Monday, January 16, 2012

Petr Ginz in Wikipedia/Esperantist/Terezin

Petr Ginz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Petr Ginz (February 1, 1928 – September 28, 1944) was a Czechoslovak boy of Jewish descent who was deported to the Terezín concentration camp during the Holocaust. He died at the age of sixteen when he was transferred to Auschwitz concentration camp and gassed.[1][2]

Petr Ginz


Petr Ginz


February 1, 1928

Prague, Czechoslovakia


September 28, 1944 (aged 16)

Auschwitz Birkenau, Poland occupied by Nazi Germany


Petr was born into the family of Otto Ginz, a Jewish manager of the export department of a textile company from Prague and notable Esperantist, and Marie Ginz (née Dolanská).[3] His parents met at an Esperantist congress. His mother was from Hradec Kralove where her father was a village teacher. Petr got frequent visits from his relatives during Christmas including his grandfather who owned an antique shop in Jungmanovo Square where he sold rare books. Petr was a very intelligent boy; between the ages of 8 and 14 he wrote 5 novels: From Prague to China, The Wizard from Altay Mountains, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Around the World in One Second and A Visit from Prehistory — the only surviving novel today. The novels, including Návštěva z pravěku (English: Visit from Prehistory), were written in the style of Jules Verne[4] and illustrated with his own paintings. He was interested in the sciences and yearned for knowledge. Because of his parents' interest in Esperanto, Petr also became a fluent speaker of the language.

According to the anti-Jewish laws of the Third Reich, children from mixed marriages were to be deported to a concentration camp at the age of 14. Petr's father was Jewish, but his mother was not. Young Petr was transported to the Terezín concentration camp in October 1942. His efforts in sciences and thirst for knowledge remained and he tried to study even in the concentration camp. He often read from the library full of confiscated books which he had access to. He was placed in the Domov č.1 (Home No. 1, building L417).[3] He became one of the most significant individuals of the community.[citation needed] He established and prepared for publication the periodical magazine Vedem which means "We Lead." He also wrote an EsperantoCzech dictionary as well as several other short novels that have been lost. One interesting piece of writing is called 'The Rambles through Terezin' where he interviews and comments on people, buildings and even the crematorium.

The breadth of his interests, abilities and character are determined from his writings that remain and from the testimonials of friends who survived. He was interested in literature, history, paintings, geography, sociology and also in the technical fields. The magazine Vedem was published every Friday for two years.[4]

Petr was assigned to one of the last transports to Auschwitz concentration camp, where he died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1944. His diary has been published in English under the name: The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941–1942.


Main article: Vedem

The magazine was founded shortly after his arrival at Terezín in 1942. Besides Ginz, several other boys from the Domov č.1. also contributed. Petr Ginz became a chief editor and he contributed under the code name nz or Akademie (Academy). Ginz gave most of his writings and paintings to his sister before his transport, so a majority have survived to today.[3] His sister was also deported to Terezín in 1944, but she survived.[3]


Before his transport, Ginz wrote a diary between 1941 and 1942 about his life. This diary, written in a matter-of-fact way, has been compared to Anne Frank's diary.[citation needed] This diary was lost for a long time but was later found and published by his sister Eva (now Chava Pressburger) as Diary of My Brother. The diary was published in Spanish, Catalan and Esperanto, as well as the original Czech. It was published in English in April 2007 as "The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941–1942". It was reviewed in The New York Times on Tuesday, April 10, 2007.


A copy of a drawing by Ginz of the planet Earth as seen from the moon was taken by Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon onto the American Space Shuttle Columbia.[4] The shuttle, while reentering Earth's atmosphere, broke apart on February 1, 2003,[5] destroying the copy of Ginz's drawing on what would have been his 75th birthday.

Petr Ginz's drawing and its fateful history have inspired other pieces of art. One example is the painting Variation on Petr Ginz's Moon Landscape by Roberto Perez-Franco.[6]

The asteroid 50413 Petrginz was named in his honour.


  1. ^ "The blogo: The diary of Petr Ginz will soon be published in English.". November 16, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  2. ^ Brown, Hannah (January 28, 2011). "To the heights of space". The Jerusalem Post.
  3. ^ a b c d "Petr Ginz's story". Retrieved April 14, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Reflex about Ginz". Retrieved April 14, 2011.
  5. ^ Columbia tragedy[dead link]
  6. ^ Variation on Petr Ginz's Moon Landscape by Roberto Perez-Franco

External links


1 comment:

  1. I wish to note: I have visited. Prague, Terezin (guided tour 1999)), near Haifa, Israel to meet Miriam Ginz (possibly 1974). In 1999 I was guided by an Esperantist in Hradec Kralove, Miriam's childhood town.