THE GIRLS OF ROOM 28
is a memorial to the girls who lived together in one room, in one building at the children’s camp at Theresienstadt, a transit camp a short ride from Prague. While this was not a death camp, many died there or left there by rail to their deaths in Auschwitz. This is a very emotional telling of their lives in the ghetto and often how they arrived there at the hands of the Nazis. They were young, mostly 12-14 during their stay in Room 28. They were trying to grow up in these terrible times. Today fifteen or so of the women who survived meet yearly to remember and share the best of times they have had as survivors.The book is filled with resources: photos, journal entries, drawings, copies of documents. It is an amazing resource even beyond the tribute the materials pay to friendship and love. In the beginning of this book one of the survivors remembers what the young girls had promised each other as they were forced to leave Room 28:”On one of the first Sundays after the war we shall wait for each other under the Bell Tower in the Old Town Square in Prague.” This is what Flska and her companions had promised one another when they had to say goodbye in Theresienstadt. They reinforced their promise with words that resonated like an incantation and a secret password.You believe me, I believe you.
You know what I know.
Whatever may happen,
you won’t betray me,
I won’t betray you.These women carry all of the young girls with them, even today, until the last one is gone. Throughout their mutual experiences, they are bound to those who are no longer as well as each other. Theirs is an covenant that goes beyond space and time.
A experience that binds these women and many others from the Children’s Home in Theresienstadt was the children’s production of “Brundibar”. On July 7, 1943 there was a transport of children from the Prague orphanage. After a performance of The Bartered Bride in their honor, Rafik Schachter and Rudolf Freudenfeld decided they would cast and perform the children’s opera Brundibar at Theresienstadt. This process was magical and as many children as possible took part in it. This is an opera of triumph, of good over evil. Young children won out over an evil adult. The first performance was on September 23, 1943 and there was an audience of over three hundred. It was magical and the performances continued weekly until the last performance in August 1944.
Visit an excellent site on the opera here.