This project aims to collect all of the profiles of persons who were inmates of the concentration camp Theresienstadt also referred to as Theresienstadt Ghetto located in what is now the Czech Republic.
Overcrowding and disease
During WWII, the ghetto Terezín (Theresienstadt) was one of the major sites of suffering and death for the Jews of the Bohemian Lands and several European countries. Out of approximately 150 000 prisoners, over 30 000 died there between 1941 and 1945 due to starvation, poor hygiene conditions, overcrowding and disease. Another 90 000 were deported to the ghettos and extermination camps in the East, and only roughly four thousand of them returned.
Many of the original documents of the Jewish “self-administration” were destroyed, on the orders of the Nazis, at the end of the war. However, already during the existence of the ghetto, several individual prisoners or groups set out to save documents; and some of those who survived continued after the war.
A major resouce
With the Terezín archival material fragmented and spread in several archives around the world, the Terezín collection in the Jewish Museum in Prague became one of the major resources for any scholar researching the history of the ghetto and the fate of Jews from Bohemia and Moravia.
Between 2009 and 2012, with the kind support of the Claims Conference, the collection has been completely digitised and re-catalogued. This exhibition covers some of the major events and problems in the history of the ghetto and illustrates the types of documents that can be found in the online collection. The exhibition was curated by Magdalena Sedlická, Wolfgang Schellenbacher, and Michal Frankl.
Theresienstadt supplied the German war effort with a source of Jewish slave labor, the major contribution being the splitting of mica mined from local Czechoslovakia.
The camp was originally designated to be seen to house privileged Jews from Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria and was publicized by the Nazis for its rich cultural life.
On June 23, 1944, the Nazis permitted a visit by representatives from the Danish Red Cross and the International Red Cross in order to dispel rumors about the extermination camps.
To minimize the appearance of overcrowding in Theresienstadt, the Nazis deported many Jews to Auschwitz erecting fake shops and cafés to imply that the Jews lived in relative comfort.
The hoax against the Red Cross was apparently so successful for the Nazis that they went on to make a propaganda film at Theresienstadt. The film was filmed during 11 days, starting September 1, 1944.
The film was not released at the time but was edited into pieces and only segments of it have remained. The name of the film is: Theresienstadt: Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet (Terezin: A Documentary Film of the Jewish Resettlement).