The Zionist Character of the “Self-Government” of Terezin: A Study in Historiography
In 1958 a document was discovered describing the establishment of a concentration point for Czechoslovakia’s 88,000 Jews at Terezin, to be followed by their transfer to the East. Heydrich, Frank, Boehme, Eichmann, and Gunther prepared the document during a meeting in Prague in October 1941 as a preface to the Final Solution meeting at Wannsee three months later. The Nazis deceptively presented Terezin as a model ghetto, a blueprint for a future Jewish state. The prisoners focused on Zionist, cultural, and educational activities, aimed mainly at the youth; these functions persisted until the camp was liquidated. Jacob Edelstein, a controversial Labor Zionist leader, was appointed the first chairman of the Council of Elders; Dr. Paul Eppstein, an ardent Zionist, and Rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein followed. H. D. Adler, a biased anti-Zionist, in 1955 published a book containing a great deal of information concerning Terezin. Historiographers are still researching the evidence related to life in Terezin, the motivations of its leaders, and the reaction of its inhabitants. Much new information is expected to surface.