Guide to the Theresienstadt Collection
1941-1981

AR 2275

Processed by Leanora Lange

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305

Email: lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org

URL: http://www.lbi.org

© 2013  Leo Baeck Institute
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Leanora Lange in March 2013. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Leo Baeck Institute
Title: Theresienstadt Collection
Dates:1941-1981
Abstract: This is a constructed collection that contains traces of life in Theresienstadt as well as remembrances of it created after World War II. Materials include correspondence, official decrees and notices, money, poems, a map, military reports, lists of prisoners, clippings, accounts of personal experiences, and materials related to a reproduction of the Theresienstadt children's opera Brundibar.
Languages: The collection is in German and English.
Quantity: 0.25 linear feet
Identification: AR 2275
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Historical Note

Theresienstadt holds a unique position among the concentration camps and ghettos created by the German Nazi regime from 1933-1945. From the time the Nazis turned the then Czechoslovak city of Terezín (German: Theresienstadt) into a camp-ghetto in November 1941 to the liberation of prisoners in May 1945, different sections of the city and its surrounding areas functioned as a Gestapo prison, a Jewish ghetto, a forced labor camp, and a transit camp that eventually sent prisoners to death camps in Nazi-occupied Poland. The Gestapo prison was set up in the Small Fortress on the edge of the city and held mainly Czech and Slovak political prisoners. Once the local residents of the city of Theresienstadt were moved out, the city itself was used as a ghetto and labor camp for Jews from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, Holland, Denmark, and Hungary.

Theresienstadt also played a role as propaganda for the Nazi regime. The widespread deportation of Jews from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia began in 1941 under the pretense that these individuals were being sent to work in the East. Since it could hardly be believed that the old or frail being deported were being sent to work, the Nazis set up Theresienstadt as a supposed “spa town” for retirees. Theresienstadt was also the destination of Jews of sufficient renown that their deportation would cause some to inquire after them. While lectures, concerts, and other events were held in Theresienstadt and a library of some 60,000 volumes was maintained, prisoners suffered inhumane living conditions and often lived in constant fear.

Starting in the fall of 1942, many transports from Theresienstadt took prisoners directly to the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Theresienstadt was liberated by Soviet troops in early May 1945.

References

Niewyk, Donald L. and Francis Nicosia. The Columbia Reference Guide to the Holocaust. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Terezín Memorial. “The Police Prison in the Small Fortress.” Retrieved 13 March 2013 from http://www.pamatnik-Terezín.cz/en/history-collection-research/historical-overview/the-police-prison-in-the-small-fortress?lang=en

Terezín Memorial. “The Concentration Camp for Jews: The Terezín Ghetto.” Retrieved 13 March 2013 from http://www.pamatnik-Terezín.cz/en/history-collection-research/historical-overview/the-concentration-camp-for-jews-the-Terezín-ghetto?lang=en

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "Theresienstadt." Holocaust Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13 March 2013 from hhttp://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005424.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains traces of life in Theresienstadt as well as remembrances of it created after World War II. The items in the collection do not share provenance; they were put together over a period of several decades into this constructed collection. The materials that were created between 1941 and 1945 include correspondence, official decrees and notices, money, poems, programs of events, a map, military reports, lists of prisoners, and clippings. Materials created after 1945 include correspondence regarding the 1944 Nazi propaganda film about Theresienstadt, accounts of personal experiences, and materials related to a reproduction of the children's opera Brundibar.

This collection specifically focuses on materials created during the time that Theresienstadt was in operation (1941-1945) and original, unpublished materials about Theresienstadt created afterwards. Published or non-original materials about Theresienstadt created after 1945 were separated into the Theresienstadt Clippings Collection (AR 2275 C) or given to the LBI Library.

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Arrangement

Materials in the collection were separated by document type. Folders are arranged chronologically by the earliest date of the items they hold.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

The LBI Archives hold several memoirs and other writings by survivors of Theresienstadt. The following items are a small sampling of these:

The LBI Library and YIVO Library hold many published materials on the history of Theresienstadt. The Terezín Memorial maintains collections and online databases with materials on Theresienstadt. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also holds a large number of materials on Theresienstadt. These can be found through their collections search.

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Separated Material

A copy of Jewish Monthly from January 1984 featuring the cover story "Children’s Art from Terezín" was removed. This item can be accessed via the YIVO Library. The Terezín Memorial collection catalog was removed to the LBI Archives Manuscript Collection, MS 963. Two videocassettes ("Theresienstadt: Gateway to Auschwitz" directed by Charles Ticho and "Pictures from Theresienstadt/Terezín" by Stephan Dolezel) were removed to the LBI A/V Collection.

Other published or non-original materials about Theresienstadt created after 1945 were separated into the Theresienstadt Clippings Collection (AR 2275 C). These materials include clippings, posters, exhibition brochures, performance programs, newsletters and annual reports of the Terezín Memorial, and newsletters of the Theresienstadt Martyrs Remembrance Association.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Theresienstadt Collection; AR 2275; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Administrative notes were removed to a donor file in the LBI archives. Materials were rehoused into acid-free folders and a 0.25 foot manuscript box. Loose money was placed into acid-free envelopes.

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Container List

 

Theresienstadt Collection, 1941-1981

In German and English.
0.25 linear feet.
Arrangement:

Materials were separated by document type. Folders are arranged chronologically by the earliest date of the items they hold.

Scope and Content:

This collection contains traces of life in Theresienstadt as well as remembrances of it created after World War II. The materials that were created between 1941 and 1945 include correspondence, official decrees and notices, money, poems, programs of events, a map, military reports, lists of prisoners, and clippings. Materials created after 1945 include correspondence about the 1944 Nazi propaganda film "Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt," accounts of personal experiences, and materials related to a reproduction of the children's opera Brundibar.

The ephemera in folder 1 consist of a milk ration card, a notice of a library fine, a performance ticket, and a doctor’s examination card. The lists of Theresienstadt prisoners consist of a list of refugees sent from Theresienstadt to St. Gallen, Switzerland in 1945, a handwritten list of Rabbis who perished in Theresienstadt, and a list of prominent prisoners. The clippings from 1945 cover the arrival of refugees from Theresienstadt in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1 Theresienstadt identification patches and ephemera circa 1941-1945
1 2 Official decrees and notices undated, 1941-1945
1 3 Poems and programs of events and lectures 1942-1945
1 4 Correspondence to and from Theresienstadt prisoners 1942-1946
1 5 Theresienstadt money 1943 January
1 6 Map and blank postcards depicting Theresienstadt undated, 1943
1 7 Clippings 1945 February
1 8 Military reports on Theresienstadt and correspondence from Sergeant Eric Lipman asking for assistance 1945 May
1 9 Lists of Theresienstadt prisoners undated, 1945, 1949
1 10 Correspondence concerning propaganda film "Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt" undated, 1964-1965
1 11 Correspondence containing personal accounts of Theresienstadt 1968-1981
1 12 Script, correspondence, and program for Brundibar: Die Kinderoper von Theresienstadt 1985-1987
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