Chapter 4: The Madman’s Plot
The Madman’s Plot
Terezin was set up as a transport camp for elderly German, Austrian and Czech Jews and for internationally known intellectuals, artists and musicians whose sudden disappearance might attract attention. It would also serve the unique function of a “model camp,” camouflaging Nazi plans to exterminate the Jews. While the Nazis may have advertised it as a “spa town,” in reality it was overcrowded and disease-ridden. George Brady and Yehuda Bacon were teenagers when they were transported to Terezin. In the webisode below they share their impressions of Terezin.
- What purpose did the Fortress of Terezin serve prior to the Holocaust period? What type of camp was Terezin?
- How does Yehuda Bacon describe the train they traveled to Terezin? How does this compare to the train travel to the camps in general during the Holocaust?
- How does Yehuda Bacon describe the deportation trains he saw leaving upon his arrival in Terezin?
- Focusing on the images of death in Terezin described by George Brady, what can you discern about the manner in which death was handled in Terezin?
- Describe the evidence given by Terezin survivors George Brady and Yehuda Bacon that contradict the notion that Terezin was a “model camp” and a “spa town.”
- Research what exists in Terezin today. What has Terezin become? What survived the Holocaust to help define this region today? Why is Terezin today considered an authentic learning site? Create a 10 slide PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate Terezin as an authentic learning site.
- Write a diary entry from the point of view of Petr Ginz describing the relevance and significance of the Museum at Terezin . Utilize a piece of his artwork to detail an aspect of daily life in Terezin and how that might inform visitors today. Choose a perspective. (i.e. Petr looking into the future, Petr writing today with the benefit of hindsight, etc.)
The camp elders in Terezin wanted to offer the children the best chance of survival. Thus, the decision was made to separate the children from their parents in order to provide them with better housing and more food. This setting would also offer the best opportunity to continue the education of the children in secret. Boys aged 13 to 16, were assigned to Room One, also known as Home One, in building L417. Petr would share this “home” with George Brady, Yehuda Bacon, Leo Lowy and Zdenek “Sydney” Taussig. As you will learn from the Home One Boys, it was an environment that fostered independence and intellectual creativity.
- How did Home One Boys encourage independence and intellectual creativity? Cite examples from the webisode.
- How does George Brady describe the living conditions in Home One Boys?
- How does Yehuda Bacon describe Petr Ginz?
- How does Zdenek Taussing describe Petr’s intellectual expression?
- According to Leo Lowy, how does Petr create his artwork?
- What was Vedem? What role did Petr play in the implementation of Vedem?
- After viewing the artwork in Vedem, describe some of the themes that were present in the works.
- Research other forms of underground activities during the Holocaust. These clandestine activities can include the following: schooling, religious observance, resistance, etc. Write a brief description of these activities and relate them to the work of Vedem.
The prisoners in Terezin lived under the constant threat of deportation to labor and death camps. Of the approximately 140,000 Jews transferred to Terezin nearly 90,000 were deported to camps such as Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Treblinka. Between September 28, 1944 and October 28, 1944, 11 transports carried 18,402 Jews to Auschwitz. Petr and George Brady were on the first of these transports.
- How does George Brady describe the conditions of the train during deportation?
- How does George Brady describe arrival at Auschwitz?
- How does George Brady describe the process of selection by Josef Mengele?
- Utilizing the photo archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, research photos of selection at Auschwitz. Choose 6 photos that reflect the process of selection and place them in a PowerPoint presentation. Caption the photos based upon the descriptions of each photo. Utilize a quote from George Brady’s testimony within the presentation that aligns with the theme of the photographs.
- Utilizing the photo archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (www.ushmm.org), search for the newly acquired photographs of Josef Mengele at Solahutte, a Nazi retreat camp located 30 kilometers from Auschwitz. Examine the nature of these photos and the activities he and other Nazi officials engaged in after hours. How do these photos contrast with the testimony of George Brady upon his arrival at Auschwitz? Write an essay comparing and contrasting the photographs of selection and the after hours activities of Nazi officials. Focus on the questions that these new photographs raise in the context of the history of the Holocaust.