Thursday, September 11, 2014

Terezín, Czech Republic

On Monday we headed to Terezín in North Bohemia.  The town has a population over 3,100 people and is 69 km (43 miles) from Prague.  It takes almost an hour by bus.

Terezín was founded in 1780.  Emperor Joseph II wanted a fortress built here to help defend the Austro-Hungarian Empire against Prussia.  The fortress was named Theresienstadt after, his mother, Empress Maria Theresa.

The fortress was used as a prison during the second half of the 19th century.  It was a political prison camp in WWI.  From 1914 to 1918, Gavrilo Princip was imprisoned here after being convicted of assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, in Sarajevo, which started WWI.  He died here in 1918 of tuberculosis.  

In 1940, the Germans turned the town in to a ghetto and concentration camp.  It wasn't an extermination camp but served as an internment camp and transit center.  More than 150,000 Jews, including 15,000 children, were deported here from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands.  Around 33,000 people died here of malnutrition and disease while another 88,000 were deported to Treblinka, Auschwitz, and other death camps.

The Ghetto Museum is housed it what was once a school and a former Nazi boys' home.  Inside are many powerful displays and original artwork made by detainees.

There is plenty to see in the walled garrison town.  About 10 minutes away is the actual concentration camp.  Due to the weather we decided to skip the camp but I'll for sure go back another day to tour it.

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