Friday, November 4, 2011


Get ready for a short, slightly depressing post right before I go to the Plastic People of the Universe concert.

So, on our regional stay, Lenka showed us her art place, then brought us to Ustek for a day, and the next day we went to Terezin, which was a Jewish ghetto during WWII.

Our tour guides were these two German boys that we had met on the first day. They were only one or two years younger than us, spoke brilliant English, and we got along really well. The cool thing about them is that they moved to the Czech Republic for very little pay just to volunteer a year of their lives giving tours to people in this old Jewish ghetto.

We started in the main square, which looked like a regular main square in a regular town, but used to be filled with hastily-built barracks. The Nazis tore them down when the International Red Cross came to visit to make sure the Jews were okay. The Nazis also sent a ton of people to Auschwitz to make it look like it wasn't usually overcrowded and had only certain people talk to the Red Cross, feeding them the right lines to say. 

[side note: they were filming a movie down there when we visited]

It was a quiet, foggy day, kind of eerie but very fitting for the tone of the place.
The town was built in a very old, unused military fortress and average people lived there before and after the ghetto was in place during WWII.

Even though this camp was not meant to be a death camp (like the ones in Poland), there were still hundreds of people dying every day--even more in the winter. 

Jews came from all over Europe and lots of them didn't even speak the same language or have the same culture. 

The ones who came from France and far-away countries were told they were going to a spa for old people. 

One thing that was unique about Terezin was that the Jews were given a small section of the fort to prepare the dead for burial (with limited resources and time). After the Nazis had solidified their plan to kill all European Jews (the "final solution") many of the guards decided it wouldn't hurt to let them prepare their dead and even teach their children a little. 

Still, they weren't allowed to make graves. There were a few mass graves but most of the bodies were creamated. Today, a memorial with unmarked graves is there. From this angle it looks like straight rows because the Nazis thought all Jews were the same. However, from another angle the graves are different sizes and shapes and randomly interspersed, because the Nazis were wrong. 

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