“Republic of Shkid.” This is the name of the group of children living in barracks number 417 in the Ghetto of Terezín. Those children transformed their terrible day to day into a heroic act of artistic and creative and freedom.
A clandestine magazine, VEDEM, poems, drawings and associations to live a normal life in hell. This is the story of history.
The story of history and that allows us now to approach their reality. Visually the narration will be accompanied by animation. The film will try to reflect everything that occurred in the eyes of those children and memory using a selection of some of the hundreds of drawings that were left for posterity
Second World War
In March 1939 Nazi Germany occupied the Czech Republic, constituting the protectorate of Bohemia: Moravia, It would be the prelude to the start of the Second World War.
Ghetto of Theresienstadt.
German operations against the Jews began soon and, in November 1941, they decided to build a ghetto in an old 18th century Czech fortress, Terezín (Theresienstadt).
From the beginning of December 1941 thousands of Jews were deported to the ghetto of Theresienstadt. There were imprisoned mainly Czech Jews, but also Jews from Germany, Austria, Holland, Denmark and Hungary.
The ghetto was conceived as a transit camp, before the gradual deportation of the Jews to the extermination camps.
Life in the ghetto
In September of 1942 the population of the ghetto grew reaching a record number of 53,000 inhabitants on a 115,000 square meter plot, prepared for 7,000 inhabitants.
The overcrowding of the ghetto was hard to bear, the food was deficient, and thousands of Jews were crowded into the larger barracks. The ghetto suffered from diseases and epidemics. As a result, mortality was very high. Due to the overcrowding it was decided to separate the prisoner children from the adult prisoners.
The terror of deportation hovered all the time over the heads of the inhabitants of the ghetto, and the illusion that an autonomous Jewish city could exist between the walls would vanish quickly.
Unlike other ghettos that were erected in Eastern Europe where there was also overcrowding and the security conditions were deplorable, the family cell in Theresienstadt was dismembered.
The children of the ghetto not only suffered from overcrowding and hunger but also were deprived of their families. To this was added the permanent fear of transports to the East, towards the unknown.
The children tried to lead a “normal” life in this environment, carrying out educational and creative activities, most of the time in hiding.
An example of this was the VEDEM magazine, directed by Petr Ginz, an intelligent and talented young man who was called to do great things before the Germans ended his young life. In this magazine, the children of the countryside, talked about their day to day, their fears, their future projects, their poems, their drawings, .., it was an explosion of creativity and freedom.
Nazi propaganda film
Later, in 1944, it served as a way to try to conceal the murder of the Jews of Europe by showing it in a Nazi propaganda film as a “model Jewish community” with it “independent Jewish administrator”.
The Czech leaders supported this program, hoping in this way to avoid the deportation of the Jews to the East, and to keep the Czech Jews in their homeland until the end of the war, which did not come true.
Red Cross visit
In June 1944 , after several international requests, the Germans allowed the Red Cross to visit the camp to show the good conditions in which they had the Jews, something that was taken by its inhabitants as a door to the hope. But the Nazi army turned everything into a great theatrical representation: they intensified the deportations to reduce the number of inhabitants, they specifically laid out the areas of the countryside where the Red Cross would travel to.
A film was made to show the good conditions in which they lived and They programmed cultural activities among which the BRUNDIBAR Children’s Opera stood out in a significant way. This opera, composed by Hans Krasa, meant a cry of freedom for the children. In it a group of children unite to defeat a common enemy that tries to dominate them and prevent them from achieving their goals.
Brundibar came to be represented more than 50 times in the camp, including during the visit of the Red Cross. The representation of this Opera was perhaps one of the last hopes of achieving freedom or at least of
dreaming about it.
End of the war
The humanitarian organization accepted the deception and produced a shamefully positive report that would definitively condemn the population of the Ghetto.
From that moment the deportations became more frequent and the extermination of the rural population began. Of the more than 150,000 people who passed through Terezín, more than 33,000 died in the camp itself, 88,000 were deported to the extermination camps and only 17,247 remained alive at the end of the war.
Of the 15,000 children who lived in Terezín, only about 100 survived.
SHKID - ANIMATION
WHY IS THIS MOVIE NECESSARY?
1-The alarming lack of knowledge about the Shoah in many countries shows that, despite the existence of numerous films and documentaries about the Holocaust, these have been seen by a small segment of the population.
Both at an educational level and at other levels, some discouraging data are obtained:
– Forty percent of Americans and sixty- six percent of “millennials” (people born in the last decade of the 20th century and the first of the 21st century) do not know about Auschwitz, the largest extermination camp in history.
The New York Times. Holocaust Is Fading From Memory, Survey Finds
– 22 percent of American millennials have never heard of the Holocaust. Recent surveys in Europe have shown that more than a third of thepopulation has not heard of the Holocaust. What’s more, there are many people with anti- Semitic ideas around the world, in many cases disguised as attitudes against Israel.
Enlace Judío «El holocausto está siendo olvidado por los norteamericanos»
In several European countries (as in the case of Spain) the need to study the history of the Shoah has been raised many times, but it has never been implemented.
We believe that there is a need for a different approach to create a documentary to attract new generations whose knowledge of the Holocaust is the most tenuous. Our target is school- aged children.
2- Increasing subliminal anti-Semitism makes us rethink how the fragile historical memory can fall before a society easily manipulated by the rise of the extreme right in the United States and in different European countries
3-We must ensure that history will be not repeated. “A people who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it” Confucius
an attractive differential
WHY IN ANIMATION?
1- Bring the reality of what the SHOÁ was to the general public in a accessible way, especially young people and children, who a priori would refuse to see another film on this subject.
2 – Transmit the art and poetry of the Terezin children, approaching through their creativity to their experiences and reality.
3- The great success of by animated films such as “Persepolis” shows that it can be an attractive way to reach large audiences, and it would be the perfect introduction for the subject in the classroom.
the children of Terezín
Difference with other movies about the SHOA
The extraordinary story of the children of Terezín must be taken to the screen to achieve justice, to fulfill the purpose they had, to share their testimony so that the truth of what was happening there would be known. We will listen to their voices detained in time through their clandestine writings, and we will be amazed by their mature reflections and their courageous actions.
First film on this subject narrated by the children themselves. We hope to transmit your legacy and perpetuate it forever in an effective way. What better way to tell today ́s children what happened, than through the voice of another child who actually experienced it.
The objective is to make the film become a time machine that can connect today ́s young people and children with that encapsulated testimony that should live forever, connecting the brave children of Terezín with all future generations , so to leave an indelible mark of that shared experience of what the Shoah was.
The 800 pages of the different copies of this clandestine magazine, which were kept hidden for years and that took 50 years to publish, have shown us children and teenagers who created secret brotherhoods to share food, who performed the opera Brundibár as a symbolic act of struggle, while being forced to be part of the shameful publicity campaign created by the Nazis to deceive international opinion.
A special, unforgettable and unique way to know what happened in the Holocaust.
two years of development and investigation
After two years of development and investigation, we would like to show in a poetic way how the life of all those victims was, the real plans of the executioners and the terrible nazi propaganda action. As a complement to the animated film we will have the documentary and the extra contents, where we will hear the stories of the survivors, some of those who were then children, and that through their Memories will bring us closer to the reality. We will visit the field and listen to the opinion of experts who will teach us how the Nazis designed their advertising strategy and how the echo was in the international press.
The intention of this project is not only to recall the events that occurred in order to educate the new generations, it is also to investigate the historical circumstances, name and face victims and executioners, analyze the propaganda tactic as well as its impact on all international media , and of course, vindicate and remember all those children through their artistic works.
Over the past two years we have interviewed top international experts, filming in different historical sites such as Prague or the Terezín camp. We could do an exhaustive documentation work thanks to the collaboration of the archives of the Yad Vashem Museum ofJerusalem and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp Museum.
We greatly appreciate the collaboration in this process of Historians and experts like Michael Berembaum , Robert Jan Van Pel and Paul Salmons, survivors such as Dagmar Lieblová or Doris Grozdanovicova and the close collaboration of the Jewish Museum in Prague, the Ghetto Museum of Terezin, the Yad Vashem Museum, or the Jerusalem film library among many others, which have helped us shape the most accurate and documented historical vision.
American historian, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and former director of the Holocaust Research Institute. At present he is part of the curator team of the Auschwitz International Traveling Exhibition currently touring Europe.
Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt
Internationally known as one of the main authorities on the history of Auschwitz. Van Pelt, born in Harleem (Netherlands), has published several books on the camp, some of the most remarkable being the internationally award-winning Auschwitz, 1270 to the Present (1996)
Is the Program Director of UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, part of the Institute of Education, University College London.Throughout his career, he has participated as an educational advisor in multiple international projects. Most remarkably, he collaborated with the UN program for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day creating pedagogical materials ‘Footprints: exploring the Holocaust through artefacts and is the lead author of IHRA guidelines ‘How to teach about the Holocaust’.
Filmaker. He is an expert in third Reich cinematography, and the purpose of his USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education is to record and preserve the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. The interview will deal mainly with the work of this institute, and he will be asked about his own experience regarding movie making testimonies as an instrument of communication and propaganda. (Currently pending confirmation)
Born April 7, 1926 in Jihlava as Doris Schimmerlin, a Jewish family. On January 28, 1942, with her parents and brother, she was deported to the Terezín ghetto.She worked in agriculture in Terezín, later she had a herd of sheep. On October 1944 her father and brother were deported to Auschwitz. Her mother died in Terezín on May 1945.May 1945 Doris was liberated in Terezín. She is member of Terezín Initiative, she travels often to Terezín and Germany, often attends cultural events and programs.
A bureaucratic error and the stubbornness of the bloc's guard saved Dagmar Lieblová from ending up in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. She played in the Brundibar opera in Terezín. As a survivor she was a great teacher in understanding the Holocaust. She died a few months after conducting our interview.
TRIBUTE TO THE TEREZÍN CHILDREN
Collaborate in this necessary tribute, the unknown story of children who faced Nazism in a concentration camp.
Click on the name of each reward to more information access.
REFERENCES, BRUNDIBÁR OPERA, VEDEM AND DRAWINGS AND POEMS
The most significant challenge of this project is to employ the children’s creative work as the basis for making the animation, the film will be a tribute to their own creativity.
It will be a 2D animation feature, using different techniques interspersed in a poetic way throughout the footage. It will be based on the classic technique of old-time cartoons mixed with watercolor animation, photography in movement, cut-outs ….
We think that the choice of 2D animation as opposed to frequent 3D, will facilitate the film’s longevity. We have a team of state of the art animators who will work in each phase of the story adapting to the technique and style that each child captured in their drawings.
As a thread, the protagonist, created in sketched style, will go through the different drawings and animations narrating his story, representing all the children through one voice.
The film will be a creative film, which will use narrative resources beyond the real-image audiovisual medium. The aim is to pay tribute to and convey the wide artistic potential of the protagonists, who lived alongside the Czechoslovak cultural elite of the time: painters, musicians, writers, philosophers ….
At the narrative level we can mention as reference the multi-award-winning film PERSEPOLIS, where the story is told from the experience of a girl.
Similarly and perhaps more from a visual point of view we could talk about “CRULIC” OR “THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN” both by Anka Damian, where the use of different animation techniques enhances different plot moments of the film. In our case it is more justified considering that we will work with the base of the original drawings made by the children of the camp.
In the classic animation parts the reference is The Illusionist, a multi-award winning French animated film by Sylvain Chomet
symbol of cultural resistance
This is one of the musical scores recovered after the Holocaust. It was composed by Hans Krása, a Jewish musician from Prague who was sent to the Terezín internment camp—which, as we have already mentioned, was created by the Third Reich and showcased to the world by the propaganda machinery as a “health resort” where Jewish seniors and artists could retire—and finally sent to the Auschwitz death camp. The original opera was composed in 1938 and performed clandestinely four years later at an orphanage for Jewish children in Prague. After he was sent to Terezín, Krása rewrote it from memory. It was performed there 55 times by a cast of imprisoned children. This children’s opera, rediscovered in the late 1970s, stands as a symbol of cultural resistance in the face of the fiercest repression.
The opera became a favorite in the camp, the tickets were very much in demand and there were full-house performances every time it was presented. In this context we will see this work: the opera, the rehearsals, and the living conditions of the children who worked hard to perform for their fellow prisoners at Terezín, and for the visits arranged by the Nazi propaganda. The message that good prevails over evil was a big motivation for the oppressed prisoners, since the character Brundibár was very similar to Hitler. Fortunately, there were two reasons why this piece of music was not censored by the SS: first, an opera for children performed by children was viewed as benign; and second, the lyrics were in Czech, a language the German Nazis did not speak.
The downside of this was that, sadly, it was also inaccessible to the thousands of prisoners who spoke only German. But for all those who could understand it and perform it—children mainly —and enjoy watching it, the opera was entertainment that inspired them and helped them detach themselves for a while from their daily struggle.
Therefore, it acquires great importance in our documentary, representing a climax of hope in the story of the children of the countryside. The Opera represented the victory over the oppressor, represented the opportunity to be visible to the international community with the Red Cross visit, it definitely represented lost freedom.
The magazine Vedem
The magazine Vedem is another of the main narrative sources, not only because of what it meant for the children of the Terezín camp, but because it is a very important source of information about what happened there, from the mouths of the protagonists themselves.
The film will use many of the reflections, poems and everyday commentaries that appeared written in this clandestine weekly. This magazine was a haven of freedom and a place to express oneself.
Idea of the young Petr Ginz and inspired and supervised by Professor Valtr Eisinger and Josef “Pepek” Stiassny, they wrote in a humorous and creative way, probably with the purpose of escaping from their difficult situation. The magazine included essays, literary critiques, poems, stories, drawings and jokes. The last pages were devoted to a game called ‘In search of ghosts’. Most authors wrote under different pseudonyms, and many of the real names have been lost over time. The war and the control of the Nazis during the war have survived 800 pages, which shows that during the two years of its publication (1942 and 1944) the magazine was produced with great dynamism.
The magazine was handwritten and, of course, all copies distributed in the barracks to be read every Friday night were also handwritten (evidently, they had no other options). Such was their sense of humor that they even put a price on the cover of the magazine, as if it were a commercial product.
Some data indicate that hundreds of boys participated in producing of the magazine, but only 15 survived the Holocaust. Petr Ginz was deported to Auschwitz where he was killed, like so many others, in a gas chamber upon arrival. We owe the conservation of many copies to Zdeněk Taussing, who hid the manuscripts in his father’s smith’s shop, which later he would take to Prague after his release. Currently the collection of this magazine is in the Terezín Memorial Museum in the Czech Republic
DRAWINGS AND POEMS
15.000 children were sent there. 100 came back.
“You can see their drawings today, many years later, when that world of theirs, a world of hunger and fear and horror, seems to us like a fairytale filled with evil sorcerers, witches and cannibals. Drawings and poetry. This is all that’s left of them. Their ashes were scattered a long time ago on the fields surrounding Auschwitz. Nonetheless, their drawings and poems speak to us. These are the voices that remain; the voices of their memories, their truth, and their hope.” Iom Hashoa
The last, the very last.
So richly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone…
Such, such yellow
Is carried lightly way up high.
It went away I’m sure because it wished
To kiss the world goodbye.
For seven weeks I ́ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto,
But I have found my people here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don ́t live in here,
In the ghetto.
Pavel Friedmann, 23 años
I was a child once- two short years ago.
My youth was longing for another world.
I am a child no longer- I saw things to make me blush,
Now I am adult and have known terror,
Bloody words and murdered day.
That is no longer just a bugaboo!
But I also believe that I am only sleeping.
That I shall see my childhood once again,
Childhood like a wild, wild rose
Like a bell to wake me from my dreams,
Like a mother who, with womanly intuition,
Loves the naughty child most.
How terrible my youth that watches only
For the enemy, the rope.
Hanus Hachenburg, 15 años