Photo Tour: Terezín, Czech Republic

Terezín (TEH-reh-zeen) was a fortress town built in the late 1700s to protect the northern entrance to Prague and Bohemia. Starting in 1940, Hitler converted it to a concentration camp and, later, into a devilish hoax that fooled almost everyone -- except the 140,000 Jews who lived here and who knew what really was going on.

For a larger version of any picture, click on it; a new window should open. When you close that window, this window should still be here.

Numbered grave and cross
western cemetary
This was the first part of Terezín that I saw.

star (and cross)
start of small fortress tour
The Small Fortress, across the river from the main town, is behind high walls. It's left open and empty for visitors to explore. Today, early in April and before most tourists come, it was especially empty -- empty outside and in. Last summer's terrible floods devastated both the town of Terezín and this fortress. The furnishings and exhibits were gone; you could see the water line on a lot of the walls. The quiet and the destruction made the scene even more eerie. yard
Infamous arch with Arbeit macht frei "Work makes you free." Prisoners at Terezín knew that this German slogan was a lie; they saw friends and loved ones shipped in groups -- in "transports" -- to the east, to death camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau, never to return. At first, Terezín was a holding camp for Jews, like the others scattered around Europe. This one held many from Prague, which is just south of here. But Terezín became one of the Nazis' most dastardly and successful propaganda schemes.

In the middle of the war, the town of Terezín was re-made into what seemed to be a "resort," where Jews were "allowed" to pursue what looked like normal lives. Artists and musicians painted, composed and performed; children were schooled; town squares became pleasant parks; shops sold goods (many of which were stolen from the camps' prisoners) with currency specially printed for Terezín. The International Red Cross inspected the town twice -- and came away convinced that occupants were being treated well. Of course, they didn't visit other Nazi camps, and the extent of what had happened.didn't become clear until the war was ending.

I'll leave the rest of the photos to do the talking. (These are all from the small fortress. There are no photos from the town itself.)
not much to scavenge...
archway to outer yard...
...other side of archway
Small fortress walls
medical? room

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(These photographs are Copyright © 2003 by Jerry Peek. Much higher-resolution versions of most images, and many other images too, are available at Jerry Peek Photography. Photos are available at reduced prices, or free, for non-commercial use.)

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