Hotel Terezin – written 11 July 2016

Standard

This was originally written and posted on the Centropa website during the Centropa Summer Academy in 2016. I am attending a training with The Defiant Requiem Foundation and it was called to mind. I realized that I had not shared it outside of the Centropa blog for that trip. We are discussing the cognitive dissonance of visiting Terezin where people live among the ghosts of those murder by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

“Hotel Terezin” Today I visited Terezin – Theresenstadt – the fortified city that became a Jewish ghetto during World War II. Prior to the 1940s and, again since then, Terezin was an actual town. First for the military and then for civilians as well. Walking through Terezin as visitors to a “museum” of the Ghetto, it was jarring and upsetting to be shaken out of the past by cars careening down the streets with their stereos blaring. The former housing and associated buildings used to house tens of thousands of Jews now house hair salons, bars, shops and even a pension – a small in near where Jews would be loaded into trains for the trip to Auschwitz. The man in his speedo on the deck of this inn was really the final indignity.  I personally can’t imagine living on the site of a Nazi created ghetto – a place where 33,000 people died from illness, starvation and poor treatment. How do you give your address? How do you invite people to visit you at your home? The atmosphere in the town is heavy with history – it was hard being there two hours – how does one live there?  On the edge of “town”, just past the quaint little pension, there is a directional sign to the crematorium. I cannot imagine driving daily past this sign on my way in and out of town.  Yes, evil and awful things happen/happened in many places in the world, but some places are more tainted with this evil. For me, the idea of living in such a place is unthinkable. To try to have a normal, mundane life with the daily reminders of ultimate evil all around seems absurd. Perhaps the blaring radios and unsafe speed for streets full of museum visitors are just symptoms of this insanity. 

About nancesea

I live in Seattle with my husband Steve. I work as a Jewish educator, primarily teaching middle schoolers. My hobbies, when I have time, are reading, writing, music, and photography. I am passionate about teaching the lessons of the darkest periods history to help inspire my students to assure our future is brighter. I am a Museum Teacher Fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Museum and Memorial. I travel yearly to Central and Eastern Europe to continue to learn about this history and make connections with educators there doing similar work. I hope you enjoy my writing on my travels, my learning and Jewish thought and practice. B'vrachot - with blessings - Nance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s