Sunday, July 14, 2013

Lidice & Terezin

Yesterday was a heavy day during our stay in Prague.  We visited the town of Lidice and a concentration camp, Terezin.  Lidice is a small down on the outskirts of Prague that was ordered, by Hitler, to be razed and destroyed.  The Nazi’s believed that the people of Lidice aided the assassins that were responsible for the death of the Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, Heydrich.  The men and boys over 16 were shot, the women were taken to a concentration camp, and the children were either sent to a concentration camp or were put into orphanages if they were “German looking”.  Again, we followed our amazing tour guide, Milos.  He is basically a walking encyclopedia and knows every detail of these historical events.  We were able to walk the grounds of the town that had been destroyed.  It now looks like a beautiful park with a rose garden, but the foundations of buildings still remain.  They also have memorials in significant spots of the land in Lidice.  It is interesting to know that just next to the original Lidice, the next generations of the Lidice families live in a new and developed town, “The New Lidice”.
The mass grave where the men and boys over 16 are buried.

The foundation of the town church.

The memorial to the children that were sent to concentration camps and orphanages.

Part of the rose garden that now houses around 2,400 roses.

Terezin is the concentration camp that we visited.  It is about an hour drive from the town of Lidice.  The Small Fortress at Terezin is a structure that was built to keep out invaders during the war.  The Nazi’s took over and turned it into a monstrous place. Our tour guide informed us that the two groups that were treated the worst here were Russians and Jews.  The reason why Terezin is so different and important is because it was considered a Nazi propaganda camp.  This means that to outsiders, such as the Red Cross, the camp looked like a good place to live.  They told the prisoners upon being brought to the camp that they were protecting them from the war, and that when the war was over, they could go home.  The prisoners were forced to create artwork that was, in essence, fake.  The artwork was used to show people outside the camp that it was truly a decent place to live and that everything was okay there.  Also, the Nazi’s showed the Red Cross their clean bathroom facilities and their topnotch dormitories.  However, these were areas or rooms that prisoners were not allowed to use and did not even know existed.

Headstones commemorating the prisoners of the camp.

Plates on headstones use just a number, no name.  If a prisoner came from Auschwitz, the stone has  both of their numbers and their name.

*I did not take many pictures inside the camp, which is just over the wall that you see above.

The overall mood of our trip was pretty depressing, but it was a very informative and interesting experience.  A lot of Jewish students and faculty felt that the experience was specifically powerful and personal.  I am very happy that I went, as I was a little skeptical from what I had heard.  It is important that we continue to see these landmarks and learn about the devastating history, although it may be tough to endure.  I feel well educated about this part of the Czech Land’s history and am thankful to have had the opportunity to see such amazing sights.

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