The Mass. Academy of Math and Science at WPI will observe a Day of Diversity with a talk by Edgar Krasa, a Holocaust survivor who will recall his experiences in the Terezin detention camp and Auschwitz death camp.
Edgar Krasa, 92, who now lives in Newton, Mass., grew up in Prague, and saw the Nazi occupation of his country and resulting confinement of Jews before they were sent to death camps. He volunteered in 1941 to help set up and serve as a cook at the Jewish ghetto run by the Nazis in the Czech town of Terezin, in exchange for a guarantee that his parents would not be deported to the extermination camps. He was later sent fromTerezin to Auschwitz in 1944, packed into a freight car with no food, drink, windows, or ventilation. He escaped during a forced three-day “death march” out of Auschwitz after Russian troops started advancing towards the extermination camp.
Friday, Jan 18, at 10 a.m.
Mass. Academy of Math and Science at WPI, 85 Prescott St., Worcester, Mass.
Krasa describes the harshness of life in Terezin and how the Nazis deceived a Red Cross inspection team into thinking that they had established an ideal community to "protect" the Jews, when in fact, the town served as a detention center that held the Jews prior to sending them to the death camps. Of the 144,000 residents of Terezin, 80,000 were sent to the extermination camps. Of all the Jews who had lived in Terezin, only 20,000 survived the war.
Krasa's memoirs were recently released in a book, The Music Man of Terezin: The Story of Rafael Schaechter, as remembered by Edgar Krasa and written by Susie Davidson.
Rafael Schaechter was a conductor and pianist who staged musical productions with inmates at Terezin, where the Nazis imprisoned many of Eastern Europe's most talented artists and musicians. Under starvation conditions, they continued to create works. The camp became a façade, a cultural showcase promoted by the Nazis to convey a false reality of how well they treated the Jews.