Since the end of 2020 the Terezín Memorial´s offer of online educational programs for schools has featured a new workshop called Love in the Terezín Ghetto. Its key purpose is to acquaint schoolchildren and youth with the ruthless Holocaust machinery and the life of the Terezín Ghetto inmates, as seen through their romantic relationships and preserved in the memories and recollections of those who had been forced to live in the Ghetto during the years of Nazi occupation. The workshop is based on videotaped testimonies of Holocaust survivors kept in the archive of the Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education.
Shown during the webcast, excerpts from such videotaped testimonies help in providing a better picture of the real life in the Terezín reception camp, complete with all the accompanying risks and dangerous events, the so-called distance relationships between partners separated by the Nazis, with one of them still being free and the other deported to the Ghetto. Other subjects discussed in the online seminar feature weddings in the Ghetto, the sorry plight of pregnant inmates, as well as the hopes of those women who had become pregnant still before the last wave of transports from Terezín to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the fall of 1944 and who gave birth to their children shortly before the liberation of the camp in the spring of 1945.
The webinar´s online audiences are encouraged by the lecturer to contemplate issues concerning partner relations: on the one hand, love bonds might have brought to young inmates greater mental strength and faith in their survival and – on the other hand – might have caused them great grief over separation of the new couple due to the deportation of both lovers, each to a different repressive facility.
In addition to excerpts from videotaped testimonies by Holocaust survivors, the workshop makes good use of another didactic aid: a sequence from the Czech movie Transport z ráje (Transport from the Paradise, 1962) directed by Zdeněk Brynych and based on short stories by Arnošt Lustig, former Terezín Ghetto inmate. This particular screening helps audiences in grasping the actual differences between portrayals of life in the Ghetto presented in an artistic garb in a feature film and historical texts or documentary sources of various provenances, including authentic narratives by eye-witnesses of past events.
In its offline version the workshop has already been incorporated into the offer of the Memorial´s educational programs for elementary and secondary schools held in Terezín.