Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Terezin concentration camp

When I was in Holland I became aware that the tolerance, once a character trait of the Dutch, is slowly disappearing. I saw more and more signs of intolerance, xenophobia and racism and people voted for the party of Geert Wilders and his hate speeches against Islam. I noticed that this is not only going on in the Netherlands but that a wave is going through many countries. It made me sad and I find it also scary as we have seen in the past where hatred could lead to.
On our Prague holiday we went for one morning to Terezin, one and a half hour drive from Prague. Terezin is an example of what can happen because of racism. Many buses with schoolchildren went there. Hopefully they learned a lesson from it and these things won’t happen again. In the 18th century Terezin was build as a fortress to protect Prague and got the name of Keizerin Maria Theresia Terezin. Terezin or Theresianstadt consisted of the large Fortress which was turned into Theresianstadt Ghetto and small fortress which was turned into a Gestapo prison from 1940. Although executions took place at Terezin, most jews who arrived at Terezin, were sent to extermination camps like Auschwitch were 88.ooo died. Because of desease caused by overcrowding and poor health conditions 33.000 died at Terezin. At the end of the war 17.247 of the 144.000 who entered Terizin had survived We went to visit the small fortress which left a huge impression on all of us. It was quiet on the way back in the bus
The slogan "Arbeit macht frei" was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps
Vell blocks A and B consisted of 17 group cells and 20 solitairi confinement cell. 1500 people shared these blocks
In these cells 60 to 100 people lived together

About 15.000 children passed through Terezin. Most of them died They found some poetry of the children and made a book of them called "I never saw another butterfly" You can find .poetry from the children in the camp here The Butterfly
The last, the very last, So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow. Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing against a white stone. . . . Such, such a yellow Is carried lightly 'way up high. It went away I'm sure because it wished to kiss the world good-bye. For seven weeks I've lived in here, Penned up inside this ghetto. But I have found what I love here. The dandelions call to me And the white chestnut branches in the court. Only I never saw another butterfly. That butterfly was the last one. Butterflies don't live in here, in the ghetto. - by Pavel Friedman, 1942
Pavel Friedmann was born in Prague on in January 7, 1921. He was deported to Terezin on April 26, 1942 and later to Ausschwitz where he died on September 29 1944


  1. A heartbreaking, moving post! I visited Buchenwald years ago and it had the same heart/gut wrenching effect on me. When do we learn to turn away from hatred. Your photos tell the stories so poignantly! And the lovely poem by a child! I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I hope we learn from history before it's too late, Marja! Thank you for visiting my blog.

  2. Nice reflective post and poem...

  3. Incredible post, makes one realize how lucky we are.

    Have a great week
    Regina In Pictures

  4. To kiss the world goodbye....I have found what I love here.... Heart-rending.

    Thanks for this meaningful post.

  5. Great! Keep up the great posts ……..
    Love, light and blessings to you and your family :)

  6. tolerance and peace is what we all should learn.

  7. That was definitely one of the worst periods in world history. So moving. I can imagine why it was quiet going back to the bus. :-(

  8. What a moving post Marja, many years ago I saw this movie in Singapore - Schindler List talking about the Auschwitch experience. The movie was banned here. I hope that mankind never revert to such camps ever...but sadly, if it's not in the camps, millions are still suffering everywhere.

  9. Mmm, we need to be reminded of these things in order not to repeat history ....

  10. Sobering post, but glad you shared it.

  11. History is an odd and sad field of study. No one seems to want to remember Stalin killing 38 million people under his controll, Hitler had 6 million Jews and others killed. To both these dictators torture was a sport. What has changed with the invasion of Iraque, Guantanamo Bay ....
    Where have all the flowers one, long time passing...

  12. What a very moving, and very poignant post. We should not forget what happened so as to ensure the likes of such will never happen again. Ten years ago when I worked in Munich for a short while I visited Dachau which has had a very moving effect on me making all this horror real and not something just read in books. Thanks for sharing your world with us.

  13. a very touching post...and it tugs at my heart of man's inhumanity.
    thank you for sharing this post.

  14. What a sobering post. If the people of the world were like our blogging friends we'd have no wars, just sharing and caring. Absolutly loved the "Funny New Zealanders" post. Am still laughing!

  15. Interesting. Tolerance might be starting to wane in North America as well. I think it might be as tolerance is no longer viewed as a two way street. It was once that people immigrated here, expected to earn their own way and to adapt to Canadian culture, the majority. It made Canada rich, as we got to also adopt the best customs and cultures of the world. These days though, seems the majority is relucantly bending to the minority, and people come here expecting to be carried and to bring all their own ways and laws with them, not at all intending to adpat into Canada.

    Maybe we all need to remember we are butterflies, treat each other as butterflies, and strive to not repeat mistakes of generations past.

    Odd thing: If tolerance is a two-way street, I guess intolerance is two one-way streets.

  16. A reminder to us all of how shallow we as humans can be.......

  17. Pete I completely agree. I acknowlegde the problems you brought forwards. Tolerance is indeed a two way street. I think human beings must be able to come up with much better solutions though to make that two-way street happen, than just fight and hate each other. Some sort of dialogue must be possible.

    I love butterflies They change into the most beautiful creatures don't they

  18. I always remember the song from South Pacific -- You've Got To Be Carefully Taught --

    You've got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You've got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It's got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You've got to be carefully taught.

    You've got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
    You've got to be carefully taught.

    You've got to be taught before it's too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight,
    To hate all the people your relatives hate,
    You've got to be carefully taught!

  19. Very poignant post, and a message that should be shouted out loud. hatred and racism is wrong.
    The poem really touched me.
    i liked your funny comment on my comic blog entry, very funny.

  20. Good post, Marja. Being a POW myself I know the horrors of the Japanese camps. We had no gaschambers and children under ten were not tortured, but girls from the age of fourteen were used as comfort girls. The German camps were more terrible, because the Jews were exterminated systematically.
    The Wilders Party is born out of fear, because the Moslims are the only religious group that threatens to kill Jews and other religious groups. There are many Buddhists in our country and Hindi too. They are peaceful people, but some Moslim groups are continuously in the news: there is honour killing, beatings of homosexuals, girls who are circumsised at the age of 7,8,or 9. Girls who are forced to marry some man they don't love or even know. Eight of ten crimes are committed by Moroccans. My husband had been threatened by four of them. A friend of us was robbed again by a group of them in broad daylight. He was so devastated that he couldn't work for months.
    The mayor of Rotterdam is a Moroccan, who is a great example to all of these boys. So it is possible to be a law abiding citizen. Why are they so prominent ly present? Why don't we feel safe in a town now adays? I had a discussion with a nice and polite Moroccan, who told me that Christianity has to disappear, because Jesus was a good man, but Mohammed the best. I thought: Well Jesus didn't marry a 9 year old child, but I didn't dare to say it. That Marija is the political climate we live in. I shall never vote for Wilders, but I understand the fear of many people.

  21. I heard about the problems Wil and it is horrible. But both groups have to live together and hatred doesn't solve problems. I also know of many good allochtones, who are adjusted and hardworking and discriminated too because of what others did. Somebody should never be responsible for what somebody else did. I also have heard of kids
    becoming extremists just because they don't get a change in society
    Their way of finding an identity.
    So again yes the allochtones who do bad things should be hold responsible that is however completely different than hating a whole group of people That is what
    Wilders does and things like to forbid the koran is a bit extreme.
    The problems are complex I know but there must be a better way

  22. Nice one WD A lot of is taught

  23. Marja: What a shame that these places existed but thanks for sharing the photos.


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