"Theresienstadt's Children and Their Art" opens at the Reading Public Museum on Saturday, Feb. 18.
The exhibition features more than 30 objects from the Beit Theresienstadt Holocaust Museum, Archive and Educational Center in Israel.
The works, including collages, drawings, embroidery, dolls, diaries, magazines, games, and marionettes, were created by children at the Theresienstadt ghetto in what is now the Czech Republic.
The exhibit continues through May 13. It's part of the "Theresienstadt Project," which includes films and concerts about the Holocaust, and is a collaborative educational effort among the Reading Public Museum, the Reading Symphony Orchestra, and the Jewish Federation of Reading.
The Theresienstadt Ghetto, (Terezin in Czech) was established in the northwestern part of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia on Nov. 24, 1941. It was alleged to be a "Jewish town" for the Protectorate's Jews, but was in fact a concentration and transit camp, which functioned until its liberation May 8, 1945.
During its operation, 12,171 Jewish children (born 1928-1945) were sent to Ghetto Theresienstadt; 9,001 of these children were deported to the "East," of whom 325 survived. For many of the children, these objects are the only things that remain from their lives.
The exhibition at the museum is presented by VIST Financial.
More on the Thereseinstadt (Terezin) Project
Over a period of three and a half years, approximately 158,000 Jews, from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Germany, Austria, Holland, Denmark, Slovakia, and Hungary, as well as evacuees from other concentration camps, were transferred to the Theresienstadt Ghetto.
Of these, 88,129 were sent on to their death in the "East," of whom only 4,134 survived.
In Theresienstadt itself 35,409 died from "natural" causes like illness and hunger, and approximately 30,000 inmates were liberated in the ghetto.
More than 12,000 Jewish children (born 1928-1945) were sent to Ghetto Theresienstadt; 9,001 were deported to the "East," of whom 325 children survived.
The Germans also meant to use Theresienstadt Ghetto as a "Show Camp" for propaganda purposes — to mislead or conceal the physical annihilation of the Jews being deported from the "Greater German Reich." as well as to refute the rumors about the way the Germans were treating the Jews who were sent to the camps, and about the extermination of the Jews in the "East."
The camp imprisoned or held for deportation, thousands of intellectuals, writers, composers, musicians, conductors, those involved in theater and film and recognized rabbis and spiritual leaders.
It was an evil ruse, profoundly described by noted writer, Chaim Potok, Auschwitz was the Kingdom of Death. Theresienstadt was the Kingdom of Deceit.
Using music and the visual arts, the story of those starved, beaten, tortured and murdered will be told through three major events.
The Theresienstadt Project is an unprecedented collaboration between the Reading Public Museum, the Jewish Federation of Reading, and the Reading Symphony Orchestra along with Fleetwood Area High School, Holocaust Library and Resource Center at Albright College, Berks Classical Children's Chorus and Berks Opera Workshop.