A TALE OF TEREZIN (Also Known As Theresienstadt):

Interview With My Mother, Emilie "Miryam" Sapsovic Levy
Child Survivor of Concentration Camp

As Told To
Esther V. Levy


The place of my mother's Birth, CHUST, was in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains at the far eastern tip of the czech republic. The little town in Carpatho Ruthenia (Khust in Ukrainian, Huszt in Hungarian, and might have been spelled Chust by the czechoslovakian administration) belonged to hungary from March 1939 until its liberation by the red army. there is no more czechoslovakia, but the separate countries, the czech republic and the slovak republic. Chust was annexed by the ukraine at the end of WWII and currently the locality called "khust" is located approximately 20 miles from the czech and hungarian border, nowhere near a large city.


Tell me a little about your background in Czechoslovakia, before the war.


O.K. I was born on August 2, 1931 in a small town called Chust, which was previously in Austria/Hungary before World War II, in the Carpathian Mountains. It was not good enough for my mother, she wanted to go to the big city. So when I was about four years old we moved to Prague, which is the capital of Czechoslovakia. I loved it there, I went to school then, first grade. I enjoyed walking around in the streets and passages, which were like malls underneath buildings. I enjoyed going into a shooting gallery where there was an old man who was telling me stories and showing me all kinds of magic tricks, especially a trick which I still remember, with a little bullet which you put between two fingers and you feel two of them, so that made an impression on me. So I was a little wanderer, I was a very happy child, very independent and I just enjoyed life. I had compassion for this old woman who was selling pickles in the street, and I usually bought a pickle. Sometimes when she had to go someplace I took her place. I must have been about five already, or six, at that point, and so she trusted me with her business. I enjoyed and I was saying the Czech expression, "Po korune a za korunu"---(-she sold it for a crown)-- " A Pickle For a Crown." And I just loved that. I also liked to go to department stores and look around for all kinds of beautiful things, which I couldn't afford, because we were not very rich. But later on, my father became well known for his orthopedic shoe repair work, so we became a little more prosperous.

And at that point, when things were just about going very well, the war broke out, and we were taken over by the Germans, the Nazis. They were like taking us, like, under their wings, which was called "Protectorate," like a protection, that's how it first started. Finally they started to deport people, the ones which were not desirable, such as Jews and political people who didn't agree with their regime. So we were one of the first to be deported, because of our religion. My father went first.

What year was that?


It was in 1941. I don't remember exactly what month, but it was end of '41. And we were sent in December, the rest of the family. But he really opened the camp, and fortunately they needed his trade, because he was a wonderful professional worker in his field, and the Germans picked a few for their work.

Didn't he go to build the railroad, first, before?


Well, it was a military barrack, the men came first, there was a railroad there, but they set up the barracks---it was Terezin, it was a military outpost which they used for that, for concentrating all the people, the undesirables which were meant to be sent away from there later to the annihilation camps---which we didn't know existed at the time---


Tell me a little bit more about your parents and your sister.


My sister Zora ("Dawn" in English, we called her Zorinka) was two and a half years older than I, she was 12 _, I was 10. We were very close, but we couldn't stay in the same barrack. I was in Brandenborg Barrack.


Before the war, she was your protector, wasn't she? You were always getting into trouble.


Before the war I was a tomboy. She was a very good, quiet, feminine girl and I used to beat up the kids who would pull on her braids, pick on her and make her cry. She was beautiful, but I told people I was smart. I was her protector, I kicked the boys in the shins, at 7, 8, and 9, just before the war. We had a wonderful relationship, except for one thing, she had a friend who was not very healthy, she had troubles mentally, she had some problem, maybe ADD or something. The girl didn't have any friends except for my sister, and I was so attached to my sister that I always wanted to go along with her on her visits to this friend, and it wasn't always possible. There was a little conflict in that, but that was the only thing. She protected me many ways. When I'd be overeating, I ate half a watermelon once and I was very sick, and my mother would be very upset with me. So Zorinka didn't tell on me, she just covered up for me and took care of me till I felt better. So she was my protector. We protected each other. My mother doted on her but my father was amused by and doted on me, as if I were a boy. Before the war I was very outgoing and very spunky, I was not scared of anything. She was a quiet, very cultured little girl already at that time, she was very studious. She excelled in school. I didn't do my homework properly, I didn't care.

Zorinka was ordered in camp to star in Nazi propaganda films, because of her beauty and charm. I had to stay in the barrack where my mother was. Zorinka was in a separate group with older teenagers.
As a 10-year-old child I was given the job of dental assistant in the infirmary mixing the amalgams. I was wiping the blood from the instruments and boiling them and assisting with the operations, which the Czech government was still supervising along with the Nazis. I contracted scarlet fever; I was hospitalized for several months and almost didn't make it. When I was convalescing I had a heart complication and I had to stay in the hospital a long time, and my sister was bringing me spinach leaves which she stole while she was working in the fields. She was putting one leaf to the other and she put them in her slacks, in her pants, which had a rubber band, which were like work pants. She didn't eat it herself, she saved it for me. Also, my mother saved her own bread ration, which was like a roll,( it was given us every three days), to give to my sister. She only ate the soup and whatever else we had, some vegetables, some "tureen."


What was that, exactly?

It was turnip and potato soup, the mainstay of our diet, with the bread. The vegetables were cut up or mashed up. We had no meat or milk, nothing nutritious for four years, we were not really functioning very well, but we were surviving. But my sister took that bread my mother had given her and she gave it to an old woman who wasn't feeling well, she was very compassionate, and my mother cried because she really wanted the child to have it. But she understood my sister's heart, because she was really very, very good. She was an angel. She was very beautiful. She had flawless skin, her cheeks were pink and glowing even without the nutrition, and she had a halo of dark golden hair. She was blossoming into a beautiful teenager. She was a beauty with pale gray, almost translucent eyes, the pupils very big and black, with long eyelashes. She was in danger of being used by the Nazis for her beauty, but luckily it never came to that.


What about the propaganda films she had to star in?


They took some films about the camp to show when the Red Cross inspection was supposed to come. They prepared all kinds of goodies for the children, chocolate and cans of sardines. We did not eat it, it was just laying there to show how we were treated. And the beautiful children, especially my sister, were called, and they were taking pictures of them for how beautiful, how well-fed they looked. She did not look undernourished. I was like skin and bones. My glands were sticking out and I was something horrible to look at. I was a poor eater even before the war. Anyway, they took a picture of her and they wanted her to get undressed for the picture, to show the body, but she was very modest and she started to cry bitterly, and somehow they took pity on her, even the elite SS (the highest in command of all the Nazis), because of her beauty, and she didn't have to undress.
The propaganda went on for a few days, and there was a coffee shop built especially for that propaganda. We had money printed, ghetto money, which I still have, all kinds and colors of bills, and the coffee shop people went in there and made believe they were served coffee. It was made to look like a paradise.


Is this why it was called "The Showplace Camp"?


It was called "The Paradise Camp," actually. And there was a square where usually we saw wagons full of people with blood on them being dragged to like a jail there, there was a jail. The name of it was "Pernost" (in KleineFestung-Small Fort). If they didn't like somebody's face or somebody walked wrong, or something like that-I could have been put into jail because I was stealing potatoes from a cellar--- I was walking around there and I was hungry, so I put my hand down in the cellar, there were houses, barracks, and I just took a chance. I took a few raw potatoes and I ate them. That was a real treat when you were hungry. Anyway, that square was the most horrible place, usually, because of the wagons bringing people back and forth to jail. All of a sudden they built a podium there and they started to play music, a concert. There was beautiful music, they planted flowers. The main SS was called Rahm, that was the Commandante's name, he was the one who managed this whole propaganda deal. And my father was in another barrack, where the men were separated from the women and children. He had a little shoe repair and shoe-making shop; he made riding boots for the SS, he had to measure and deliver them to their quarters, and they showed him with their gestures of their hands to their throats, that if the boots didn't fit he will hang. He had a very stressful job. He was kicked several times, and before he got established as a worker he was lying on the ground when he first arrived, sleeping on the bare stone ground, before the barracks were set up, and he developed arthritis and a bad knee which still bothers him to this day.


He was a young man then, yes? How old?


He was born in 1905. It was 1941 then. So he was 36. And my mother was a beautiful blonde, with her hair in natural big curls. My father is Ludvik Sapsovic, my mother, six years his junior, was Fanny-she died in 1993. She went to concentration camp a beautiful 30-year-old woman. We showered with cold water, we had no soap, and she had the most beautiful voice. Some people had a few sugar cubes, they were saving them because it was very hard to get food. After my mother would sing a song, the people in the barrack enjoyed it so much and would be so appreciative they'd give her a sugar cube, whoever could afford to give it away.


I always thought you were the only singer in the family. Didn't you sing on the radio before the war?


After the war. We sang beautifully, both of us. After the war I went to Hannah Benishova High School, each day after school I had rigorous tutoring and violin lessons, because I had missed four years of school.


Let's return to the girls and women of Terezin.


Something was put in the soup ("tureen," a sort of gruel) diet to prevent menstruation. There was, rarely, a special treat of a sticky dumpling with jam, particularly when the Red Cross was visiting our "paradise" camp.

. My mother was given the most terrible duty imaginable: washing and preparing dead bodies for burial. She had a tumor in her abdomen before the war but could not have it operated on; in camp it kept growing and growing until she had to have a 5-lb tumor removed from her abdomen with only ice as an anesthetic. A highly respected and expensive Czech doctor (supervised by the Czech government, as well as the Nazis) was her surgeon, fortunately. My father, having gotten a little more privileges as time went on, was able to share extra food with this doctor (as well as others.) To seal the wound after the operation, the doctor lay down with his whole body on her incision and pressed with all his might. He saved her life. It was meant for her to go on.

Something was put into the water to contaminate my sister's barracks, it was believed. I went once to visit her there. We were free to walk around. So I went to see her before she died when she was sick already from the typhoid epidemic, and she sent me away. With glassy eyes she begged me to run away, she said to me, "Please, Milushka, run, run!" She knew she was going to die. Within two weeks she died After our beloved Zorinka died of typhus at age 14 (her whole bunker perished), my mother became severely depressed and catatonic. "Melancholy," they called her. She lay down, covered her head, and she did not get up. I would sometimes remind her, while reading to her from prayer books, that I was still alive. After two years, she started to respond.

My mother's father, wounded in World War I, didn't want to lose his leg, so he died young rather than have his leg amputated. My father had two brothers who died in camp, the older brother was Herschel who died in Auschwitz, and Avram died in labor camp as a prisoner in jail together with the Nazis. All my father's family was gassed. My mother raised her three siblings and took care of them after the war: her older sister Paula, younger sister Helen and younger brother David. The siblings all survived the camps.

My mother's mother, my grandmother Gisela (Giselle), was a midwife who went to medical school but never completed it because she had to take care of a sick father. She was ahead of her time, ostracized for using rubber gloves during her deliveries. My mother was brought up in a house where she had to dip her hands in disinfectants, and whenever anyone was sick my grandmother made sure everyone stayed away. My mother had typhus as a child, and survived because of my grandmother's exceptional care of her. People were dying from this, because there were no antibiotics and not much knowledge about treatments. My mother always wanted the best for her loved ones, she had big dreams. My mother was a cultured person with a lot of natural intelligence, despite her lack of schooling; my father was less refined.

On May 5, 1945, the Russians liberated the camps. We spent a year in Paris after the war, having found it unbearable and oppressive to live under communism in 1948. We had applied for a visa to Israel at first and paid our way, intending eventually to come to America because we had family here.


Tell me more about the liberation, in camp.


My mother had a little cooker, as I said before we had acquired some extra privileges by the later years, and I would distribute the food she prepared to people who came and left, because people were coming from all over, and then they were taken away, but of course we stayed because they needed the shoes and boots, the SS. Other people were being taken away to other camps, to Auschwitz, to Bergen-Belsen, and there was a rumor which turned out to be true, that they were already starting t o build gas chambers in Terezin, on the outskirts. The Germans were losing the war, and the Russians were getting close. The Germans were getting ready to clean out the camp and run away, and my father was starting to make shoes for them to run away in. They were called "Jewish Shoes." Money and papers were to be built inside the shoes. My father was ordered to make the shoes, and we knew there was danger involved, but we were preparing ourselves to go underground; he had connections with the underground. (We knew that the Nazis would kill as many people as possible before they cleaned out the camp and ran).
On May 5, 1945 the Russians came. It was the most marvelous day. It was heaven. We started to eat, we ate every day, they brought food. It was a miracle. I was in a little bit of danger because there was this Russian officer who liked me. I was 14 years old, and he really took a fancy to me. He touched my hair, and he wanted me to go with him to Russia, he really did. He told my parents he'd pay them well, and they should let me go. Of course, my mother and father were opposed to it, and luckily it did not happen, but that was the only dark shadow of Liberation for us. But otherwise, it was just wonderful. We were starting to get to ourselves. We were just recuperating.


How many children do you imagine survived along with you?

I don't know. I had a few people there I knew. We were walking around there. I was playing, I had a little ball (when I didn't work), we played ball with a few boys, they were a little older than me. They were like my sister's age group. I don't remember anyone my age, because the younger children went to death camps. I only survived as a 10-year-old (when I first came) because of my father's protection. A 14-year-old could work. I have a friend Regina who is a survivor, she had been in Auschwitz at age 15, she worked there, she lost her parents and her whole family. Of course she has agoraphobia and a very bad life. She survived but not too well. Somehow it did not touch me, I don't know why, my nature maybe. I did not get depressed from all that, I just picked myself up. I was crying when my mother was lying there for two years. Then I was in a bad way because I kept telling her, "I am here too, I am here!" and she didn't want to hear me.


After the war, how was it when you were ready to leave?


After the war, we just made preparations to be packed up, I don't remember too well, the Russians made arrangements for us to go home, I guess. We went back to Prague.


How did you begin your lives over, what about your belongings?


We were very fortunate, because before we left we had friends, we had Gentile friends. We left some of our belongings and some of our pictures and furniture, even, we left at their house in their care. We rented another apartment in a nice place, because we had the money saved, put away, what my father gave to the friends. We had money, luckily, so we could work with that, so we could afford a beautiful apartment right off of St. Wenceslas Square, which is the most beautiful street in the world, they say, it's a beautiful place. They have parades there, it's like Fifth Avenue in New York. We were like one side street away from there. We had a fairly good life, my father built up his business again. But first, I went to a recreation camp. All the children went to recreation camp. It was the most wonderful experience of my life. I learned how to swim there, and I had companionship there, there were friends, there was dancing, there were songs, which was the most wonderful thing imaginable for me, which I didn't have for 4 years. I was 14. Then, after summer camp, I came to school, and I started my rigorous training, every day, morning till night. School, school, school. I had no inkling of math, I had to start from scratch: mathematics, geometry-it was horrible. I went straight to the third year of high school (it was called Gymnasium), and they had very good teachers and very strict teachers, but they took a little consideration of me. I was very scared of my math teacher, I had nightmares of him, his name was Petrus. I just couldn't bear it, I didn't understand at the beginning. It was so complex, the geometric questions, but later I had a friend who came to my house and she was a geometric and mathematic whiz. I excelled in languages: Latin, English, Russian. We had very strict, very good training in languages. So I was giving her lessons in Russian and English, and she gave me lessons in geometry. And of course I had other tutors, which were very costly. I became a good student, which was unbelievable, because as I said, as a young child I wasn't interested. I went to school to have fun, I was breaking the benches there, I was enjoying life, I was playing ball, I was joking and singing, a carefree child. My sister was different, like I said before. The teacher even told my mother, "How can this be, are these children from the same family, from the same father, because they are so different." The other daughter was in all the honor societies and things, the highest level of schooling. Later on I devoted myself to schooling and became a good student, I don't know how but it just happened. I matured and devoted myself to studies.

When I left in 1949 when we went to Paris, I managed the whole exit, the whole thing for my parents, the visa, the embassy business, the whole paper work, we paved our way to Israel, and instead of going there we went to Paris to wait for the quota to come to America. I managed all that, as an 18-year-old.


So you were 18 and in Paris, there couldn't have been anything better than that, after four years in concentration camp


18 and in Paris, the responsibility was all on me, I was the manager of our lives. We lived in a beautiful pension, in a beautiful section of Paris, as I said we did have money because of my father's trade. He worked for the rich people who could afford to have shoes made to order, and people who needed custom made orthopedic shoes. The life in Paris was something unforgettable. It was a whole series of culture, of concerts, of museums, of Bois des Bolognes, I took in everything with my French boyfriend Georges. I learned Spanish from a French textbook with Georges. He was a medical student. I was very close to him, but ultimately we did not marry, I would have been glad to, but it didn't work out.


Tell me about Steven Melnick


Ah, Steven Melnick. "Stepanek" was his endearing nickname. He was a little baby, the son of my mother's best friend Anna ("Annushka"). Before the war she was a rabbi's daughter who married a non-Jew. We were very close. She helped us pack everything when we had to go to concentration camp. Her husband didn't live to see his little baby because he helped the Jews, and he was tortured and beaten to death because he helped some Jews to escape. So this woman who was disowned by her own family, a widow with a beautiful little boy, we helped her as much as we could, because she was in need. A year later after us, she came to the concentration camp too. She came to Terezin with her year-and a-half old, maybe two-years-old baby, and he was my little protégé.


How did he survive the camp, as a baby?


I don't know. Because he was a "mishling," he wasn't pure Jewish, his father was not a Jew, that's why he didn't go to Auschwitz. There was a little bit of a distinction there between the Jews and the half-Jews. She was very ill there, Anna, she had encephalitis, which left her with one eye almost closed and her mind not functioning properly, and that little boy we took under our wing. We gave him food, my father took care of everything what he needed, made shoes for him from leftovers from the Nazi's boots, he took a chance and took his own life in his hands to do it and made little shoes for the boy. That little boy who is ten years younger than me is now one of my best friends, and we talk often and we are really very close. We don't see each other, but we are very close. Our lives are not touching too closely because we are busy with our own lives, but we are very close in our spirits, emotionally. That's the story of Stepanek. And also, I must say, before the war, my sister and I were so in love with that little baby, that we both wanted to have him for ourselves to play with. My sister would tell my mother, "I'm going to see Stepanek, don't tell Milushka" (an endearment in Hungarian or Yiddish, like "Mila," for my name, Mirjam). At the same time I would tell my mother, "Don't tell Zorinka, I'm going to see Stepanek." And we met there, and we were fighting over him. He was the most adorable baby, and we were wrapping him and swaddling him and carrying him and singing to him, and we had a very nice time. That was just before camp. And then everything changed, with Terezin.


You came to the United States when?


In 1950 we came, because the quota took a year, and we stayed with relatives, who sent us the papers. We had very rich relatives in Detroit, millionaires actually, who wanted us to stay there and be under their wing, but we decided to do it on our own and to go to New York and make our own way. We were kind of proud people. But we did have a lot of help from other relatives here, we were put up in their apartments and in their houses until we found our own place, until we got situated. And I went to work in New York City as a saleslady in a French shop, Delbeau, because of my fluency in French, and I made very big money, like fifty dollars a week, which was very much money in the 1950's, and I could afford to buy beautiful clothes, and I was quite happy. Then I had some relationships which didn't work out, and then I met my future husband, Erwin ("Eric") Levy while I was holding a book (I was always reading, incessantly, mostly novels). I was a high school graduate and now an American citizen, and I took some night courses in languages at George Washington College. I studied to be an interpreter at the U.N. After an April-- December courtship, I got married and had three children , David, Esther and Sharon. I got divorced once the children were grown.


A child's recollections are not the same as an adult's. They are a unique perception of having lived through a unique and horrible time in history. What was the effect on your body and soul through your life, do you think?


I do feel that nothing really matters as much as people think it does. It did affect me that way. Material things are nice to have, and I am a kind of collector of them, I guess because I did not have too many things. Maybe this is how it manifests itself, by my house being cluttered, which I am aware of. I cannot throw much out. But I do like to give away gifts; I get things to give away. That's my way of coping with it somehow, I guess. I just feel that I want to have things around me, in case I need them. Maybe that's the lack of not having it. I think that I can see the pattern, that I like to know I have enough paper in the house, that I have enough food in the house, and when I used to entertain I made sure I had the most delicious food and most of it. And also, relationships. I was very close to my children, and I was very close to my mother when she was alive, because being together in that kind of situation, we would go into fire for each other, we would do anything for each other. My mother was ill the last few years of her life, and I would spend all my time and my energy taking care of her, in spite of people telling me to live my life and I should not do so much for anyone else. But this is what happens, I guess, from this kind of a situation. It was a need to be able to help someone in need. And I am still doing it, with anybody who needs anything.

You've been a caregiver all your life, just as your mother was.


Yes, we were giving food away whenever we could in Terezin, we were known as philanthropists because there was just a handful of people like us who could help, who had a few privileges, like a tailor and another worker. Our life was bearable, but most people were suffering unbearably. It was really something to be thankful for.


Your mother took care of her surviving relatives as well, right?


Yes. After the war when we came home and we got into our apartment-our apartment was not too big, it had like a big parlor and a hall and one bedroom ---and people were coming from all over the place to stop off before they went somewhere else. They were misplaced, they didn't know where to go, how to find a home. Many friends, not only relatives, we took in, and they slept all over the hall, all over the kitchen, there were cushions and pads and comforters so people could sleep over. My mother went over to the market and bought a goose, and she cooked up delicious meals for them. We fed everybody. We were saving people's lives for a long, long time. I was a part of doing this, I was cleaning the foods and vegetables, helping my mother, and we were singing right through it, we were having a good time doing it, even. My father went to Romania, because he heard my mother's sisters survived there. He found them and he brought them back The older sister, Paula, was in Auschwitz, lost three children and a husband. The baby sister Helen had been in hiding with a Hungarian family, she was not in camp. But my mother's brother David had it the worst; he was in Bergen-Belsen, and he was skin-and-bones, weighed 70 lbs at six feet tall. We didn't know he was alive till two years after the war when we got a postcard from him. He was in Brussels. We didn't take him in, but the two sisters, my aunts, lived with us. We married them off, both, from our house, we took care of them like our children, like my sisters. And my father's family, all the adults and children, were all gone, all to the gas chambers except for the one brother I mentioned earlier who was killed as a political prisoner accidentally together with the Nazis in prison at the end of the war.

I am a fatalist, I really am. Kismet. If it wasn't for my father's two calloused, dirty little hands, I don't think we could have made it.


That's how I am here today.


He still works, to this day. He is 94 years old, he has a little shoe repair shop. He lives in my house, in my best bedroom, I take care of him, and he has a good life with me, thank God.


AFTERWARD by Esther Levy
August 2007

This tale of my mother's most challenging and tragic time of her life was a story recounted to me often throughout my childhood and beyond. It was embellished in great detail in her parents' accounts, and unfortunately I could not do any formal interviews with my grandparents before they grew ill and eventually died. My grandmother Fanny was an animated (when not depressed) family historian who told the stories with great passion. A beautiful blue-eyed blonde, with the elegant, modest grace of Grace Kelly or Ingrid Bergman, died on May 14, 1993 at the age of 81 and I was in deep despair. My grandfather Ludvik, a generally quiet, spiritual and congenial man who loved to watch the soap operas and murder mysteries, would get really excited telling his stories and my grandmother, mindful of his health, would usually insist he stop for now. He died in April 2005, just 3 weeks shy of his 100th birthday.

The SS Commander Karl Rahm I learned was executed in 1947.

This is my legacy, for seemingly I share more character traits with my maternal grandparents and mother than do my brother or sister.

My mother once mentioned to me the children's opera "Brundibar" (Bumblebee), which was performed at Terezin some 55 times. The person who wrote the opera I believed perished at Auschwitz. This staged production was intended to be one of the propaganda films. I got a glimpse of "Brundibar" on television and videotape ("The Journey of Butterfly") and as I searched the innocent faces of the original actors (ever-changing, as they were frequently deported to the death camps) looking for my would-be Aunt, Zora, I recalled how Mom told me her older sister was forced to act in the propaganda films because she was an extraordinarily beautiful teenager. Where the films ended up is anyone's guess.

I deeply mourn the passing of my beloved mother, who died at the age of 74 on May 22, 2006 after various illnesses spanning about 2 years. She is in my soul, I think of her every day. I wear her hats, scarves, jewelry and clothing.

I had the good fortune to visit the Czech Republic and most specifically Prague recently, and the highlight of my journey was a day trip to Terezin. Most of the tour was spent at the Small Fort prison and we couldn't really tour the ghetto streets where a new village was flourishing, but my visit to the crematorium, looking at the marble slabs in the morgue where surely my grandmother washed the dead bodies preparing them for Jewish burial (before mass graves and later cremation became standard procedure?), touched me to the soul.

I noticed a bird was making a nest in one of the solitary confinement rooms of the prison.
On the highway to Terezin (once accessible only by train, as the Nazis re-routed the road so it led past Terezin rather than into it), I noted that there were fields of sunflowers.

The beauty of nature proved a stark contrast to the horrific history of the "Paradise Camp" ghetto (the prison was never shown to the Red Cross)---that gift to the Jews from the Nazis: a self-contained, self-governed village.

My tears are dried for now, and I leave to my daughters and the public at large this "Tale of Terezin" which I acquired by holding my mother captive with a tape recorder as she drove us to her doctor's appointment in her beloved New York City.
------Esther Vivien Levy