Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Board your coach and then drive to the city center. Here we enjoy a guided stroll through the historic area (City Hall, former Jewish Ghetto, Charles Bridge). A special concert performance will be scheduled for today by the University of Missouri Wind Ensemble and everyone is invited to attend. Dinner tonight on your own. (B)
MAY 28, Prague
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Today we will have some free time to enjoy Prague. If desired, we can plan an excursion to the Terezin Concentration Camp which is located 30 miles north of Prague and used during World War II. It was originally a holiday resort reserved for Czech nobility. Terezín is contained within the walls of the famed fortress Theresienstadt, which was created by Emperor Joseph II of Austria in the late 18th century and named in honor of his mother, Empress Maria Theresa.
By 1940 Nazi Germany had assigned the Gestapo to turn Terezín into a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp. It held primarily Jews from Czechoslovakia, as well as tens of thousands of Jews deported chiefly from Germany and Austria, as well as hundreds from the Netherlands and Denmark. More than 150,000 Jews were sent there, including 15,000 children, and held there for months or years, before being sent by rail transports to their deaths at Treblinka and Auschwitz extermination camps in occupied Poland, as well as to smaller camps elsewhere. Less than 150 children survived.
Although Terezin was not an extermination camp, about 33,000 died in the ghetto. This was mostly due to the appalling conditions arising out of extreme population density, malnutrition and disease. About 88,000 inhabitants were deported to Auschwitz and other extermination camps. At the end of World War II, there were 17,247 survivors of Terezin (including some who had survived the death camps).
Many educated Jews were inmates of Terezin. Unlike other camps, Terezin’s detainees included scholars, philosophers, scientists, visual artists, and musicians of all types, some of whom had achieved international renown, and many of these contributed to the camp's cultural life. The Nazis kept a tight rein on the world’s perception of activities within Terezin. In a propaganda effort designed to fool the Western allies, the Nazis publicized the camp for its rich cultural life.
The Czech composer Rafael Schächter was among those held at the Terezin camp. In 1943, he conducted an adult chorus of 150 Jews which engaged in 16 performances of the massive and complex Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi — learned by rote from a single vocal score and accompanied by a legless upright piano —before audiences of other prisoners, SS officers, and German army staff members. Their purpose: to sing to their captors words that could not be spoken.
Dinner on your own this evening. (B)
MAY 29, Prague – Dinner Cruise
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Afterward, we enjoy a guided tour of the famous Hradcany Castle with St. Vitus Cathedral and the Golden Lane. We’ll also have some free time and see the impressive “Change of the Guards” ceremony. This afternoon we’ll have some additional free time for shopping & strolling. On your last evening in Europe, you’ll enjoy an unforgettable Dinner Cruise on the Moldau/Vlatava River. (B, D)
MAY 30, Depart for USA
Breakfast at the hotel followed by departure for the Prague International Airport for our flights back to the USA. (B)