October 21, 1941 – Petr Ginz
The Diary of Petr Ginz
Petr Ginz was a very intelligent and creative teenager who lived in the city of Prague, Czechoslovakia at the time of the German occupation during World War II. According to Nazi racial concepts, Petr was half-Jewish because his father was Jewish but his mother was not. This meant that he would be sent to Theresienstadt when he turned sixteen years old. Before this, he was able to continue to live at home and attend school as he did before the Germans arrived. Although he experienced some of the legal restrictions faced by Jews, in many ways his days continued to follow the familiar patterns of home and school life typical for people his age.
On October 21st, 1941, Petr noted a change that occurred at his school. He wrote, “We now have Miss Lauscherova as our class teacher, right away she gave four children after school detentions and five written punishments (5x a certain fairly long article). Promising beginning!”
Observations about a new, tough teacher make Petr seem like any student from any other place or time. There is no indication in this diary entry that his life had changed very much under the Nazis. Of course, on other days, he had more to say about the changes, but this day reveals that the normal concerns of life continued to exert their pull, even as much worse times approached.
In some areas conquered by the Nazis, the destruction of Jewish communities progressed very rapidly, with the time between invasion and mass murder marked in mere days. In other places, like Prague, the Holocaust unfolded more slowly. In either case, the Nazis intended to accomplish the same final goal, the complete elimination of Jewish people from German-held lands.
Read more about Petr Ginz and his many accomplishments.
View the trailer for the documentary film project about Petr’s life entitled, “The Last Flight of Petr Ginz”.