Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic, is one of the most charming and magical cities of Europe. There are numerous attractions in Prague to keep you engaged for weeks. However, the main reason for the popularity of Prague as a favoured long-stay city is the great selection of day trip getaways one can take from Prague. Terezin Concentration Camp is one such excellent day trip destination. Just an hour away from Prague, the Terezin Concentration Camp takes you back to one of the darkest chapters in the history of mankind.
The Terezin Concentration Camp
Contained within the walls of fortress Theresienstadt, Terezin was originally constructed on orders of Holy Roman emperor Joseph II, as a holiday resort for Czech nobility in the 18th century. However in the year 1940 Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia and turned Terezín into a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp. More than 1,50,000 Jews from Czechoslovakia, as well as those deported from Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Denmark were sent to Terezin Concentration Camp. Many of these middle class Jews were educated scholars, philosophers, scientists, artisans, carpenters, musicians etc. who contributed towards the development of the camp. Terezin Concentration Camp served as a transit camp for Jews en route extermination camps but was also presented as a "model Jewish settlement" for the purpose of an eyewash for the Red Cross.
Even though the Terezin Concentration Camp was not an extermination camp, the enormous population density, malnutrition and extremely poor living conditions led to numerous deaths. The death rate within Terezin Concentration Camp was so high that the Germans built a crematorium capable of handling almost 200 bodies a day to the south of the ghetto.The Germans deported over 90,000 Jews to other concentration camps of Treblinka, Auschwitz, Riga, Warsaw, Lodz, Minsk, and Bialystok. They were either killed here or deported further to other killing centers in Nazi-occupied eastern Europe. At the end of World War II,the Holocaust left just about 17,000 survivors of Terezin including some who had survived the death camps.
Terezin Concentration Camp Tour
The Terezin Concentration Camp Tour takes you back to the most unimaginable eras of sufferings; the agony of over 150,000 prisoners during World War 2. Hundreds of thousands of Jews lost their lives most painfully in the ghetto of the Terezin Concentration Camp. Divided into two halves these fortresses hold the stories of pain, misery, deceit, cruelty and hope within its walls. Here are few of the things you would witness while you are on Terezin Concentration Camp Tour.
The small fortress was built in 1780’s under the rule of Emperor Joseph II to keep Prussians safe. However the fortress came to be used as a prison in the mid 19th century. You can feel the torture and pain of the inmates as you walk through the cemetery in front and the courtyard courtyard scores of cells.
Originally the large fortress was more like a town behind walls. In 1942, the Nazis established the ghetto and concentration camp in the main fortress on the east side of the river. They used the Jewish artisans and carpenters, to convert the fortress into a concentration camp.
There are four prisoner courtyards facing the cells in Terezin Concentration Camp. As you walk through these courtyards you can feel the misery of those who were confined here. The tiny cells housed prisoners in large groups sometimes as many as 100 prisoners were held in a group cell. The third Courtyard was the women’s section.
Jewish Prayer Room
Empty attic spaces were often transformed into small synagogues like the vaulted ceiling at 17 Dlouhá Street. The upper walls and vaulted ceiling were decorated. After the expulsion of the non-Jewish population in 1942, prayer rooms were also founded in garages, cellars and storage spaces.
A former shooting range was converted into the execution courtyard. Some prisoners were hanged while most were shot by a firing squad. Other inmates were also made to witness these executions. Mass graves were unearthed later near the execution site.
This museum tells the history of the ghetto established in the walled fortress town. One can learn about the unbelievable horrific lives of prisoners who were captured here. One of the highlights of this museum are the exhibits of children’s artwork. You also get a glimpse of the cultural and spiritual activities in the ghetto despite acute pain, hunger and death
The living conditions in the ghetto were so ghastly that it led to mass deaths. The Bohušovice basin close to Terezin Concentration Camp was no longer sufficient to accommodate mass graves. The Nazis eventually put a crematorium into operation on ground south of the town fortifications to carry out mass cremations.
A Columbarium was created in an enclosure near the assembly point XXVII of the Main Fortress to lay down the ashes of thousands of victims. To cover up the traces of crimes committed by Nazis, the Columbarium was cleared up by burying some of the urns near the concentration camp in Litoměřice and the rest thrown away in river Ohře.
These Barracks as a part of the Ghetto played an important role during wartime. This was the seat of the Jewish self-government. Magdeburg Barracks were the venue for major cultural events, divine services, lectures and meetings. It was later reconstructed and used for museological and educational purposes apprising the actual cultural life of the Ghetto inmates.
The Terezin Theatre
In their attempt to portray Terezin as a ‘model ghetto’ to international agencies, prisoners were given official permission to devote themselves to artistic activities. Even under such extreme conditions of deprivation The Terezin theatre proliferated. Some of the scripts written in the ghetto have been preserved.
These were the halls where the bodies of the deceased were collected and mourners paid their last respects to them. Though it is a comparitively small space, imagining the pain that families went through in here is beyond traumatising.
Gestapo Prison Cells
Small Fortress was originally built as a Gestapo prison for political prisoners and captured partisans. Neighbouring the SS-controlled Jewish ghetto, it was in use from 1940 to 1945. Last of the German war criminals, who were imprisoned here by the victorious Allies, were executed.
Terezin Concentration Camp Tickets
Terezin Concentration Camp tickets can be easily bought online making it fairly convenient for you. Here are some of the highlights of the Terezin Concentration Camp tour :
- A humbling experience sensitising you to the extreme agony and pain of millions of Jews in the Terezin Concentration Camp. A guided tour of the Small and Main Fortress where the Jews were held, the museum and the barracks remind you of horrific times.
- Walking around the courtyards of the fortress, passing the cemetery, crematorium and columbarium, peeping into those tiny cells that accommodated hundreds of prisoners, visualising open executions and other parts of the Terezin Concentration Camp, you learn the unfortunate past of the Second World War.
- A reminder of the gruesome times of the dark past, this guided tour with historical facts leaves you feeling grateful for the peaceful times now.
- Transport to the Terezin Concentration Camp from Prague is taken care of in this tour. A ride to the Terezin Concentration Camp , located about 60 kilometres from Prague will take about an hour and the entire tour duration spans for about 9 hours ( inclusive of travel to and fro Prague)
Historic tour of Terezin Concentration Camp
- Round trip from Prague to the Terezin Concentration Camp
- Admission ticket to all monuments and museums in the Terezin Concentration Camp
- A tour guide at Terezin Concentration Camp
Going From Prague to Terezin Concentration Camp
While the city of Prague offers you many picturesque and entertaining experiences, most people squeeze in a day trip to Terezin Concentration Camp from Prague. An offbeat experience, Terezin Concentration Camp day tour from Prague is an opportunity you must not miss.
Terezín is 60 kms north of Prague, approximately in the direction of Dresden.
Duration of travel
It takes little under an hour to get from Prague to the Terezin Concentration Camp
It is fairly easy to get to Terezín from Prague. There are multiple options to choose from.
Bus from Prague to Terezin
There are multiple buses( about 10) that leave from the main bus station Florenc, Prague. Buses also depart from stand 7 of the bus station beside Prague’s Holešovice train station. They leave you at the carpark at Terezín if you want to begin your sightseeing at the small fortress and prison museum. If you plan to begin at the large fortress and ghetto museum you should stay on and get off at the tourist information office.
Train from Prague to Terezin
The trains depart from the Praha Masarykovo railway station or from Prague's main station. The latter ones take lesser time, roughly an hour to Bohusovce ad Ohrim. The faster trains are marked R and the slower ones O. You get off at the station and it is a 15-30 minutes walk to the Small Fortress.
Guided Tour from Prague to Terezin
Guided tours to Terezín from Prague are very popular because they are very informative and convenient. You assemble at a central location in Prague and are taken to Terezín by public transport (mostly buses). The tour includes your entry ticket at Terezin Concentration Camp and an interesting guided tour with historical facts and stories. In the evening you are dropped back to the meeting point.
Insider Tips for your Terezin Concentration Camp Tour
- There is a lot of walking involved in the Terezin Concentration Camp Tour. Be prepared with comfortable footwear.
- A guided Terezin Concentration Camp Tour is very helpful to understand the complete history of the place. Places like the tiny synagogue that hidden at the rear of a home can be missed out if visiting the place on your own.
- It can get pretty warm during summers. Make sure you hydrate yourself well.
- Have a good meal before you reach Terezin Camp. The sombre atmosphere of the place makes you lose your appetite. The cafe in the town centre is also not very appealing.
- A trip to the Terezin Camp is totally worthwhile but is emotionally overwhelming. Be prepared for it.
Terezin Concentration Camp Reviews
This was by far the most moving experience of our 2 week trip to Prague, Budapest and Vienna. Pavel's knowledge and passion about the tragedy of of Terezin was amazing, he humanizes the victims of the Holocaust and brings the Terezin experience to life in a most unforgettable way, we felt like we were walking through history. The small group tour, there were only 8 people on our tour, was a good value. I highly recommend taking this tour, you will learn things about Terezin that you would never have discovered on your own. A humbling experience that I will never forget and which should never be forgotten.
- Road276688, October 2018 Tripadvisor
Pavel Batel provides a spellbinding tour of Terezin. His knowledge of history, research and writing about Terezin were brought to life through his outstanding stories and narration. It started when he picked us up at our hotel and stopping at the monument to the paratroopers who tried to kill Heydrich and continued all the way through Terezin. There is no way that we could have learned a fraction of what he showed and shared without him. He is highly recommended. Bring a camera or smartphone, comfortable shoes for walking and a desire to learn about what really happened at Terezin.
- howardp252, October 2018 Tripadvisor
Read what others have to say about the Terezin Memorial on TripAdvisor.
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