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Theresienstadt (Concentration Camp) Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 2275

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains traces of life in Theresienstadt as well as remembrances of it created after World War II. The items in the collection do not share provenance; they were put together over a period of several decades into this constructed collection. The materials that were created between 1941 and 1945 include correspondence, official decrees and notices, money, poems, programs of events, a map, military reports, lists of prisoners, and clippings. Materials created after 1945 include correspondence regarding the 1944 Nazi propaganda film about Theresienstadt, accounts of personal experiences, and materials related to a reproduction of the children's opera Brundibar.

This collection specifically focuses on materials created during the time that Theresienstadt was in operation (1941-1945) and original, unpublished materials about Theresienstadt created afterwards. Published or non-original materials about Theresienstadt created after 1945 were separated into the Theresienstadt Clippings Collection (AR 2275 C) or given to the LBI Library.

Dates

  • 1941-1987

Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

Historical Note

Theresienstadt holds a unique position among the concentration camps and ghettos created by the German Nazi regime from 1933-1945. From the time the Nazis turned the then Czechoslovak city of Terezín (German: Theresienstadt) into a camp-ghetto in November 1941 to the liberation of prisoners in May 1945, different sections of the city and its surrounding areas functioned as a Gestapo prison, a Jewish ghetto, a forced labor camp, and a transit camp that eventually sent prisoners to death camps in Nazi-occupied Poland. The Gestapo prison was set up in the Small Fortress on the edge of the city and held mainly Czech and Slovak political prisoners. Once the local residents of the city of Theresienstadt were moved out, the city itself was used as a ghetto and labor camp for Jews from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, Holland, Denmark, and Hungary.

Theresienstadt also played a role as propaganda for the Nazi regime. The widespread deportation of Jews from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia began in 1941 under the pretense that these individuals were being sent to work in the East. Since it could hardly be believed that the old or frail being deported were being sent to work, the Nazis set up Theresienstadt as a supposed “spa town” for retirees. Theresienstadt was also the destination of Jews of sufficient renown that their deportation would cause some to inquire after them. While lectures, concerts, and other events were held in Theresienstadt and a library of some 60,000 volumes was maintained, prisoners suffered inhumane living conditions and often lived in constant fear.

Starting in the fall of 1942, many transports from Theresienstadt took prisoners directly to the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Theresienstadt was liberated by Soviet troops in early May 1945.

References

Niewyk, Donald L. and Francis Nicosia. The Columbia Reference Guide to the Holocaust. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Terezín Memorial. “The Police Prison in the Small Fortress.” Retrieved 13 March 2013 from http://www.pamatnik-Terezín.cz/en/history-collection-research/historical-overview/the-police-prison-in-the-small-fortress?lang=en

Terezín Memorial. “The Concentration Camp for Jews: The Terezín Ghetto.” Retrieved 13 March 2013 from http://www.pamatnik-Terezín.cz/en/history-collection-research/historical-overview/the-concentration-camp-for-jews-the-Terezín-ghetto?lang=en

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "Theresienstadt." Holocaust Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13 March 2013 from hhttp://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005424.

Extent

0.25 Linear Feet

Abstract

This is a constructed collection that contains traces of life in Theresienstadt as well as remembrances of it created after World War II. Materials include correspondence, official decrees and notices, money, poems, a map, military reports, lists of prisoners, clippings, accounts of personal experiences, and materials related to a reproduction of the Theresienstadt children's opera Brundibar.

Arrangement

Materials in the collection were separated by document type. Folders are arranged chronologically by the earliest date of the items they hold.

Digitization Note

This collection was digitized and made accessible in its entirety.

Related Material

The LBI Archives hold several memoirs and other writings by survivors of Theresienstadt. The following items are a small sampling of these:

  1. Theresienstadt: wie ich es sah... by Rena Rosenberger
  2. Theresienstadt by Hugo Heuman
  3. Erlebnisse im K.Z. Theresienstadt by Bruno Marcuse
  4. From Theresienstadt to Switzerland, the diary of Vilma Cohn-Leven
  5. Theresienstaedter Gedichte by Ilse Weber

The LBI Library and YIVO Library hold many published materials on the history of Theresienstadt. The Terezín Memorial maintains collections and online databases with materials on Theresienstadt. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also holds a large number of materials on Theresienstadt. These can be found through their collections search.

Separated Material

A copy of Jewish Monthly from January 1984 featuring the cover story "Children’s Art from Terezín" was removed. This item can be accessed via the YIVO Library. The Terezín Memorial collection catalog was removed to the LBI Archives Manuscript Collection, MS 963. Two videocassettes ("Theresienstadt: Gateway to Auschwitz" directed by Charles Ticho and "Pictures from Theresienstadt/Terezín" by Stephan Dolezel) were removed to the LBI A/V Collection.

Other published or non-original materials about Theresienstadt created after 1945 were separated into the Theresienstadt Clippings Collection (AR 2275 C). These materials include clippings, posters, exhibition brochures, performance programs, newsletters and annual reports of the Terezín Memorial, and newsletters of the Theresienstadt Martyrs Remembrance Association.

Processing Information

Administrative notes were removed to a donor file in the LBI archives. Materials were rehoused into acid-free folders and a 0.25 foot manuscript box. Loose money was placed into acid-free envelopes.

Title
Guide to the Theresienstadt Collection 1941-1987 AR 2275
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Leanora Lange
Date
© 2013
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
Described, encoded, and digitized as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States