A field between the Terezín Cemetery and the village of Bohušovice. On 11th November 1943, all deportees were herded here in order to be counted, since many tried to escape and it was difficult to keep track of the prisoners. Without being told what is going on and, in many cases, with almost no food or water, they would stand here from early morning until late in the evening. Two interesting reports in VEDEM relate to this incident.


This title - perhaps for the first time - is not intended to introduce theories, correct or otherwise, on the modes, types, and distinguishing features of mass psychology, whether that mass contains ten, a hundred, or a thousand or more individuals. I would like only to show (and I strongly doubt that I shall succeed) how I was affected by the psychosis and mood of a specific mob, how they evoked feelings that will have a lasting impact on me. (You must have guessed by now that I refer to the departure from the Bohušovice valley on Thursday, November 11.) On the morning of the Thursday I got up and was looking forward to enjoying the whole day. I was in an excellent mood. I was making jokes about decimation, being sent to Poland, being shot, etc. - about whatever the fantasy of our Terezín bonkes men could come up with. Then I fell in line, my feet were cold and it all seemed terribly funny: how slowly we were moving forward, how the mothers pushed their Kriechlinge* wrapped in heaven knows what and on top of that, in an eiderdown, a blanket, and a pillow, in those caricatures of prams that are mostly laundry baskets on wooden wheels. Then we reached our destination, and even the white crematorium looked ridiculous, like a silo. Then I stopped and stood still. Evening. Will we be here all night? It is getting dark, people are pushing towards the exit, whispering to each other. The sick are fainting. At first I only wonder about it, but then I become convinced that a single shout of "Forward everybody!" would bring about an unexpected catastrophe. It's like a powder barrel ready to explode. Had we stayed there all night, such a catastrophe would indeed have occurred. The sick would have trampled each other down, yelled, stormed the barriers, got back to the ghetto and settled down in their blocks. I started to hum the Marseillaise. "I can't stand this," said Benošek, "stop it!" I stopped singing. People pressed toward the exit, and were driven back by the gendarmes; others pushed forward again. The crowd behaved like water when it starts to boil and just before it boils over. Then the order to depart came. I was terrified of getting lost among all those egoists, forty thousand of them, because getting lost in such a throng would have depressed me terribly. People pushed. Forty thousand rushed toward the exit and as Aaron and I could see, were held back only by the bayonets. I was somewhat relieved by the wooden building in front of me. It was something solid to hang onto, because the crowd that was practically trampling over each other was, after all, like waves on a sea in which it was only too easy to drown. The slogan was: Get home! It was useless to call out: "For heaven's sake, people, don't push, you'll crush yourselves to death!" "Women and children first!" or "Help the old people!" Eventually I managed to get home. I was neither the first nor the last. I pushed, because the others were pushing, and I made it through. That is all. Not surprising, given what I've just described, that one mother's pram with the baby in it was smashed, many people fainted or threw hysterical fits. I am not taking away from yesterday's events a great social theory, merely a great social experience.

- Ha- (Hanuš Hachenburg)

Sensation - the oddest event of the twentieth century!- Nothing - just a slight derailment and on we go

It was last November 11 [1943]. Several persons were rumored to have ďisappeareá irom the ghetto and the "higher ups" wanted to make sure. [...] Early that morning thousands of people were lined up in huge ranks in front of their lodgings. Old people, young people, even babies in their prams. It was cold that day and there was very little food. We waited for the order and then we set out, winding and twisting like a huge, endless snake. There were the weak and infirm, old men and ·rromen ·uho no longer looked like normal human beings their age, exhausted by early rising and by this whole life, circling round them like a nebulous sphere of hope. For a time the stream of people became straighter with the arrival of men and women who were a little stronger and had some endurance. But they, too, were apathetic and resigned to the life they led. Then came a herd of scampering children, full of pranks, treating the spectacle around the~ as a huge joke, which in a way was the most sensible attitude of all. Last but not least came the babies in their prams, sound asleep and unaware of their surroundings. After a march of four hours, we had all arrived at our destination and now stood waiting obediently and at attention, to see what they would do to us. They walked up and down among us with their sticks, careful not to get dirty or dusty, and often they would kick us. We stood there, numb with cold, starving and exhausted, for a full twelve hours. We could hear the sick calling out, the small children crying. Old people fainted and we shifted from one foot to the other uncertainly. "What will they do with us next?" someone asked. Nothing. No one knew anything. It was already getting dark and we were still standing there waiting for salvation, like slaves begging their masters not to whip them. How many faithful lost faith in their God that day, a God in whom they had until so recently believed? We thought that this time, they would leave us here to die of hunger and cold. There were 30,000 of us and only a few of them, yet there was nothing we could do in our impotence. It was not enough to call out, "Hurrah, up and at them!" as one would in a revolution. We had no weapons and they would have gunned us down. We were all very weak as well. How many chances were there to escape from the ghetto, and yet no one dared? Suddenly, we all wanted to be "home" again in the ghetto. By seven o'clock it was pitch dark. There was confused movement in the crowd. Everyone was searching for familiar faces in the dark to ask what all this was about and to complain. Some were crying, some were 'rdu~hincg.Wwe~t~·n.~~,,:.t wa.s,tnrtfnntLo^ life to sacrifice it to these scoundrels. The things I realized then! Most of all I thought about my past and my shattered future. I still had many plans. How wonderful it would be, I thought, if I could carry them out. The people who were laughing had forced themselves to laugh, perhaps to forget their pitiful present.
And suddenly it started. A great wave, as if a rope had been loosened and everything was bursting loose. We surged forwarď. No one knew who had given the command, but on we went, like a slow avalanche, killing everything in its path. A crush. You could hear shouts. People trampled under foot, everyone thinking only of himself. Me! Nobody else counts! It was a matter of life and death. We surged up to the buildings that stood in our way. The crowd was pressed into a solid mass. It was impossible to breathe. Everyone stood still. Then we were swept on again, almost unaware of ourselves. The strength of the individual counted for nothing. Cordons of men trying to keep order were pushed aside. Only one terrifying force existed, the force of the whole, irresistible and cruel.
Yes, and yet we managed to get home. Nobody knew exactly how. Everybody ran for his life, leaving everything behind. We escaped like flies from the spider's web with terror in our faces, though we were used to such things. It was soon forgotten. Life goes on. It was November 11. Is there more to come? ... Echo.

Z. Orče (Zdeněk Ornest)