The Beauty and Brutality of Prague’s Past by Ainesh Shintre

Today I experienced two extremes of Prague, the scarring and horrific side of their history but also the resilience and beauty of their peoples and their accomplishments.  We began the morning with a bus ride to Terezín, a concentration camp used to hold people the Nazi Party found inferior.  

The town nowadays resembles a ghost town with a sleepy, abandoned feeling.  People live there but not many, possibly due to the town’s history.  We then proceeded to visit the actual camp, which was quite a feat in human ingenuity.  The camp is horrible creation, but seeing how the Nazi party was able to organize and run an operation of this size and magnitude was fascinating.  They would make propaganda films, portraying the camps as a “dreamlike resort,” where everyone has a garden, the people play soccer for fun and eat snacks while relaxing in the grass.  This persuaded many Jews to sign up for the camp, only to realize the fictional town they were promised was a ruse.  Instead, they were stripped of their belonging, clothes and even their names.  They were now an animal with a number, waiting for death.  Ninety people would have share one room the size of a small bedroom.  The solitary confinement was so cramped that many people died due to suffocation.  After visiting the camp we walked to the place the bodies were cremated.  There, the bodies were cremated and stored in urns with labels; the workers thinking that they would all be given a proper burial after the war was over.  Terezín is a reminder for mankind, of what we humans are capable of doing.  We need to be careful of our abilities so that we don’t lose our humanity.  Learn from our past so we don’t repeat it in our future.

After Terezín, we visited Charles bridge, which is the beauty of Prague.  It has a history as well; the Czechs barricaded the bridge to protect Prague against Sweden. This bold and powerful structure, has great significance for Prague and mankind.  Terezín and Charles bridge are both examples of what mankind is capable of creating.  As a species we can go down one of two paths.  I see the bridge being the better path, one that shows the beauty, strength, and drive of not only the Czech people but all people.

Ainesh Shintre, Signing Off

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