The former military town Terezin changed during WWII into the concentration camp
its museums, secret prayer room, the Jewish
cemetery, columbarium and crematorium and the
Small Fortress former military prison and during the WWII used as the political
prison, remind us of the sad part of European
history. It is open every day. The crematorium is closed on Saturdays.
5-6 HOUR ROUND TRIP
A combination with Nelahozeves
Karlovy Vary - Carlsbad spa
Lidice Village - Memorial of WW2
Libochovice chateau ,
Zatec center of hop making ,
Melnik castle or
Dresden is available.
To have a lunch, or a cup of coffee outside Terezin, we recommend to drive 10
minutes to the town Litomerice, or about 20 minutes to the medieval town Ustek,
here is more about these sights:
Litomerice medieval town ,
Ustek medieval town .
Video: Terezin WWII Memorial Main Fortress
Video: Terezin Small Fortress
Terezín was established at the end of the 18th century as a fortress; still
surrounded by its massive ramparts, the town lies at the confluence of the rivers
Labe (Elbe) and Ohre (Eger). The Main and Small Fortresses at Terezin, although the
modern for their period, gradually became obsolete, and having lost their military
function fell into disregard.
Only in the relatively recent past has Terezín once again entered the worlds public
consciousness as a tragic symbol of the sufferings of the tens of thousands of
innocent people who died here during the Nazi occupation of their homeland.
The Police Prison in the Small Fortress
After Hitler's occupation of Czechoslovakia, the Nazis recognised the "advantages"
of the Lesser Fortress, and in June 1940 opened a police prison within it. Czech
and Moravian patriots, members of numerous resistance groups and organisations,
were sent here by various branches of the Gestapo.
While around 90% of the inmates were Czechs and Slovaks, others included citizens
of the Soviet Union, Poles, Yugoslavs, Frenchmen, Italians, English prisoners of
war and other nationalities. In five years, some 32 000 men and women passed
through the gates of the Lesser Fortress.
The conditions under which the prisoners lived worsened from year to year, and
prisoners were forced into slave labour. The "internal komando" maintained the
prison, tilled the surrounding fields and built various structures. The majority of
prisoners, however, worked outside the fortress for various firms in the area, and
until the closing days of the War contributed to production and work for the Reich.
From 1943 executions, too, were carried out in the Lesser Fortress, on the basis of
"Sonderbehandlung" - without judicial process. In all, more than 250 prisoners were
shot. At the last execution, on May 2nd 1945, 51 prisoners and 1 informer, mostly
representatives of the Predvoj youth movement, lost their lives.
Only in the evenings, in moments of rest, could the prisoners rise above the never-
ending humiliation and terror from the side of their guards. Within their cells,
permanent and trustworthy collectives formed that secretly organised political and
cultural events. Talks and presentations were held by artists and a broad range of
professionals; in some cells cultural evenings were secretly held with singing and
recitations, and clerics organised prayers. Even in such inhuman conditions people
were able to express their creativity; numerous poems and simple drawings of
outstanding documentary value originated here. Culturally, political life in the
cells and secret links to the outside world helped the prisoners to overcome the
horrors of this tool of Nazi persecution.
The Small Fortress had the character of a transit prison, from which inmates were
after a certain period either brought before the courts or transferred to
concentration camps. As a result of hunger, maltreatment, insufficient medical care
and poor hygienic conditions, however, some 2600 prisoners died here, while
thousands more lost their lives having been deported from Terezín.
The concentration camp for Jews - the "Terezín Ghetto"
An integral part of Nazi plans for a new ordering of Europe was the so-called
"Final Solution of the Jewish Question". From the occupied territories of Bohemia
and Moravia, too, citizens of Jewish origin were hunted down and, from November
1941, gradually deported to the town of Terezín (the Main Fortress), where the
Nazis arranged a "ghetto" for them. Here they were to be massed until the
extermination camps further east were ready to carry out their final liquidation.
Initially, the barracks in the town were used to accommodate the Jewish prisoners,
and once all the local residents had been moved out, by mid-1942, all civilian
buildings were sued for this purpose. Massive overcrowding, however, also led to
the use of attics, cellars, and the casemates within the ramparts. Terezín became
the largest concentration camp in the Czech Lands, with thousands of transports
arriving here carrying Jews not only from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia,
but also from Germany, Austria, Holland and Denmark, as well later as from Slovakia
In less than four years, more than 140 000 prisoners were brought here - men, women
and children. In the last days of the War, a further 15 000 prisoners arrived at
Terezin on "evacuation transports" from concentration camps cleared from the
advancing front line. Over 35 000 prisoners died here as a result of stress,
hunger, and the atrocious accommodation and hygienic conditions.
The Terezin camp for Jews was headed by a Nazi Komandantura, which gave
instructions to the "Jewish authority" which took care of the internal organisation
of the camp. Direct supervision of the prisoners was left to the Protectorate
guards, the great majority of whom sympathised with the prisoners, attempted to
help them and kept them in touch with the outside world.
Within the camp, all manner of prohibitions and ordinances applied, and only
cultural life was for a certain period permitted, as it could serve as a backdrop
disguising the truth of the fate that had been decided for the Jews. The internees
took up the arts as a means of coping with depression and their fears for the
unknown future. They attempted to ensure that even imprisoned children missed
nothing of their education, and did not lose their outlook. Despite Nazi
prohibition, therefore, they taught in secret, dedicating themselves with great
self-sacrifice to educating the children; even behind the walls of the ghetto, they
prepared them for a future in freedom.
Unfortunately, even as transports arrived at the ghetto, others gradually began to
leave - into the unknown. From October 1942 virtually all went to Auschwitz-
Birkenau, the most awful of the extermination camps. In all, 63 transports left
Terezín for the "East", carrying a total of more than 87 000 individuals; of these,
only 3800 would see liberation. The fate of the children of Terezín was equally
tragic; of the 7590 youngest prisoners deported, a mere 142 survived until
liberation. Only those children who remained for the whole period at Terezín had
any really chance of being saved; on the day of liberation, Terezín contained some
1600 children aged 15 or under. Their lives are reflected in verses, diaries,
illegally produced magazines and thousands of drawings - often the only things that
remain of them.
Among the personalities active in the cultural life of the ghetto were the writers
Karel Poláček and Norbert Frýd, from the world of music Karel Berman, David
Grünfeld, Ada Hechtová, Karel Ančerl, Rudolf Franěk, Karel Reiner, Viktor Ullmann,
Gideon Klein, Pavel Haas, Hans Krása and F.E. Klein, from theatre and cabaret arch.
František Zelenka, Gustav Schorsch, Vlasta Schönová, Karel Švenk, Zdeněk Jelínek,
Ota Růžička, Kurt Gerron, Hanuš Hofer, and Leo Strauss, and from the arts Bedřich
Fritta, Otto Ungar, Leo Haas, Ferdinand Bloch, Karel Fleischmann, Petr Kien, Adolf
Aussenberg, Charlota Burešová, Rudolf Saudek, Jo Spier and Arnold Zadikow.
The Litomerice forced labour camp (closed to the public)
In the last years of the War, as the German armaments industry was increasingly
threatened by Allied air power, the Nazis decided to shift some of their production
facilities underground. In Litoměřice, the former limestone quarry beneath the
Bídnice plain was to be used for this purpose.
In the Spring of 1944, work began here on the construction of underground factories
code-named Richard I and Richard II. Thousands of prisoners were brought to work on
the project, primarily Poles, Yugoslavs, Russians, Frenchmen, Belgians, Italians
and other nationalities. A work camp was established for them close to the building
site, a subsidiary of the notorious Flossenbürg concentration camp - a workforce
Prisoners prepared the ground surface, dug adits and prepared the spaces of the
production halls. Specially selected individuals, together with forced labourers,
then worked on the production of engine parts for tanks, heavy military vehicles
and ships. After several months, they were joined by the large komando of the
Gestapo prison in the Lesser Fortress at Terezín.
Inhuman treatment, hunger, slave labour underground where cave-ins threatened, and
finally an outbreak of typhus resulted in 4500 of the 18000 prisoners employed here
dying in under a year.
The situation of prisoners at Terezin was complicated at the end of the War by the
evacuation transports which arrived here between April 20th and May 6th, 1945. The
thousands of pitiful and seriously ill prisoners who arrived at this time brought
with them typhus, which quickly spread to the original Jewish occupants of the
ghetto. Meanwhile, typhus was also identified in the Lesser Fortress prison.
Doctors in Prague learned of this, and organised the "Czech Aid Project to help
prisoners at Terezín", which was led by the epidemiologist MUDr. Karel Raška.
Members of the Czech Aid Project began work at the Lesser Fortress as early as May
4th, 1945, and at the same time made contact with members of the International Red
Cross, which on May 2nd had taken over prevention at both the police prison and the
ghetto. In the evening hours of May 8th the first units of the Red Army passed
through Terezín towards Prague.
In the following days, at the request of the Czech doctors, the Soviet military
took over preventative measures in all of Terezín, and also supplied much needed
medical assistance. Together with Czech doctors and healthcare personnel, as well
as the health service organised by former prisoners and dozens of volunteers from
the surrounding area, they made a major contribution to stamping out the epidemic,
which had already claimed hundreds of victims. Special mention must be made here of
the self-sacrifice of all those who participated in this dangerous undertaking,
without regard to time, rest of the danger of infection. By the end of May the
worst of the epidemic had passed; some 30 000 lives had been saved. The
repatriation of liberated prisoners, who came from a total of 30 countries, lasted
until August 21st 1945.
The internment camp
From 1945 to 1948 the Small Fortress housed an internment camp in which were
gathered first prisoners of war and later those German residents marked for
expulsion from Czechoslovakia. This part of the relatively recent history of
Terezín was for a long time taboo, and archive materials were not accessible to
researchers. Only the democratic transformation has created normal conditions for
the work of historians, and this has enabled the picture of post-war development to
be filled out, and questions associated with it to be considered objectively. The
results of such research were published in 1997, and are presented in a permanent
exhibition in the Fourth Courtyard in the Lesser Fortress.
The creation of the Terezin Memorial
Shortly after the end of the Second World War attempts began to save and preserve
this site of suffering and sadness in such a way as to provide an enduring memory
and warning for future generations.
On May 6th 1947 the government of the Czechoslovak Republic decided to create the
Terezín Memorial, with the aim of conserving and preserving the site as it was
during the period of the Nazi occupation. Today, the Terezín Memorial comprises a
collection of individual monuments that are noticeably dispersed, and do not form a
single site. These include:
The Small Fortress as a historical part of Terezín
The National Cemetery
The Ghetto Museum
The Jewish Cemetery, with the crematorium and the Russian cemetery
The memorial to Soviet forces
The memorial plaque by the former railway sidings
The site of reverence on the Ohre (Eger)
The columbarium with part of the fortifications, a ceremonial space and mortuary
The former Richard underground factory at Litoměřice and crematorium
The Magdeburg Barracks
The National Cemetery
The National Cemetery was created artificially after liberation in 1945. The
stimulus for its creation came from among former prisoners and the heirs of those
who died, at whose request physical remains were exhumed from six mass graves in
the ramparts of the Lesser Fortress which had been in use from March 1st to May 7th
1945. Among those who were exhumed were prisoners from the death march that in May
1945 arrived at the Lesser Fortress.
On September 16th 1945, in the presence of former prisoners, the descendants of
some of the deceased, honourable leaders of political and public life in post-war
Czechoslovakia and members of the general public, a ceremonial funeral was held for
601 exhumed victims (among those attending were the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Jan Masaryk, and JUDr. Milada Horáková, who spoke for the women prisoners).
From the end of the War, Terezín became a site of reverence for the Czechoslovak
people. A memorial service was held at the National Cemetery to mark the first
anniversary of liberation, on May 5th 1946. The programme included the burial of
victims exhumed from shared graves in Lovosice, from mass graves found in the
forced labour camp at Litoměřice, and from the communal cemetery in Terezín.
The ashes of 52 prisoners executed in the Lesser Fortress on May 2nd 1945 were also
added to the National Cemetery. Furthermore, the urns containing the ashes of
victims of the typhus epidemic were brought here from the Terezín Crematorium, as
were ashes from large pits nearby - in the main, the remains of the dead from the
As late as 1958, building work close to the Richard former underground factories
exposed a grave containing human ashes; it was found that these were the mortal
remains of a Jewish prisoner from the Terezín Ghetto. They were immediately
reinterred in the National Cemetery.
The National Cemetery presently contains 2 386 individual graves (both urns and
inhumations). Thousands more of the dead of the Lesser Fortress, Terezín Ghetto and
Litoměřice forced labour camp, as well as of those who came to Terezín at the end
of the War in the death march and death transports, are interred in the mass graves
marked by five pylons. In all, the remains of some 10 000 victims lie within the
The Jewish Cemetery and Crematorium
The dead of the Terezin Ghetto were from the start buried in individual and mass
graves near Bohušovice. It was thus that the Jewish Cemetery developed, in which
lie some 9 000 victims from the ghetto. The Nazis also decided to create at Terezin
a camp crematorium, which came into service on September 7th 1942, and was used in
the cremation not only of the dead from the ghetto, but also from the Gestapo
police prison in the Lesser Fortress, and later also those from the forced labour
camp at Litomerice. According to surviving cremation records, some 30 000 victims
were cremated here. Urns containing ashes were stored in the columbarium located in
the fortress ramparts, but the Nazis were able to destroy the majority before the
end of the War.
From the middle of March 1945 until the arrival of the first evacuation transports,
cremations were halted; victims from all three components of the persecution were
instead buried in mass graves. Meanwhile, a separate crematorium was established at
the Litomerice camp, with came into service in April 1945; in the space of a month,
some 400 corpses were cremated there. After the arrival of the evacuation
transports at the end of April 1945, cremations began again at Terezín.
The appearance of the original cemetery for Jewish prisoners near Bohusovice was
developed architecturally and in plan after the War, and the whole area is now
presented as a garden that gently flows into the surrounding landscape. The site
from which the Nazis threw the ashes of martyred prisoners into the Ohre in
November 1944 has also been made into a site of reverence.
Please visit the special blog about: Terezin Blog The blog is written
in Czech language. For translation please use Google translator!
The Ghetto Museum
The Ghetto Museum opened in 1991 in the building of the former Terezín School. The
exhibitions have been arranged with the assistance of former prisoners of the
Terezín in the Final Solution, 1941-1945 The Ghetto Museum also presents short-term
exhibitions, documentary films are shown in the cinema, and a variety of brochures,
books, videocassettes and souvenirs are on sale.
The Magdeburg Barracks
The former Magdeburg Barracks have been reconstructed, and were opened in 1997; the
building also houses the Meeting Centre.
Replica of a prison dormitory from the Ghetto period
Music in the Terezín Ghetto
Art in the Terezín Ghetto
Literary works in the Terezín Ghetto
Theatre in the Terezín Ghetto
Columbarium, Ceremonial Halls and Central Morgue
Opened on October 16, 2001.
Exequies in the Ghetto and the Central Morgue
The Small Fortress
From 1940 to 1945 the Small Fortress served as the prison of the Prague Gestapo. In
1994 a new permanent exhibition was opened here, devoted to the history of the
political prison; it bears witness to the persecution of the Czech nation under the
Nazi regime during the Second World War, and records the fates of Czech prisoners
transferred to other concentration camps within the Nazi German Reich.
The Small Fortress 1940-1945
The Terezín Memorial art exhibition
The Litomerice Forced Labour Camp 1944-1945
The Internment Camp for Germans - the Small Fortress 1945-1948