Newsletter 3/2010

On the autumn transports of 1944

The second Jewish elder Dr. Paul Eppstein (standing) addressing the council of elders, A 806_2

The second Jewish elder Dr. Paul Eppstein (standing) addressing the council of elders, A 806_2

The summer of 1944 in Terezín was marked by the visit from the International Red Cross delegation and the film shooting that followed. Both of these brought hope of liberation to the prisoners of the ghetto. People appeared to be happier and whey they discussed the war, they saw the Allies as their saviours. However, the Jewish elder, Dr. Paul Eppstein did not share the euphoric mood. In his address on the occasion of the Jewish New Year on 16 September he asked people not to get too excited. He likened Terezín to a ship that is within sight of the harbour, can hear the cries from the shore, yet it cannot go any faster. He thought it was wise to wait, to be cautious.

Today we know that the prominent personalities of the ghetto learned about the plans of the SS commanders to send 5 to 7 thousand able men away as soon as the film shooting is over. Soon, this plan was to become reality. In September, high-ranking German officers arrived at the ghetto – Eichmann’s aide Möhs and leader of the Prague Zentralstelle, Günther. The reason? Along with the Camp Commandant Rahm, they were to suppress any sign of resistance or uprising before the ghetto is eliminated. As a preventive measure, 60 members of German protection police were send to Terezín and the local special police force was sent reinforcements. The preparation of transports began.

On 22 September 1944, prisoner W. Mahler writes in his diary about a committee from the Reichsprotektor’s Office, which was to make a partial decision on elimination or preservation of the ghetto.

In an entry dated 23 September we learn that the Jewish elder P. Eppstein performed a roll call of Terezín men in the Hamburg barracks where he told them that German authorities ordered two transport to leave, with 2,500 men each. He asked them to stay calm and prudent.

The first autumn transports

The SS gave out a false information on the purpose of the transport being a work group to be sent to Dresden where it would build and operate a work camp. With respect to this, men were carefully selected, especially for the first transport. The working ability of each individual was judged (they had to be between 16 and 55 years of age), as well as  the overall profession breakdown – as was supposedly required by the work camp construction project. The appointed leaders of the work group were Ing. O. Zucker and the economist K. Schliesser. They were told officially that the camp would be located in Riese. They were to take along only the absolutely necessary belongings and food for one day. They were told they would stay in touch with their families in Terezín. This Transport, Ek, with 2,500 men left Terezín on 28 September and, on the next day, arrived at Auschwitz – Birkenau. There was a selection process performed right on the arrival and 1,000 men were taken directly to gas chambers. These included Ing. Zucker and all the selected leading personnel for the purported work camp. On 29 September the El transport followed, with 1,500 men, also to Birkenau. Another selection was made. Those capable of work were taken to various places such as Kaufering, Golešov, Gleiwitz and others.

Ing. Otto Zucker, FA 5258

Ing. Otto Zucker, FA 5258

Even before the first “work transports” left Terezín, on 27 September the Jewish elder Dr. Eppstein was arrested (supposedly for attempted escape), dragged to the Small Fortress prison and shot. He was then secretly cremated in the Terezín crematory. He was nevertheless listed as being on one of the October transports.

The third transport, which left Terezín on 1 October, had 1,000 men which could be joined by 500 wives or other family members. The Nazis promised them they would rejoin their men once the journey would be over. This did not happen. Among the women who volunteered for the transports were Mrs Zucker and Mrs Eppstein, both of whom  were murdered  on their arrival in Birkenau. The other women did not rejoin their husbands, either. By that time, they were either dead, or had been selected to work elsewhere in the Reich.

What did the composition of transports look like?

In the summer of 1944 there were some 30,000 prisoners in the ghetto, when the autumn wave ended (28 October), there were only 11,000 left, mostly the elderly and women. The 18,400 people deported amounted to practically the whole workforce, all artists, doctors, teachers and young people of the heims, as well as most member of the Jewish Council. All those who built the ghetto, gave it its face and used their craft to entertain their fellow prisoners were gone. The transports made no exceptions for those using protection schemes of the preceding ghetto era. Earlier, a 30-member transport committee was set up who could protect extremely valuable (for the community) persons, the ill or other people (such as those of mixed descent) from being deported. This time, the SS intervened and the old procedures were no longer allowed. Names were provided by the Commandant Rahm and his office, as well as by Eichmann’s Berlin office, namely Möhs. They had their lists and they simply dictated these to the Jewish elder B. Murmelstein. In his post-war testimony, Murmelstein claimed that the SS could never act with such degree of certainty, had they no informants in place. For example, R. Mandler was on the list, a man who the head of the economic council and therefore knew the ghetto apparatus and also knew many people from the time when he had worked in Prague. The commandants of Terezín often turned to him for information. However, as the inconvenient witnesses they were, even these “Mandlers” were included in the last transport.

In hindsight, an overview of the 11 autumn transports from Terezín to Birkenau clearly shows the meaning and purpose they had for the Nazis: The first three transports were to prevent any possible assistance from Terezín inmates to Czech uprising which the Nazis believed would surely break out. At the same time, they were to provide labour force to the German war economy. The next 8 transports, with 13,000 men, women and children were to carry out the “final solution” by providing more victims to Auschwitz and get rid of anyone who might prove dangerous at that or any later time.

A small portion of these people were selected for work in Freiberg, Monowitz, Fürstengrube, Frýdlant and elsewhere. There was at least some chance of survival for those. The “elimination” adjective that we invariably join to these transports now can be perfectly documented by the final statistic: of the 18,400 prisoners deported from Terezín from 28 September – 28 October 1944, only 1,570 survived.

The ghetto was utterly paralysed. Out of those who remained, 4,000 were the elderly of 65 years or more, 4,000 women and 2,000 men and children. Despite all this, the ghetto lingered on and its life went on according to the new Nazi plan.


List of the 1944 autumn transports to Auschwitz

List of the 1944 autumn transports to Auschwitz

School projects: The traveling documentary exhibition Munich, Occupation, Liberation

Students of the Secondary Industry School of Ostrava – Vítkovice, Šárka Kunčická, Vojtěch Žižka and Petr Langer, supervised by Mgr. Lenka Hrušková and in cooperation with the City Committee of the Czech Association of Liberation Fighters prepared the second annual edition of the travelling documentary exhibition Munich, Occupation, Liberation, that has been up to now seen by more than 3,000 students and teachers of secondary schools in the Ostrava region. On 7 June 2010 the exhibition visited the Education Department of the Terezín Memorial.

From the vernissage of the travelling exhibition

From the vernissage of the travelling exhibition

We were inspired to create this travelling exhibition by the “Memory” event from two years ago, when our schools hosted several lectures from World War II survivors, accompanied by a documentary exhibition provided by Mrs Ludmila Václavíková.

Our aim is to have the exhibition accompanied by visiting personalities who have something to say about the matter at hand, or are survivors who can give a first-hand testimony. In this respect, we have received enormous assistance from Ing. Michal Salomonovič, Mr Luděk Eliáš, Brigadier General Ing. Mikoláš Končický and others. Their testimonies are always an inspiring and captivating illustration of the history of horrors of World War II as it is taught in our schools.

Thanks to the financial support from the Municipal Authority of the City of Ostrava, 16 panels have been produced that make use of historical documents, sources and photographs to map our history from the Munich Pact to liberation, with special focus on the regional history and history of the Holocaust.

More on the project can be found at

Mgr. Lenka Hrušková – Secondary Industry School of Ostrava – Vítkovice

Seminar for teachers in Paris

5.	Fabrice Teicher of the Education Department, Memorial de la Shoah during his lecture

Fabrice Teicher of the Education Department, Memorial de la Shoah during his lecture

On the days of 19 to 25 July 2010, a seminar for Czech teachers took place, organized by the French Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris in cooperation with the Terezín Memorial. Twenty Czech teachers were to visit Paris, and not just any teacher either – all of them had previously attended the four-grade educational cycle of the Terezín Memorial and succeeded in the selection process based on their own school projects.

The seminar took place on the premises of Mémorial de la Shoah and was visited by the Czech Ambassador in France, Pavel Fischer. The seminar lasted for nearly four days and despite the fact that teachers who participated were all already highly educated in the subject, in the end they all agreed it was very helpful to them as teachers and specialists. Among the topics they found especially intriguing were other genocides of the 20th century (in Armenia and Rwanda), as well as lectures on French history during World War II and the Holocaust, the legal aspect of genocide or the very emotional and beautiful meeting with a Holocaust survivor. All in all, the seminar was very, very good and when we add to everything mentioned the exemplary care we received from our hosts (such as lunch and dinner consisting of local specialities served in a different restaurant each time), the evening tours of the Eiffel Tower or Champs-Élysées, you will surely believe us when we say we will remember our French adventure for years to come…


Tour of Memorial de la Shoah, the

Tour of Memorial de la Shoah, the

The conference on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of establishment of Gestapo police prison in the Small Fortress

Mirka Langhamerová z Památníku Terezín na konferenci představila novou databázi bývalých vězňů

7. Mirka Langhamerová of the Terezín Memorial presented a new database of former prisoners at the conference

In June 2010 it was 70 years since Gestapo police prison was established in Terezín’s Small Fortress, thus becoming one of the dismal symbols of occupation of the Czech land by Nazi Germany. On this occasion, the History Department of the Terezín Memorial organized a scientific conference  “Small Fortress and the Nazi persecution in the Czech lands”, which took place on 24 and 25 June 2010 in Terezín’s Magdeburg barracks. It was dedicated to history of the Gestapo prison in the broader context of repression in the years 1939-1945. Apart from the hosting institution, there were contributions from historians from scientific organizations (ÚSTR, VHÚ) and  scientific and educational institutions (UJEP, University of Düsseldorf), as well as from specialists working for archives (SOA Litoměřice, ABS). The contributions will be published in the Terezín Letters anthology 38/2010.


Results of the contests of Education Department of the Terezín Memorial

The topic of the 16th annual edition of the literary contest and the 14th edition of the art contest of the Terezín Memorial was the question “How are we to live on?”, which intended to inspire young writers and artists to contemplate and work with the feelings and thoughts of people who came back from the concentration camps. We used first person plural in the question so as to stress the element of solidarity of the young authors and the Czech society as such with those who survived the Nazi terror.

The two contests received 740 contributions. The jury of the literary contest chose from  188 works, the art prize was contested by 552 authors. Eight best works in each category were awarded prizes, and there were also special awards, as well as Erik Polák Prize (awarded to six authors in each category). The jury was surprised  to find three inventively conceived comic books among the submitted works. Tereza Frindová and Marta Staňková of the Secondary school of fashion design in Prague illustrated the biblical commandments (You shall not murder, You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord),  Alžběta Moravcová of Grammar school and Secondary pedagogy school in Čáslav  produced 27 A3 size pages with a story of a survivor returning to Kutná Hora under the name Return.

The award ceremony took place on 4 June 2004 in the cinema of Terezín’s Ghetto Museum, starting at 1 PM. Most of the awarded contestants were there, as were the official guests: Ústí Region councillor for culture Jana Ryšánková, head of the Terezín Initiative, Dagmar Lieblová, director of the Terezín Memorial, Jan Munk (all of them addressing the audience with a speech), son of Terezín ghetto historian E. Polák, Jiří Polák, representatives of the Ministry of Culture, Lidice Memorial and the Terezín Town Council. All of the awarded works were put on display in the cinema hall. The programme also included a performance by the guitar player and singer Slávek Klecandr (of the evangelical folk rock band Oboroh) who presented four biblical Psalms put to blues music. The verses sung dealt with problems similar to those that the works in the contest addresses, such as My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?.


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Events organized by the Terezín Memorial

Seminars for teachers:

November – 22 October 2010: Seminar for teachers at Yad Vashem Memorial, Israel

25 – 28 November 2010: International seminar for teachers in Terezín

22 December 2010


Commemoration act on the occasion of Milada Horáková’s birth anniversary
the former Krankenrevier of the Small Fortress

14 October 2010


Denisa Abrhámová, Dalia Barkey, Ivana Grimmová, Yvonne Livay – paintings, drawings, graphic art
foyer of the Ghetto Museum’s cinema

Newsletter Archive

Literární a výtvarná soutěž Památníku Terezín

Projects of Czech schools




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