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By Hannelore Brenner

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

The Jews deported to Theresienstadt from nations everywhere Europe have been conscious of the destiny that awaited them, they usually made up our minds that it used to be the teenagers who had the easiest probability to outlive. retaining those young people alive, holding them complete in physique, brain, and spirit, grew to become the concern. They have been housed individually, in dormitory-like barracks, the place they'd a better probability of staying fit and higher entry to meals, and the place counselors (young women and men who were academics and formative years staff) created a disciplined atmosphere regardless of the encompassing horrors. the advisors additionally made to be had to the teens the abilities of an awesome array of world-class artists, musicians, and playwrights–European Jews who have been additionally on their solution to Auschwitz. lower than their guide, the kids produced paintings, poetry, and tune, and so they played in theatrical productions, such a lot particularly 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 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 throughout the conflict and samples of the artwork, song, and poetry created at Theresienstadt, Brenner supplies us an extraordinary photo of lifestyle there, and of the intense energy, sacrifice, and indomitable will that combined—in the ladies and of their caretakers—to make survival attainable.

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Then the borders closed, and Helga’s dream of a trip to England used to be shattered. three hundred and sixty five days later—Helga had simply accomplished the 3rd grade—Jewish young children have been expelled from public colleges. once more her family members stumbled on it essential to ship Helga again to Brno, this time as the Jewish tuition there has been now the single form of institution she was once nonetheless allowed to wait. so as to make sure that Helga acquired the absolute best care, her family members put her within the neighborhood Jewish orphanage, the place she met a great many different youngsters in an identical scenario. Helga’s uncle brought her to the orphanage presently earlier than the varsity yr all started. “It used to be a nightmare. nobody used to be there to obtain me, no counselor, no place of work or provider worker, nobody in any respect. I slept in a wide, darkish room surrounded via approximately 40 empty steel beds. Many childrens, I realized later, have been within the clinic with scarlet fever; others have been nonetheless on holiday. ” After a couple of days the youngsters again. yet Helga’s scenario didn't increase. “We didn’t have a lot to devour. To get whatever within the morning you needed to run to the kitchen, the place serving women doled out bread. That was once all we received, dry bread, and perhaps, if you happen to have been one of the first, a bit marmalade. occasionally my cousin Joši, who via then used to be additionally attending college in Brno, waited for me after sessions to offer me a bit wedge of cheese. I couldn’t stand it in that orphanage. i wished out it doesn't matter what. ” Helga obtained her approach and finally discovered shield with a pair who lived close to the Jewish university. the lady took care of her younger boarder lovingly, and Helga quickly felt cozy there, specially simply because Ruth Steiner—a lady her age, the daughter of an ophthalmologist—lived within reach. She turned Helga’s first buddy. Then got here the spring of 1941, and with it a decree that made it unlawful for Jews within the Protectorate to commute. with no asking a person, Helga packed her issues, went to the educate station, and purchased a price tag to Kyjov. It used to be nonetheless mild whilst she arrived at her kin’ domestic towards night. Her aunt was once feeding the chickens within the backyard and used to be astonished while she all of sudden observed Helga status in entrance of her, clutching her suitcase. “Here i'm again,” she stated. within the spring of 1941 Otto Pollak was once nonetheless residing in Vienna. His café have been Aryanized and his resources confiscated. He were pressured to renounce his appealing domestic on Mariahilfer Strasse, besides its necessary furnishings, and to maneuver to a different position. He had witnessed the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9—10, 1938, while forty-two synagogues and small homes of worship in Vienna have been set on fireplace and plundered, and numerous Jewish companies and houses have been confiscated or destroyed. Of the 6,547 Viennese Jews arrested that evening, nearly 3,700 ended up within the Dachau focus camp; a few have been murdered immediate. The Nazi terror prompted a mass exodus of Jews from Austria. via may possibly 1938, a hundred thousand had fled the rustic, a lot of them escaping illegally to neighboring international locations. With the outbreak of global conflict II, Jews nonetheless dwelling in Germany and Austria came upon that most their get away routes were bring to an end.

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