Terezin Memorial Events

The Terezín Memorial’s Events, Exhibitions and Seminars in 2017

Just as last year, 2016, proved to be rich in various events held by the Terezín Memorial, during this year, too, one can look forward to a number of Memorial-sponsored events.

On January 27, we commemorated the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, this time at a joint commemorative event staged by the House of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic, the Bavarian Diet, and the Foundation of Bavarian Memorials.

Commemorating the Holocaust victims in the former Crematorium in Litoměřice on January 27, 2017, January 2017, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

An annual act of remembrance Yom Ha´Shoah in honor of the Holocaust victims will be held in the spring, on April 24 to be precise. During the rally, more names of the deceased inmates jailed in the Terezín Ghetto will be read out again.

The third Sunday in May (this year it is May 21) is inseparably linked with the Terezín Commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi persecution. This particular act of remembrance takes place in the National Cemetery, in the foreground of the Small Fortress. During the first days of May, this event will be preceded by a rally commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Memorial’s establishment on May 6, 1947.

On June 27, we will recall the anniversary of the execution of Dr. Milada Horáková, jailed in the Gestapo Police Prison in the Small Fortress during the Nazi occupation.

The Commemoration Kever Avot will be held on September 17, honoring the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide in the Czech lands.

In addition to the above acts of remembrance, the Terezín Memorial will also stage a number of art exhibitions. For instance, drawings made in the Mauthausen concentration camp by its former inmate Zbyněka Sekal, or works of art by contemporary artists Václav Špale, Patrik Hábl and Francine Mayran will be also presented. The Terezín Memorial is also planning a number of its own exhibitions, whether a display of posters from the years 1947-2017, new acquisitions of the Terezín Memorial’s collections, or an exhibition of works by pupils and students who took part in an art competition, annually held by the Terezín Memorial’s Department of Education.

This year will see the 23rd literary contest and the 21st art competition, this time under the motto Is the Past Still Alive? Pupils and students can send in their entries by April 18 at the latest. The ceremonial presentation of the winning entries will be held in the cinema in the Ghetto Museum on June 7.

When looking ahead to the events to be staged by the Memorial, or rather by its Department of Education, this year we should not omit seminars for schoolteachers, either. Once again, seminars of all four levels of the project “How To Teach About the Holocaust” will be staged in 2017. These will be held on two occasions: between March 17 and 19, and from March 31 to April 2, both in Terezín. The second, follow-up seminar called “Holocaust in Education” will also take place in Terezín in the autumn; the third-tier workshop will be hosted by the State Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, while the fourth-tier event will be held in the Israeli Memorial Yad Vashem. Furthermore, those schoolteachers, who attended all four levels of the project, may also take part in the fifth-tier seminar in Poland and in Terezín. We are happy to note that schoolteachers from Denmark, Britain and Poland again showed their interest in the issues of the Holocaust and the Terezín Ghetto, and we will gladly welcome them again to the Memorial, one year later, for our educational seminars.

More detailed information on most of these events will be found in each new issue of the Terezín Memorial’s Newsletter.

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Opening the Reconstructed Premises of the Columbarium of the Former Terezín Ghetto

Newly open to public areas of the columbarium of the Ghetto Terezín, October 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

Newly open to public areas of the columbarium of the Ghetto Terezín, October 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.


On the occasion of the remembrance events marking the 75th anniversary of the start of deportations of the Jewish inhabitants from the Protectorate, additional premises of the former Columbarium in Terezín, where cinerary urns containing the mortal remains of dead inmates had been kept during the time of the Ghetto, were ceremonially opened on October 17. At this event, speeches were delivered by Dr. Jan Munk, Director of the Terezín Memorial, Mrs. Hana Rožcová, Deputy Mayor of Terezín, and Mrs. Dagmar Lieblová, Chairwoman of the Terezín Initiative. The latter, a former Ghetto inmate, recollected the years spent in the Ghetto and stressed the role of Holocaust survivors, namely in passing on the testimony of this chapter in history to the young generations. The rally was also attended by former Terezín Ghetto prisoners with their family members, officials of the US Embassy in Prague and Mr. Gary Koren, Ambassador of the State of Israel, who, after the opening ceremony, visited the newly reconstructed premises in a guided tour accompanied by comments by Dr. Vojtěch Blodig, Deputy Director of the Terezín Memorial for Research and Education.

Dagmar Lieblová during the opening ceremony of the renovated areas of the columbarium, October 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

Dagmar Lieblová during the opening ceremony of the renovated areas of the columbarium, October 2016, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.


Following on from there, the participants moved to the Ghetto Museum cinema to hear a chamber music concert. Its opening part featured the performance of a Dutch children’s ensemble called Revesz trio, whose repertoire includes folk melodies Shalom Aleichem and Hevenu Shalom, work of the Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch From Jewish Life, and the composition Wiegala, written by former Terezín inmate Ilse Weber. The second part of the concert included performance by Czech violinist Jaroslav Svěcený, accompanied by pianist Václav Mácha, of a transcription by Jascha Heifetz of George Gerschwin´s melodies from the opera Porgy and Bess, followed by Svěcený´s own composition inspired by Terezín T-Dream for Violin, two melodies by John Williams from the feature film The Schindler List, and two parts of the Sonata for Violin, composed by the Shoa victim Erwin Schulhoff. The whole commemorative event ended with a meeting in the attic premises of the Magdeburg Barracks.

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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.

 

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Teaching was strictly forbidden!

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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.

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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.

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Josef Čapek exhibition

Josef Čapek: The study of women, the date probably 1941 – 1942, Buchenwald; PT 2798, Památník Terezín.

Josef Čapek: The study of women, the date probably 1941 – 1942, Buchenwald; PT 2798, Památník Terezín.


A festive preview of the exhibition entitled Josef Čapek – Painter, Poet, Writer was held in the lobby of the cinema in Terezín´s Small Fortress on April 7 this year. The opening ceremony was attended by Mrs. Kristýna Váňová, Directress of the Karel Čapek Memorial, and the Czech actress Zdeňka Procházková, who recited several poems from Josef Čapek´s works written in prison.

During the war Čapek himself was imprisoned in the concentration camps Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Bergen-Belsen respectively. He died of typhoid shortly before the end of the war in the last mentioned camp.

Josef Čapek: Spain 1936 (Corrida madrileña), 1936; PT 10603, Památník Terezín.

Josef Čapek: Spain 1936 (Corrida madrileña), 1936; PT 10603, Památník Terezín.


During his incarceration Čapek drafted many sketches, some of which are now found in the collections of the Terezín Memorial. Because of his artistic talents he was often assigned to and employed in painting workshops in the concentration camps, where he was involved, for instance, in creating pedigrees of the local SS-officers. In addition to that, he also wrote poetry and translated English and Spanish verse.

After its successful staging in the Terezín Memorial this touring exhibition closed on May 31, 2016.

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Conference of Grammar School Students in Banská Bystrica

From the student´s conference in Banska Bystrica, September 2015, photo: Jan Špringl, Terezin Memorial

From the student´s conference in Banska Bystrica, September 2015, photo: Jan Špringl, Terezin Memorial

Two years ago, the Terezín Memorial was addressed by the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising (SNP) located in Banská Bystrica with a request to cooperate on a joint Slovak-Czech project

aimed at grammar school students in the Czech and Slovak Republics. The project was subsequently adjusted so that the registered Czech students worked on the issues related to the Slovak history during the Second World War, and, on the contrary, the Slovak students dealt with the Czech history of 1939-1945. Their findings were to be eventually presented at a conference in Banská Bystrica.

Participating institutions (The SNP Museum, the Terezín Memorial and the Lidice Memorial) compiled a list of appropriate themes for the students registered in the project, and, at the same time, provided the young researchers with basic sources in electronic form to help them process the issues. The rest was up to the students themselves, possibly their teachers. The project was joint by two schools in the Czech Republic (Grammar School of J. V. Jirsík in České Budějovice and Grammar School in Kladno) and three schools in the Slovak Republic (Grammar School of Jozef Gregor Tajovský in Banská Bystrica, Evangelical Grammar School in Banská Bystrica and Grammar School of Andrej Sládkovič in Banská Bystrica).

The conference was held on 16th and 17th September 2015 in the newly opened education centre of the SNP Museum in Banská Bystrica. The first day was dedicated to students’ papers and presentations of their schools. In terms of historical themes, the Czech students viewed the Slovak National Uprising from the perspective of the uprising and Holocaust survivors in the Slovak Republic. The Slovak students then processed the following topics: Reflection on anti-Jewish laws and regulations in the memories of the Jewish population in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Heydrich terror in the memories of the Terezín ghetto prisoners, and the formation of Terezín and Lidice as memory sites in postwar Czechoslovakia. The second day of the conference consisted of tours and activities in the expositions of the SNP Museum and a visit to the national cultural monument Kaliště – a settlement burnt down in March 1945.

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