Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassador Blog

Theatre in the ghettos

During Nazi occupation, cultural activities were established in ghettos across Europe, such as at the Vilna Ghetto, Lithuania.

The reasons for the establishment of cultural activities in Vilna are varied – some accounts suggest activities were established by the ghetto authorities, some suggest by Jews themselves. These cultural activities, according to these accounts, were not accepted by many Jews at the outset but were eventually welcomed as a part of ghetto life.

Pl The Vilna Ghetto theatre Picture by jaime.silve – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

Plaque in memory of the Vilna Ghetto theatre Plaque in memory of the Vilna Ghetto theatre.
Picture by Alma Pater - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

In Vilna, theatre productions varied, with plays, concerts, and poetry recitals. Commentators have highlighted the themes of plays shown in the ghetto, usually based around communities coming together in times of challenge and struggle. This notion of community uniting in times of hardship is inspiring.

The theatre in the Vilna Ghetto that I have researched and shared above is just one lesser-known aspect of the Holocaust. As Ambassadors, it is our role to continue to share these stories to educate our peers and communities about the complex nature of the Holocaust and culture and individuals who were lost.

By Niall Windass