Judith Rosenzweig

01.04.2010 | 00:00
Judith Rosenzweig

Gardens of the Terezín Ghetto
We met Judith Rosenzweig in Špindlerův Mlýn, where every year she makes the long journey from Israel to meet her friends from the Terezín ghetto. She told us the story of her father, Julius Schwarzbart, born in Jemnice in May 1889. It is a very colourful tale as seen through a child’s eyes which in a small way reveals the secret of the establishment of gardens in the Terezín ghetto.

“All our family arrived at Terezín from Brno in March 1942. Obviously, they immediately separated us from the men, so I, my sister Ester and mother Charlote went to Dresden Barracks and the men, i.e. my father and brother Gideon, to diff erent ones. Straight after our arrival my father became involved with the Judenrat (correctly named Ältestenrat, in English Council of Elders). I think it was Mr. Eppstein, who my father spoke to about the possibility of establishing gardens in the ghetto, where mostly the children could work.
The fi rst garden was opened by my father in 1942 in ditches, where he grew vegetables. However he had to hand the whole harvest over to the SS. The youngsters from 14 to 16 years of age worked there, and at the same time they could be in the fresh air. That is what my father mainly envisaged. He himself lived in the garden, where he had a tent made of rags and few planks. Once, when I was ill with jaundice, I even stayed in ‘his‘ garden for a few days and he looked after me.
I suppose I don’t have to say that my father liked the allotment very much. Before our arrival at Terezín we used to have a large orchard in Brno. My father was not really a professional gardener but he knew his stuff . I remember Germans winning the fi rst prize for a Kohlrabi, which he grew in his garden in Terezín. It was big and juicy unlike most big pieces which are often woody.
Later, when the children’s home was opened in the L 410 building, father had ‘his’ garden behind this house. A small shed for tools stood in it, where my father together with my mother lived and worked. Besides he also oversaw the youngsters. In the tool shed he placed a bunk bed, in the corner stood a small iron stove and my mother cooked vegetable mash from nettles, thrown away leaves of cabbage and Kohlrabi, dandelions and so on. Even here father could not keep anything he grew otherwise he would have been severely punished. I remember when before the visit of the Red Cross to Terezín my father had to tidy up the park and plant rows of colourful flowers to make the ghetto look more cheerful than it really was. We stayed in Terezín until October 1944. Then on October 19 we were sent together to the Auschwitz concentration camp, my brother had been deported there before. After our arrival, father was separated from us and sent to the gas chamber. My mother, sister and myself were chosen for work and so we survived till the end of the war. At that point we were at the Bergen-Belsen camp, where my mother died one week after the liberation. Between 1943 and 1945, up to 100,000 prisoners died in Bergen-Belsen. The camp was liberated on April 15, 1945 and the British army found 60,000 seriously ill prisoners there. Unfortunately, 14,000 of them died soon after the liberation. My sister and I were the lucky ones and today we live with our families in Israel. My brother Gideon also survived the war.”

Luděk Sládek


www.pamatnik-terezin.cz www.facebook.com/TerezinMemorial

Judith's parents Julius Schwarzbart Judith's parents Scharlote Judith with her sister and brother
(in front two cousins who did not surviv) Judith, 1946 The infamous railway in Terezín After the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen camp in
April 1945 Judith worked as a nurse for 35 years (1962) Memorial desk in Bergen-Belsen Obrázek č.9

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