Visiting Terezin Concentration Camp was eye opening and worth seeing. The Czech Republic is renowned for its culture, wonderful scenery, bohemian castles and great beer. However, just one hour outside of Prague lies Terezín, a sleepy little town that holds a horrific testament to an age of unspeakable brutality.
Theresienstadt ghetto/concentration camp or known by most as Terezin Concentration Camp was used by the Nazis to hide the nature of the deportations of Jews to the ‘death camps’ Treblinka and Auschwitz during World War II.
Memorial Walls with names of captives who died at Terezin Concentration Camp
History of Terezin Concentration Camp
It is estimated that some 150,000 people were held at Terezin Concentration Camp before being sent to their deaths. This number includes the thousands of people who did not make it any further and died here in Terezin from malnutrition, disease or simply being killed outright.
Unlike the other camps, it was known as a ‘Spa Town’ which was used as a hoax to fool the Red Cross (and the rest of the world) into believing it was where the Jewish could retire safely. This could not have been any further from the truth.
Before being visited by the Red Cross, plants were planted, houses painted and the barracks renovated. This was to show the outside world that the people were happy and taken care of. However, as soon as the visits ended in June 1944, the Nazis ramped up the deportation to the ‘death camps’.
Wandering around the buildings in the town of Terezin
One of the things I noticed straight away about the town was how quiet it was, there did not seem to be many people around. The buildings were run down and it seemed like the town had not caught up with the modern day world, there were no chain shops or fast food places.
Instead, there was just a hand full of restaurants that served the bare minimum, a post office (that was used as part of the hoax) and several other shops.
It was lucky that I had a tour guide because the signage for the buildings was not very visible and I would have struggled to get myself around the small town, especially when I was shown memorials and hidden traces of the former camp. Book a full day guided tour from Prague and learn the dark history of Terezin Concentration Camp.
Display of pictures hanging on the wall created by children
The Terezin Concentration Camp Exhibition
There was a great exhibition on the Terezin Concentration Camp in the old school. That shows the history of this period. There was also a short film that was used to play for the world about the Red Cross visit.
It was hard to put into perceptive what I was watching compared to what I was seeing around the town in modern times. I was also taken to a place called “The Prayer Room” located at 17 Dlouhá Street. It was a secret Synagogue hidden in someone’s house which was a highlight to see.
I went away with a heavy heart, thinking about all those people who were tricked into believing that they were going to be ok. Then taken away from their families, never to be seen again. There is still a lot of bad in the world but I do appreciate that I did not (have to endure) growing up during this period.
Memorial to victims inside the fortress
How to get to Terezin?
You can get a direct train from Prague to Terezin and is only a 50-minute journey. The train is pretty easy to catch and it is line number C from Praha Holešovice railway station. You can get a one way ticket or return, which is only a few euros.
There is also a bus that goes there, but the train is more convenient and straightforward. You can also book a guided tour from Prague that includes getting there and entry into the museum.
Visiting Tips for Terezin Concentration Camp
- As stated before, definitely take a tour as it will be a little bit of a struggle to find the hidden sites and just generally get around. I went with a tour company called Sandman New Prague Tours.
- Take a packed snack, as there are not too many places to buy their food.
- You will need a whole day if you are visiting from Prague. You will not be able to do it for half a day.
- Terezin Concentration Camp is open, however, times differ from summer to winter.
Would I recommend Terezin Concentration Camp?
Over the years, I have visited a few concentration camps not because I am a masochist. I’m genuinely interested in wanting to understand the nature of ‘humanity’s inhumanity’ to one another. I also like to show my respect to the people who have written or drawn pictures during their time of despair, as a way to keep their faith.
It was a real eye-opener visiting Terezin Concentration Camp and it helped to see the Holocaust from a different angle of a deportation town and not a ‘death camp’. It was an unforgettable trip and I highly recommend a visit to Terezin Concentration Camp.
Memorial to all the victims of Terezin Concentration Camp
Other historical places in Europe
Are you interested in visiting other historical places in Europe? Then head to my history page for some inspiration or reading or check out the following articles.
- How to climb Wellington Arch London, England
- 10 Historical sites to see in Salzburg Austria
- Bodiam Castle, Inside the Medieval Walls Kent England
Have you visited the Terezín Concentration Camp before? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.
⇒ You can check what is currently required to enter the Czech Republic free here before travelling.
Disclaimer: I paid to visit All views are my own and based on my own experience.