“VEDEM UNDERGROUND: The Secret magazine of Terezin” is an exhibit at The Breman Museum that highlights an underground magazine, Vedem, that teen boys created when they were Terezin Nazi Camp prisoners in Czechoslovakia during World War II. They created more than 800 pages and 82 issues of cartoons, art, poetry and prose, risking their lives to speak their truth.
At first, this exhibit sounded a little boring to a very busy 13-year-old with homework and a lot of videos to watch on Instagram. However, when I saw the walls overflowing with stories, I realized that walking through this exhibit was a lot like reading a very interesting book or watching a movie. Each wall told a part of the story.
To be honest, I was sad that the exhibit had to end. The stories were so intoxicating, and at every turn I saw artifacts, videos, or examples of what the Terezin ghetto looked like. I saw the bunks and the room where the boys lived. And I saw a replica of the typewriter that the boys used to type many of the first issues of the magazine. There were moments where I even felt like I was there, and at the same time, it was hard to imagine what these kids lived through.
It is amazing that these kids found a way to live in that horrible camp and even found a way to make it better. I can’t believe that kids my age made a magazine that people in the ghetto actually read. I can’t imagine making, editing, and printing a whole magazine every week. Especially the fact that these kids didn’t have the supplies necessary, and they had to keep the magazine a secret from the Nazis or they would be killed.
Reading magazines can take you to a different place. It seems like that is exactly what those boys were trying to do. They were in a terrible situation and they made it better by reading, writing and sharing amazing stories only they could ever dream of.
It is important for everyone to be aware of the hardships these boys had to face. Discrimination is still alive today. While not as severe as it was during the Nazi regime, it is still alive here in America and in countries all over the world. People here are being shot in mass shootings because of their religion, race or beliefs. The October shooting in a Pittsburg synagogue is just one example, and these horrific events are inspiring teens and adults to speak up and out. It is so important that we keep sharing our truth.
No matter where you live or what your circumstances are, come and experience these courageous boys’ inspiring story. It inspired me to keep speaking up for the things that are important to me — no matter what resistance I might face.
Audrey Zeff, 13, is a student at Inman Middle School who loves gymnastics, cooking, reading, volleyball — and spreading awareness around ending global warming.
“Vedem” exhibit runs through March 10, 2019.
There’s a $6 fee for students. For details visit thebreman.org/Visit/Admission-Hours.
Editor’s Note: The writer’s mother works as Community Engagement Coordinator for the Breman Museum.