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For the 71st anniversary of the Terezín Ghetto’s founding the Jewish Museum in Prague is making public on-line it’s so-called Terezín collection.

One of the primary locations during the Second World War where European Jews suffered and died was Terezín in northern Bohemia. Of the 150,000 interned there over 1941–45 about 30,000 died of hunger, catastrophic hygienic conditions, overcrowding, and disease. Another 90,000 were deported to the ghettos and extermination camps in the East. Only around 4,000 returned.

The Nazis had many of the original documents from the Ghetto’s commandant and the Jewish “self-administration” destroyed at the end of the war. Several individual prisoners or groups, however, took it upon themselves to save as many of these documents as possible, and some survivors continued this activity on their own even after 1945. As a result, the archival material on the Terezín Ghetto is presently found in a number of archives around the world.

One of the most important archival collections on the Ghetto’s history is now being made public by the Jewish Museum in Prague on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the first transport to Terezín on November 24, 2012. The Terezín Archival Collection comprises such items as sections of the original proceedings of the Jewish Council of Elders in Terezín, documentation on setting up the structure for how the Ghetto would function, on the education of children, or on the cultural life of inmates. Of particular note are the postwar testimonies and individual or family materials that survivors or family members of those interned in Terezín have collected.

The digitization project was made possible by financial support since 2009 from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. With this support, more than 100,000 pages or archival materials were analyzed, newly catalogued, and had metadata structures created for it.

The documents are published on a newly created on-line catalogue for the Jewish Museum’s collections. The URL is: http://collections.jewishmuseum.cz. In the framework of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure the archive is currently connected with other Terezín archival collections and it will be incorporated into a joint virtual guide.

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