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.