Thursday, 3 September 2009

Czech Republic - Terezin

Built in 1780 by Emperor Joseph 2, the fortress town of Terezin (an hour north of Prague) was built to keep invading Prussians at bay. Gavrilo Princip the Serb nationalist who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand (kicking off World War 1) died in this prison. Later in World War 2 it's use became more sinister, the Gestapo transforming it into a transit camp for Jews. 140 000 passed through of which 88 000 were destined for Auschwitz, 33 000 dying in it's squalor. Pictured is the National Cemetery in front of The Lesser Fortress - those exhumed from mass graves in 1945

Entering the Lesser Fortress

The Lesser Fortress has the melancholy remains of prison barracks, isolation cells, workshops and morgues.....

'Work makes you free' - Nazi mocking concentration camp slogan.

The tables were turned at end of the War when Germans were interned in these cells before being expelled from Czechoslovakia.....

Execution Wall

Swimming pool for use of the commandant and perhaps his subordinates

A short distance from the Lesser Fortress is The Main Fortress - Jewish Cemetery

Memorial to Soviet soldiers who liberated Terezin in 1945

Remains of railway sidings built by prisoners for transporting Jews in and out of Terezin

The Main Fortress surrounded the actual town of Terezin - In 1941 the local population was expelled to accommodate a transit camp. This was presented as a Jewish 'refuge' with the facilities of any town. Many fell for this deceit including the visiting Red Cross as late as April 1945. The streets around the main square today still have an empty eeire feel.....

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