Terezín was a purpose-built ghetto the Nazis used as a smokescreen for genocide. 33,000 Jews died there and another 88,000 were sent on to the death camps. More than 7,000 of them were children, many of whom lived apart from their families in “Heims” (homes) under the supervision of one or more adult strangers. In one of these, Heim 1, a 29-year old Communist named Valtr Eisinger inspired the several dozen 13- to 16-year-old boys in his charge to create their own self-government and a secret publication, a zine, called Vedem(Czech for “we’re winning”). Recent scholarship has shed light on the existence at Terezín of at least ten other children’s zines, produced in a lively, deliberate community of resistance that the kids made by hook or crook, despite awful conditions and the near-certainty of their impending death. Matthew Stadler, the editor of the Polity of Literature project, looks at the choices they made, the power of their resistance, the resourcefulness common to children and its possible relevance today.
8 August, 2022