"Everyone slept in bunk beds in the barracks.
Each bunk bed contained a "sackcloth" mattress made of brown, compressed paper and filled with straw. The mattresses were very lumpy and uneven as well as being filthy. They smelt of dust and were alive with lice and
fleas. The single blanket allotted to each of us was stiff with dirt. We were under orders to keep our bunks in perfect order, which was somewhat difficult due to our living conditions. We were not allowed to leave things on the floor, so each bunk contained all our belongings: suitcase, food, a bowl, a spoon and our clothes.
We had to stay in our barracks and be as quiet as
possible. So I spent most of my time in my bunk playing with my doll Meta. In one of my games, Meta and I went visiting. This meant that each corner of the bunk was a place to be visited, and by pummelling the straw in my mattress I could form a wall and create a boundary. Or I used a suitcase or a coat. It was exciting to hide behind these walls and play at being in imaginary worlds. My doll Meta and I travelled from corner to corner, visiting aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins. The corners were both Theresienstadt and yet not Theresienstadt. When we paid a visit these corners became part of Sweden, where we knew that our family was safe. However, as soon as I caught sight of the mattress' uneven texture I knew I was back in my bunk in the Concentration Camp - Theresienstadt.
Before we were caught and taken away, most Sunday mornings my brother and I used play at being lions in our parents' double bed. When our parents had got up and drunk their coffee, the sound of my father running the bath water and my mother's voice in the kitchen speaking with our maid was the signal for us to start our game. We each built a cave of blankets and pillows in opposite corners of the large bed. We then had games wrestling against one another, and of course we both wanted to win. We uttered dangerous roars as my brother had taught me lions did. He was four and a
half years older than me and had grown into a large, dangerous lion that invariably defeated me. Whenever I built my corners in my bunk, I thought of him and our "battles" back in the peaceful days in another world."
From Min rejse tilbage (My Journey Back) by Jytte Bornstein (1994).
Now you can catch a glimpse behind the scenes at the museum, and see what else is going on. Follow us @thedanishjewishmuseum
Get a discount of 10% at selected cafés by showing your ticket from the museum (Photo: Eddie Michel Azoulay).
- an exhibition about Jews in Denmark
The exhibition is a broad story of Jewish life in Denmark and focuses on co-exixstence and indentity through 400 years. Read more...
September - May:
Tuesday-Friday: 1 pm - 4 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12 noon - 5 pm