January 22, 1942 – Peter Ginz
The Diary of Petr Ginz
Ginz was an incredibly gifted young man. He was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia on February 1, 1928. He had a deep love of learning and his curiosity led him to develop a wide range of interests. Petr enjoyed writing to such an extent that he had written five novels by the age of 14. It is not surprising that he also kept a diary.
Petr’s father was Jewish, but his mother was not. In the eyes of the Nazis, that made him mischlinge – first degree (half-Jewish). Under the rules in place in Czechoslovakia at the time, Petr could expect to be sent to a concentration camp at some point in his fourteenth year.
REPORTING TO THERESIENSTADT
On the date of this diary entry, Peter was only nine days away from his fourteenth birthday. He knew that it was just a matter of time until he was ordered to report to Theresienstadt. In addition to knowing that he would soon be leaving, Petr also witnessed many of his friends and their families being sent away, too. Undoubtedly, the realization that his time at home was short must have been a great burden to bear.
On January 22, 1942, Petr wrote, “There are new transports to Theresienstadt; Mrs. Traub is going too. That’s why I went to the Poppers, to check if they were going as well, because many people whose names start with P were called up.” The next day, Petr continued to write on the same theme. “In the afternoon at the Levituses, Uncle is writing lots of documents for Mrs. Traubova for the move to Theresienstadt. I heard that in Theresienstadt they have also interned Frenchmen, Poles, and other foreigners (non-Jews). Supposedly eight people were executed there for trying to escape.”
Clearly, Petr was trying to understand as much as possible about this place where he would soon reside. He listened to rumors about what happened there and tried to keep up with the people he knew that might be going there ahead of him. In fact, it must have frustrated Petr to have heard so much about Theresienstadt, but to know so little for sure.
As it turned out, Petr would not be called up until October, but when the time came, he was required to leave his family and go into captivity. No force of the Nazis could imprison his mind, though. Petr continued to write and learn until he was finally deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz two years later.
Read more about Petr Ginz and his many accomplishments.
Watch a film produced about Petr Ginz.