From the outside, Terezin looks like any other town. But dig a bit deeper, have a close look around, and you can still see the scars of a very troubled past.
Terezin’s history changed radically when Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939. Its Small Fortress was first changed into a Nazi prison.
One year later, the Gestapo ordered that Terezin (also known as Theresienstadt) should be turned into a Jewish ghetto and a concentration camp. It was intended to be a transfer camp and not a termination camp. This means that Jews from for example Denmark, Austria, and the Netherlands came here before being transported to their final destination of Mauthausen or Auschwitz. Yet more than 30,000 would die in Terezin itself, due to overpopulation, disease, and malnutrition.
This is how German propaganda presented Terezin, the town that was a gift for the Jews…
After World War II, Terezin became home for German prisoners of war. Afterward, It would take decades before life would return to normal again. Nowadays, in some of the houses, there are permanent exhibitions about life in the camp, thanks to the many documents, pictures, and drawings. Notwithstanding the harsh conditions, the prisoners were able to run a school for children and to organize various cultural activities.
Half a day should be enough for a visit to Terezin.
One more post this week, featuring my birthday in lockdown Spain. I have already planned one new destination for next week, which is Serbia!