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The Theresienstadt Ghetto - A Learning Enviorment - Glossary

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The following is a list of lexicon entries. The complete list is on the cd. 

"Children's home" in the ghetto. The children's homes were established in the former municipal school building and other public buildings. Since the streets of the ghetto did not have names, but were indicated by letters and numbers, the children's homes were also indicated in this way: The large children's homes, each of which accommodated several hundred children, were called L417, L414, and L410. While it was not mandatory to transfer the children to these homes, the housing conditions there were better than those in the sleeping halls (barracks) of the adults, and the children in the homes received a little more food than the adults and were well looked after by madrichim [leaders]. Thus, the parents decided that living there would be better for their children.

The adult housing in the ghetto. Jews lived next to one another in overcrowded conditions with little or no privacy in the gigantic barracks. From familiar and independent lives and the ownership of apartments and property, the Jews were deported to strange halls where each one's personal space consisted only of the area of his cot. After the Czech inhabitants of Terezin had been evacuated from the city, the whole place became a ghetto, and Jewish inmates were housed in the homes that had been evacuated, in conditions of severe overcrowding (fifty to eighty people in a place where one Czech family had lived). 

The Theresienstadt Ghetto/Camp was established in November 1941 in the fortified city of Terezin, sixty kilometers north of Prague. The Germans' intention was to concentrate most of the Jews of the Protectorate, as well as well-known and privileged elderly Jews from Germany and from several countries in Western Europe in the ghetto, to transfer them gradually to extermination camps, and to murder them there. Later on, another objective was added: the camouflage of the murder of the Jews of Europe by presenting the ghetto as "a model Jewish town". The ghetto population reached its peak in 1942 - 58,491 people. Of the 155,650 Jews who passed through the ghetto, 34,000 died of disease and 87,000 were sent to their death in extermination camps. On May 5, 1945, the Red Army liberated the few remaining inmates. 

The deportation of groups of Jews from the ghetto to camps in the East, where many of them were murdered in Poland. On January 9, 1942, the first transport left the Theresienstadt Ghetto for the East. The destination of the first two transports - Riga - was known to everyone, but after that, the transports departed for unknown destinations. After the war, it became clear that those transports had gone to Izbica, Tebenice, Treblinka and other labor and extermination camps. From September 1943, the SS indicated that the destination of the transports was "the Birkenau labor camp next to Neu-Brun". In all, 87,000 people were sent in 65 transports from the Theresienstadt Ghetto to the Nazi camps. Some 3,000 survived. 

The Kamarad ("Comrade") periodical magazine was published in Q609, the children's house shared by Czech and German-speaking boys and girls. The 22 bulletins of Kamarad were written by youngsters in their own handwriting, and illustrated by the editor, Ivan Polak, without the assistance of the madrichim [leaders]. (Only the three last bulletins were published in a different format and were typed without any mention of the writers' names.) The objective of Kamarad, like other children's periodicals, was to entertain, provide reading matter, and impart knowledge. 

The Vedem ("We lead") magazine was published in Home 1 of Children's House L417 from July 1942 to September 1944 - over 800 pages. Its editor was Petr Ginz. Vedem was handwritten and illustrated by 14-year-old children. The standard of writing in Vedem attests to the fact that most of the children were extremely articulate and creative, and knew how to discuss the harsh reality with which they had to cope. One of them, Hanus Hachenburg, was particularly well known because of his poems. The newspaper expressed the children's inner world and the harsh reality of the ghetto as they saw it. 

In order to dispel the rumors of mass murder and prove to the International Red Cross delegates that the condition of the Jews was good, the Nazis fabricated a model Jewish town in the Theresienstadt Ghetto. A campaign to spruce up the ghetto was undertaken: The front of the ghetto was painted and decorated with greenery, musical instruments were brought, cultural activity was permitted, a bank and a cafe were opened - all of it a charade. There was no food in the cafe and no money or accounts in the bank. The delegation's report following its visit on June 23, 1944 showed that it had been favorably impressed by the condition of the Jews in Theresienstadt. The Germans' subterfuge had succeeded. 

A propaganda movie that was filmed in the ghetto in 1944, following the visit of the Red Cross delegation. The movie was never screened for the general public, and only parts of it were ever shown. In it, Jews are seen playing football in the yard, working in a workshop, watering the vegetable garden, having a drink in the cafe, and exchanging books at the public library. Jews who appear in the movie are well dressed, smiling, and seemingly content. After the filming of the movie, most of the "actors" were sent to the camps where they were murdered. 

In September 1943, thousands of Jews from Theresienstadt were taken by force on transports to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp. Apparently, the Germans thought that the Red Cross would send a delegation to inspect the condition of the Jews in the camps following its visit to the ghetto. The Red Cross never did. Jews who were brought to the "Family Camp" in Auschwitz-Birkenau did not undergo selection, their hair was not shaved off, and they did not wear prisoner's uniforms. Those Jews were murdered six months after their arrival, when it became clear that the Red Cross delegation was not going to visit the camp. About a thousand people who were "fit" for work were sent to concentration camps in Germany. All the others were murdered in the gas chambers.