Terezin: Children of the Holocaust


The kindest thing that can be said about "Terezin: Children of the Holocaust" is that it might have been better placed in the children's section of the Fringe programme for its didactic value. Or that as an American production, its emotional impact doesn't translate to British audiences.

Suffice to say, the most moving part was the explanatory voiceover at the beginning and the end of the play of Zdenka Ehrlich, a London-based survivor of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz concentration camps, who, after a death march, was liberated from Bergen-Belsen.

Of the 16,000 children who entered Theresienstadt, in the Czech republic, only 150 survived, she says. "I am one of them." Her voice was recorded specially for the Edinburgh performance.

The play, which has toured internationally over the past 40 years, was written by Anna Smulowitz, from Massachusetts, many of whose relatives were murdered during the Holocaust. Smulowitz's parents survived Auschwitz, her father as a cook and her mother as a kapo, on whom she bases Emily Fluet's bullying, snitching character Corrinna, who hangs up a Nazi flag in the cell she shares with five other children.

The action, which includes game-playing, painting, singing, squabbling and fighting, takes place in cell block 22 of the camp to which wealthy, privileged Jews, including many artists and musicians, were transported from 1941.

It focuses on two days when 600 Danish Jews arrived to become actors in a Nazi propaganda film, and is set against a backdrop of a concert of Verdi's "Requiem" to mark a visit of the International Red Cross, who were invited by Hitler to witness the seemingly humanitarian conditions for the camp's Jewish inmates.

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