Terezin, a former military town and fortress, an hour north of Prague in the Czech Republic, was built during the 18th century when the Austro-Hungarian empire ruled the majestic lands of Bohemia and Moravia, where peaceful moats and sturdy encampments never saw battle until the Nazis found it and decided on its fate.
The Terezin Ghetto, where battalions once lived, where a sleepy town of 7,000 Czechs lived in the 1930s before the Germans conquered the lands, where these civilians were forced to leave, because the Jewish populace of the Czech lands was coming. Terezin, re-designed by the Gestapo as a deportation center for the Jews of Prague and the elderly Jews of Berlin, who were transported there with the hopes of a “spa” like life, to live out their days, protected from war, instead of going into the soul of it. Many elderly paid for what they thought was the opportunity to live there, to be transported, paying the Nazi war purse maximum sums inside the treachery of what they could never have conceived. Worse, it was a place for deportation to Auschwitz and Buchenwald where, of the 155,000 who lived in and/or faced deportation from the Terezin Ghetto, there were only 3,200 known survivors. Toward the end of WWII, Terezin built its own crematorium to extinguish death faster, so that in ash to ash and dust to dust scattered into the molecular world of shriveled seed, a person could no longer exist.
Terezin, a place for the vulnerable to perish under the stomp of treachery, lives stolen, legacies obliterated, invisible to new birth lines of being. A place for children, many orphaned during the war where those few brave adults left to tend them, offered secret lessons with hidden Readers. The children painted and contributed to the world of art, allowed (“allowed” because of a predetermined fate by their captor) to design the horror around them, brutal sufferings of sickness, doing without, staying firm within, tapping into the frail memories of warm homes remembered, and sleigh rides in snow. Their artwork, now preserved and poignant on the walls of the Terezin museum, behind glass, fragile, an easy rip to the touch of a human hand or maybe sturdy, after so much toiled turmoil in the memory of one child 10 years old. No legacy, no bloodline, no being.
Let us then be a legacy for life.
A legacy of life; let us jostle open into newness and fresh awakening that life is worth living. Let us live in our greatness — God’s focused creation in each of us. Let us live for loss in past war, even now in bitter feuds centuries old, and the innocence of life that never has a chance.
Still. Seek a new point of awareness. Let us live a legacy of life and maybe the lost won’t be so lost anymore. They will find their way on the shoulder of our breath and in the humanity of memory, in the molecule of new chance, no matter our age, no matter the time, no matter the moment. Your life has started, with every chance still for great purpose. We will always pound out against the walls of time, but don’t let time steal yours.
Life has begun; live, begin, start…Now. Who am I?
Dianne H. Timmering, MBA, MFA, CNA
Vice President of Spirituality and Legislative Affairs
Signature HealthCARE Consulting Services, LLC