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And Ela became its most loyal champion. She gave speeches and spoke with the children, and followed the opera in hopes of preserving the message of music and friendship that it portrays. Music and hope went hand in hand for Ela.

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When Ela died in March at 87, her passing was little noted outside of North Carolina, where she was living. With the help of a dog, a cat, a bird and a group of children, they defeat Brundibar and celebrate by singing a victory march. It was known in Theresienstadt that the character of Brundibar represented Hitler, and singing its climactic victory march was a thrilling rebuke of the horrors of life in the ghetto.

She told us that music brought joy and hope to a place where there was none.

A Danish Boy In Theresienstadt

Ela was 15 when she, her sister and her mother miraculously evaded Auschwitz and survived the war at Theresienstadt. In Israel, she met her husband, Leopold, and eventually they moved to New York with their children. I was honored to play Aninka, the sister. Robert Lyall conducted an orchestra and a cast of children from the Greater New Orleans area. Most special of all, Ela attended the performances and addressed the packed audience after each show, sometimes joking and sometimes serious. At 18, I was one of the oldest members of our cast I could pass for much younger, a fact Ela found very funny and initially I understood the weight of our task more than some of the younger kids.

But Ela had a talent for storytelling and she shared her experiences in Theresienstadt with the cast before our dress rehearsal.


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She helped us understand the deep significance of our performances. At the end of each show, after addressing the audience, Ela joined us in an encore of the victory march, singing in Czech while we sang in English and wrapping her arms around as many children as she could reach. Countless children learned about the Holocaust from Ela, and they were changed by her words and indomitable spirit.

Portraits of Holocaust Survivors tells the stories of individuals who are among the last survivors and how they carried on with their lives in Switzerland after the war.

Women as citizens in the Theresienstadt prisoner community

The exhibition is one of several events surrounding the annual commemoration of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust 27 January. Anita Winter, President of the Gamaraal Foundation, which helps alleviate financial distress of Holocaust survivors, is the child of survivors. Seeing the difficulty with which the survivors spoke of their experiences, she felt deeply thankful to them for sharing their stories.

According to Ms. Winter, many told her personally that they felt it was their duty to speak on behalf of the six million who can no longer speak for themselves. For her, their resilience is amazing.

Born in , Nina Weil lived in what is today the Czech Republic. In she was deported to Theresienstadt and later arrived at Auschwitz with her mother, who died at age 38 of exhaustion.

Theresienstadt ghetto

I cried a lot. Not because of the pain, no, because of the number. Because I had lost the name, I was just a number. When we get home, you visit the dance school and get a big bracelet so no one sees the number.


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  7. Winter recalled an unsettling story that Ms. Weil shared with her about taking a trip to the hospital for bloodwork, where a young technician mistook the number she had tattooed on her arm at the concentration camp for her phone number. Eduard Kornfeld survived both Auschwitz and Dachau camps. He grew up in Bratislava, Slovakia, and was arrested in while hiding with his brother in Hungary. After the war, in which he lost his entire family, he arrived in Davos weighing only 27 kilos, or 60 pounds, weak and sick from exhaustion.

    There Swiss doctors saved his life. Kornfeld said, "We were deported in a cattle car, the journey took three days.

    Back to Theresienstadt – The Forward

    When the train suddenly stopped, I heard someone shouting outside in German, 'Get out! A mother wasn't moving quick enough because she was trying to take care of her child, so the SS officers took her infant and threw him in the same truck they put the old and sick.

    Those people were sent to be gassed immediately. Winter remembered Mr. Kornfeld telling her about his emaciated state upon arrived in Switzerland, saying that when he looked in the mirror he did not even recognize himself.

    Klaus Appel was born in in Berlin. After his father, Paul, and his older brother, Willi-Wolf, were arrested and sent to Auschwitz, he and his sister came to England in one of the last Kindertransport humanitarian programmes.