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The Terezin concentration camp (Theresienstadt) was established by the Nazis in Czechoslovakia, near Prague, on this date in 1941. Lodged in a fortress built between 1780 and 1790, it was presented by the Nazis as a “model” Jewish community, with some visits permitted from the Red Cross and other observers. However, most of the 80,000 Czech Jews who died in the Holocaust died in Terezin, and of the 144,000 Jews who passed through the camp, only 17,000 survived — including, by most estimates, fewer than 100 of 15,000 children. Terezin was a transport point to Auschwitz; 88,000 Terezin inmates were ultimately shipped there or to other death camps. Many artists, musicians and highly cultured Jews were confined in Terezin, and much of the art and culture that emerged from the Holocaust was created there, including some 4,000 drawings by children, many of which are on display at the Jewish Museum in Prague.
“For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.” —Pavel Friedman (1921-1944)