Documentaries, Interviews, Music, Art
The name of the Czech town Terezín was renamed Theresienstadt by the Nazis. We refer to it here on this page by it’s Czech name – Terezín.
There are many resources available on the internet, but I hope that the ones that you will find here will set you off on a personal journey to help you understand more, to feel more of God’s heart for His people Israel, and to become ambassadors for the Jewish people wherever you live, in these days of rising anti-semitism.
Below are some resources to give you a picture of how this town was used by the Nazis to convince the world of how well the Jews were being treated. This included the making of a propaganda film, which you will learn about in the following videos. The evil of this Nazi deception is clear and horrific.
An Overview – ‘Paradise Camp‘
Paradise Camp is a 1986 documentary film about Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, written and directed by Australians Paul Rea and Frank Heimans, respectively. Czechoslovakian Jews were first told that Theresienstadt was a community established for their safety. They quickly recognized it as a ghetto and concentration camp.
The Nazi propaganda film about Terezín
‘The Fuhrer Gives a City to the Jews’
Holocaust Survivor Edith Sheldon talks about the Nazi propaganda film about Terezín
About the Propaganda Film
The Fuhrer gives a City to the Jews
This free version is in German, but you will understand the intention of the film.
A version of the film with English subtitles is available for sale at the National Centre for Jewish Film.
The Fuhrer Gives a City to the Jews
The original Propaganda film about Theresienstadt (Terezin) was approx. 90 min. long. Only approx. 20 minutes of some sequences, the screenplay, stills and drawings of lost scenes are now available. The complete version vanished during the end of WWII and is considered lost.
Making the Film
The filming started on 26 August 1944 in Theresienstadt. The cast and crew were mostly prisoners from Theresienstadt, but they had no artistic freedom because the screenplay and production was closely supervised by the SS-Nazis. Nearly all of the prisoners who worked on this film were later deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camp on 28 October 1944.
Kurt Gerron, his wife and most of the performers were gassed immediately upon arrival in Auschwitz. The editing and post-production was supervised only by the SS-Nazis. The film was finished on 28 March 1945.
What was the Film used for?
After the film was finished on 28 March 1945, it was only shown 4 times before the end of WWII: In March or April 1945 one time in Prague to an exclusive audience of top SS members and then three times in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp itself to a selected audience of Swiss diplomats, Jewish leaders and/or delegates of the ‘International Red Cross’.
Documentary or State-Financed Propaganda?
This film is not a ‘documentary’ or any form of reality-based representation of Theresienstadt under Nazi rule in WWII. It is a state-financed propaganda film, that the Nazis wanted to use to deceive the international public about the fate of the Jews. Actually, the term ‘documentary’ was introduced by the Nazis themselves, as part of the deception strategy. In the same way Theresienstadt was called a “Ghetto”, but in fact it was a concentration camp and a transit camp to the extermination camps. The film was completely staged and was supervised and controlled by the Nazis, therefore it is difficult to name a single person as the ‘director’ in this context.
Unlike other German WWII propaganda films, this so-called ‘documentary’ was never intended for release in Nazi Germany, because its ‘humane’ representation of Jews was too different. The plan was to show it to foreign leaders, deceive them, and then distribute it outside of Nazi Germany, but this didn’t happen.
Music in Terezín
The Artists of Terezín
Terezín /Theresienstadt Carla Josephus Jitta speaks about her time as a child in Terezin
Oratorio Terezin by Ruth Fazal
A Tribute to the Terezín children who died in the Holocaust, and to all who are still with us. We honour you.
More information at https://ruthfazal.com/oratorio-terezin
Please donate to the Oratorio Terezin payoff campaign.
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Books about the Holocaust
Books for children by Kathy Kacer
I cannot recommend the books of Kathy Kacer highly enough. She is a wonderful children’s author, and has written many books based on the life stories of survivors of the Holocaust.
‘Clara’s War’ is a story about Terezin, told from a child’s perspective. ( I loved it too!) Find this and other stories listed here. ‘The Underground Reporters’ is the story about my good friend John Freund who was in both Terezin and Auschwitz. All Kathy’s books are superbly written, and always age appropriate.
A cookbook from Terezin
In Memory’s Kitchen – A Legacy from the Women of Terezin
The pages of this book are filled with recipes. Each is a memory, a fantasy, a hope for the future. Written by undernourished and starving women in the Czechoslovakian ghetto/concentration camp of Terezín (also known as Theresienstadt), the recipes give instructions for making beloved dishes in the rich, robust Czech tradition. Sometimes steps or ingredients are missing, the gaps a painful illustration of the condition and situation in which the authors lived. Reprinting the contents of the original hand-sewn copybook, In Memory’s Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezín is a beautiful memorial to the brave women who defied Hitler by preserving a part of their heritage and a part of themselves. Despite the harsh conditions in the Nazis’ “model” ghetto – which in reality was a way station to Auschwitz and other death camps – cultural, intellectual, and artistic life did exist within the walls of the ghetto. Like the heart-breaking book I Never Saw Another Butterfly, which contains the poetry and drawings of the children of Terezín, the handwritten cookbook is proof that the Nazis could not break the spirit of the Jewish people.
Poetry of Children in Terezín
I Never Saw another Butterfly
The poetry and art contained in this book inspired composer Ruth Fazal to write ‘Oratorio Terezin’