Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lens and Legacy. Family and Community. Hradec Kralove. Vignettes

Petr Ginz' Family

See him here, at ://

He lives with his parents and sister in Prague. Petr usually lists and inventories events objectively, but he also offers vignettes, short description of family life, and colorful happenings.

Hradec Kralove, CZ, birthplace of mother of Petr Ginz 

1. Mother. Time off.

Petr writes at Page 53 that his mother left for Hradec (RandR, but -- as in any family where mom takes some sudden RandR --left inadequate instructions on what the family was to cook. Petr says they will manage.

No wonder she wanted to to back to Hradec, for a breather. There it is. Orderly, beautiful, historic.

2. The designer turkey.

Peter writes at Page 72. Fair use quote-

"I heard that some local people wanted to kill a turkey, but they felt sad for it and didn't want to just cut its throat so they gave it to [sic] Veronal, plucked it, and put it in water. But then the dear turkey woke up and because it was cold without feathers, they knitted a sweater for it, and it now walks around in a sweater.***"

[Veronal, or barbitol, is apparently a central nervous system depressant, also used in veterinary medicine, see]

3. The prolific lungs.

Peter writes of his father at page 86, at the Jewish ambulatory hospital (I believe) in Prague. Fair use quote:

"They removed three litres of water from Daddy's lungs! They dragged some containers to him, lots of doctors came running, even the chief doctor Klein himself, and the puncture was one quite painlessly. They asked him: Shall we make it a full three litres?

"Daddy told them: 'Do help yourselves.' "

So read the diary carefully. There are nuggets there, amid the cool, detached event inventories.

Sgraffito is a technique of wall ornamentation.  A darker layer if plaster is applied; then a lighter shade.  Before the top layer dries, it is etched off, showing the darker beneath. Pictures, designs, fool-the-eye patterns.  Hradec Kralove was and is an elegant town visually.

4.  Grandma's house

Vojtesska Street.

Family: Grandma.  Grandma's house, at number 12. Page 67. This is in the Old Town. Do an Images search and up come all the apartments for rent or places for sale. You can even see the fine old building at number 22, just a few buildings away from Petr's Grandma's address at number 12.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Prague - Jewish Quarter, Dusni Synagogue now Prague Maharal, Institute

The Spanish Synagogue

Evolution of a Synagogue
Update to Petr Ginz post October 1, 2008 - The old Dusni Synagogue  appears to now be the Prague Maharal, an Institute promoting the life, personality and legacy of Rabbi Judah Loew, 1525-1609, renowned religious scholar. See photograph and article at :// The Institute will also train new rabbis.

Read an article on "The Legacy of Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague" online, by Byron L. Sherwin, European Judaism vol 34, 2001 at Questia, see ://;jsessionid=LrXGGpCP1Yp3VDkkhJl2CyVLGK3L458VV2vtmMBgMcwLpNVsYdTy!243734?a=o&d=5002422218

The photograph is the same as the building we were told was the old Dusni Synagogue.

Rabbi Loew became known to us in reading "The Seventh Well," by death camp survivor Fred Wander (book translated 2006, see "The Seventh Well".

See a shorter biography at ://

He created a fictitious Golem, a man-figure from earth, air, fire, and water, through ritual, an image through which the community could be rid of various evil accusations made against them by the Christians surrounding. The Golum served well, even with an invisibility function. When finally the laws and evil practices were changed, the Rabbi de-made (?) the Golem, and the legend lives in many respects. Read the legend, edited by D.L.Ashliman, at ://

Friday, December 12, 2008

Prague. The Silence of the Bells. St. Vitus; Church of our Lady Before Tyn

The Fate of Prague's Bells
Except for Zikmund

Prague, Charles Bridge, view toward St. Vitus Cathedral

1.  The bells are taken.

Petr writes: "*** You can't hear any bells ringing at all, because the Germans have confiscated them all; they will probably make cannons out of them. They left only Sikmund of St. Vitus and that's the only church bell in Prague now." Diary at 94.

There, on the hill, are the towers of St. Vitus, across the Charles Bridge that spans the Vltava River, at Prague Castle.

Petr watched the numbers rise: first, 82-100. Page 92. At least 2000 bells later, filling the Maniny sewer.

Prague, Cathedral of Our Lady Before Tyn

At page 95, Peter records that they were taking the bell out of Tyn Cathedral, shown here, and he watched how they removed the bells from 92 Strossmayer Place.

The bell at the Cathedral of Our Lady Before Tyn, shown here at the Old Square, was not spared.

See the history of this Cathedral at; and

2. But Zikmund is spared. 

Page 97. the Zikmund Bell and St. Vitus in photos at Scroll down to the last row for the bell.

No wonder the fate of Bell Zikmund was important to Petr and Prague. It is the biggest bell in Prague, and maybe the Czech Republic, and was made in 1549. See At that site, click on the"South Side" paragraph, and then on Zikmund to see a close-up of the bell.

This site - with much history in it - says that it is the largest bell in Central Europe, and weighs 16 tons. See Rename it Tennessee Ern?

A summary history is at, including legends: with a princess, Wenceslas and more. Silencing it means national tragedy.

In 2002, the clapper broke, and sure enough terrible floods came. Others saw the broken clapper as related to the outcome of recent elections, where the Communist party gained. Read about the break and repair at

The name "Zikmund," by which the huge bell at St. Vitus is known, is said to mean "guardian of the victory" in the Czech language, and is of German origin. See Was it saved from destruction by the Germans by its germanic name? Or just because it was humungous?
Petr says at page 95 that the bells were dumped at Maniny, and this area was finally one of the only places that Jews were allowed to walk. See page 103. This is a sewer-landfill area. He says the sewer was filling up there. Page 63. Search in Images for Maniny to see how it looks today, and for a map.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Prague. The Vltava River Runs Through It


Charles Bridge, over the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

The Vltava River divides Prague's Old Town and Jewish Quarter, from the Little Quarter, and the Prague Castle-St.Vitus Cathedral sections. The Charles Bridge, with its saints on both sides, connects them again.

Petr describes the "pleasant murmur of the weir," weir being an area of an overflow spillway, to raise or lower water levels and make a river navigable, or suitable for millraces. See Here is Prague's old mill race area.

Prague, Vltava River, Old Mill Race area

Page 57: Petr says the Vltava is partly frozen. Here are the big ice breakers that protect the bulwarks of the Charles Bridge.

Vltava River, Prague, icebreakers at bulwarks, CZ

The Vltava floods often, and markers show the high water marks through the years.

Vltava River, Prague, flood high-water markers

When the levels are low enough, you can see them.

Petr writes: "*** The water in the river is far below the normal level, so from the embankment you can see the stairs to the lower river bank, from the lower bank to the edge of the bulwardm and five steps of the ladder below." Page 88. There is the flood marker now. In 2002, the floods were over the top.

Petr Ginz hears that loose ice is floating on the river. Page 92.

Ice breakers at bulwarks, Vltava River Charles Bridge, Prague

We used this photo before to show the saints.  Look this time at the ice breakers.

And, finally at one point the river is overflowing, but Petr sees a ferry crossing with 30 people on board. Page 95.

We enjoyed a short river cruise on a little roofed boat instead.  Did we mention that they gave a big cup of beer and a snack to all on board who wanted to celebrate the river?

Prague. The Jewish Quarter, Josefov, Dusni Synagogue

Places from the Jewish Quarter, FN 1, in the Diary:

1. Dusni Synagogue (Spanish Synagogue). Petr writes that at Dusni Synagogue, German vans were moving equipment out of the building, and Jews were in working clothes (doing the work?) Page 49.

This is a photo of the Spanish Synagogue on Dusni Street, built in 1868 in Moorish style. It is an "ornate Sephardi shul." See Read about synagogues, as a start, at

There has been a synagogue on this site since the 12th Century.  The Spanish Jews who worshipped here early on, moved to Holland and others altered it to meet their needs. In 1836, it became a  Reformed place of worship. See ://

2. Norimberska Street(?). The legal department of the Jewish community was at Norimberska Street. Page 16. We could not find the street.

3. Josefovka Street. Petr works in a typewriter repair shop at Josefovka Street. Page 17. Josefov is the Jewish Quarter, See Josefovka Street was named after the enlightened Joseph II who gave civil rights to the Jews in the 18th century. He also built the garrison at Terezin - Theresienstadt, that later, ironically, served as their step to the death camps.

3. Smichov Synagogue. Petr went with his grandmother to Smichov Synagogue. Page 29. In 1941, it was closed and the Nazis used it to house confiscated Jewish property. In the 1950's, it was a warehouse. It was returned to the Jewish Community after the fall of communism, 199-94. The building has been largely reconstructed now, and will house a study and bookstore, but will not serve as a synagogue. See

This was not an upscale neighborhood. Adjectives for it at the time include grimy, sordid, and factories smoke-belching. See

4. Lublanska Street. The Jewish hospital was at Lublanska Street. Page 85. We find no hospital there now. There was an Earth Day celebration on Lublanska Street, /, and violin-makers,; and hotelsgardensteashops.

FN 1
The Jewish Quarter has a long history. See; and more photos and comments at Czech Republic Road Ways, Jewish Quarter posts. There may be some 5000-6000 in the Jewish Community there now. See 

Prague - Charles Bridge. Meet the saints.

 Petr Ginz and the Charles Bridge, The Vltava River, The Saints

As would anyone in Prague, Petr crossed the Charles Bridge. Page 46.

Charles Bridge, Prague

This old bridge was begun in 1357, and finished in 1402. Floods had damaged the earlier Judith Bridge, in 1342.

See the history of the bridge at Scroll down to the Bridge section. Also see

On both sides of the bridge, you will meet the saints, including Wenceslas.

Saint, Charles Bridge, Prague

See them all at YouTube also has videos of the bridge and what happens there.

It is a pedestrian bridge now (was it then?) and that leads to creative use of space by musicians and artists and caricature sketchers.*

This fellow is a one-man-band with an umbrella over his head to keep his instrumentation dry, and may or may not be a saint.

Charles Bridge, Prague, musician

From the Charles Bridge, looking toward Petrin Hill. 

Petrin Hill, from Charles Bridge, Prague

Then, there is a view from one of the tourist boats that scoots around the bulwarks, and cruises down the river.

Charles Bridge, Prague, from river

The most spectacular views of the city, either side, are from the bridge.
* Panhandling. Some on the bridge creatively handle pans. See

I set some change in the pavement cap of an individual looking in particular misery crumpled on a dirty blanket. He suddenly revived, with a friendly grin and a distinctly American thank you. And, even more suddenly, the ragged, mittened stump at the end of his forearm showed distinct finger wriggling inside the mitten. Free enterprise worldwide. Gotta love it.

However, on another occasion, with a bona fide person in need elsewhere in the city, not a trafficked tourist area, his eyes and his gratitude and disbelief that anyone would actually offer to get him through the day, are with me still. Nobody's govt, that leaves healthcare up to the profit-makers, is doing the job broad-based.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sudetenland - Cheb, and Ostroh Castle, at the German border

 The Sudetenland

Petr writes that a Sudeten German, a railwayman, wanted an overcoat. Page 36. Clothing was being requisitioned for the Nazis, and individuals were left with little. This area is near the German border, and has been the site of conflict for centuries - and shifting borders. It is a gateway from the northwest into this area known as Sudetenland, annexed by Hitler in 1938.

Here is Cheb, about six miles from the German border. See more about the town and its castle at Czech Republic Road Ways, Cheb, our more complete site on the Czech Republic. 

Half-timbered houses, Cheb, Sudetenland, CZ

The half-timbered houses in Cheb date from the middle ages, and were those of German merchants from that time. There were centuries of ethnic group commingling between what is now Germany and the Czech Republic - boundaries were fluid.

See the walls leaning out, with the weight of the years.

The Savage Man fountain statue:

This is one of two apparent Rolands at the square, but it gets confusing.
  • This one, the Savage Man, with the club at fountain #1, is to the side, and 
  • The other, a Knight, is more in the center square, at a well-fountain. 
 It is not clear to us yet why such different representations, and if they are each "Roland."  See them side by side at ://  It gets confusing how the Savage Man relates to the very kinght-like Knight Roland at fountain #2. The knight stands for Cheb's freedom. Knight Roland apparently symbolized the market privileges that were given to some towns, see

See also the link to the Czech Republic for details.

It looks like the wild man represents the ferocious german tribes at the time of Charlemagne (800AD or so); and the Knight with the Unbreakable Sword represents the legend that grew up with Roland as champion of the newly emerging independence of cities against the nobility. Roland may have been Charlemagne's nephew, or just an officer.

Savage Man Fountain, Statue, Cheb, Sudetenland, Czech Republic

So, there are two fountains that claim Roland: this one looking more like Hercules with the club; and another, at "Roland's Well" in the center square, more knightlike, with a sword.

The knight with spear - or is it this one? - is a copy of the 1591 original kept in the Cheb Museum - and is (we are told) the Knight Roland.
  • But is the Roland of the market privileges, the same as Roland, the nephew of Charlemagne? This makes sense if we see the Savage as Germany of old, and the Knight as the legendary protector.
The time frames seem different. Charlemagne was, crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 800; but the rise of market towns and freedom came later.

The historical (with legends) Roland was retreating from a campaign against the Muslims in Spain, Battle of Ronceveaux, where he died at the hands of rebellious Basques.

Read the Song of Roland. See a teacher's guide to Roland and all this at Go in front of your own hall mirror and declaim out loud, emoting to the max, the poetry from the Song of Roland, excerpts there. Now. Louder. Gesticulate. Yes.

There is another Knight Roland statue in Bratislava, Slovakia; and we understand there is one in Bremen, Germany.  He got places.

Castle at Cheb.  

Ostroh Castle (Seeburg):  The Black Tower here dates from original Roman fortifications.  The rest stems from Slavic settlements in later centuries.

Black Tower, Ostroh Castle (Seeburg), Cheb, Czech Republic

Read a fine history at ://, but the black background and yellow lettering is dizzying. The castle is called Ostroh (Seeburg) there.

The castle was built in the 12th Century, by the Holy Roman Emperor Barbarossa. A gamer's view of Barbarossa, and a succinct summary of his campaigns, is at Its old tower, is known as the "Black Tower." I believe I saw somewhere that it dates from Roman times. The overall style is Romanesque, but that does not mean "Roman." See Romanesque at

There had been a Slavic settlement there from the 9th-11th centuries. There is a rare Gothic-Roman chapel there. See

Wall, Ostroh Castle (Seeburg), Cheb, Czech Republic

Part of the east wall  dates from Roman times.

Sudetenland, as with many areas populated by moving ethnic groups in centuries past, is considered by those later displaced by others to be their home even in "exile." Passions and the pendulum of rectitude swing - and run high among some today to "return" Sudetenland to Germany, although others would say that Slavs were there before Germans, and Romans before that, and etc.

After WWII there was a population exchange, Germans were evicted-pushed back behind German borders as then defined, and given harsher terms such as "cleansing" by some, then again others say should there be no consequence to what Germany did.... and etc. again. See

At that site, scroll down to the historical map and see the variable borders as historical events and religions and military efforts moved them. The forced movement of ethnic groups in the aftermath of WWII is still an issue - see

For a super site for medieval civilizations, history, migrations, boundary shifts through the centuries as the three major groups - Muslims, Orthodox-Byzantine-Eastern Christians and Roman Catholic-Western Christians and murder each other. Take an entire morning at Bookmark it now. Please.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sudetanland. Cheb's Aga. History through History's Ashes. What is Left Out?

The Sudetenland - And Tiled Stoves

Cheb's Tiled Stove

Petr mentions that someone who is a friend of the family was from this Saxon (Germanic) area, near the German border. At Ostroh Castle (Seeburg) at Cheb, see a fine example of Europe's old tiled stoves. These were connected to ductwork carrying heat to other rooms, in many instances. This stove is at the Castle at Cheb, in the Sudetenland, western Czech Republic.

Cheb CZ, Tiled Stove

The castle is essentially a ruin, but was built in the 12th Century by Barbarossa and has a Black Tower made of volcanic stone, see See it all at ://
This is how houses were heated.

An Aga, of sorts.

Like the old stove here, is this true:

True that all the world's events go into the hopper, and come out ashes. But those ashes are prodded and sifted by those who come after, and some lumps are discarded as though they never were. Other lumps are reused in a new form to suit the user, and some just powder away. Grayed, charred stuff to show that something once was there. But what do we really know of history from ashes.

We attempt here to put some visual form back on the ashes of the life of Petr Ginz. History would have been part of his life because he saw it - we get it in books.

Did Petr see these in old Czech castles, large homes.  History's ashes. Preserve and sift.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Neveklov, in Beneslov District


 Neveklov is a town now known for its biking.  Go to this site and watch the little blue ball make its peppy way around the Nevoklov2 route, some 60 plus kms for mountainbiking, on the map. All for you. See://  Here is a video of the area - ://

Its history, however, is traumatic.  Petr goes here to help other people move, including Aryans, to make room for Germans. Page 96.

Here is the Neveklov coat of arms, symbols of two castle towers, shield between,. Fair use thumbnail from ://

Coat of arms of Neveklov
Do an Images search and find it on the map from Prague, and photos of the synagogue there, and one appears to be housed at the Jewish Museum in Prague. See the museum site at

Dobris, Town South of Prague. Benesov

1.  Dobris.

Fiser from Benesov was sent to Dobris.  Dobris is a town south of Prague, see Then Fiser came back, writes Petr, and had to register at Tabor.  Fiser later said he has to leave for Theresienstadt.

We see no "Fiser" in the Yad Vashem database, but Fiser may be "Fischer" and there are many of those; two are from Benesov or the district of Benesov, one died at Auschwitz, another is on a deportation list, no further information, but neither is recorded in Theersienstadt. We found no Fiser or Fischer Y for Dobris.

Pages 95-97.

Dobris has a castle, do an Images search for Dobris and see it. It is French Baroque, fine photo here, Tabor -a "Hussite town." See

The name stems from Jan Hus, was a reformer against the abuses of the Catholic Church long before Martin Luther took similar stands in Germany, see Germany Road Ways, Wittenberg posts. The Hussites in the now Czech Republic were defeated by 1437.

Jan Hus, Reformer, statue at Theresienstadt (Terezin)

Here is Jan Hus the Reformer, as he stands at Terezin - Theresienstadt, where Fiser the confectioner was to be sent, Diary at Pages 95-97.

2. Benesov.

Fiser the Confectioner lived here, and was taken. Page 95.

Fiser from Benesov.

Benesov is a district in central Czech Republic, the area of Central Bohemia, see ://, with historic castles, fortresses and a monastery complex.  That site is useful for its side menu of links to named sections of the Czech Republic, and the main cities there.

Benesov was part of this mega-bicycle route all over Europe, see There also is a "Konopiste (Benesov)" that is a castle about an hour away, and available as a venue for weddings, see photo and article at

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lens and Legacy: Comparing Anne Frank. Emoting in Diaries

Child Diarists
Anne Frank

Hollandsche Schouwburg, Jewish processing center, Amsterdam

Jewish experience in the Netherlands. See ://
Another diarist there. The Diary of Anne Frank. See The Netherlands Road Ways.

How diarists differ.

1. Anne Frank's work is more introspective, as she identifies and examines feelings, reactions, notes them in others, watches, responds, despairs. Petr Ginz records, but there are few windows into his heart - for whatever reason, is it like many boys. He gathers data, lays it out, does what needs to be done in a more objective way.

2. Anne's experience during her long period in hiding was remote - she did not experience daily the herdings of Jews into this theatre structure in Amsterdam, for example, where Jews and others were processed before being sent to the camps. Anne Frank would have come here in all likelihood, only after her time in hiding where she wrote her diary, when the family was betrayed and captured.

We are used to Anne Frank's introspection, after years of exposure to her situation, words and the films about it.

Some may want to see the same kind of despair, emotional reaction, in any stress diary. In the Diary of Petr Ginz, we learn that Petr did have emotional reactions - read his sister's introduction.

But a diarist writing about emotion must take time and energy to do that. In the middle of ongoing crises, merely getting by takes the time and energy someone otherwise could expend on introspection. Anne Frank emoted, but she was in a position to indulge: she wrote from a unique viewpoint, in hiding, with nothing to do during her silent and fearful days with the same people, except introspect.

3. Now read another war-child's viewpoint, Petr Ginz, the practical and informative, from out there. Just the difference of boy vs. girl? Maybe. Read and see. Do some research on that.

When it comes to learning about WWII, many already have Amsterdam's girl imprinted in mind and heart. Now travel to Prague for another. And the library. There are more perspectives in many other diaries as well - keep going.

4.  Anne Frank in Yad Vashem's records:

Full Record Details for  Frank Anne
Source      Pages of Testimony
Last Name      FRANK
First Name      ANNE
First Name      ANNELIESE
First Name      MARIE
Father's First Name      OTTO
Mother's First Name      EDITH
Mother's Maiden Name      HOLLAENDER
Gender      Female
Date of Birth      12/06/1929
Age      15
Marital Status      CHILD
Place of Death      BERGEN BELSEN,Camp
Date of Death      03/1945
Type of material      Page of Testimony
Submitter's Last Name      FRANK
Submitter's First Name      ELFRIEDE
Relationship to victim      FATHER'S WIFE

Lens and Legacy: Finding Others Who Wrote War and Occupation Diaries; Museums, Other Voices

 Petr Ginz and other War Diarists

 Slovakia, Bojnice Castle

War pocks.

 Bullet holes on buildings. Still throughout much of Europe. Here, at Bojnice, Slovakia, see ://

We are interested in the lives of people who lived through or during those conditions. Here is an overview of their voices from their diaries, and where you might find them:

1. Berlin: the Jewish Museum. Voices.

At this exhibit, the voices of people are heard symbolically, becoming audible through the action of your own feet in stepping through the clanking iron representing them;  in an exhibit offering a long corridor (this is a participation museum), where the end not visible. It is an artwork, called "Shalechet," or "Fallen Leaves," see :// Do an Images search for "Fallen Leaves" - one is there.

Step in, start down the windowless hall, and suddenly become aware of the clink and shuffle, louder as you get echoes, as you step on and over and through piles of iron heavy rings-circles, with openings for different facial expressions, down and down that long corridor that increases the clanging sound. Some people kick one or two, then look around to see if anyone noticed. And duck out, disoriented.

We humans are frightening in how we follow a leader. Start with a tiptoe or slide, so carefully. Then see how, if some in the exhibit is quiet, everybody stops at once, or if one gets loud, others do. The sounds. The voices clang even sigh if you go softly. Amazing. See Germany Road Ways.

2. Diaries - For long link addresses here, open another internet window, copy enough of the address to get you to the home page at each site, then maneuver until you get to the inner site.

2.1. Overview. "Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust," by Alexandra Zapruder, see the Google book at,M1
and selections at$File/Salvaged+Pages.pdf

Read about Alexandra Zabruder at

2.2. The Netherlands: "Etty: The Letters and Diaries of Etty Hillesum 1941-1943," Introduction by J.G.Gaarlandt, translated by Arnold J. Pomerans, Triad-Panther 1983; now in Google book form at

Etty Hillesum was in her 20's when she wrote. The material contains some adult-oriented matters. She died in Auschwitz in 1943, was born in 1915. See also "An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum," 1941-1943, see for some quotations. I am not sure if the content of these listed books differ.

Frank - already well known. A search for her name brings up her diary also from Amsterdam. See The Netherlands Road Ways, Anne Frank, Etty Hillesum.

2.3. Serbia. "Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo," 1991-1993 by Zlata Filipovic, who was about 11 at the time that she wrote. See

2.4. Czech Republic (in addition to those included in #1) Eva Ginzova, the birth name of Petr Ginz' sister, now Chava Pressburger. See She includes entries from her own diary in "The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-1942."

2.5. Czech Republic - other work by Petr Ginz: Read "Mad Augustus" at

2. 6. Rutka's Notebook, Poland. See Poland Road Ways, Rutka's Notebook

Electronic diaries, current wars and occupations - so many. Search for more. Put in the country or territory, and "war diary."

Lens and Legacy. Child diarists, Petr Ginz and Anne Frank; Others

 Petr Ginz and the Circumstances of Other WWII Young Diarists

Petr lived on the outside, in his neighborhood in the city, not in hiding, but moving about Prague during the occupation.

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, from Charles Bridge

He knew he would be sent to the ghetto at Terezin, a/k/a Theresienstadt at the age of 14, as a Mischling.  That was a policy postponement of several years, because he was not a full-blooded Jew, but a Mischling.

See post dated 8/7/07 for "Mischling," the category of mixed Jewish and Aryan, that carried with it some dispensations, but only those of delay - not reprieve.

He lived under a clock ticking, and he knew where he would be sent. And he had a life to live in the meanwhile, out there.

From the diary, his life was in a varied, constantly changing city, with a large population, old buildings, family and friends, Nazis, tradition and history, constant reminders and sights and stimulation of many kinds for a child, including brutal reprisals in news. I do not believe he saw people shot, but the word spread.

Child and adult war diarists. See Europe Road Ways: Themes and Common Threads.

Anne Frank

Anne Frank was in another world. Ask what difference do the surroundings make to someone keeping a diary.

Anne Frank and Petr Ginz were in the same war, but Anne had nothing to "do," except look inwards and at a limited area and limited number of people; while Petr was in the midst of city, family, visible and experienced occupation events, all the time. That may well be the cultural view of girls as more verbal, introspective, reflective, and boys out doing. Still, Petr also was introspective, as shown by his art and fiction - if he had been in an attic for several years, his diary may well have been less matter-of-fact.

Here was Anne Frank's world - hidden inside and up a concealed staircase, no movement or sounds allowed during the day:.

Anne Frank house, Amsterdam NL

Imagine the days of Anne Frank: confined, in hiding, on tiptoe, fearful, only one window high up for daylight in her room,and only changing leaves and the branches of a tree across the canal to see. Even that tree is being cut down now. See

There is the door to her father's office and business, in a narrow row-building warehouse. *The Annex, behind a secret way and up hidden stairs, is behind, and extends at the top. See

The same few people, little change, day after day. She wrote from the inside, of herself and the few rooms they all occupied. Her prose may soar at times, but how much of that reflects the lack of other stimulation? She could concentrate on her feelings - what else was there to do.

Back to original question: How much of a writing style depends on the enrichment of the surroundings, on distraction and lack of it. Or is style a reflection seriously of gender, with the girls looking inward and the boys figuring out how things work, and the bell-shaped curve on that; or just plain human difference in perspective, regardless of gender or distraction.

Likely: Petr's reporting style, succinct, factual, looks like a shorthand of someone whose days and head were full of daily confronting the uncontrollable. A wry detachment makes sense. A way of controlling at least how and what was recorded. A way to sanity.

Petr Ginz died at Auschwitz, after a period of time at Theresienstadt. Anne Frank died at Bergen-Belsen, after a period of time at Auschwitz.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Place. Plzen - Pilzen - Pilsen: The English bombs; role in Anthropoid

Petr says of Plzen (spelled Pilsen there) that the English dropped some bombs there. Page 102.
The bombs did not hit the Great Synagogue, the third largest Jewish house of prayer in the world.

Plzen was home to a thriving Jewish Community then. See a video of the interior of this Synagogue at /;. There is further information at

The only larger Jewish sacred buildings are the Jerusalem and Budapest synagogues. See the Budapest synagogue when I get the Budapest blog going. It will be at a seed blog pending more on Hungary: Hungary (Budapest) Road Ways, Budapest post.

Plzen's 1892 synagogue here can seat 3000, but the size of the Jewish community is about 100. The effects of WWII remain devastating. See

Visitors are given little paper yarmulkes at the entrance, where you leave your contribution. Read about yarmulkes at / Make your own from this one, just make it bigger. It is snipped opened here, to fit it flat. Fold it over and staple. If your heritage is different, say Christian, then hang the paper yarmulke next to your holiday stockings or on the tree in remembrance.

Plzen is south-west of Prague, and is also known for the brew we call "Pilsner." Try Pilsner Urquell in particular. We did not take the brewery tour, because time was short, and we did not want to require a nap after samples before heading into Prague.

In the square is a fine Marian column, or plague column as they are known - those 1715-1750 or so petitions in stone to deliver us from the pestilence, or in thanks for such deliverance. See
And, next to town hall, is Cisarsky dum, a Renaissance building with a fine fellow from 1606. Emperor Rudolph II was here.

Rudolph II.

Rudolph II apparently is the "Iron Man" of the statue in Prague, who does not seem at all bothered by "sin" in trysting with a Jewish woman, but she is devastated (dead??),so the story goes, lying draped at his feet. See; and post at Czech Republic Road Ways.

Pilzen was the only place we saw with a monument to America's WWII liberations, saying on the monument "Thank you, America." Patton was in charge, see; see Patton's grave at Luxembourg Road Ways, Hamm Military Cemetery post and other Patton posts.

Wreath report. Very few. And this just a day or so after the anniversary celebrating Patton's tanks. No anti-American graffiti or demonstrations, but we are off the respect pedestals of the mind. No automatic renewals.

Plzen also played a role in Operation Anthropoid, in which Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking Nazi official, was assassinated by Czech partisans in Prague. See historical overview - huge detail - at A State Secret Police inspector, Vaclav Kral, gave the password "Adina greets Pilsen. March 8 is good." Scroll down this long site for it, or do a find for Vaclav Kral

Hradec Kralove, relief from the pressure cooker

Hradec Kralove
Petr Ginz' 
Mother's Home Town

Do not sleep in a hotel room with the view of the clock tower. Bong throughout. Or bring earplugs, as we do.

Hradec Kralove, Square, Places of Petr Ginz

Hradec. In the diary, relatives and geese come from Hradec. Petr's sister writes of the relatives at Page 7. Petr writes of Uncle Jarka D arriving from Hradec. Page 5.

Petr's mother was from Hradec. Pages 7, 5.

Petr's family got a nice goose from Hradec, Page 49.

They received another goose of 7 kilo, with so many kg of lard and 20 kg of livers. Page 49. Petr is precise, even about innards.

Hradec also was respite. Petr's mother left for Hradec at one point, and notes that she was "not precise" in what the family was to cook in her absence. Petr says they will manage. Page 53.

As of page 56, they were expecting another goose from Hradec. At another point, I recall that the mother feared that two geese coming would spoil, so she gave one away.

Here it is - the main square, with the clock tower that has the hands reversed (I believe it was Rick Steves whose guidebook pointed that out, and he is right).

See this walking tour at

Hradec Kralove CZ, Plague Column, Places of Petr Ginz

The Marian plague column, erected with Mary at the top in thanksgiving for deliverance from the Plague, and beseeching no return of it, dates from the late 1700's. The pestilence recurred over the centuries. Plague columns appear in many towns in Europe: Learn about Plague Columns with a general start with Wikipedia at They are in most every town square.

Plague: Read about the link between climate change at the time and the epidemics at

Sgraffito, Hradec Kralove residence, facade, CZ

Hradec would be a welcome respite from the Occupation in Prague: peaceful, historic, beauty around.

Buildings at Hradec Kralove are sometimes decorated with sgraffito, a painting technique where one color plaster or other preliminary surface is the base coat, and another color plaster or other surface on top. Scrape the top layer and reveal the lower.

See also the Hradec Kralove post at Czech Republic Road Ways.

This example is on a historic home just off the square at the town of Hradec Kralove, the town where Petr's mother was raised. Her family continued to live in Hradec Kralove (address not known) during the War.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ceska Lipa, Bohemian Town

Ceska Lipa.

Petr writes that Karel Mautner was sent to work there, his other relatives at Theresienstadt or Poland, he came back looking stronger, but had to go back. Pages 46,49-50.

Ceska Lipa is in Bohemia, read its history at This site describes all the Jewish cemeteries, towns' histories, present condition, much information. See Ceska Lipa (originated in 1th century) also at Here is a photo gallery. /

Bohemians in our culture? A different connotation and look at it here - :// The concept came from Bohemia, part of the Czech Republic.

Poland in Petr Ginz' Diary: Zikmund the Bell; Transports to Camps

Tracing Zikmund the Bell
A Polish Heritage in Prague

And who was Zikmund, in whose name the bell at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague continued to toll, even after the other bells of the city had been confiscated for war materiel by the Germans.

Zikmund the Bell was too large to get it down and move it, much less melt it easily.

The bell and its sound is part of the Polish heritage in Prague, as well as part of the Poland to which Petr and so many he knew were transported.

The bell was named after Zikmund, a king of Hungary, and the brother of Wenceslas V, who in those days when borders ebbed and flowed took over Brno and other areas.  Read more at Scroll down to "Middle Ages", and then to 1349-1421.

Need to check if this is the same Wenceslas killed by a brother Boleslaw in Cesky Krumlov. See Czech Republic Road Ways.

Warsaw PL, Zikmund Statue in Polish Square
Photo alert: this is in Poland, not the Czech Republic. Zikmund is highly regarded in Warsaw, Poland. Look up.
More. Up.


But Poland is part of Petr's life and death as well.

Petr mentions Poland, sometimes as an alternate destination for Jews being transported out of Prague, or the known destination.
Page 45 - Transports to Poland stop, now going to work at Theresienstadt. Helping at Mr. Emil Bondy's with luggage, he is going to Poland;

Page 46 - Some 5000 have gone already to Poland in 5 transports;
Page 65: Poles being interned at Theresienstadt as well as French, non-Jews.

And Petr is sent there, to Poland's Auschwitz - Osweicim, where he dies.

Poland. The Destination from Veletrzni.

 Going to Poland
The Transports

Petr writes that people go to Poland after five days at Veletrzni. Veletrzni is the old Trade Fair Palace, a large space where people came for processing and stayed until moved out. See ://

Names of concentration camps are not given in Petr's references. Here is a directory of all of them,the camps, their use at the time, their status now.

You will probably not find Auschwitz, on a Polish map, or Theresienstadt on a Czech map. You will find the national language translation, not the German:  Osweicim PL or Terezin CZ, the camp reflecting now the language of the country itself, not the earlier invader. Try many spellings.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Terezin. Theresienstadt. "Way to Heaven", Stage play

Terezin, Theresienstadt, emerging Arts theme
The Nazis used Terezin as a kind of stage, on which they set up a sham settlement of happy-looking, well-fed adults and children.
Petr Ginz was kept at Terezin for several years before being sent to Auschwitz-Berkenaum, to his death.  We do not know if the Red Cross inspections noted here occurred while he was there. Terezin is the Czech name for the German Theresienstadt concentration camp.
The Nazis used those fake well-being tableaus and scenes to convince Red Cross workers and other inspectors in WWII that the place was benign, with scenes to show how independent and fully functioning this community of the displaced were.
The play is now in New York City, with alternate evenings offering the performance in Spanish.
There was also an inmates orchestra, with works from that era now on programs in the United States and elsewhere. See Czech Republic Road Ways. Brundibar and Music of Terezin.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Theresienstadt, Terezin . School, ghetto children, Petr as a Child Artist: "Moonscape" by Petr Ginz, also science fiction buff

Petr Ginz drew a moonscape. He was artistic, and a science fiction writer. See Petr's drawing, and see how the Israeli astronaut took on the Shuttle Columbia in 2003 - at The astronaut is Colonel Ilan Ramon.
See the entries for January 1, 2005 at
Theresienstadt (Terezin) Memorial, School at ghetto, Petr Ginz life 
The photo is the now-museum at Terezin, and I believe it is also the building where the school was held (Theresienstadt in German)

Terezin was set up as a "town" to show Red Cross and others that life was fine. Meanwhile, the transports went in and out and 30,000 died.
See post on Theresienstadt used as a facade by the Nazis to satisfy inspectors; while carrying on the transports and causing the deaths.

For the drawing, search Images your own computer for it. See That site also notes that his drawings were saved by a friend and are at the Yad Vashem Art Museum in Jerusalem.

Petr's friend survived. Kurt Kotouc was that friend at Terezin, and he says that Petr was killed immediately upon arriving at Auschwitz. He discusses "Moonscape" and Petr at

I think the entry is mistaken in stating that the drawing was made at Auschwitz. Other sources say he made it at Theresienstadt, see Kurt Kotouc, his friend, who survived. See

In terms of copyright, is it fair use to put it here for you, as a tiny tiny part of someone's work? Nobody can tell me for sure what is fair use or not, so cut and paste the address, beginning at the beginning and adding as much as is needed to get your there. Or, see it at this site:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Theresienstadt, Terezin: Transports of Jews in; out. Trains, names,

See Terezin, its old walls now even more overgrown. Get an idea of how Terezin figured more and more desperately in everyday life.

Here is a chronology of the people being sent out according to the Diary of Petr Ginz, and a picture of the siding at Theresienstadt where the trains loaded and unloaded. There at the barrier is a ledge where pebbles are left in remembrance. See the Jewish Mourning Guide, customs for Remembrance: Grave Visitation, at ://

Petr wrote this chronology of the people being sent there:

Page 45. The transports (trains) to Poland stop. Now people are being sent to work in Theresienstadt.

Page 46. The names of so many sent to Theresienstadt.

Page 47. Transports stopped at least to January 10.

Page 48. The entire Mautner family is now at Theresienstadt. The mother, who would not leave without the last son, finally volunteered with that son and went to Theresienstadt

Pages 49-50. But Karl Mautner was sent to work at Ceska Lipa, all relatives at Theresienstadt or Poland.

Page 65. There are new transports to Theresienstadt, many with people the Ginz family knew
Peter hears that the Germans are also interning French, Poles, others who were foreigners and not Jews. Eight understood to be killed trying to escape.

Page 66. The Goldmanns from Budyne leaving for Theresienstadt.

Page 70. Bardach's whole family is called up. First to the "exhibition grounds," then to Theresienstadt.

Page 86. The Kuchner famiy got a letter from Leo in Theresienstadt, and he said they were healthy. He could only send 30 words.

Page 95. Fiser the confectioner was taken, and sent to "Dobris."

Page 96. Auntie Anda wanted to visit a friend, but the friend was already at Theresienstadt. Tabor leaves for Theresienstadt in May.

Page 99. Petr's teacher leaves for Theresienstadt.

Page 100. Friends leaving for Theresienstadt. "The Friedlanders are supposed to go too, even though Mr. Friedlander just had a stroke."

Page 102. Petr's father's doctor, Dr. Bloch, is leaving for Theresienstadt. "There have been two transports, one after another." And, "Ivan Dusner from our class is leaving for Theresienstadt."

Page 118. Grandma got her notice that she was leaving for Theresienstadt on Thursday.

Page 119. Grandma leaves from Bubenec Station.

What did the transports look like?

Theresienstadt was manipulated to the outside to look like a mere forced-population town, see That cite " to a Master's thesis by Miriam Intrator at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Scroll down to the history of Theresienstadt section. With that, the trains probably were not the crammed cattle cars used at other concentration-extermination camps such as Jasenovac in Croatia - see Croatia Road Ways.

These sound instead like regular trains leaving the stations in Prague and going the short distance to Theresienstadt. People even had their luggage. Petr helped Mr. Emil Bondy with his. Page 45.

Terezin - an excellent additional resource is That overall site lists all the concentration camps and their use then and status now.

Theresienstadt, Terezin. A Child's Life; Bunkmates; Vedem

Update 2015

Petr was at Terezin for two years, until he was about 14. He lived in barracks, and went to school there. He drew the barracks and his bunk area, and the drawings survived. See  This had been a military barracks area, and a military base, a walled town since the 17th Century, see See its more recent history at http://://

Theresienstadt, Terezin Ghetto, Czech Republic, barracks

Barracks at Terezin now look like this. This may or may not be the actual children's barracks, as they look alike lining the street grids right to the sidewalks. This had been an old garrison town, and was converted to a ghetto.

Look up the book, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a collection of art and poems by children who passed through or died at Terezin. Check for Petr's name.

Petr drew "Moonscape" there. The original was destroyed when the shuttle broke apart. A commemorative stamp shows the picture. See entry at January 20, 2005 at . Some of the art is at the museum in Prague, in the Jewish Quarter. See,

Petr had bunkmates - Kurt Kotouc (name  not found at Yad Vashem list because he survived) and George Brady (name not found at Yad Vashem list).

They put out a secret magazine, called Vedem. Kurt Kotouc survived, and kept some issues. Read his interview as an adult survivor at


Find boys' work, and a list of other book and research resources for helping children understand the Holocaust, at'sSuitcaseResourceList.pdf. Read an excerpt from the boys' newspaper at  Frank Laubach , see, used to say, "Each one teach one." In important ways, a secret newspaper is a rebellion but also an education tool.

There was a library also at Terezin, a school (see the book of the children's art and poems, "I Never Saw Another Butterfly," some of the originals at the Jewish Museum, Jewish Quarter Prague.

Theresienstadt, Terezin. The Deadly Charade

 How Theresienstadt - Terezin Passed "Inspection"

How could a ghetto-concentration camp have a school, a library, prayer rooms.

Read "Avenues of Intellectual Resistance In The Ghetto Theresienstadt: Escape Through the Ghetto Central Library, Reading, Story-Telling, and Lecturing."

Memorial to Terezin, Theresienstadt, Jewish Quarter, Prague

This paper is by Miriam Intrator in April 200, written for a Master's Degree course in Library Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Go to

Parts of Terezin were staged as a fraud on the Red Cross inspectors, who saw nothing of the ultimately 30,000 who died here over time, and saw only that Jews were housed here, away from Aryans, and life was ok. They saw a fake. A facade.

See how musicians and composers at Terezin appeared not only at Terezin, but in propaganda films. A children's opera, Brundibar, was a favorite. See Czech Republic Road Ways, Brundibar and the Music of Terezin.

The memorial is at the Jewish Quarter in Prague.

Petr Ginz lived for two years at Terezin, Theresienstadt.  See those and other facts listed at Factbites, ://

Theresienstadt, Terezin - Ghetto - Overview.

History of Theresienstadt, Terezin Ghetto

Theresienstadt (Terezin) Old Garrison Town, CZ

Theresienstadt, or Terezin as it appears in Czech, was an old garrison town with angled, star-shaped wall configurations now overgrown, that had also served as a prison. See

The Nazis converted it into a ghetto to hold Jews pending their further disposition; in that way, Petr Ginz came to be imprisoned there; it was in truth a concentration camp, and tens of thousands died, and even more were transported from there to other concentration camps, for labor or extermination.

Petr was transported here when he was about 14, and lived here for 2 years. Many children were brought here. The camp had a schooling area, and other parts of the camp at one point were set up to look like a reasonable place for Jews to be brought and held. The "excess" Jews were deported fast, and the area was shown off as just another ghetto to the Red Cross and other inspectors during World War II. It was theatred and it worked. The inspectors went away. See the entry at the deathcamps site above, and scroll down to near the photo of the prison cells for that event.

The trains apparently came to this siding for loading and loading.

You can see the piles of stones for remembrance that visitors leave there.

Theresienstadt (Terezin) Railroad halt point, discharge of cars

And to the side, up a ways, is a place hidden behind corrugated tin fencing and barbed wire as I recall, but you can see inside.

Put your camera in and there are deep pens or cave areas in the walls, with heavy grids.

Theresienstadt, Terezin. Holding areas, deep recesses in walls

The term "ghetto" is Italian, from the Jewish section in Venice from the 1500's. Later, the word described the areas where Germans concentrated the Jewish populationand forced them to live under miserable conditions...." See It was a means of "control and segregation" pending further steps that often led to labor or extermination camps. Here is a "Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust": town has a population, and some businesses are coming back.

Terezin, Theresienstadt Ghetto, barracks

The old barracks are there, and some are being renovated. 

Terezin, Theresienstadt. Garrison town grid streets, storehouses, many being lived in

There is a museum, and other buildings are identified as the school, the places for prayer, and other matters needed for an ongoing "town" of Jewish people.

The streets are in a military-type grid, there are parade grounds and even homes now, but even those echo the past. There are the guns, still facing inside, and right in the windows - see the trajectory. It is more stark than it shows here. Most is in disrepair.

New housing is also going up.

Terezin, Theresienstadt, current residences, old cannon aimed

Staying at Theresienstadt, Terezin. Not common yet, but do it.

Theresienstadt (Terezin) Pension, or rooming house

There is a rooming house, a "Pension" just outside the walls. And the car could be parked inside a locked lot. Stay there instead of returning the 5 miles to the "regular" town, Litomerice. There was a small eating place in town, home cooking and very good; people just there and talking. No fuss.

Theresienstadt, Terezin pension parking area. Secure enough.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Auschwitz - Birkenau, Poland, where Petr died

Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Places of Petr Ginz

Petr was sent to Auschwitz -Birkenau, a complex of two concentration camps, see, after his two years at the Theresienstadt ghetto. We went to Auschwitz, but not the second camp almost adjoining, called Birkenau. I am not sure exactly which one held Petr.

Here is Auschwitz now: see the barracks, the guard houses. With all so tidy and tourist-organized antiseptic, you have to imagine for yourself the cold, the hunger, the suffering. They do retain the buildings where terrible pain was inflicted. Some barracks are now dedicated to specific nationalities or ethnic groups of the victims, with records and collections of items.

See the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem's website on the holocaust, and Auschwitz in particular, at

Auschwitz, restored Barracks, street. Museums in barracks.

The information boards along the way are helpful. At the parade ground, trains came in nearby, and the guard house prevents escape attempts.

Auschwitz, by parade ground, guard tower

Ovens, crematory, Auschwitz PL

Birkenau was just across the way, and housed more of the crematories and ovens than did Auschwitz. See ://  Auschwitz was known as the concentration camp, and Birkenau was known as the death camp.

Petr was killed immediately, reported a friend, Kurt Kotouc, who survived. See

This building, set in the hill-hummock with the chimney, housed the gas chambers and crematorium.

Auschwitz is in Poland, and the Polish name is Osweicim.