From 1942 to 1944, twelve thousand children passed through the
Theresienstadt internment camp, near Prague, on their way to
Auschwitz. Only a few hundred of them survived the war. In "The
Girls of Room 28," ten of these children mothers and grandmothers
today in their seventies tell us how they did it.
The Jews deported to Theresienstadt from countries all over Europe
were aware of the fate that awaited them, and they decided that it
was the young people who had the best chance to survive. Keeping
these adolescents alive, keeping them whole in body, mind, and
spirit, became the priority. They were housed separately, in
dormitory-like barracks, where they had a greater chance of staying
healthy and better access to food, and where counselors (young men
and women who had been teachers and youth workers) created a
disciplined environment despite the surrounding horrors. The
counselors also made available to the young people the talents of
an amazing array of world-class artists, musicians, and playwrights
European Jews who were also on their way to Auschwitz. Under their
instruction, the children produced art, poetry, and music, and they
performed in theatrical productions, most notably "Brundibar," the
legendary children s opera that celebrates the triumph of good over
In the mid-1990s, German journalist Hannelore Brenner met ten of
these child survivors women in their late-seventies today, who
reunite every year at a resort in the Czech Republic. Weaving her
interviews with the women together with excerpts from diaries that
were kept secretly during the war and samples of the art, music,
and poetry created at Theresienstadt, Brenner gives us an
unprecedented picture of daily life there, and of the extraordinary
strength, sacrifice, and indomitable will that combined in the
girls and in their caretakers to make survival possible.
"From the Hardcover edition.""
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