Oratorio Terezin Complete Text


I remember the devotion of your youth,
Your love as a bride,
How you followed me in the wilderness
In a land not sown.
Israel was holy to the Lord? (Jeremiah 2:2)

Michal Flack 1944

The heaviest wheel rolls across our foreheads
To bury itself deep somewhere inside our memories.

We’ve suffered here more than enough,
Here in this clot of grief and shame,
wanting a badge of blindness
To be a proof for their own children.

A fourth year of waiting, like standing above a swamp
From which any moment might gush forth a spring.

Meanwhile the rivers flow another way,
Another way,
Not letting you die, not letting you live.

And the cannons don’t scream and the guns don’t bark
And you don’t see blood here.
Nothing, only silent hunger.
Children steal the bread here and ask and ask
and ask
And all would wish to sleep, keep silent and
just to go to sleep again

The heaviest wheel rolls across our foreheads
To bury itself deep somewhere inside our memories

Full choir
O God, do not keep silence, do not hold Your peace or be still O God!
Even now Your enemies are in tumult, those who hate You have raised their heads.they say “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation, let the name of Israel be remembered no more” (Psalm 83 1-2 & 4)

(Hanus Hachenburg- b.Prague July 12th 1929.deported to Terezin October 24th 1942.d.Auschwitz Dec.18th,1943)

That bit of filth in dirty walls,
And all around barbed wire,
And 30,000 souls who sleep
Who once will wake
And once will see
Their own blood spilled.

I was once a little child,
Three years ago.
That child who longed for other worlds.
But now I am no more a child
For I have learned to hate.
I am a grown up person now,
I have known fear.

Bloody words and a dead day then,
That’s something different from bogie men!

But anyway, I still believe I only sleep today,
That I’ll wake up, a child again, and start to laugh and play.
I’ll go back to childhood sweet like a briar rose,
Like a bell which wakes us from a dream,
Like a mother with an ailing child
Loves him with aching woman’s love.
How tragic, then, is youth which lives
With enemies, with gallows ropes,
How tragic, then, for children on your lap
To say; this for the good, that for the bad.

Somewhere, far way out there, childhood sweetly sleeps,
Along that path among the trees,
That o’er that house
Which was once my pride and joy.
there my mother gave me birth into this world
So I could weep.

In the flame of candles by my bed, I sleep
And once perhaps I’ll understand
That I was such a little thing,
As little as this song.

These 30.000 souls who sleep
Among the trees will wake,
Open an eye
And because they see
A lot
They’ll fall asleep again..

Full Choir
Iam shut in so that I cannot escape,
My eyes grow dim through sorrow.
Every day I call on You O Lord, I spread out my hands to you. (Psalm 88:8)
O Lord, why do you cast me off?
Why do You hide Your face from me? (Psalm 88:14)

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record?
In God I trust; I am not afraid,
What can a mere mortal do to me? (Psalm 56 v.8 & 11)

Miroslav Kosek b.March 30th, 1932,Horelice,Bohemia,deported toTerezin Feb.15th 1942
d.Auschwitz October 19th 1944)

Terezin is full of beauty.
it’s in your eyes now clear
And through the street the tramp
Of many marching feet I hear.

In the ghetto at Terezin,
It looks that way to me,
Is a square kilometre of earth
Cut off from the world that’s free.

Death after all, claims everyone,
You find it everywhere.
it catches up with even those
Who wear their noses in the air.

The whole wide world is ruled
With a certain justice, so
That helps perhaps to sweeten
The poor man’s pain and woe.

Full Choir and children
God is a refuge for us.
those of low estate are but a breath,
Those of high estate are a delusion
in the balance they go up,
they are together lighter than a breath?..(Psalm 62: 8-9)

O Lord, you God of vengeance,
You God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up O Judge of the earth.
Give to the proud what they deserve!
O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
How long shall the wicked exult? (Psalm 94: 1-3)


Pavel Friedmann. b.Prague,January 7th 1921 deported to Terezin April 26th 1942 d. Auschwitz Sept 29th, 1944)

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ‘way up high.
It went way I’m sure because it wished to
kiss the world goodbye.
For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live here,
In the ghetto.


Anon 1943

I’ve lived in the ghetto here more than a year,
In Terezin, in the black town now,
And when I remember my old home so dear,
I can love it more than I did, somehow.

Ah, home, home,
Why did they tear me away?
Here the weak die easy as a feather
And when they die, they die forever.

I’d like to go back home again,
It makes me think of sweet spring flowers.
Before, when I used to live at home,
It never seemed so dear and fair.
I remember now those golden days?..
But maybe I’ll be going there soon.

People walk along the street,
You see at once on each you meet
That there’s a ghetto here,
A place of evil and fear
There’s little to eat, and much to want,
Where bit by bit, it’s horror to live.
But no one must give up!
The world turns, and times change.
Yet we all hope the time will come
When we’ll go home again.
Now I know how dear it is
And often I remember it.

Franta (Frantisek) Bass. b. Brno, Sept.4th 1930 Deported to Terezin Dec.2nd 1941 d. Auschwitz Oct.28th 1944
I look, I look
Into the wide world,
Into the wide, distant world.
I look to the southeast,
I look, I look toward my home.
I look toward my home,
The city where I was born.
City, my city,
I will gladly return to you.


When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
The more they went from me (Hosea 11: 1-2)

Arise my love, my fair one, and come away,
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2: 10-12)


Franta (Frantisek) Bass. b. Brno, Sept.4th 1930 Deported to Terezin Dec.2nd 1941 d. Auschwitz Oct.28th 1944

I am a Jew and will be a Jew forever.
Even if I should die from hunger,
Never will I submit.
I will always fight for my people,
On my honour.
I will never be ashamed of them,
I give my word.
I am proud of my people,
How dignified they are.
Even though I am suppressed,
I will always come back to life.

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms;
But they did not know that I healed them. (Hosea 11:3)
How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel? (Hosea 11:8)

A voice on the bare heights is heard,
The plaintive weeping of Israel’s children?(Jeremiah 3:21)

Arise my love, my fair one, and come away.
O my dove in the cleft of the rock, in the covert of the cliff,
let me see your face, let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely. (Song of Solomon 2:13-14)


Franta (Frantisek) Bass. b. Brno, Sept.4th 1930 Deported to Terezin Dec.2nd 1941 d. Auschwitz Oct.28th 1944


A little garden,
Fragrant and full of roses.
The path is narrow
And a little boy walks along it.
A little boy, a sweet boy,
Like that growing blossom.
When the blossom comes to bloom,
that little boy will be no more.

Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land:

– Is not the Lord in Zion – Is her King not in her – – .
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. –

For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt.
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?
O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears
So that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people. (Jeremiah 8:19 – 9:1)

Anon 1943
Another day has gone for keeps
Into the bottomless pit of time.
Again it has wounded a man, held captive by his brethren.
After dusk, he longs for bandages,
For soft hands to shield his eyes
Form all the horrors that stare by day.
But in the ghetto, darkness is too kind
To weary eyes which all day long have had to watch.

Full Choir:
Why have you forgotten us completely?
Why have you forsaken us these many days?
Restore us to Yourself O Lord,
that we may be restored;
renew our days as of old- unless you have utterly rejected us
and are angry with us beyond measure. (Lamentation 5; 20-22)

Franta (Frantisek) Bass. b. Brno, Sept.4th 1930 Deported to Terezin Dec.2nd 1941 d. Auschwitz Oct.28th 1944

Deserted here, the old house Stands in silence, asleep.
The old house used to be so nice, Before, standing there,
It was so nice. Now it is deserted,
Rotting in silence –
What a waste of houses,
A waste of hours

See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
A cornerstone chosen and precious;
And whoever believes will not be put to shame.
(Isaiah 28:16)


PROPHET: (Isaiah 53)
Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with grief

As one from whom others hide their faces

He was despised and we held him of no account.

(Full Choir)
Surely, he has borne griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.

(Prophet and full choir)
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

Yet he did not open his mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

And like a sheep that before it’s shearers is silent,

So he did not open his mouth.

(Full Choir)
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.

Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.

(Children and the Voice of God supporting)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1)

Yet it was the will of the lord to crush him with pain.
The righteous One, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their sin.


Alena Synkova b. Prague Sept 24th 1926. Deported to Terezin Dec 22nd 1942 Returned home after liberation
And thereafter come..
without them
there is no life.
inspired by grief
that fall like rain.


PROPHET (with the Voice of God)

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me?
To provide for those who mourn in Zion-
To give them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. (Isaiah 61 1-3)

Anon 1943

He doesn’t know the world at all
Who stays in his nest and doesn’t go out.
He doesn’t know what birds know best
Nor what I want to sing about,
That the world is full of loveliness.

When dewdrops sparkle in the grass
And earth’s aflood with morning light,
A blackbird sings upon a bush
To the greet the dawning after night.
Then I know how fine it is to live.

Hey, try to open up your heart to beauty,
Go to the woods someday
And weave a wreath of memory there.
Then if the tears obscure your way
You’ll know how wonderful it is to be alive.


The poor thing stands there vainly,
Vainly he strains his voice.
Perhaps he ‘ll die. Then can you say
How beautiful is the world today?

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch?..
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be called Forsaken and
your land shall no more be called Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight is in Her and your land Married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom
rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.(Isaiah 62:1-5)
Anon 1944

On a purple, sun-shot evening
Under wide-flowering chestnut trees
Upon the threshold full of dust
Yesterday, today, the days are all like these.

Trees flower forth in beauty,
Lovely too their very wood all gnarled and old
That I am half afraid to peer
Into their crowns of green and gold.

The sun has made a veil of gold
So lovely that my body aches.
Above, the heavens shriek with blue
convinced I’ve smiled by some mistake.
The world’s abloom and seems to smile.
I want to fly but where, how high?
If in barbed wire, things can bloom
Why couldn’t I? I will not die!

(Prophet ) spoken over orchestral finale
See, your salvation comes;
His reward is with him,
And His recompense before Him
You shall be called ‘The Holy People.
The Redeemed of the Lord’
And you shall be called ‘Sought Out, A City not Forsaken’
(Isaiah 62:12)

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