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Revisiting The Nazi Camp Where Hitler Duped The Red Cross With Roses

A recent book is shedding new light on Terezin, a Czech town and fortress that was converted by the Nazis into a Jewish concentration. More than 30,000 people died there. Three times that number were sent from Terezin to Poland-based Nazi camps like Ausc

A sign at the Terezin fortress reading
A sign at the Terezin fortress reading
Sven Felix Kellerhoff

TEREZIN -- Ideally, a prison should be surrounded by high walls and deep trenches, making it as difficult as possible for inmates to escape. Old fortresses are thus perfect candidates for conversion. In Europe, examples of such conversions abound, from England's Tower of London to notorious Hoheneck, a former East German women's prison in Saxony (Germany).

But perhaps the largest fortress to be used as a prison, or in any case the one where the most people were interned, is in what is today the Czech Republic: the 18th century military fortress and garrison town of Terezin, on the shores of the Eger River. Between 1942 and 1945, more than 140,000 people were locked up here by the Nazis, who called it Theresienstadt. Some 90,000 of these inmates were subsequently deported to Nazi death camps in Poland. A further 34,000 died from the dreadful conditions in the seriously overcrowded Baroque complex.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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