Jews in Theresienstadt were exposed to enormous adversity, stress, and trauma. Some coped with the situation by turning to religion, art, music, and other forms of cultural expression. In addition to reading and lectures, these activities provided a means to connect to their pre-war lives and identities and to fill spare time. They could also serve as a rejection of the Nazi aim to dehumanize Jews. For those who could gain access to a performance, it was a welcome escape from reality.
At the same time, incarceration and poor conditions in the camp deprived prisoners of their freedom and their basic physical needs, but also their social, cultural, and intellectual status. Most of the prisoners belonged to the middle class before the war. Outings to the theater, opera, and coffee houses had been regular activities in their lives. Now these were rare and special events, often taking place in primitive conditions. Art and culture remained a way to confirm one’s former social status and display national loyalties.