Trapped: Essays on the History of the Czech Jews, 1939-1943

By Klein-Pejová, Rebekah | Shofar, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

Trapped: Essays on the History of the Czech Jews, 1939-1943


Klein-Pejová, Rebekah, Shofar


Trapped: Essays on the History of the Czech Jews, 1939-1943, by Ruth Bondy. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2008. 246 pp. $36.00.

Ruth Bondy s Trapped is a set of beautifully crafted humanistic essays that considerably deepens our understanding of the Czech-Jewish experience during the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in the years 1939 through 1943, a subject about which surprisingly little has been written. While Bondy devotes the majority of her attention to strategies of coping with the everyday ordeals of the Terezin ghetto, Theresienstadt in German, she integrates the history of the ghetto into a broader narrative that begins with the gradual removal of Czech Jewry from the surrounding society ("The History of the Closing Gates"), includes special consideration of the inexplicable existence and bearable circumstances of the children's barracks in the Birkenau family camp ("Games in the Shadows of the Crematoria"), and concludes with a commemorative essay that places the Czech Jews who perished in the Holocaust within the context of the thousand-year history of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia ("Roll Call"). A brief timeline of events in German-occupied Bohemia and Moravia follows the final essay, and the book is illustrated with carefully selected materials from the Beit Terezin and Yad Vashem archives.

Trapped was originally published in Hebrew for an Israeli audience for whom, Bondy writes in what appears to be an unchanged English-language version of the Hebrew introduction, the Terezin ghetto was but "a negligible footnote, devoid of any rebellion, the sole ghetto in Central Europe, not comparable to the ghettos in Poland, a ghetto for the privileged, as the Nazis presented it and as the representative of the International Red Cross defined it after he visited there in June 1944" (p. 9).

Throughout the essays, Bondy focuses on human concerns and the reality of everyday existence with emphasis on morality, mutual responsibility, the ennobling quality of work, order, and above all on the importance of the attempt to preserve human dignity under the most difficult of circumstances. Terezin was indeed unique for the large number of works of art and music, children's drawings and newspapers, diaries and notes preserved only there. Nevertheless, she argues, these do not preclude the widespread hunger, distress, and disease suffered in Terezin - a universal feature of the ghettos of German-occupied Eastern Europe. Approximately 150,000 people passed through Terezín, of which only 3,500 survived. Terezin was established as a ghetto by the Nazis in November 1941 in a fortress town built by Emperor Joseph the Second in 1780 in northwest Bohemia. From October 1942, 88,000 were sent to extermination sites in Poland from Terezin, nearly all to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and 33,000 died in the ghetto itself.

Bondy wants to free Terezin from where she considers it trapped in Israeli myth and memory as an unheroic "model ghetto" (p. 137) whose inmates "went from theater play to opera performance, from lecture to lecture" (p. 11) while the Jews in the ghettos of Poland are remembered for their courageous armed resistance against the Nazis. She encountered these perceptions herself as an immigrant to the newly established state of Israel. Bondy was imprisoned in Terezin, and later deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she served as a counselor in the children's barracks (pp. 156, 160 footnotes) and was subsequently interned in several other forced labor camps before liberation.

How successful is Bondy in her goal of redeeming the memory of Terezin and those who passed through it? The majority of the studies collected in this volume, originally published in German and Czech between 1994 and 2001 in the annual Studies and Documents of Theresienstadt by the Prague-based Terezin Initiative (Terezínská iniciativa), masterfully build a compelling case for the heroism of maintaining one's honor and human dignity under conditions of extreme duress. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Trapped: Essays on the History of the Czech Jews, 1939-1943
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.