The Day of Ghetto /
devet bran - festival
The next to the last day of the
festival is dedicated to all those who were murdered, humiliated, and
transported—the day of the Ghetto. The word "Ghetto" is closely
associated with the name Terezin—Theresienstadt.
A tour through the small
The small fortress was created
in fact at the end of the 18th century as a component of a
fortress complex, which was named Terezin (Theresienstadt), in honor of
Empress Maria Theresia.
Almost from the beginning of its
existence it was used as a prison. In 1914 those who attempted to
assassinate Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand were imprisoned here—Prince
Gavrilo and two of his accomplices, all of whom died during the first
four years of their imprisonment.
A jail for the Prague Gestapo was
founded in the fortress in 1940. The first prisoners came on June 14,
1940. Until the end of the war 32,000 prisoners came through the
fortress, 5000 of which were women. Mostly among them were Czechs, and
as time passed there were other peoples—Russians, Poles, Germans, Roma,
Yugoslavians, and towards the end of the war even prisoners from the
ranks of the British army.
Especially cruel was the fate of
the Jewish prisoners, who were either sent by the Gestapo from Prag or
transferred from the ghetto in the city. For most of them the small
fortress was, like the Terezin ghetto, only a transfer station. Their
journey continued on—into the extermination camps in the East or to the
concentration camps in Germany.
By the end of the war a typhoid
epidemic spread throughout the overfilled prison. After the prison
guards fled on May 5, 1945, a relief program was organized by doctors
and nurses from Prague, and from the nearby city of Roudnice. Many of
the helpers became infected and died.
The commandant of the fortress,
Heinrich Jöckel, who was especially notorious because of his cruelty,
was sentenced and hung in 1946. One of the guards, K. Wachholz, was not
found until 1968 in the former East Germany and sentenced to death.
Anthon Mallot, the "handsome Toni", one of the most cruel and deceitful
guards, was sentenced in absentia in 1946 to death. Up until recently he
was living peacefully and nicely as an unassuming citizen in an old
folks home close to Munich, declared by the German authorities as unfit
to be a prisoner. To this day he enjoys good health. A few months ago he
was finally taken into custody and waits in a Munich prison for further
decisions of the Bavarian authorities. A witness was found in the Czech
Republic, who saw how Malloth beat people. To our question what would
probably happen to Malloth in the Czech Republic if he ever were to be
extradited there, if the death penalty was still valid—the guide said, "
we don’t believe that he would ever be extradited. Malloth was born in
From the initiative of the former
prisoners and the bereaved, the Czech government decided in fact in 1947
to create a monument at Terezin, in order to remember the devastating
consequences of repression of freedom and human rights.