Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Terezin- The Model Camp

Terezin- The Earth is Soaked with Blood

Terezin- These Walls Bear Witness

Terezin- A Walk in the Park

Terezin, 30 miles from Prague, is a place of sadness, pain and death as well as courage and heroism. Terezin earned worldwide notoriety following Nazi occupation. As early as June 1940, the Prague Gestapo Police Prison was set up in the Small Fortress and turned into a huge place of persecution, where Jews were especially singled out for particularly harsh fate. The Main Fortress became a ghetto, a concentration camp for the Jews as early as June 1941. Initially the Jews were only in the barracks, but by 1942, the town's original population had been forced to move out and the whole town of Terezin became a town behind bars for Jews.

It also became an instrument of Nazi propaganda. The false image of Terezin was meant to be a smoke screen to hoodwink the international public and cover up the genuine tragic fate of inmates in Terezin and other camps. Bathrooms which were never hooked up and never used were built for show and the Red Cross visitors never knew. Some 140,000 men, women and children were deported to Terezin. In the final days another 15,000 prisoners arrived and had to be vacated. Many arrived dead and others died shortly after arrival.

There were many courageous and heroic people who worked hard to keep the people surviving. Rabbis, artists, doctors, nurses and others who boosted and strengthened morale, Less than 4000 people survived the war out of more than 53,000 inmates who had left the camp in transports. The victims included many children who had left behind drawings compiled into the book "I Never Saw Another Butterfly."

It was a difficult and moving experience to be there.

Three photomontages from series Behind the Scene/Seen: An Artistic Response to the Holocaust.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cultural Prague

Prague is a cultural center with many places to see. The National Museum's main building is the design of the famous Czech architect Josef Schultz and dates from the national revival period in Prague at the end of the 19th century (1885-1890.) There are many long term exhibits there.

We also visited St. George's Convent which has a permanent exhibition of Mannerist and Baroque Art in Bohemia. The Convent was originally a Benedictine convent founded in 975 which retains its early medieval character.

We visited the Museum of Czech Cubism which has been placed in the newly renovated Balck Madonna House. The unique Cubist building, designed by Josef Gocar, was built in 1911-1912. The museum presents Czech Cubism as an artistic trend which influenced all spheres of fine arts.

The Franz Kafka Museum has a long-term exhibition of all the first editions of his works (1883-1924.) Correspondences, diaries, manuscripts, photographs and drawings as well as 3-D objects and 5 audiovisual works and music composed especially for this exhibit.

photos: top: tourists; next: view from the castle; third: town hall; bottom: kafka statue

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prague Photomontages from Behind the Scene/Seen

Prague-Ghosts In the Streets

Prague- Dead End Tracks

Prague- Clear Reminders

These 3 photomontages are from the series Behind the Scene/Seen. While visiting the charming city of Prague, it is all too easy to miss the history and the ghosts and cries of the murdered Jews who once lived and thrived here. Seeing behind the scene/seen includes those who perished on these streets during the Holocaust.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jewish Prague

Jews have lived in Prague, the cultured and elegant city of lore and legend, since the 11th century. Waves of persecution marked their history, however. The cemetery, founded in the 15th century, ( bottom three pictures) has 12,000 tombstones crowded together in layers in a small plot of ground since Jews were not allowed to be buried anywhere else. It was used until 1787. Holocaust victims were not buried there.

The Jewish Museum in Prague is visited by half of all the tourists who visit Prague. It consists of several synagogues, the cemetery and the Ceremonial Hall, all located in the Jewish Quarter.

The former Ceremonial Hall and mortuary (second from top) was built in 1911. It housed the Burial Society Hevrah Kaddishah (founded in 1564) now houses a small museum about the customs and ceremonies of Jewish burials.

The Old-New Synagogue (top picture) is not part of the museum but located in the Jewish Quarter as well. It was built in the 13th century and is still in use today. It is the only existing medieval hall of its kind. The golem of Prague legend is from here. It is the oldest extant synagogue in Europe.

A good source for tours in the Jewish Quarter of Prague is or contact