The River that Runs Red with the Ashes of Jews

A town relives memories of the Holocaust

St. Petersburg Times

July 13, 1992


It was 1944 and the Red Army was approaching. On orders from the high command, the Nazis began an effort to hide the evidence of their atrocities in the Terezin ghetto, a town just 30 miles outside of Prague known as the antechamber to Auschwitz.

As the Red Army neared, the Nazis forced surviving Jews to dump truckloads of ashes into the river’s calm waters. The ashes were the remains of tens of thousands of Jewish victims who died in Terezin and were burned at a crematorium near the river.

The river has never been clear again,” said Mark Talisman, an American scholar of Czechoslovakian Jewry, on a recent visit there. “It has always been blood red.”