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The Terezin Diary of Gonda Redlich

The Terezin Diary of Gonda Redlich

Saul S. Friedman Editor
Laurence Kutler Translator
Foreword by Nora Levin
Copyright Date: 1992
Edition: 1
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    The Terezin Diary of Gonda Redlich
    Book Description:

    In 1941, the fortress city of Terezin, outside Prague, was ostensibly converted into model ghetto, where Jews could temporarily reside before being sent to a more permanent settlement. In reality it was a way station to Auschwitz. When young Gonda Redlich was deported to Terezin in December of 1941, the elders selected him to be in charge of the youth welfare department. He kept a diary during his imprisonment, chronicling the fear and desperation of life in the ghetto, the attempts people made to create a cultural and social life, and the disease, death, rumors, and hopes that were part of daily existence. Before his own deportation to Auschwitz, with his wife and son, in 1944, he concealed his diary in an attic, where it remained until discovered by Czech workers in 1967.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5012-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xi)
    Nora Levin

    The careful, preparatory work that often preceded the most destructive Nazi actions against Jews during the Holocaust was conspicuously missing during the first deportations “to the East” from Stettin in February 1940 and from other parts of Germany in October November 1941. Both Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler were impatient to have the Jews in the Third Reich disappear, but they did not want them killed in Germany. Consequently, these earliest deportations were swift, chaotic, and impossible to conceal. Later deportations required legal rationalizations of all kinds, definitions, categories, property disposal, and areas to be cleared for destruction. For old...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. xii-xiv)
    Saul S. Friedman

    Egon “Gonda” Redlich was born in Olmütz, the onetime capital of Moravia, on October 18, 1916. The youngest of five children born to a lower-middle-class Jewish family, he grew up in the tumultuous interwar years when Tomas Masaryk and Eduard Benes tried, in vain, to steer an independent, democratic course for Czechoslovakia. Gonda’s father operated a candy store and offered the family a modern, non-orthodox view of Judaism. His brother Robert (fifteen years his senior) and three older sisters all gravitated toward community or socialist ideologies. For the most part, the youngest Redlich had little time for religion or politics....

  5. Translator’s Note
    (pp. xv-xv)
  6. [Map]
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  7. Terezin
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. 1942
    (pp. 1-93)

    Redlich’s choice of Hebrew for his diary was deliberate, offering him practice with the language he hoped to use in a Jewish homeland after the war and also serving as a barrier to translation should the Germans discover his notes. Some of his entries make for rather stiff or formal reading, and he later confesses to difficulties with the language (see entry June 25–26, 1942). These first entries in January are illuminating because they reveal the terrible burden of responsibility instinctively felt by Jewish officials in Terezin charged with selecting persons for transport to the East.

    January 1, 1942....

  9. 1943
    (pp. 94-138)

    Conceding that there was too much crowding in the ghetto, Adolf Eichmann ordered the Auflockerung, a thinning out of its population. The dispatch of transports, suspended in October, was resumed January 20. Children who previously had been exempted were now sent directly to Auschwitz. One week later, the Nazis shuffled leadership in the Altestenrat, replacing Jacob Edelstein with former Heidelberg sociology professor Dr. Paul Eppstein. The move signaled a shift in power from Czech to German Jews and was designed to disrupt whatever harmony existed among Terezin’s inhabitants.

    January1, 1943. A parade of Jewish police going about goosestepping.¹ A...

  10. 1944
    (pp. 139-150)

    The stress of daily life obviously was affecting Redlich, whose entries in his journal became even more episodic during the winter. In January, he notes, in passing, the arrival of the first of nearly five thousand Jews who passed through Terezin. A month later, the appointment of a third commandant, Karl Rahm, barely merits a paragraph. Much of Redlich’s concern and attention focused upon his wife Gerta who gave birth to a son, Dan, on the 16th ofMarch. Thereafter, he kept a second diary dedicated to his son.

    January1, 1944. A new year, the third of Terezin exile.


  11. Diary of Dan
    (pp. 151-161)

    From March 16, 1944, when his son was born, to October of the same year, Redlich kept a concurrent diary for Dan. Like so many fathers, he hoped to have a record of his son’s development that he could share in more peaceful times. This journal includes reference to major events like the Normandy invasion, the arrest of artists who tried to smuggle drawings of conditions in the ghetto out to Switzerland, aerial bombardments. Its essence, however, is the love of two young parents for their precious son. We share their concern for his weight (less than six pounds at...

  12. Editor’s Postscripts
    (pp. 162-163)

    If the SS leadership worried about Terezin becoming another source of armed resistance like the ghettos of Vilna and Warsaw, the deportations in the fall of 1944 headed off such a threat. At the end of October, there were eleven thousand persons in the ghetto, more than 70 percent of them female. Their numbers were swollen again to thirty thousand in the first months of 1945, when the Germans, retreating before the Russian army, were forced to evacuate the major concentration camps in Poland. As a handful of deportees returned to Terezin, those who remained behind discovered the grisly truth...

  13. A Bibliographic Note
    (pp. 164-166)
  14. Index
    (pp. 167-173)