs from his cycle Three Love Songs, namely My Ancient Love.

For the cover of the album released in June 2016, Norbert Frýd´s daughter Žanda wrote a sleeve-note recollecting her father and portraying many personal adventures involving the title Flowered Horse, while stressing the topical relevance of these songs – more than 70 years old – in the world today.

St

Seminar for Polish teachers

Debate with the witness of the Terezín ghetto, Mrs. Eva Štichová, photo: Terezín Memorial

Debate with the witness of the Terezín ghetto, Mrs. Eva Štichová, photo: Terezín Memorial

A seminar for Polish teachers was under way in the former Magdeburg Barracks in Terezín between June 10 and 12, 2016. Organized by the Terezín Memorial, together with the Polish organizations Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and IPN (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej), the seminar was held for the fourth year running.

The key purpose is to familiarize its participants with the issues of Terezín viewed from several different angles. Needless to add, the program came complete with a detailed historical lecture devoted to the Holocaust in the Czech lands and visits to the former Ghetto and the former Gestapo Police Prison. In this respect, a natural highlight of the seminar was a debate with Mrs. Eva Štichová, a Terezín Ghetto survivor.

The program also included the subject of the controversial postwar perception of the Holocaust not only in Czechoslovakia but also in Poland and in other countries in the world. A very interesting item on the agenda was the traditional lecture tracing the history of the Terezín Memorial since its foundation to the present day, supplemented with presentations of the Memorial’s educational activities.

Kl

 

skola_banner

Newsletter Archive

Projects of Czech schools

Videotheke

Videotéka

Newsletter

Editorial board: Naďa Seifertová, Ludmila Chládková, Jiří Kleker
Contact Us: newsletter@pamatnik-terezin.cz

Terezín Memorial on Facebook

Random Quote

Úterý 19. ledna 1943
Cesta byla mizerná. Vstávala jsem velice brzy, ale tak tak jsem byla hotová. Byla jsem tak navlečena, že jsem se nemohla pohnout. Tatínek, teta, Trude a Lea se vezli na saních v Kyjově na dráhu. Strýc Karel a Maří táhli saně a já tlačila. Byli jsme rádi, že jsme se dostali na dráhu, tolik napadlo sněhu. Sháněli jsme zavazadla, ale bylo poměrně málo šumu, myslela jsem, že budou všichni jako bez hlavy. Ve vlaku nebylo místa na sezení. Tatínek při nastupování spadl a zdvihla ho paní doktorová Schöntalová, která velice plakala (je árijka).
Když se vlak rozjížděl, začala všechna kyjovská mládež zpívat české národní písně, za brblání Němců. Jeden četník, který stál u vlaku, byl velice pohnutý a přešel kolem vlaku, každému známému přál šťastný návrat. Za jednu a tři čtvrtě hodiny byli jsme v Uh. Brodě. Nemohla jsem unést svůj baťoh. Dali jsme ho tedy na nákladní auto, tatínek, Trude a Lea jeli také.
… Vzala jsem si 2 chlebníky a a 2 tašky a šla jsem. Když jsem došla do reálky, kde jsme byli kasernovaný, myslela jsem, že upadnu. Paní Vepřekovská mě zavedla k tetě. Ležíme na jedné matraci…
— (Z deníku Helgy Pollakové, popisuje odjezd Židů z Kyjova ke shromaždišti v Uherském Brodě), Brenner-Wonschicková, Hannelore: Děvčata z pokoje 28, Přátelství, naděje a přežití v Terezíně, Barrister & Principal, Praha, 2006, ISBN: 80-87029-03-8.