Are you interested in the history of the Second World War and the Holocaust? Come with us to Terezín, a town that served as a collection camp for Jews from all over Europe.
The fortified town of Terezín (German Theresienstadt), built by the Empress Maia Theresa, from whom it takes its name, and Joseph II, lies on the lower course of the Ohře a few kilometres above its junction with the Labe (Elbe) in Litoměřice. The town, built within a period of less than ten years (1780-87), is a textbook example of a planned town in the Empire and neo-classical manner of the late 18th century. The massive fortifications designed by General Pellegrini were abandoned in 1887, and Terezín remained merely a garrison town. It now has some industry (canning, plants, pharmaceuticals).
The Little Fort (Malá Pevnost) to the east of the town was used from the mid 19th century as a state prison; among those confined here by the Austro-Hungarian authorities were the Greek freedom fighter Alexander Ypsilanti (d. 1828) and Gavrilo Princip (d. 1918, who assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo in 1914. During the Second World War Theresienstadt gained tragic celebrity when the town became a ghetto into which Czech Jaws were herded and the Little Fort, at first used as a police prison by the Prague Gestapo, became one of the most ill-famed of the German concentration camps.
From 1940 onwards an estimated total of over 150.000 Jews from all over Europe were sent to this camp, from which regular convoys went to the extermination camps, mainly to Auschwitz (Oświęcim in Poland).
Theresienstadt Memorial/Památník Terezín
Since the end of the Second World War the Little Fort has an antifascist memorial, a concentration camp museum (conducted tours, with English-speaking guides). Outside the entrance to the Little Fort is a large cemetery with the graves of some 26.000 victims of the Nazis. On the southern outskirts of the town, near the old municipal cemetery, is the former crematorium (open to the public).
Here too are Jewish and Russian cemeteries of the First World War. On the spot where the ashes of over 20.000 cremated Jews were scattered in 1944 is the conspicuous Menorah Memorial (in the form of a Jewish seven-branched candlestick).
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