Inge’s Story: Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Pen and ink drawing of buildings and courtyard in Terezin, by Peter Loewenstein, 1943.

Pen and ink drawing of buildings and courtyard in Terezin, by Peter Loewenstein, 1943.

In 1942 the Nazis forced Inge and her parents to leave Muengersdorf, and took them to Terezin, or Theresienstadt in German, located in Czechoslovakia. Many German-Jewish veterans of WWI, artists, writers, and well-known Jewish public figures were sent to Terezin. Terezin was used as an elaborate deception, a “model ghetto” that Nazis used in order to convince the world that Jews had a safe and comfortable place to live.

In 1944, at the request of the Danish government, members of the Red Cross made a visit to Terezin to inspect living conditions there. Residents were forced to build fake storefronts and cafes. Fake money was printed to make it seem like the Jews had commerce in the ghetto, a youth soccer game was staged, and the Nazis even made a fake propaganda film called The Fuehrer Gives the Jews a City, to show the world a deceptively cheerful image of Terezin. In reality, Terezin was an overcrowded and brutal prison, from which the Nazis sent Jews to be murdered at the killing centers.

In Terezin, Inge and her family were allowed to keep some of their clothes, but no valuables or other possessions. At the peak of occupancy in Terezin, nearly 60,000 Jews lived in an area originally designed for only 7,000 people, which resulted in extremely close quarters, lack of food, and disease. At the same time, they had no news from the outside world and knew nothing of what was happening in the war, or to their fellow Jews elsewhere in occupied Europe.

Inge’s mother tried to take care of her daughter as much as possible, but Inge was always hungry. When Inge got sick, Mrs. Goldschmidt was always optimistic and said Inge would be fine. Inge’s mother also tried to get more food by taking jobs in food distribution. She sometimes managed to hide a few potatoes and would cook them one at a time. She would save the extras as long as possible, but when a frost came everything froze and they were hungry once again.

Inge also missed her father, because he was in a separate barracks for men. All the men in the barracks were disabled WWI veterans. Inge’s mother was very worried about her husband, because he was in a wheelchair and didn’t have anyone to take care of him.

But the main fear for everyone was deportation. When transports of Jews were taken to “the east” no one knew where they were going. In many ways, Inge considered life within Terezin better than an unknown future.

Essenausgabe (Food Distribution) by Peter Loewenstein, 1942.

Essenausgabe (Food Distribution) by Peter Loewenstein, 1942.

Chapter 3



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