Alice Ehrmann's Diary Entry on the Theresienstadt Ghetto at the End of World War II, May 7, 1945

Entry from the diary of Alice Ehrmann from May 7, 1945, in which she reflects on the confusion and disorder in the Theresienstadt ghetto at the end of World War II.

May 7, 1945

The absolute disorganization, or better put, no organization, reached its high point today. Everything is running on empty, if at all. There is no power to which one can turn. There is not a single person from here in the South barracks, and no one has taken it over. They have no food or anything else. In the morning, those in the hospital barracks were half dead or half dying. Not a single person. I went around today and peered into a wall of powerlessness and insanity, and I thought of all those to whom I had said, “We have everything.” - of the individuals and the lousy masses who get nothing to eat and must think that we brought them here just so that could die one after the other.

[. . . ]I walked through the streets in the middle of this “something has to be done” it slowly dawned on me, slowly came into my mind, and a cruel motionless stillness came over me before I even grasped the germ of the idea: Nothing has to be done. That none of this must lead to a solution and dissolution and deliverance, no, that everything is this endless confusion of instincts, feelings, standards, and human and elderly principles can all peter out like a sound without law. The fact that there is no one and nothing that still carries truth and honor and reality within it - now I felt completely lost for the first time. This day I saw an end to faith in a law on earth. I never experienced worse. Slowly, something is changing in me. Everything that until now held things together lies in shards. No, here it comes; I feel it: a ship without a rudder. What’s the point . . . [. . .]

All the red crosses, posters, nurses, cars, doctors. It makes me sick. There is not a gram of human decency behind it. Not behind the crosses, not behind the peace. Nowhere. And the Jewish tragedy called golah just keeps on going. Anti-Semitism and complexes and all those unappetizing witnesses. I hate everything and everybody, and I despair and am abandoned and bitter; grief. Evening: surrender signed, no jubilation. Everything is still within me. The living thoughts that hoped for expression leave the desolate ship. I am tired; the world has made me tired. Forever?1

  1. Citations

    • 1 Alexandra Zapruder, ed., Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust, 2nd edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015) 419–420.

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