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We're Alive and Life Goes on: A Theresienstadt Diary

by Eva Roubíécková
Translated by Zaia Alexander

Published by Henry Holt, 1998
189 pages
ISBN: 0805053522

Age 13 and older

Theresienstadt (today known as Terezín) was Nazi Germany's "model" concentration camp. Located in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), this camp, unlike Nazi death camps, kept up a front of "normalcy" for the sake of Nazi propaganda. So there were cafes and theaters. Prisoners heads weren't shorn. Eva Mńdlová was 21 years old when she was sent to Theresienstadt in 1941. A Bohemian Jew, Eva kept a diary for the three-and-one-half years she was imprisoned. In it, she details the real experience of life in the prison work camp. Eva and her fellow prisoners only heard rumors about other camps, about the unknown but certain horrors that happened to people who were shipped out of Theresienstadt on transports to Poland. The threat of being placed on one of those transports hung over the heads of Theresienstadt prisoners. It was a fear that became as much a part of Eva's daily life as worry about hunger and illness, and death from one or both; the disjointedness of never knowing when she would be moved from one barracks or living quarters to another; the relief and terror of taking food from a sympathetic German civilian (Would she be caught? How long would it last?). To have family and friends to visit in the camp was a comfort, but every fear that Eva knew for herself was also a fear she felt for those she loved. If she wasn't on the next transport to Poland, her mother or father or cousin or a dear friend might be, and sometimes were. The brutality of Theresienstadt was different in many ways from the brutality of the death camps, but that it was brutal, and chillingly inhumane, is hauntingly clear, and important to understand. Honor Book, CCBC Batchelder Award Discussion CCBC categories: Biography and Autobiography; Issues in Today's World; Historical People, Places and Events.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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