The Girls of Room 28: Friendship, Hope, and Survival in Theresienstadt

By Hannelore Brenner

From 1942 to 1944, twelve thousand young ones undergone the Theresienstadt internment camp, close to Prague, on their strategy to Auschwitz. just a couple of hundred of them survived the warfare. In The ladies of Room 28, ten of those childrenmothers and grandmothers this day of their seventiestell us how they did it.

The Jews deported to Theresienstadt from nations in all places Europe have been conscious of the destiny that awaited them, and so they made up our minds that it was once the kids who had the simplest probability to outlive. preserving those youngsters alive, retaining them complete in physique, brain, and spirit, grew to become the concern. They have been housed individually, in dormitory-like barracks, the place that they had a better probability of staying fit and higher entry to nutrition, and the place counselors (young women and men who have been lecturers and adolescence staff) created a disciplined surroundings regardless of the encircling horrors. the advisors additionally made on hand to the adolescents the skills of an awesome array of world-class artists, musicians, and playwrights–European Jews who have been additionally on their approach to Auschwitz. below their guide, the youngsters produced artwork, poetry, and tune, they usually played in theatrical productions, so much significantly Brundibar, the mythical “children’s opera” that celebrates the triumph of excellent over evil.

In the mid-1990s, German journalist Hannelore Brenner met ten of those baby survivors—women of their late-seventies this present day, who reunite each year at a hotel within the Czech Republic. Weaving her interviews with the ladies including excerpts from diaries that have been saved secretly in the course of the battle and samples of the paintings, song, and poetry created at Theresienstadt, Brenner provides us an exceptional photograph of way of life there, and of the intense energy, sacrifice, and indomitable will that combined—in the women and of their caretakers—to make survival attainable.

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Typescript, Jewish Museum in Prague, Terezín assortment, Inv. No. 304/1. four. Ibid. five. Livia Rothkirchen, “Der geistige Widerstand in Theresienstadt” [“Intellectual Resistance in Theresienstadt”], in Theresienstädter Studien und Dokumente 1997, ed. Miroslav Kárný, Raimund Kemper, and Margita Kárná (Prague: version Theresienstädter Initiative Academia, 1997), pp. 118–40. 6. “Musik in Theresienstadt” [“Music in Theresienstadt”], in Theresienstadt, ed. Rudolf Iltis, František Ehrmann, and Ota Heitlinger, trans.

I’m really a truly calm and composed individual. yet that evening… It’s a ask yourself that I didn’t cross mad. We got a couple of items of clothing—a mild gown, a pajama jacket, a couple of socks. yet no lingerie, and it was once October. We have been in Poland, and it used to be very chilly. We grabbed sneakers at random from an enormous pile, with none regard to dimension or whether or not they matched. The sneakers I bought have been a lot too large. yet that wasn’t so undesirable. It used to be a lot worse if somebody received footwear that have been too small. Then we have been taken to our block, with its three-tiered bunk beds.

In October 1991, after the Berlin Wall got here down, some of us met in Prague for the 1st time when you consider that we had misplaced contact. We got here from everywhere—from Israel, the us, Russia, England, Sweden, Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. It was once an unforgettable second. amassed jointly within the foyer of a world resort, we laughed and wept and spun in circles of pleasure as bystanders regarded on in amazement. We have been all stunned to discover that our emotions had stayed kind of like they have been again then within the ladies’ domestic within the Theresienstadt focus camp.

Sticky label and Dr. Altenstein advised me that we wouldn’t be ready to remain jointly and our basically time jointly will be at the journey itself and that my sacrifice will be in useless. some of these objections wouldn’t have saved me from becoming a member of my baby on her trip into the unknown if I had either legs and will have carried my very own luggage. i do know what ethical, mental, and fabric help I supplied for my baby in Theresienstadt. The shipping of October 23, 1944, carried 1,707 prisoners clear of Theresienstadt, between them Helga Pollak, Handa Pollak and her aunt Hanička, the counselor Ella Pollak, Eva Stern, Laura Šimko, Kamilla Rosenbaum, and Greta Hofmeister.

A brand new existence started for Flaška in Brno. She committed herself to song and have become a pianist, singer, and professor of track and piano on the Brno Conservatory and the Janáček Academy. In 1955 she married the oboist Vitešlav Hanuš; each one has shared within the other’s magnificent musical occupation. they've been visitor performers jointly at numerous concert events either at domestic and abroad—in Beijing from 1959 to 1961, in Beirut from 1966 to 1969, and in Sydney in 1968 and 1969. Anna Hanusová-Flachová Their son, Tomáš Hanuš, who was once born in 1970, is an across the world well known conductor.

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