“It is fitting to remember ghetto Theresienstadt as it was: a place of spiritual elevation and of hardness, of pettiness and also generosity, of mutual help and of ignoring your neighbor’s suffering, a kaleidoscope of trapped and distressed people, most of whom kept their humanity, who did not act cruelly towards each other, who hoped to survive until the dreamed-of end of the war – but for most of them it came too late.” Ruth Bondy (Czech-Israeli journalist and translator and Theresienstadt survivor ), Ghetto Terezin and its part in the Holocaust.

“Theresienstadt was not a garden of Eden… German officers liked the music and needed the musicians, and that was why they let the musicians have it easier…” Henny Waas (Theresienstadt survivor liberated as 12-year old, writing in August 2020)

Maenni Ruben was a Danish graphic artist, musician and violinist, born in 1922, who was, unluckily, one of the 476 Danish Jews captured and deported by the Nazi regime during the Second World War. Virtually all of these Danish prisoners were sent to the concentration camp/ghetto in the Czech fortified town of Terezin (the German occupiers called it Theresienstadt) and most of the Danes incarcerated there survived the war.

In the period just before and then after the liberation of the camp on May 8th 1945, an autograph book was created for Maenni, who by that time had already been able to leave the camp on the White Buses. While Maenni died in 1976 in Copenhagen, his book was kept by his wife Susi, and only came to light in Victoria BC Canada in 2018, just before the death of Susi, who entrusted the book to Rabbi Harry Brechner of Congregation Emanu-El.

This website features the book, the poster exhibit spearheaded by Janna Ginsberg Bleviss, and some additional resources related to the content and context of the autograph book.

The Victoria Shoah Project has been a sponsor of the project and will maintain the content of this website.

The poster exhibit The autograph book

Recording of the Program launch, 20 August 2020, updated on 27 August with additional information from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra