Theresienstadt: Hitler’s Gift to the Jews

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Biography History Holocaust Holocaust Theresienstadt Non Fiction To Read Want Wwii

About this book

"Theresienstadt: Hitler's Gift to the Jews" is a gripping account of one man's experiences in the most deceptive of all the places in which the Nazis incarcerated the Jews during the Holocaust: Hitler's "model" ghetto, Theresienstadt. Norbert Troller's memoir recounts his two years in Theresienstadt from early 1942 until September 1944, when he was deported to Auschwitz after the Nazis discovered he and other artists were smuggling out drawings that revealed the horrors of Theresienstadt. Miraculously preserved by his friends, Troller's drawings and watercolors of life inside Theresienstadt add a compelling dimension to his story and are published here for the first time. Troller, a Czech Jew from a prominent family of businessmen, was a trained architect. His keen observations of human nature, of the experiences of his fellow prisoners, and of his own existence are embedded within a powerful history of the Theresienstadt atrocities. He records his painful journey to and arrival at the ghetto; his first weeks there, his futile efforts to protect his relatives; and his arrest and incarceration in the dreaded "Little Fortress" where he almost died before being deported to Auschwitz. His narrative also reveals the horrors beneath the facade of an "autonomous" Jewish government, which the Nazis used to conceal their plans to exterminate the Jewish population that was supposedly meant for the "elite" of central Europe. In reality, Theresienstadt was nothing more than a convenient collection location for transports to "the East": Auschwitz-Birkenau. The terrible burden of filling the transports with the required number of victims was put on the members of the Elder Council, the Jewish administrative body. Troller says "With devilish baseness and cunning [the Nazis] did dictate the number of victims to be sent east, but they put the burden of selection on the Jews themselves; to select their own coreligionists, relatives, their friends. In the end this unbearable, desperate, cynical burden destroyed the community leaders who were forced to make the selections." Although many narratives have written about life in the Nazi concentration camps, Troller's account, combining his intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the Theresienstadt and his drawings, is unique in Holocaust studies. Norbert Troller's unique account of life in Theresienstadt combines his intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the camp with two dozen of his own drawings and watercolors. Troller recounts his two years in Theresienstadt from early 1942 until September 1944, when he was deported to Auschwitz after the Nazis discovered he and other artists were smuggling out drawings that revealed the horrors of Hitler's "model" ghetto. Miraculously preserved by his friends, Troller's drawings and watercolors of life inside Theresienstadt add a compelling dimension to his story. His keen observations of human nature, of the experiences of his fellow prisoners, and of his own existence are embedded within a powerful history of the Theresienstadt atrocities.

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