The Art of Darkness

Charlotte Opfermann

Published by Univ Trace Pr, 2002
ISBN 10: 097183640X / ISBN 13: 9780971836402
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Synopsis: Author/International Educator/Holocaust Survivor Charlotte Opfermann speaks authoritatively of a certain dirt-poor village in the north of the Czech Republic at a time when this land was the Protektorat Boehmen und Maehren, governed with an iron fist by SS Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Eugen Tristan Heydrich, then Reichsprotektor fuer Boehmen und Maehren and (until his assassination in 1942) one of the most powerful men of the Third Reich.

In June 1941, after all the Czech residents had been expelled and relocated, certain designated portions of this village achieved fame [if not fortune] and entered the history books together with the nearby 18th century penal colony known as The Concentration Camp (since 1940) and Ghetto (since 1941) Theresienstadt. Thousands now visit here annually. It is a mandatory study trip for Czech schoolchildren. Mrs. Opfermann was interned here for two years.

One of the most famous Nazi perpetrators, Obersturmbannfuehrer Adolf Eichmann (assisted by Jacov Eckstein from the Prague Jewish Congregation office) selected this village in June 1941 to be the holding compound where Czech Jews and, later, Jews from many other parts of Europe (Austria, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Slovakia, Hungary) would be detained and funneled East to the extermination camps -- if they did not die earlier.

Some were hanged, many committed suicide, many died. Most prisoners (ca. 150,000) were redeported to the extermination camps in the East. Most of them were killed. Some of the local dead were buried in a tiny cemetery outside the ramparts, many rest in mass graves. Initially, the ashes of approximately 36,000 of the camp’s cremated dead (in carefully marked little boxes and paper sacks) were stored in musty vaults in the ramparts. The daily death toll (from hunger and disease) reached 12.5 percent of the camp's inmates in September 1942, one-hundred-and-fifty dead per day was the norm.

In spring 1945 the ashes found a watery grave in the nearby Eger river which separates the garrison from the penal colony. At that time a special work detail of prisoners (including children) had to form a human chain and pass the small containers from hand to hand to the river bank. The last members of this work crew dumped the ashes into the river. Some workers suddenly held the remains of friends and relatives in their hands. At that moment some fainted.

Only about 120 out of 15,000 children who were transported to Theresienstadt lived to see the end of World War II.

In addition to his role as master technocrat/executioner of the Final Solution program Obersturmbannfuehrer Adolf Eichmann fancied himself to be a propaganda movie maker with a historic mission, loosely affiliated with Herr Reichspropagandaminister Dr. Josef Goebbels' Ministry of Education and Propaganda (and misinformation).

In this context he permitted the prisoners to engage in well controlled cultural activities and began filming a so-called Report-Documentary "Bericht aus der Juedischen Siedlung Theresienstadt" in 1942. Two complete reels of this film were confiscated by the Soviet soldiers in May 1945 and taken East, behind the fighting lines.

Ironically, this function has become Obersturmbannfuehrer Adolf Eichmann's legacy: while most of his hoax movie has mercifully disappeared into some unknown Russian archive, the tale of the supposedly rich cultural life in this place of death and suffering as the Musterghetto (presentation ghetto) has persisted.

It is Mrs. Opfermann’s contention that --knowing this-- Herr Eichmann died smiling when he was hanged in 1962 in Ramle prison after a much publicized trial and conviction in Jerusalem.

About the Author: Charlotte Opfermann received her early education in Germany but states that much of her social and cultural development can be traced to the time of her internment in Nazi concentration camps where she benefitted from close friendships with teachers and with famous artists who were among the fellow inmates. She arrived in the United States in July 1946, on the second (troupe transport) ship that brought new immigrants under the German quota (10,000 p.a.) after the end of World War II. She returned briefly to Germany five years later to marry a half Jewish friend in her hometown and now returns frequently to lecture and teach in the country that invented and perpetrated the greatest crime in history. She has lectured in Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Canada as well as many universities from coast to coast in the United States. She teaches ESL at San Jacinto College Houston, Texas, a Holocaust course (in English over the internet) in the sociology department at Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika, Torun, Poland (8 hrs. grad. credits). She also teaches (over the internet) several courses -- Holocaust Literature for Children, Polish and Jewish Holocaust Perspectives, The Holocaust and Post-War Germany, Art and Music and its use and abuse during Hitler's Third Reich, The Wehrmacht and its involvement with the Genocide -- at American Military University, Charles Town, WV (apus.com).

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Title: The Art of Darkness
Publisher: Univ Trace Pr
Publication Date: 2002
Book Condition: Good

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