70 Years Since the Establishment of the Ghetto – November 24, 2011, Beit Hapalmach, Tel Aviv
Hayim Altmann, spokesman of the Emek Hefer Regional Council: “Following efforts lasting a number of years, Beit Terezin received these days the official designation as the 54th recognized museum in Israel, the third on the subject of the Holocaust”. – These words were said by the director of Beit Terezin, Oded Breda, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of ghetto Theresienstadt. The event was held at the Palmach Museum in Tel Aviv, in the presence of the Minister for Education Mr. Gideon Saar.
Breda also said that the museum, located at kibbutz Givat Hayim Ihud in Emek Hefer, sees as one of its basic tasks its integration in the social fabric of the district, aiming to preserve the particular story of ghetto Theresienstadt and to pass it on to future generations.
Minister Gideon Saar emphasized the specific character of ghetto Theresienstadt, a model for humane behavior in inhuman conditions, with culture and intensive intellectual life. This spirit, he said, defeated the Nazi’s attempts to cover up the horror and to deny the Holocaust.
The head of the Regional Council Emek Hefer, Rani Idan
, son of survivors of ghetto Theresienstadt and Auschwitz extermination camp, who for a number of years headed the group of members of the second generation said: “I am fortunate that, as head of the council, I am part of making Beit Theresienstadt to an important component of the Regional Council Emek Hefer; one of the leading institutions of its kind in Israel. It hosts youth from Emek Hefer and from all over the country, teaching the subject of the Holocaust, offering them the values that enabled the ghetto prisoners to keep their humaneness in a sea of evil, giving the survivors the spiritual strength to come to Israel to build it”.
The event was also addressed by the chairman of the Organization of Israelis of Central European Origin Reuven Merhav
, the chairman of our association, Prof. Eli Lawental
and, for the survivors, Mordehai Livni
. In his moving words he pointed out that the story of such a small ghetto could be forgotten and asked to preserve Beit Terezin to pass on its heritage to younger generations.
After this the musical performance “Theresienstadt – a Town As If” was presented, with cabaret pieces created in the ghetto, restored and orchestrated by participants of the seminar History, Music and Remembrance
, held in Beit Terezin in the summer of 2011. The performance was staged by Julia Pevsner
, the accompanying music was orchestrated by Rafi Kadishson
, and both were instructors at the seminar. The actor of the Cameri Theater Eli Gornstein
moderated the event; some members of his family were also imprisoned in Theresienstadt.
Beit Terezin dealt this year with the subject of cabaret (a Central European traditional art form) in the ghetto.
Jewish writers, composers and performers from cabarets in Prague, Vienna and Berlin were deported to ghettoes and from there to concentration and extermination camps. In ghetto Theresienstadt they found a place to stage cabaret, in spite of horrible conditions, desolation, hunger and the threat of transports to the East.
In the ghetto a number of satirical revues were staged some of which courageously attacked the Jewish ghetto leadership and the inhumane conditions in the ghetto. Karel Schwenk
founded the first, Czech-language, cabaret, he wrote, composed and staged revue performances he himself participated in, among them: “The Lost Ration Card”, “Long Live Life” and “The Last Bicyclist”. Later Kurt Geron
, from Berlin founded a satirical cabaret that staged the musical play “Carrousel
” with the ghetto Jazz orchestra, “The Ghetto Swingers” with music by Martin Roman
At the same time the Cameri theater stages the musical “Cabaret” recounting the story of its artists - most ended up in Terezin and in extermination camps – bequeathing their creations to future generations. Beit Terezin together with the Cameri theater brings for the second time now the play “Terezin, a Town As If”, during the week of Holocaust Day in the framework of the theaters subscription program (16.4.2012).
The event was supported by the Ministry for Senior Citizens, the Education Ministry, the Ministry for Culture and Sport, the Claims Conference, the Association of Israelis of Central European Origin, the Embassy of the Czech Republic, the Regional Council Emek Hefer, the Association of Israelis from Czechoslovakia and the Olenik Company Ltd.