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.
Chancellor Hitler gave Jews their own town
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
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, and
Ferdinand Bloch were painters whoPavel Haas, Gideon Klein, Hans Krása and Viktor
Ullmann were prized pupils and assistants of musical luminaries Leos
Janacek and Arnold Schoenberg.
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 Dr. Paul Eppstein who was 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.
Besides the Administration
department, there were Economic, Financial, Technical, and Health and
Social Care departments. These factions kept track of the full gamut
of camp operations, from devermination to fire fighting to burials.
The SS and the camp
The ghetto was administered by the SS.
Its first commandant was SS Officer Dr. Siegfried Seidl ( 1941
-1943.) Second was SS-First Lieutenant ( 1943 - 1944). The final
commandant was SS Karl Rahm
Camp guarded by Czech police gendarmes
were none of the dreaded SS to be seen.
Art in the camp
Ferdinand Bloch and Pavel Haas were just a few of the famous
They led classes and produced many protégées like Leos Janacek, Alexander Zemlinsky, Arnold Schoenberg and Alois Haba.
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.
singers and full orchestra. part from a handful of string
quartets and some songs, not much enduring music came out of Terazin
Music and Cabarets
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.
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
standards, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride and The Kiss
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.
was an 18th century treasure built around parks.
The schools were
organized by talented Jewish artist that were 50 yrs ahead of their time
Brundibar, a children’sopera 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
Performed at least 55 times, the opera was one of the most popular
performance pieces in Terezin's entire repertoire-every ticket was