Nearly 70 years after the fall of the Nazis and the end of World War II, small bits of evidence have been found that life — and art — managed to flourish among those who were marked for the dance with death in Theresienstadt.
Initial documentation of the finds, which were discovered throughout modern Terezin in the Czech Republic, have just become available online at www.ghettospuren.de . Very shortly, an English language version will be posted as well, according to the European Jewish Press website (EJP).
“Material evidence and traces” was initiated in May 2012, said Uta Fischer, a city planner based in Berlin, is the manager of the project. For the past two years, the relics from the past have been meticulously collected by Fischer “before it is too late.”
Conservators Prof. Thomas Danzl and Karol Bayer, photo journalist Roland Wildberg and building researcher Jiri Smutny are also involved in the project, which is being financed by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the German Federal Cultural Foundation and other institutions in Germany and Czech Republic.
“O bug, why dances thou on me all night. . . “ the words written on to the walls of an attic by an unknown prisoner who sarcastically pens his complaint about the vermin of ghetto life. A doodled illustration of the offending creature accompanies the work on the wall, along with a number of small animal scenes that seem to be painted for a child’s eyes in another attic.
Elsewhere in Terezin, members of the ghetto police also left their mark on a sandstone arch.
But renovations, vandalism and erosion are erasing these bits of evidence that other lives once passed through here, Fischer warns. She says it is urgent to document these hidden treasures now, before they disappear.
The Theresienstadt concentration camp was a massive prison for Jews who were shipped there by rail car from half of Europe. Tens of thousands, including children, died in the old fortress; some of malnutrition and disease, some simply murdered outright. More than 150,000 Jews were held prisoner there for months – and in some cases years – before they were sent to the death camps in occupied Poland.