Day 11 - Concentration Camp ... Terezin

Trip Start Jul 21, 2010
1
8
17
Trip End Aug 26, 2010


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Thursday, August 5, 2010

Today, we opted to leave the camera at home as we traveled by bus to the Terezin concentration camp.

Short version on this camp's place in history, it was an old fortress built in the 18 century converted in to a Gustapo prison during WW2. Then, the nearby city was turned in to a Jewish Ghetto ... as international interest rose in the Ghettos ... the Nazi's offered a first hand look for reporters so they could see with their own eyes that the Jews were "being treated well." ... Terezin underwent a transformation for the reporters' eyes. A barber shop put up, population limited, pantries and store windows filled with goods ... ... all a front to hide the horrible attrocities going on behind the scenes. ... Sadly, the press bought the false story ... and it took a long time for liberation to occur. ... ...

The fortress turned prison was an amazing structure to me. As our bus passed it on the road I was just struck by its ... strength. Its SOLID. ... Designed well. ... And then, our bus rounded the front side and we saw the large entryway painted black and white, and the large star of David and my heart sunk.

One interesting tidbit is that there is also a huge cross with a crown of thorns hanging on it ... right in the middle of the cemetery. Apparently, Terezin was more a waystation / holding place for Jews ... ...  I just read that "90% of the inmates in the Small Fortress during the war were non-Jewish Czech Communists". Auschwitz and other camps where most of the actual murdering was done (although here, in one mass grave were 601 Jewish prisoners ....) ....

A well done blog entry by somebody else here ... on everything we saw today.
http://www.scrapbookpages.com/czechrepublic/Theresienstadt/SmallFortress/smallfortress01.html

For me, the most emotionally striking parts were the entrance, the solitary confinement cells (each of us took a turn in the darkest of dark places with the thick iron door closed), and the execution yard and the path the prisoners took to get to it. ... ... Its amazing the weightiness I felt in the air in the simple grassy area, with a small plant memorial where the prisoners were routinely shot to death ... and the gallows nearby.

Janice made a great point ... ... this craziness took place only two generations ago.

Simon couldn't believe that a deep, well made swimming pool was constructed by the Jewish prisoners for the Nazis and their families just over the walls ... within earshot of their cries.

Bizarre. Difficult. Heavy.
But I'm glad we went and took the kids with us. I'm hoping they soak up some of the information and emotions so that when they see / experience polical issues and war they can do it with a heart for humanity and kindness. ... Ella had a unique way of processing all the emotions today ... at dinner, we went to this fancyish place (for a tiny town in Eastern Europe) ... and this tiny ladybug crawled on the table. Ella played with it for about five minutes and named it "Bo" (for no reason whatsoever really. ... Eventually, she got tired of it and set it down on the floor where it escaped in to the cracks of the wooden deck we were on. Suddenly, Ella erupted in to tears and I asked what was wrong. [dramatic cry & quivering chin & tears streaming down her face] "I miss Bo !!!!" ... "He was my pet and I miss him!!!" .... it was so REAL the sadness she felt. ... Our little Ella can be a total drama queen and pretender for attention, but this was real heartache. ... So sad. ... Bo, you will be missed.

....

Zonked out and slept HARD on the bus ride home ... ... showers and baths ... and an early bedtime. We've got two days left in the muthaland. .... Or ... NO!!! I just google'd it after wondering since we've been here. ... we are in the FATHERLAND!!!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatherland

sleep.
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Comments

Deborah on

Crazy heavy! I too am so glad you brought your kids with you on this trip and to see a bit of history in real life. They will have an understanding of political matters far ahead of their American peers because of the time and experiences you have poured into their lives. Awesome.

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