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Published: June 15th 2017
Today was probably the most difficult for me emotionally, I love history and especially medieval history, so Prague is a perfect fit for me. But today we ventured into the past in a way that I haven't done. I know many people who have and I believe that because I know the stories, I can handle it. I'm strong, I'm rational (most of the time) and I know what I'm walking into, right? Not so much! we hired a driver, the same one who brought us to the hotel from the airport, he has become my dad's number 1 fan, just loves him and his stories. He takes us to Terazine, for those who don't know, Terazine was a work camp during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. ALL Czech Jews were processed through that camp, and it was managed by Jews as a way of keeping everyone calm. It was a camp that the Nazis used to show the Red Cross how humane they were, no one was dying here! They came here to work as prisoners of war. Only that's not what it was....
The first thing that hit me was the huge cemetery, the big crucifix in the
center and a huge star of David just opposite it. The headstones were many, and then there were mass graves. As we walked by it, I lost my breath when I realized how many headstones didn't have names, I didn't understand, how could the Nazis who kept such complete records bury people without their names? The answer came later.
We walked through the gates, noticing that the 'fort" had actually been erected in 1780, and was refurbished to serve the evil that was the Third Reich. To the right was the "Women's Compoud" and we turned in that direction, for me because I knew my great-grandmother had come this way and somehow I wanted to follow in her footsteps. It was like an old courtyard with barracks surrounding it on three sides, and then you walk into one of the quarters, the wooden tables lined up along one whole side of the room, where women slept side by side on the palletts, no privacy, not space. Okay, I thought, I can handle this, I've seen this before and then the solitary confinement compartments, and that's all they were, compartments, ugh, how does one live like this? I walked a
little further and thought, well they are all the same, I don't need to go into each one, but something drew me to the last entrance, I walked in and I could here women singing, a hymn it sounded like, it was so dark, I couldn't initially make out what I was walking into. It was an art installation entitled "A Thousand Chrystal Tears" and the singing was part of it, I felt the women around me, I felt like I was trapped in that room with them in the dark and dampness of it and I ran, I actually ran, out of there. I was scared, I found my father and my husband and they were walking through an exhibit, so I joined them.
Not a good idea, it's one thing to see and know how they were subjected to live in humiliating and inhuman conditions, but to read the stories of cruelty that some of the SS perpetrated on these women and children, one commander, for example, insisted that his men leave the first two chambers of their weapons empty, "...that way they are scared the first two times you pull the trigger and they begin to
believe they might actually live"... at this point I just started to cry. I told my dad I couldn't see any more, I was done... this is what my great-grandmother, my great-aunt and my dad's cousin lived through, only to be gassed in the end. UGH!
We went from there to Lidice, now yet another horror story of Nazi Occupation. I won't go into detail, suffice it to say the men of this town were wiped out - shot right there against the wall of a barn, the women were sent to camps, more than half the children were gassed, some were adopted out to German couples if they had the right eye colour and hair colour, some survived labour camp. Then all the coffins in the cemetery were dug-up and burned and all the trees were chopped down. Total and complete annihilation of a town and it's people, nothing was left, no sign that anyone had ever lived here, that the town had ever existed, all a random revenge against the Czech resistance... OY, what a day.
We came back, ate huge plates of Schnitzel and had a couple of drinks! The evening was beautiful and we
cleansed ourselves of the day. Happier times ahead, but I'm glad we did it, and I'm glad I saw something that I think everyone who utters racial or religious slurs at someone should be forced to see.
Sorry for the downer!
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