Austria-Czech SIG #Austria-Czech Food parcels for Terezin #austria-czech


Dear SIG,

Regarding Robert Fraser's question on food parcels for Terezin, yes indeed this was possible and there are
many accounts by former prisoners regarding this practice.

The Nazis developed a complicated permit system around packages with so-called "Zulassungsmarken"
with which a prisoner could notify a person outside the camp that it was his/her turn to receive a package.
That notification process itself involved a complicated bureaucratic procedure. Naturally, the Nazis were
not going to have people sending or receiving packages at will or without specific instructions on weight,
contents etc. F. Benes and P. Tosnerova's book "Posta v Ghettu Terezin" documents the philatelic aspects of
this pracice extensively as well.

Survivors' descriptions of the practice paint a rather mixed picture. On the one hand, the receipt of a
package >from outside was a high point in any prisoner's life. It was physical proof of the fact that "I have
not been forgotten" and "There is a world outside of this hungry, overcrowded, miserable Ghetto." Those
were psychologically important moments for sure.

Add to that the important dietary supplement of the otherwise insufficient nutrition at Terezin and the
undoubtedly welcome diversity a food parcel added to the drab fare available there. The herrings in wine
sauce Robert Fraser mentions would undoubtedly have seemed like something close to a divine miracle for
the palate of someone who had eaten only thin turnip soup or dry bread in mustard sauce in the preceding
days and weeks.

One can only praise people outside the Ghetto, often Jews in mixed marriages and their Gentile relations,
for helping in this way. Very frequently, they were not in an easy situation themselves. Furthermore, foods
were strictly rationed; the black market was expensive and could itself be dangerous. Their food parcels
often meant a palpable personal sacrifice on behalf of someone worse off than themselves.

On the other hand, the packages' contents were subject to search and pilfering by the Nazis and apparently
also by Terezin's Czech gendarmes, who applied the term "contraband" arbitrarily at times. And while the
prisoner could confirm receipt of a package, the form card used for that purpose at some point did not
allow a precise description of what content actually reached him/her.

Thus many of the sacrifices the prisoners' relatives and friends made often did not reach the desired result.
Furthermore, those who lacked contacts outside the Ghetto and received no packages -- because for
example all of their relatives had already been deported as well -- will have looked at the recipients of
such with considerable envy.

Nevertheless, receipt of a package should be counted in general among the happiest of events in any
prisoner's life.

Shalom >from Prague,

Rick Pinard

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