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The clompletion of this site
was made possible with the
help of the Conference on
Jewish Material Claims
against Germany - 1999

Home >> Beit Theresienstadt >> Construction of the Building
here were no sharp arguments as to the form of the building: It was obvious that it has to be accomplished within the very limited means that the Association had at its disposal. It has to be built as a very modest but multi-purpose site. As per the architect Albin Glaser's suggestion there will be a Memorial Room in form of a twelve-sided structure, built of red bricks - to remind the Terezin fortress. For the Kibbutz a theoretical library study-room and a hall for lectures and smaller cultural events, and for the Association : the archive, study-room and a reading hall.
The greatest dispute on the designation of the site erupted between members of the Association's Managing Committee only in stage when the building of the project started : A short time after the Liberation a Center for Collection of Documentary Material view the Holocaust (Dokumentacni Akce) had started in Prague, financed by the Joint Organization and its manager Zeev Shek., a member of Maccabi Hatzair and an educator in the ghetto. Before making his alyia on a student certificate, in 1946, and because of lack of opportunity to a legal alyia for the other employees of the Center, it was decided that Zeev Shek will take with him to Israel, in his personal luggage, all the documents which were collected so far.
דגם רצפת המוזיאון
These documents, which were stored at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus Jerusalem, and therefore could not be approached for many years, were said to become the foundation of the future to be archive of Beit Terezin. But, as per Moshe Sharet's request - Minister of Foreign Affairs then - not to disperse the documents between small organizations, Zeev Shek who at that time was Sharet's secretary - transferred the material of Dokumentacni Akce to the archive of Yad VaShem and the research and study hall, that was supposed to be a part of Beit Terezin has been cancelled, although some members strongly opposed same. Contrary to this, owing to Zeev Shek's good connections during his office in Vienna, he got a copy of card index including data of 160.000 ex-prisoners of ghetto Terezin, according to the transports they were deported. This index was prepared in Prague immediately after the end of the war and has been preserved. This index was of utmost importance, especially after the severance of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Czechoslovak Republic, together with all countries of the Communist Block (except Romania), following the Israel victory in the Six Days War in 1967.
In the course of time it turned out, that there is a chance to build an archive also without the collection of Dokumentacni Akce, and that also small research sites are justified, and it never crossed their mind to compete with the sovereign institution like Yad.VaShem. Additional piercing debate was conducted regarding the mosaic floor in the room of remembrance, because its costs then were thought too high - 100.000 Lirot. There were members who thought that the money will be better invested in an educational project and research. Some of them saw in the mosaic map of ghetto's streets with all the blocks and buildings, something that the time will erase, some of them thought that the towns map will say something only to those people who were imprisoned in the ghetto, and some of them thought that the mosaic will add to the atmosphere of the lace also to the next generations. The mosaic was accomplished according to Albin Glaser's scheme, in a workshop in kibbutz Giv'at Hashlosha and the disputes concerning it are long forgotten. Six years passed between the ceremony of laying the corner-stone and the opening of the house for its designated activities, the commemoration room still empty, with only the mosaic and a Torah scroll there. It was obvious that an essence of the ghetto history should be shown and properly visualized there, with few but large illustrations, taking into account the limited means that stood at the disposition of the Association. Propositions for a modern audio-visual display were rejected due to lack of financial means but the suggestion of Albin Glaser was accepted, to project enlarged photo-slides, elucidated from their back side, that will show in essence the development stages of the ghetto.
Tens of meetings, drafts for choosing the right photos and choosing the correct texts to accompany the photos, were needed. Additional four years passed until the display in the commemoration room - today called the Museum - has been accomplished.
Whoever is acquainted with the Czech immigrants - they had majority within the various Preparation Committees - knows that they were not on the side of glittering shows, they were very careful and not willing to be in debt, not very talented in obtaining funds and they stick to their principles: to many of them it seems not proper, not moral and revolting to use also money from German sources, for building a memorial to victims of the Holocaust. Therefore it was decided, already from the start of the Association's existence (contrary to the ideas of some others, more practical members), that there will be no official appeal to the German government or its institutions for their participation in funding the erection and activating of the house. In the course of time the things changed, slowly, without declarations, either by direct contact with the Germans that were born after the nazi era and wanted the contact with the house, or following change of generations, or due to actual needs and interest of mutual cooperation between both sides, for the same and common aim: to transmit to next generations the information on Holocaust in general and on the history of ghetto Terezin in particular.
In absence of financial resources, besides the membership fees and here and there some donations, the work was based - first in the Association, then in Beit Terezin - almost entirely on volunteers, without salary. The secretariat of kibbutz Givat Haim - Ihud agreed to put Pinda Shefa - one of its veteran members, also from Czechoslovakia, as the manager of the house until 1982. After Pinda came Alisah Schiller, she also being a kibbutz member, and former ghetto Terezin prisoner.
The founders' generation begun to show signs of weariness, their number thinned, the needs expanded and requested full professional work. As from 1998 the management of Beit Terezin is in the hands of Anita Tarsi, a university Master degree historian (her father in law, Harry Tarsi, formerly Tressler, was a member of the Dokumentacni Akce in Prague and one of the Beit Terezin founders). Oded Breda started to run the place in Feb 2009. In order to secure continuation of the regular activities in Beit Terezin - also after the founders' generation will not be here anymore - the Association's committee in 1997 decided that the second generation (and in the future also the third one) will be represented equally with the veterans in all the various committees and in the management as well. Following four of the founders' chairmen - Zeev Shek, Willy Groag, Uri Bass and Mordechai Livni - Dr. Eli Loewental was elected in 1998 (manager of Drugs Weaning Center at Haifa, second generation) as the Association's chairman, and Mordechai Livni that was the chairman during the past five years, is acting as his deputy. Since the year 1976 the Association publishes twice a year, in January and in July, Association's Newsletter -"Dapei Kesher" , this name reveals one of its main aims : to keep contact between the Members, dispersed over the whole world - U.K., U.S.A., Canada, Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Denmark, Australia, Chile, Venezuela and more - to keep them informed about Beit Terezin's activities. In addition to this, the Dapei Kesher bring information on what's going on in the world regarding events connected with ghetto Terezin and its history: exhibitions, theater, concerts, publishing of books, published studies, memoirs and world newspapers' reports, meetings, gatherings and congresses. The Dapei Kesher were edited for many years by Ruth Bondy, also one of the Association's founders, but now, in accordance with the new policy to transmit the Association's activity to the management of the second generation, the writing and editing of Dapei Kesher went over to her daughter, the journalist Tal Bashan and others. No one can ever tell what the future will bring to the mankind, to the State of Israel, to the Kibbutz Movement, to each one of us : we can only try that Beit Terezin will not only to continue be active but that its activities will expand, as it did during the last years.