Eva Ginzova was sent to Theresienstadt when she was 14 years old. She became a prisoner because, according to the Nazi racial laws, she was mischlinge of the first degree. This meant that the Nazis considered her to be “half Jewish”. Theresienstadt, located near Prague in Czechoslovakia, was a unique location in the history of the Holocaust. It had some of the features of a ghetto and others that were more like a concentration camp. One thing that was not unique about Theresienstadt, however, was that most of the people who were sent there were eventually killed; either by the harsh conditions, or by direct murder.
On January 16th 1945, Eva wrote about one of the most difficult situations faced by prisoners; assignment to a dangerous work task. Prisoners were subjected to slave labor throughout the Nazi concentration camp system, but not all jobs were the same. Some were so harsh that they were nearly impossible to survive over the long term. She wrote, “We have been doing Altmaterial (recycling) for the past two days. It’s an awful job, something completely inhuman. You stand outside in freezing temperatures for ten hours, picking tin plate and black plate from a pile of scrap metal and then sort it. I was so frozen that I thought I’d go mad. There was nowhere to warm yourself up.” Eva was fortunate that this was not a permanent work assignment, since long term exposure to freezing conditions, especially when combined with other physical hardships, can lead to hypothermia and death.
Eva eventually survived her incarceration, but many others did not. Many of the victims of the Holocaust died due to the harsh conditions of their imprisonment. This is still considered murder, because the conditions were a direct result of Nazi policies of persecution.
Read more about Theresienstadt (Terezin) at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum page
To learn more about Eva Ginzova (now Chava Pressburger), her career as an artist, and the publication of her brother’s diary, you can visit this site
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