We spent all afternoon visiting synagogues and the old Jewish cemetery. Such a walk turns profoundly moving since the exhibits trace the development of the Jewish communities in Prague from the 12th century to their near-absolute destruction in WWII. Along side the cemetery is Pinskova Synagogue whose inner walls are lined with the names of those were killed or who died in the concentration camps, or on the way there. It is impossible to make any coherent sense out of the overwhelming number of names that scroll across the walls.
On the second floor is an exhibit of drawings made by children in the Terezin camp between 1942 and 1944. My immediate sense was that all children draw alike, and most of the pictures could have been drawn by kids anywhere. The pictures had names of the children and the years they lived. To see a panaroma of images, with real names, with birth years in the mid-30s and death years in 1944, was heart-breaking. It was also a ghastly reminder of the clash of innocence and evil.
Down the street the Spanish Synagogue has a related exhibit showing how the camp inmates maintained a lively culture in spite of their surroundings. This exhibit also displayed childrens’ drawings and a few written texts. One in particular struck me; I could not read the German, but a card displayed the title.
I learned that Miroslav Kosek was born in 1932. In the camps he wrote a poem, “It All Depends On How You Look At It.” He died in Auschwitz in 1945. To imagine a child, in the middle of horror, attaining that simple insight, (which is as meaningful as Williams’s “So Much Depends on a Red Wheel Barrow”) I found heart breaking.