Today we went to a former fort turned “relocation center” I.e. concentration camp close to the German and Polish border. This one was called Terezín, and towards the later stages of its use by the Nazi’s it was a smaller scale death camp. We spent the latter part of the day there walking around looking at the camp and reading the history chronicled in its exhibits.
The cemetery outside houses the exhumed bodies of people killed and buried within the camp. Split into two sections a Christian and a Jewish section denoted by their particular religious symbols. On the graves of the Jewish half rocks were laid on the individual grave markers as well as around the base of the Star of David.
Inside the fort we saw the women’s section, the laundry area, the museum on the grounds, the execution area and the medical area amongst the rest of the rooms and places housed there. The historical accounts were rather morbid as most talked about how bad Terezín was. A man who’d been to all of the camps said that it was the worst; the workers and wardens treated the people the worst there.
Housed in the camp were political prisoners, Czech military members, gypsies/ Roma, disabled people, Jewish people and even Czechs who opposed Nazi occupation. It was interesting to read about the variety of people kept there. Not only the variety of people but the variety of guards, women warden were brought in (the wives of the men warden) to police the women prisoners.
We ended with the 500M tunnel that takes you from what I believe was block A to the execution area. It was the longest 500M I’ve walked in a while, quite a bit colder than the outdid temperature. Not surprising since it was built of stone and into the ground/ fortress itself although it did open into the outside every so often.
The last stop on our tour was to get ice cream since the rest of what we could have seen was closed by the time we finished with just the main part of the fort. What we didn’t see was the crematorium, the (other) mass grave, and the area that was the surrounding ghetto.
Again since some of his friends were going to be out I also joined in and met more of Pipa’s friends. We hung out a Shisha lounges talked, and had a good time. I also got a good taste of Czech culture in some choice jokes that may not have been said in other company but were nonetheless entertaining in the context of friends and harmlessness if you will. So far Prague has been as amazing as I was hoping it would be–it really helps when you have a friend who knows the area and the culture and history behind the places. Until tomorrow.