Kasandra says. . .Today our group met with 90 year old Holocaust survivor Pavel Stransky. He explained to us the story of his past and how love and hope helped him all the way to survival. This story of fear, torture, but also love really touched me and brought me to the conclusion that Pavel is not just a man with many stories, love and hope, but he is a man with SOUL! It really opens my eyes to how much we take for granted and persuaded me to now say that LOVE is the most important thing in life! Thanks Pavel!
Sarah S. says. . . love, rejection, loss, love re-found. The telling of Pavel's story and his verbal visuals created an emotional and nostalgic atmosphere in which I remembered my history--my grandfather's story and the story of my connection to the importance of remembering.
The students were very moved not only by his story, but by his willingness to share his entire day with us at Theresienstadt.
Casey says. . .At Theresienstadt we walked through the tunnels used by soldiers during World War II for a quick escape from the concentration camp. Inside the tunnels was dark and scary --- you never knew when there was a turn coming up or if you were going to walk into a wall. Exiting the tunnels hit me hard, though, because at the end of the tunnels was where prisoners were executed by firing squad, electric chair or were hanged.
Jordan says. . .Today at Theresienstadt [the work camp], we took a walk through the underground tunnels which were used by Nazis soldiers to travel around the camp quickly. When we came out of the tunnel, the first thing we saw was a small area where Nazi soldiers did shooting drills, but it was also where many of the executions happened. Before the prisoners were killed they had to decide how they were going to be executed; either by electric chair, firing squad or being hanged. I cannot imagine having to make such a horrible decision because the outcome of my choice that was made would be the same: life-ending.
Lilibeth says. . .In Terezin at the Magdeburg barracks where art, music and literature were displayed, I felt all six million Jews and their stories. In some complex way, music and art express what words often can’t; it shows a different side of people and that side is real and hurting but in a way that gives understanding and clarity. The pictures showed a mix of emotions - despair yet also hope. It gave me a clearer understanding of the Holocaust through an artistic viewpoint. Everything is more vivid, live, real; not so black and white when you feel it all around you, as if walking in their shoes. Nothing will be the same again.
Saidie says. . .When entering Thesienstadt, the pain and suffering of the victims struck me, every aspect, building, room, left me with tears in my eyes and pain in my heart. One feature that affected me the most was the underground tunnel, turning and winding in darkness only providing little light to see. The walk through felt about 30 minutes to an hour long when in actuality it was only 10 minutes, exiting to the location of Jews and other prisoners being shot by the firing squad, hung, or electrocuted. The intensity, despair and depression of the sight was and will remain astonishing.
Jessica says. . .It’s amazing how during the Holocaust sheer humanity was disregarded. Going through the Terezin Ghetto Museum that displayed the artwork of children and others made me realize how much the Nazis didn’t care. They didn’t see the Jews as talented people who played instruments, sang, or painted. They were numbers and nothing more.
Mackenzie says. . .As we entered the Theresienstadt concentration camp, I had the unique privilege and opportunity to sit on a bench with Pavel while we discussed the emotional effect of his revisiting the site that took so much away from him. When I said, “This is so crazy, seeing the camp,” he quickly responded, “People are crazy.” Though such a simple statement, these words say so much. People truly are crazy -- the human mind is capable of virtually anything, yet it is up to the individual to decide just how crazy they will be. This remarkable man also said that “one cannot survive without hope –without hope we are dead.” These words deeply touched me, for I have endured my own personal hardships in which the only thing I had left was hope. Pavel Stransky is a lovable, generous and wise 90 year old man who has forever touched my life.
DaiQuan says. . .The quote that touched me the most was when Pavel said “You must have hope. Without hope things die.” It made me understand that if you want to see good things happen in your life, you must have hope.
Reagan says. . .Tears. A man about five foot three inches tall inspired me to tears with his story. His strength to even recount such a darkness is as surreal as the experience he endured. Pavel Stransky could move mountains with his words.
The walls display many works of the talented musicians, artists, and writers who were kept here.
Celina says. . .The Terezin Ghetto motto of "I'm alive as long as I am creating" struck me as a clear echo of what really transpired in the ghetto. The artistic beauty that emerged from t he ghetto seemed absurd to me because i never understood how this beauty could thrive in such an environment. But with this saying, I am able to more fully grasp the meaning behind the art, music and culture of the Terezin Ghetto
Michelle says. . .Pavel preached about the importance of love in one's soul. If a man that experienced such great hardships and still believes in love and life than there is no excuse for anyone to not. After Pavel's story, all my personal struggles seemed to dissipate. After putting everything into perspective, I realized that if you are still breathing at the end of the day, it is a good day.
Ashley says. . .We visited the Lidice Memorial and saw the memorial to the 82 Czech children who were murdered by the Nazis. I saw 82 different children, 82 different faces, 82 different voices all asking the same question, Why me?
Greg says. . .Lidice was truly beautiful today, yet that beauty was not enough to mask the truth of what happened there. On that beautiful plot of land are 82 statues of Christian children who were put in gas chambers by the Nazis.
Cherilyn says. . .As I stood in Lidice and I looked over the open land where the town once stood I couldn't believe how such atrocities could have happened in a place of such beauty.
Shalmi translated a Hebrew diary entry by Czech composer, pianist and conductor of Raphael Schachter, that captures the complexity of life here in Theresienstadt:Today milk froze in the pot. The cold is very dangerous. The children do not take off their clothes and the lice multiply in the teenagers' dwellings.
There is the premiere of “The Bartered Bride." The presentation was the most beautiful I have seen thus far in the ghetto.
My sister Minsi whose husband died in the fortress, is summoned with her children to the transport. I will appeal, but will I be successful? If not, what will I say to her? Minsi will surely be cross with me. My uncle is also on the reserve list for the transport.
My quarters where I live are getting nicer and nicer. One should see a woman's hand [meaning he had a new girlfriend].
This photo shows Shalmi translating from Schachter's diary.
Theresa says. . .Being in the Terezin today I have never felt more uncomfortable and more interested in my life. It was such a mix of emotions just thinking about what happened there and I think it will definitely impact how I view the world in the future.
Francesca says. . .I remember talking to Mrs. Bauman and I had asked her why they had a pool in the Small Fortress in Terezin. She told me that the head officer would sometimes use it but when it was empty it had a different use; they used to put fathers and sons in there and force them to fight until death all for an extra piece of bread. Then I thought of how pools today are used for pleasure and that during the Holocaust they were utilized as a weapon of devastation. I don't think I will ever be able to look at a pool the same way again.
Deanne says. . .Pavel Stransky's story really moved me today and going to Terezin with him made the day even more special. In particular, what we saw I the Small Fortress, solitary confinement cells, false sinks which never had water and the places where people were murdered really sickened me.
Sammy says. . .Pavel Stransky's story truly moved me and brought me to tears. Looking at this 90 year old man and his strength and courage to carry on with his life as well as educate others really had an impact upon me. Hearing a survivor story first hand really brought me back in time and caused me to think about my life and how I will look at things differently after hearing Pavel.
Sarah P. says. . .The Holocaust gave chances to some while it took them away from others. The Nazis were given the chance of control which almost completely destroyed the Jews' chances to live. By telling their story, those who survived offer the chance for humanity to change- the chance to distinguish the paths of progress from those that lead to evil.
Brenton says. . .Toward the end of Pavel's testimony he asked “What is the most important thing in life?” He responded by saying “the love between a man and a women is the most important thing in life.” I connected his closing theme to family because after reflecting on his story and my own life, I realized my family would always pull through and be there for me, just like his wife was for him.
Nick says. . .No longer a person, just a digit. In front of the Terezin Concentration Camp lie fields filled with graves of those who died. Many of the tombs had only a number. No name. No epitaph. Simply a digit. It is the ultimate stripping of identity: suppressing one's religion, isolation of person's into a camp and the deletion of one's name.
Tonight we rode the funicular up the hillside to our restaurant overlooking the magical city of Prague.