Engineer Barracks was home for elderly inmates and to provide assistance to hospital departments for cardiac disease, tuberculosis, etc. There were cultural events here and lectures. Upstairs was established prayer place. Today, home of social care.


Do you still remember the time when, in Prague or Brno, you got up to offer your seat in the tram to an old man, when your mother bent down to pick up a parcel, or an umbrella dropped from the trembling hands of an old woman? We live in Terezín, the town of the floodgate and the black market, a town where the stronger triumph over the weaker, in a ghetto shaped by primitive urges, by the fight for an extra ration, a place in the line for bread, in front of the distribution center for clothes and shoes, in the dentist's office. Respect for age, once personified in the beautiful white hair of your grandmother, your mother's mother, has disappeared. Today, old age is personified by the aged from Vienna, Berlin, Cologne, hundreds, thousands of strange, starving, sick people who need looking after, and who stand before you. The aged from the Protectorate were transported in cattle wagons to the east, that they might never (do you realize the terror of that word?) ever again see their children, their grandchildren. Several old men and women from Germany live in Terezín today. They not only live in the ghetto, they live in a strange and, let's be honest, hostile environment. Hunger, terrible living conditions, illness and homesickness have caused bitterness, nervousness, mistrust, and a strong tendency to quarrel among these aged from Germany. Age is not taboo for us. We are not, and shall never be, in favor of injections that artificially prolong life or hasten dying. Somewhere in Poland the old, sick, starving, abandoned mother of your mother reembers. Let us regard them with the affectionate look of our childhood, let us refresh them with our youthful smile, let ussupport them with the strength of our manhood - the aged from Germany, the sick, the starving, the abandoned.

- Pepek (Josef Stiassny)


It is cold. The streets of Terezín are completely snowed under and the snow is already beginning to freeze in the bitter cold. I amble slowly along the sidewalk, watching life in the street. Suddenly I catch sight of an old man of about eighty, with white hair and a white beard. Were I to judge him by the way he walks I wouldn't put him at more than forty. He walks briskly, carrying his mess kit. Perhaps he is going to fetch his lunch. Suddenly he stumbles and falls on the frozen, unsanded sidewalk. He hits his head on the pavement and lies there without moving. Passersby rush up to help the old man and one of them, a doctor, judging by the badge of Aesculapius he is wearing, examines the old man, but all he can do is confirm death. A few days after this occurrence I visited one of the blocks. As I entered one of the many rooms, a terrible stench hit me. Along the dusty walls there were two rows of wooden bunks. When I went further into the room I saw that the bunks were occupied by many old men and women with sunken cheeks. Some were groaning weakly. I approached a man in a white coat who was on duty with two nurses. I asked what the matter with these people was, and where in fact I was. "My boy," said the man in the white coat, "this is the hospital for the aged. Most of them are suffering from pneumonia. Don't forget, we're in Terezín. They get cold in the unheated rooms and crawl into bed for warmth. Then they get pneumonia and in a few days they're gone." And the doctor hurried off. I am not particularly sensitive but later, when I thought about these two occurrences, which are surely quite common in the ghetto, I felt like crying. Never before had the horror of Terezín struck me so compellingly as then. And once again, I was richer by another experience.

- Don Herberto (Herbert Fischl)