Among the tens of thousands of Jews sent to the Nazi concentration camp Terezín (or Theresienstadt) were 15,000 children, of whom only 132 are known to have survived the war. Pavel Weiner, a studious, erudite Czech boy, who kept a diary of his experiences in the garrison town turned “model ghetto,” was among them.
While modernist music has long been part of the repertoire, there remain many brilliant composers whose work is much less widely known. Czech-born Viktor Ullmann is one of these composers and pianist Jeanne Golan is trying to restore the composer to his rightful place while showing the tremendous bravery and artistic vision he and his fellow inmates of Terezín showed in creating art up to the very end.
A new documentary film celebrating the life and work of Arnošt Lustig is due out to mark the anniversary of his death last year at 84. Made by the father-daughter team of Ivo Pavelek and Kristina Pavelková, ‘Arnošt Lustig – Nine Lives’ stars the vibrant Czech writer himself as he talks about his family, childhood, the concentration camps and his rise as a journalist and internationally celebrated novelist.
When people think of young victims of the Holocaust it is invariably Anne Frank who comes to mind. The soon to be released documentary ‘The Last Flight of Petr Ginz’ provides a vivid glimpse of another tragically shortened life. Born in Prague, Ginz was sent to Terezín and later Auschwitz, but left behind five novels, over 170 drawings and paintings, a diary and a camp magazine.
Seventy years ago this week, the Nazis began deporting Czech Jews to the garrison town of Terezín (Theresienstadt) in nothern Bohemia; Prague-born pianist Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest known survivor of that Gestapo “show camp” — and of the Holocaust — this Saturday marks her 108th birthday. For all she has been through, she remains the eternal optimist: “This is the reason I am so old, even now, I am sure.”
Nov. 24 marks the 70th anniversary of the first deportation of Jews from Bohemia and Moravia to Terezín, from where many of them were sent on to Auschwitz and other death camps. Prague’s Jewish Museum is commemorating the occasion with lectures, concerts and assorted events with Holocaust survivors and historians offering valuable insights to put the tragic events into a contemporary perspective.
Thieves have made off with a rare 2.5-meter bronze Czech statue depicting the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary — in a state of undress. The unconventional statute, created by Prague sculptor Pavel Purkrábek, had been perched on a hilltop overlooking the town of Bohdaneč in the Kutná Hora region since 2007.
The 12th annual 9 Gates (Devět bran) festival of Czech, German and Jewish culture begins on June 13. Music, theater and film from Czech and international performers give a sample of a complex and often tragic cultural blend whose repercussions continue to be felt.
Another series of memorials, writ small, will soon grace the streets of Prague outside the homes of Holocaust victims who were forcibly deported. It is part of the Stolpersteine (“stumbling blocks”) project of German artist Gunter Demnig, who since 1993 has installed tens of thousands of them across Europe, inspired by a line from the Talmud: “One is not truly dead until one’s name is forgotten.”