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TitlePrague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size5.8 MB
Total Pages463
Table of Contents
                            Dedication
Epigraph
Setting Out
P ART I :
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
P ART II :
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
P ART III :
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
P ART IV :
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
The Next Chapter
Guide to Personalities
Time Lines
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index
About the Authors
Also by the Madeleine Albright
Credits
Copyright
About the Publisher
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 232

20

Cried-out Eyes

Summer 1943. The cellar of the girls’ home at Terezín (L-410) had become a
rehearsal hall for concerts and plays. The residents, who included my ten-year-
old cousin, Milena Deimlová, often found time to go downstairs to listen and
watch. This was where the girls’ choir practiced and the ghetto’s productions of
The Bartered Bride, The Magic Flute, and Figaro came together. A number of
girls from L-410 also appeared in Brundibár, a children’s opera. That work,
written in Prague, had been performed there the previous winter by a cast of
Jewish orphans. When the composer and many of the singers found themselves
in Terezín, they revived the show, holding rehearsals in the attic of L-417, the
boys’ dorm. The opera’s libretto depicts a battle of wits between an evil organ
grinder (Brundibár) and a pair of impoverished siblings who sing on street
corners to raise money for their bedridden grandmother. With help from some
musically gifted animals, the children ultimately win out. The final song,
“Brundibár Is Defeated,” was especially popular among the many prisoners who
sang of Brundibár while thinking of Hitler. Beginning in September, the opera
was staged fifty-five times, always before a full house.
Like a desert oasis, culture and the arts enlivened the ghetto’s landscape.

There was a constant menu of lectures, readings, and plays, while musical
performances were hostage only to the scarcity of functioning instruments.
Residents were eager for diversions despite the physical toll of their daily

Page 462

* From his release in 1960 until his death twenty years later, Drtina did all he could to aid the revival of
Czechoslovak freedom, writing a memoir that was published in the West and—in 1977—bravely adding his
name to Charter 77, a protest that served as a precursor of the Velvet Revolution.

Page 463

* When Goldstücker was released in 1955, he was, in the words of a friend, “so small and skinny that he
looked like a small boy.” Undaunted, he resumed his academic career. As chair of the Writer’s Union he
successfully championed the idea that Franz Kafka should be honored instead of dismissed as a “decadent
bourgeois” writer. He also played a leading role in Prague Spring. I renewed my acquaintance with the old
ambassador in the early 1970s, when I interviewed him in England for my dissertation. Until he passed
away in 2000 at the age of eighty-seven, Goldstücker continued to defend Communist beliefs, arguing that
the principles were right even if the implementation was not.

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