Published: January 20th 2013January 15th 2013
It was a rough day.
Theresienstadt was our main visit of the day; it was a camp and ghetto. As we pulled up, all I could focus on were the graves outside of the small camp. Without knowing who the graves were for at first, I thought it was really disheartening to see a giant cross in the middle and the Star of David in the back. Learning that they were the graves of the people in the small camp, mostly political prisoners, it made more sense. Walking into the small camp I had an eerie feeling. It had a very abandoned feeling, kind of like an old western movie, and had a smell that I will never forget. It was horrific. I wonder if it smelt like back in the early 40’s. Walking around all of the rooms, I was surprised at how big they were, how big the beds were, that there were a lot of sinks, and just the overall appearance of them. Learning that this was the camp for the more important prisoners helped it make more sense. It was also clearer when I realized that they had made so many of the rooms look nice
for their propaganda movie. We then walked through an underground tunnel that led to the back of the camp, there in case they needed to escape, which was really creepy and had a lot of trails that lead off to who knows where. We exited out into the field where mass shootings and the hanging of people took place. It was a strange feeling to stand where many people had lost their lives. After walking around the camp, we went to the old S.S. theater, which was an uncomfortable feeling because I knew that officers use to sit in my seat between shifts of torturing people, and watched the propaganda movie and a movie on the camp itself.
After the small camp, we went into the town where the ghetto was and explored. We went to the Ghetto Museum which was the hardest part of the day for me. Walking around up stairs, I say a lot of letters from and interviews with survivors of the camp. The one that stuck out to me the most was the last interview I saw, which was with a woman that survived Auschwitz. She had arrived to the selection 8 months pregnant
but was able to get selection without the officer noticing and was sent to a work camp. Upon them realizing that she was pregnant, they sent her back to Auschwitz. The doctor there decided that once she gave birth, he would time the amount of time it took the baby to starve to death after birth, and when it did not die in the amount of time that he wanted, he had the mother strangle it to death. That is not something that I would ever be able to do.
Walking down stairs, I experienced the part of the trip that has connected me the most to those who were murdered. It was the area for the children of the camp. The first room I walked into was a room full of the names of the children that died at the camp. Looking around, it was depressing how many names were on the wall. As I was getting ready to enter the next room I looked at the names to my right and saw something I wasn’t expecting to see. BECK. I hadn’t seen a Beck name anywhere else yet so it was not something I was prepared for.
There were 16 children with that last name. One of them made me sick to my stomach. It wasn’t the exact spelling of Jacob, it was a European spelling for it, but it was close enough to it that all I wanted was to see Jake’s face. I couldn’t imagine loosing Jake, especially to something like the Holocaust. It was a moment that made everything much more real for me.
After Theresienstadt we headed towards the Lidice Memorial. Lidice was a town of 503 that was burned by the SS because a few of the people in town knew where the soldiers were that killed Reinhard Heydrich. About 340 people were killed, including 88 children. I think this story bothered me a lot because one: I did not know anything about this town or anything that happened to it, and two: almost all of this town was innocent and the SS just wanted to make an example of them. I can’t imagine someone going into a town and just evacuating everyone to camps or killing them. It is unimaginable.
It was a night on the town just trying to escape the day. We went out into the Old
Town Square and wandered around until late in the night. While we were out, I had an uncomfortable run in with an older Czech guy in a liquor store. I went in with two of the guys from my trip (we had been there earlier that night when three other girls were with us and had another awkward run in with the men in there) and told them that they had to keep me between them because the guys were wanting a little something. The guys did their best but let’s just say one got a little too friendly.
It was just an overall not so good day and I don’t want to leave Prague. But it’s time for the next adventure.
There are more photos below