Friday, 15 January 2010

Terezin Dreams

Sunday 24 Jan 2010, 16.30
Radio 4, also on BBC Listen Again for seven days
Sybil Ruth (author of the Five Leaves' poetry collection I Could Become that Woman) tells how she came to translate a series of poems written by her great aunt in the German concentration camp of Theresienstadt in the last two years of the Second World War.
When Rose Scooler, died four years ago, Sibyl knew little about her, except that she had been an inmate at Theresienstadt, or Terezin as it was know to the Czechs. She has translated a series of poems written by Rose in the camp, which she introduces in this programme.

Theresienstadt was a ghetto town used by Nazis to hold Jews en route to extermination camps. It developed into a ‘model’ camp, where cultural activities were allowed, to disguise to the outside world the true Nazi project. In 1944 the authorities permitted a visit by the Red Cross to dispel rumours of genocide, a successful attempt to cover-up the great crime of the holocaust.

The poems speak with an singular voice: confident, ironic, often playful and never self-pitying. Although nothing in Rose Scooler’s privileged background could have prepared her for life in a Nazi concentration camp, what comes through is a strong, humorous and defiant spirit. After her liberation from Theresienstadt she went on to live a long and fulfilling life before dying at the age of 103. The poems are read by Eleanor Bron,historian David Cesarani provides the historical context.

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