Terezin Fortress


About a kilometer from Terezin (german Theresienstadt) there is a fortress that in the late 1800s became a prison. During the first world war it served as a camp for war and political prisoners. The most famous prisoner is the Bosnian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. At the age of 19, he murdered the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire Franz Ferdinand and his wife during an open cortege in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. The shots in Sarajevo, as they have come to be called, became the triggering factor of the first world war. Princip was imprisoned and put in prison in Terezin, where he died of tuberculosis in 1918. In June 1940, the Gestapo took control of part of the small fortress and turned it into a prison.

The small fortress became the largest Nazi prison in Bohemia. It was never given official status as a concentration camp by Himmler but was ruled by the local Gestapo. In total, about 90,000 people went through the prison during its existence. For several of the prisoners, the prison was a staging point. About 2,600 people were murdered in prison between 1940 and 1945. The prison was liberated at the same time as the nearby ghetto. Then a typhoid epidemic had broken out and many prisoners died after the liberation. Although the small fortress was not an official concentration camp, the conditions were the same. The Gestapo set up special punishment cells and the prisoners were subjected to both torture and ill-treatment.

Current status: Preserved with museum (2000).

Location: 50°30'51.88" N, 14°9'58.1" E

Get there: Bus from Prague.

My comment:

What makes Theresienstadt one of the more famous camps is its geographical location. It is located right next to the main road between Berlin and Prague. It was in Terezin that Anton Malloth had served at the age of 89 when he was tried in 2001 as one of the last Nazi criminals. He was charged with crimes committed in Terezin and sentenced to life imprisonment but was released after just over a year for health reasons. He died ten days later of cancer.

Follow up in books: Kogon, Eugen: The Theory and Practice of Hell: The German Concentration Camps and the System Behind Them (2006).