The Terezín Memorial commemorates the victims of the Nazi political and racial persecution during the World War II occupation of Czechoslovakia.
In 1947, the National Suffering Memorial was opened on the site of suffering of thousands. Later it was re-named to Terezín Memorial.
Terezín is a fortress built by the ruler Josef II in the 18th century, located in the North Bohemia. It was named after his mother, Maria Theresa. The original purpose of the fortress was to secure the bridges across the Ohře and Labe rivers against the Prussian troops. Ironically, it became a prison and during the World World II a Jewish ghetto and a concentration camp.
The Small Fortress and the Big Fortress during World War II
The Prague Gestapo police prison was set up in the Small Fortress in 1940. Over the two year period the camp (Big Fortress) was re-built to hold a massive capacity of over 150 000 prisoners, mainly Jews from Czechoslovakia as well as Germany and Austria. Although not primarily death camp, thousands of people died there because of the poor hygienic conditions and thousands of Jews were sent to Auschwitz and other "work camps" in Europe where the death was almost inevitable. The camp and prison were liberated in May 1945 by the Soviet Army. It is said only around 17 000 Jews survived the Terezín concentration camp.
After the war, the camp was used as an internment camp for ethnic Germans. It was closed in 1948.
is located in the centre of Terezín town and helds a permanent exhibiton displaying living conditions of Jews imprisoned in the Terezín concentration camp. Often, lectures are held there. Although the exhibition might be emotionally draining, it carries an important message:
It show us that even at times of despair, prisoners would find their way to express themselves through art (performing plays watched even by the Nazi, classical music concerts, etc). You will learn that at these awful times facing death on daily basis, they still kept strong will to live and love.