Terezin (also known as Theresienstadt), about 30 miles from Prague, Czech Republic was a concentration camp during World War II. This camp was one of many tools in the Nazi’s scheme to deceive.
The world was told that Hitler had built “a city for the Jews”. In reality: 35,440 Jews died at this camp, and over 88,000 were deported to other camps to be murdered.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:20)
The Terezin camp was used as a staging area for Jews who would later be sent to killing camps. It was also a forced labor camp and ghetto but publicized as a retirement community. The Nazis intentionally created horrific, unsanitary conditions and starved the prisoners here in an effort to speed up their demise.
We toured Terezin and heard stories of deception such as:
- People forced to write postcards to friends and family, saying how great it was and they should join them soon. In reality, people were dying from starvation, disease, and malnutrition.
- A staged orchestra concert used to create a film to convey how wonderful and cultural Terezin was. Upon completion of the film, most of the “cast” were deported to Auschwitz to be murdered.
- Weeks of preparation for a known visit by the Red Cross. To make sure it didn’t look too overcrowded, the Nazis deported 7,503 people to the Auschwitz killing center just prior to the visit.
Walking the grounds and observing the prison cells, crematorium, cemetery gave us better insights as to what millions of people went through during one of the most horrific events in human history. I cannot imagine the despair, loneliness, fear, abuse, and pain caused by these acts of hatred.
Through this experience I cling closer to the cross and the freedom, hope and promise it represents. Without the cross we are hopeless and lost. With it, we have hope, forgiveness, and a future with no more of the sorrow that comes with sin.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)
For more reading on Terezin: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Today’s reading: John 3