Just Arrived, Prague 2012

We arrived less than a week ago and were immediately off and running. The very first day we dragged our tired, jet-lagged butts out of bed and went to spend the day in Terezin. Many of you have heard me talk about Terezin before. Terezin is a Concentration Camp just out side of Prague. It’s a very sad place, but when you get to meet survivors, as we have, it restores your faith in the strength of humanity even in the middle of such unimaginable circumstances.

Yes, there are many horrific, tragic stories, but there are also many stories of kindness. One woman, Doris, that we know had 4 birthdays in Terezin, as she puts it. She herded goats while there. She was always under the eyes of the guards. The Germans changed out these guards every 3 months, so they didn’t get too friendly with the Jews held there. Right before the war was over and the Jews were rescued from the camps, the last set of guards were in place.¬† One of those last guards asked Doris where she would go at the end of the war when she would be set free. She was clueless. All her family, she was sure, had been killed. After all they had been shipped off to Auschwit with the exception of her mother who died there at Terezin. She had no place to go. He told her he had a daughter who had died years ago, but would have been her age, 19. Then he told Doris she could come live with him and his wife. She said she would like that, but didn’t really believe that he meant it. When it was over, he did send a car for her. He had to stay at the camp, but she was sent back to live at his house with his wife. She couldn’t believe it. Now the wife did not like Doris at first. She thought that she might be her husband’s girlfriend or something. She quickly realized the error of her judgement as she got know Doris. After some time living with that family, her brother, who did survive, found her. Then she came back to Prague with him. But she still considers this guard and his family to be her family. She visits them regularly. They are all very close. Doris is now 86 years young.

Sometimes something beautiful does peek its way out of all the ugly. Doris is an amazing woman to listen to, to spend time with, and she gave all of Dennis’ students¬† and our family an enlightening day at Terezin. Photos below by Cameron Darling.

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