Petr Ginz: June 24, 1942

Petr Ginz was a very intelligent young man who lived in Prague during the early years of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia during World War II. He was a keen observer of the events that occurred around him and had a deep interest in science and the natural world. Often in his diary, Petr sought to explain the events that he experienced. He seemed to want to make the things that were happening understandable. This may have been driven, in part, by his uncertain status in the summer of 1942. Under German regulations, Petr was considered mischlinge of the first degree (half-Jewish) because his father was Jewish, but his mother was not. Because of this, Petr was required to be deported from Prague to the Theresienstadt ghetto/camp at the age of fourteen. He had his fourteenth birthday on the previous February 1st, so his name was likely to appear on a transport list soon. Clearly Petr was interested in everyone who had been taken into custody and why they had been chosen.

Petr wrote about the loss of one of his teachers on June 24th. “We are taught by Mr. Weislitz instead Mr. David, who was arrested (together with his wife). – According to version No. 1 Mr. David was arrested because of talking freely, version No. 2 says his friend was arrested and informed on him that they had been in contact, and version No. 3 says that he let himself be accused so that he could go to Kolin, because his parents are currently leaving from there with a transport.” From this listing of potential reasons that Mr. David had been arrested, it is clear that Petr was looking for a logical reason. After all, if the reasons made sense, then perhaps Petr could make sense of his own situation as well. Unfortunately for Petr and for all of the others in his situation, the Nazi policies and actions regarding Jews made no logical sense at all.

A new documentary film has been made about the life of Petr Ginz. The website for the film contains a photo timeline that weaves together events and places from Petr Ginz’ life with elements from the history of Nazi Germany.

You may learn more about the long history of Jewish life in Prague here.

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