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True confessions of a girl who writes dirty books--and loves it!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Terezin


I just want to say a couple of things about this. Terezin, which I had only vaguely heard of before planning this trip, is a concentration camp outside of Prague. It was mostly used as a transport hub, a temporary stop before the inevitable trip to one of the death camps in the west. Terezin was a fortress town built in the 18th century, and it's oddly beautiful. Hitler used the town as part of his propaganda campaign; it was touted as the city he gave to the Jews, where they could govern themselves and live according to their traditions. Political prisoners were kept there, as well as prominent Jews--artists and writers and scientists. The Nazis encouraged them to produce art while they were there; plays and operas were written and performed. There are hundreds of drawings. It was all part of the propaganda. See how happy the Jews are? That Hitler, what a stand up guy. The Red Cross visited twice during the war, and gave favorable reports both times. Neither report mentions the overcrowded conditions, the starvation, the sickness. They only saw what Hitler wanted them to see. They only saw what they wanted to see.

The sick part is, I don't know if I can even blame them. What the Nazis were doing was so unthinkable, on a scale so extreme as to be incomprehensible. There's something so unbelievably cold and psychotic about the industrialization of murder, the mass extermination that was going on, I can't even wrap my mind around it. Terezin was about all I could honestly stand. I don't think I could manage Auschwitz or Dachau--I don't want to wrap my mind around it.

The experience of Terezin is indescribable, so I'm not even going to try. I'm just going to say that I think there should be a universal law, compelling every human being to visit a place like that, at least once. To remind us of what we're capable of doing to one another, and what we're capable of enduring.

7 Comments:

At 7:38 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Well said, Louisa.

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger Debra Parmley said...

Oh, yeah. Dachau did that for me.

Standing in the middle of that camp on a gray November day when the wind raced past skeletal trees to whip around my face and ankles.

The museum was entirely German which I don't read.
Words simply weren't needed.

And it took several cups of gluewien before the chills went away.

 
At 11:29 AM, Blogger Kate Pearce said...

Absolutely agree

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger Louisa Edwards said...

You guys are sweet to comment--I was picturing this particular entry wending its way down the page in a respectful silence. I much prefer to hear stories like Debra's! And nice reaffirmations from Ellen and my stalkee.

Writing this put me in a weird mood all day. I hope I didn't bum anyone too much. I did warn that the Terezin entry would be sad!

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger Debra Parmley said...

Sad, yes. But Louisa, we can't know light until we truly know shadow.

 
At 6:00 AM, Blogger MariaGeraci said...

Well said, Louisa and Debra. We can't forget the past, no matter how ugly it is. It's like that famous quote, "Those who cannot learn from history, are doomed to repeat it."

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger Lillian Feisty said...

I know exactly what Debra's talking about. It just gives you the chills. And you're right, everybody needs to experience something like this. PBS had an amazing documentary on WWII concentration camps. Amazing but sickening at the same time.

On a happier note, I'm really enjoying reading these posts!

 

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