A Bohemian paradise 300 miles south of Berlin in Czechoslovakia
An experimental relocation center for Jews
The camp-town that is never discussed
Theresienstadt was in Czechoslovakia.
Built in 1780 by Joseph II of the Hapsburg family. Theresienstadt was named after Empress Maria Theresa. It is a walled town which is located between Dresden with Prague. Originally it was as a military garrison at the junction of the Ohre and Elbe rivers.
Hitler Gave Jews Their Own City
Hitler took a gingerbread town in the Czech Republic – moved out the residents and turned it over to the Jews. It’s purpose was to provide a ‘ Spa environment ‘ for rich artistic Jews.
Hitler wanted a colony of German Jewish artists to create propaganda and serve as a example of his generosity.
Town specially constructed for Jews
In November 1941,Czech workers were sent to transform the small garrison town of Terezín, Czechoslovakia into the Theresienstadt camp. Here they incarcerated some of Europe’s most gifted artists, musicians, composers and writers who, sustained an active cultural community.
Who Was Shipped Here?
The town was for Jewish artisans , the wealthy and their families. There were artists, writers, scientists and jurists, diplomats, musicians.
Franz E. Klein staged the operas “Carmen”, “La Tosca”, and “Rigoletto” at Terezin, with the help of conductor and chorus-master Rafael Schachter. Karel Fleishmann (who was also a physician), Otto Ungar, Peter Kien
Who Ran The Camp?
Jewish Elders Ran the Camp
Jakub Edelstein, was the first elder and he ran it from 1941 – 1943. He was arrested for falsifying camps records.
The Second Was Doctor Paul Epstein
Followed by Dr Murmelstein in Sept 1944
The camp government contained a number of supplementary departments to keep the camp running as smoothly as possible.
SS and The Camp
The ghetto was administered by the SS.
Its first commandant was SS Officer Dr. Siegfried Seidl
Second was SS-First Lieutenant ( 1943 – 1944).
Camp guarded by Czech police gendarmes
There were none of the dreaded SS Guards to be seen.
Jewish composers wrote operas such as The Emperor of Atlantis. Peter Kien’s story is about a
mythical kingdom in which no one dies, even mortally wounded soldiers. It was a satire on the political situation of WWII.
It included seven singers and full orchestra. part from a handful of string quartets and some songs, not much enduring music came out of Terazin itself.
Music and Cabarets
The cabaret scene had been present from the very early days in the men’s barracks under the leadership of Karel Svenk—a multitalented writer, director, actor, and producer.
His first cabaret, The Lost Food Card, brought laughter and hope to the audience, particularly through the finale tune, The Terezin March.
The town had three jazz bars. Cabarets were a late night staple
Some of Hans Krasa’s works had been performed by both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Though they were unstaged, his choruses also performed operas, particularly favoring two beloved Czech standards, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride and The Kiss
Their familiarity to Czech audiences made them easy favorites and especially comforting. Schacter’s most impressive and legendary feat, however, was his successful interpretation of Verdi’s Requiem.
Theresienstadt was a magical place for the children because of the concentration of wealthy and artistic families.
The town was an 18th century treasure built around parks.
The schools were organized by talented Jewish artist that were 50 yrs ahead of their time.
Hans Krasa’s Brundibar, a children’s opera of good versus evil written in Czech, tells the tale of two children on a mission to buy milk for their sick mother. As they sing to raise money for the milk, their earnings are stolen by the evil old organ-grinder, Brundibar, who was displeased by the competition.With the help of a Sparrow, a Cat, and a Dog-also played by children-the brother and sister are able to outwit Brundibar, reclaim their money, and finally bring milk home to their mother.
Performed at least 55 times, the opera was one of the most popular performance pieces in Terezin’s entire repertoire-every ticket was highly desired.
Some Photos of Theresienstadt