Strings in the shadows : a portrait of three violinists at the Terezin concentration camp / by Aleeza Nemirovsky Wadler.
On November 24, 1941, the first transport consisting of 342 Jews arrived in Terezín. This garrison town, approximately sixty kilometers north of Prague, was founded in 1780 by Emperor Joseph II. Between the years 1941 and 1945, 140,000 Jews passed through Terezín. Of these, 35,000 died of starvation and disease in the camp, and 90,000 were murdered in extermination camps to the east, chiefly at Auschwitz. Despite this harsh reality, the Germans came to consider Terezín their “model camp” for the purpose of deceiving international observers regarding the treatment of the Jews. As a result, a degree of cultural expression came to be tolerated in the camp.In the midst of conditions as deplorable as those of any other concentration camp, the Jews of Terezín organized literary evenings, theatrical performances, lectures and concerts in the barracks and courtyards. Among the many writers, artists and musicians at Terezín were several very talented violinists. This dissertation traces the experiences of three of these violinists: Paul Kling, Thomas Mandl and Egon Ledeč. The paper draws on my direct interviews with the surviving violinists, Thomas Mandl and Paul Kling. We learn about Egon Ledeč through letters, music and other documents. The emphasis is on their daily activities at Terezín, their growth as musicians in this environment and their experiences, in order to provide a window into the musical life that existed in the camp. It is a profile of the vigor and extraordinary capacity of human creativity in the midst of extreme moral depravity and physical deprivation.
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