Saturday, November 21, 2009

Terezin – still haunted by its past

The bus rolled to a sudden halt, and we woke up with a start to realize we had arrived. We,and nearly the entire populace in the bus tumbled out sleepily. And there we stood, a bunch of tourists, trying to get our bearings with only the zoom of the receding bus breaking the absolute stillness of the town. We were in Terezin.

The town of Terezin

Terezin has a fortress that was built originally by the Hapsburgs of Austria. The same fortress came in handy once again during Nazi rule, this time to house a Jewish Ghetto. Over time, the original residents of the town were asked to leave to make way for a prison city. The museum today recreates the sad state in which Jews were forced to conduct life. Somehow, they still managed to have some hope during their time here. Terezin was not a death camp like other concentration camps, burdened with stories of torture. But the sadness of years of human spirit that was broken, piece by piece, till none remained, is undeniable.

“A little garden,
Fragrant and full of roses,
The path is narrow,
As a little boy walks along it.
A little boy, a sweet boy,
Like that growing blossom,
When the blossom comes to bloom,
The little boy will be no more”
~ written by a young boy who lived in Terezin


In memory

Terezin today is peaceful and laid back, once you get used to the stillness and state of abandonment. We in fact had one of our best lunches sitting at a roadside cafe in hotel Memorial. We saw people swimming by the river, and bikers in beer joints just outside the fortress. The green memorial sites make for a nice walk, a place to sit and even a picturesque place for a photo. It is easy to banish the image of the town. the way it was. But the words of the prisoners, their hopes, their sadness, still hang around and that still get to you, years later.

Inside the Little Fortress used to jail prisoners of war

PS: I found these very moving accounts...
To holocaust deniers, come to Buchenwald
To those who never got a chance to die where they were supposed to