Sense of Perspective by Hannah Fogel 

Today, we went to Terezín, a former Jewish ghetto and concentration camp. Terezín was first built as a fortress to protect Czechoslovakia from the Prussians. It was later used as a prison and then finally as a concentration camp and ghetto during the German occupation in World War II. While there, we took a tour of the main fortress that housed the prisoners and later concentration camp victims and visited the old barracks, children’s home, and crematorium. The Terezín concentration camp is interesting among others of its kind because it was also used as propaganda for the Red Cross when they sent delegations to visit and assess the conditions. There are whole rooms, never actually used by the victims, there built only for such visits, to present a better more acceptable picture. In reality, the Terezín camp was just as cramped, disease infested, and horrifying as any other camp. The old barracks were used to house soldiers when Terezín was a fortress and men, women, and children who weren’t sent to the camp when it was a ghetto. Inside the old building we were presented with a replica of what one of the rooms would look like, packed with what looked like thirty beds that would likely be shared by three times as many women, and a museum about the culture that developed inside the ghetto. It was amazing seeing the art and music and theater that the people in the ghetto produced, creating such great beauty in the midst of such great devastation. In the old children’s home was another museum, filled with facts and dates about the camps and ghettos as well as various artifacts retrieved from the sight. The aspect I thought was most profound and heartbreaking, however, was the drawings of what the children either remembered the outside world looked like or merely hoped it did. Finally, we went to the crematorium, where those who died in both the camp and the ghetto were brought to have their bodies burned. I had my reservations about going into the crematorium and while I still can’t necessarily say I’m glad I did, it’s certainly not a nice thing to see or think about, I can say that it brought a sense perspective and closure to the trip to Terezín for me.

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