THERESIENSTADT TREE: BRANCHES OF OUR PEOPLE
15,000 children passed through Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. Approximately 90 percent of these children perished in killing centers. The Nazi’s allowed these ill-fated children to be educated as part of a promotional ploy to hide the camp’s genocidal purpose. The children wrote poetry and painted pictures, expressing their circumstances to a world they would not live to see.
In 1943, teacher Irma Lauscher planted a silver maple tree in the camp. It was nurtured by children until liberation, upon which the survivors placed a sign at its base, proclaiming, “As the branches of this tree, so the branches of our people!” A flood later destroyed this etz chaim (tree of life), but not before its saplings were spread widely across the globe, from Jerusalem to San Francisco, and now Philadelphia.