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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 10, 2020

Just West of East: The Paradoxical Place of the Theresienstadt Ghetto in Policy and Perception

  • Teresa Walch EMAIL logo
From the journal Naharaim


When German authorities established the Theresienstadt Ghetto for Bohemian and Moravian Jews in late 1941, the site initially functioned much like other ghettos and transit camps at the time, as a mere way station to sites of extermination further East. The decision to reconfigure the ghetto as a site of internment for select “privileged” groups of Jews from Germany and Western Europe, and its advertisement as a “Jewish settlement” in Nazi propaganda, constituted an apparent paradox for a regime that sought to make the Greater German Reich “judenrein” (clean of Jews). This article investigates the Theresienstadt Ghetto from a historical-spatial perspective and argues that varying prejudices and degrees of antisemitism shaped divergent “spatial solutions” to segregate Jews from non-Jews, wherein the perceived divide between so-called “Ostjuden” and assimilated Western Jews played a central role. In this analysis, Theresienstadt emerges as a logical culmination to paradoxical policies designed to segregate select groups of German and assimilated Western European Jews.

Corresponding author: Teresa Walch, Department of History, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA, E-mail:

Published Online: 2020-08-10
Published in Print: 2020-12-16

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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