In "Exhibit Recalls Nazi Propaganda of '30s" (by Tammy Sims, Sept. 5), it was stated that Peter Zinner showed a picture of "an idyllic, pleasant Jewish village that the Nazis built . . ." and he also states that "Hitler gave the Jews a concentration camp. . . . He dressed it up . . . and he made a Jewish director (Kirk Gerron) direct a film in that concentration camp. . . ."
Hitler did not build this "village." It was a small town, built in 1780 by Joseph II and named after his mother, Maria Theresa. The city's name became Theresienstadt (or Terezin in Czech). It became a concentration camp as of 1941, although the Nazis called it a "ghetto."
The film, mentioned in Sims' article, was called: "Der Fuehrer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt (The Fuehrer Grants the Jews a City)" and it was made between Aug. 16 and Sept. 11, 1944. The Nazis forced the camp inmates to be the "actors" and forced Kurt (not Kirk ) Gerron to direct.
After the end of filming, as of Sept. 20, 1944, deportations began to the east. Of the 60,000 "extras" who had worked in the film, all but 12,000 were sent to extermination camps, mostly Auschwitz. Gerron and all his staff, with a few exceptions, died in Auschwitz.
A fragment of the film was found in 1965; of the original 17,000 yards of film shot, only 217 yards now remain. I know all of this because I am one of the "actors" in the film.
R. GABRIELE SILTEN