Terezin’s Hidden Synagogue

Devastating floods that ravaged Central Europe in August 2002 also brought havoc to the historic Czech town of Terezin, site of the infamous Theresienstadt ghetto. Theresienstadt gained notoriety when the Nazis with fanfare portrayed it as a “model ghetto.” Led on a tour by Adolph Eichmann, the ghetto was shown to a delegation of the International Red Cross. The grim reality of the place was much different. 33,000 Jews died there. It was also used to collect and then transport 88,000 Jews to their deaths at Auschwitz.

Among buildings damaged in the flood was one containing Terezin’s “Hidden Synagogue.” This site was discovered during the remodeling of a private home in 1997.

Jews were forbidden to worship in the ghetto. However, they secretly created a synagogue in a storeroom in the back of a private residence.

The synagogue walls feature a selection of Hebrew liturgical inscriptions and drawings of Jewish symbols by those who clandestinely worshiped there during World War II.

The Commission and the American Joint Distribution Committee sponsored repair of the structure’s extensive water damage. Former Commission Member Amy Epstein led the Commission funding effort. A major donation to the project was made by Mr. Seth Gerszberg.