The University of Texas at Austin
  • Creativity in the Face of Death

    By University Communications
    Published: Oct. 9, 2012
    Creativity
    Andula Lorencova, b.1927 Photographed at her apartment Prague, Czech Republic, June 2012 Dennis Darling

    The Contemporary Resonance of Terezín

    “Creativity in the Face of Death,” a three-day symposium, will explore the enduring influence of music and art created by prisoners at Terezín (Theresienstadt), the “model ghetto” near Prague created by the Nazis as a sham showcase to mask their murderous campaign against Europe’s Jews. The inmates, mostly Jews from Germany and Czechoslovakia and among them many notable artists, writers, composers, and musicians, acted out their parts for unsuspecting visitors even as, in the shadow of death, they raised the spirits of their fellow prisoners. Only 12 percent of the 140,000 Jews originally sent to Terezín survived. Virtually all of the members of the artistic community perished in the death camps or at Terezín itself.

    Their heroic example has served as a haunting challenge for later artists to create what Kafka declared books must be—“an axe for the sea frozen inside us.” “Creativity in the Face of Death” will bring together world-class musicians, choreographers, photographers, and scholars whose work has been touched by the legacy of Terezín.

    View NPR’s slideshow “Portraits of Holocaust Survivors” of Dennis Darling’s work featured in the Texas Performing Arts exhibit. 

    Terezín is presented by Texas Performing Arts and The Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies.

    Full event listings

    Tuesday, October 9

    Wednesday, October 10

    Thursday, October 11

    Click here to visit the official Terezín splash page, or explore artist/presenter bios.


    About the banner photo:

    Andula Lorencova, b.1927

    Photographed at her apartment

    Prague, Czech Republic, June 2012

    Andula’s father had come to the conclusion that Europe’s future was too laden with danger for him and the family to survive on a continent coveted by the Third Reich. He had heard reports that China was a safe harbor where a Jewish family could weather the approaching storm. He decided to move his wife and two children out of harm’s way–out of Europe altogether. The ear, nose and throat specialist was confident that he could support the family by establishing his medical practice in Shanghai’s ghetto. Others Jews had moved there – so too would he and his family. But first he would have to depart for China, leaving the family temporarily behind in Prague while he started his clinic and worked to procure official Chinese approval for them to join him. It was a gamble he was willing to take. It was one he lost.

    On December 17th, 1941, at nearly the same time the official immigration approval paperwork had reached Prague (the family contends that the paperwork had arrived days before but that the Nazis had intercepted the letter), Andula, accompanied by her brother and mother, was herded into a transport destined for Terezin. There they spent the entire war, Andula cutting mica for use by the German war machine; her brother housed in the Czech Boy’s Home; and her mother working in the camp’s kitchens. Unable to return to Europe and with his entire family imprisoned at Terezin, her father practiced medicine in the Far East until the armistice. In 1945 the family was reunited in Prague.

    By: Dennis Darling

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