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Theresienstadt: The "Model" Ghetto
 
 
"Here, people were separated into two groups. one to be sent to the East and the other to Theresienstadt. Those who received a "T" (for Theresienstadt) dared to breathe again. The others, with an "O" (for the East) turned pale. For although not many details were known about Theresienstadt, one thing was clear: it was infinitely better than the East." Jacob Jacobson, Terezin. the Daily Life, 1943- 1945


Deportation of elderly Jews from Frankfurt to Theresienstadt, Fall 1942. The placards contain their names, birthdates, addresses, and transport numbers. CL:LBI/NY


Inside one of the men's barracks. CL:Yad Vashem

Theresienstadt, an eighteenth century fortress town near Prague, was chosen as the site for a sinister scheme to cover up the mass murder of Europe's Jews. Here the Nazis developed their "model" ghetto. Foreign governments, international relief agencies and even some Jews were deceived by this propaganda campaign, since no one wished to believe the horrible stories emerging about transports to the East.

Far from a benevolent, decent place to live out their lives, it was a temporary stopping point en route to Auschwitz. 150,000 Jews passed through Tneresienstadt; 33,000 died of hunger or disease while in the ghetto, and 90,000 were transported to Auschwitz.


"Work makes freedom," the cynical sign at Theresienstadt, 1943. CL:BPK


Deportation from Theresicnstadt to Auschwitz. Two faces peer out, a hand waves. CL:Yad Vashem

"The old people's transport. Ten thousand ill, crippled, dying. all of them over 65 years old....Children have to let their old parents go off and can't help them. Why do they want to send these defenseless people away? If they want to get rid of us young people, I can understand that...but how can these old people be dangerous?" Helga Weissova- Hoskova, Age 14, Theresienstadt Diary

The Nazis tried to use Theresienstadt to hide the truth of the murder of the Jews. Amidst the horror of the reality, they tolerated a semblance of a cultural life: theater, music, lectures and art.


A soccer game staged for the propaganda film, "The Fuehrer Gives the Jews a City," August 1944. CL:BPK

In the summer of 1944, the SS produced a propaganda film about Theresienstadt, showing happy Jews in a Jewish city; after the completion most of the actors were sent to Auschwitz.

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