An eerie day out at Terezín Concentration Camp in Prague
By Annies Joy
Quiet. Deserted. Unnatural. Hardly surprising due to the fact that, although unknown to many, Terezín played a key role in the transportation of the Nazis’ Jewish prisoners during World War II.
The former fortress city was used by the Nazis during their wartime occupation of Czechoslovakia as a holding camp where thousands of Jews from across Europe were held before being transported to the notorious deathcamps such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belzen
There are only a few direct buses in the morning from Prague to Terezín and a few direct buses back in the evening. The 10.30am bus from the city drove through the scenic views that took us away from the busy tourist-filled centre to the quietness of the countryside.
However, the quietness of Terezín might as well have been silence. Clearly the aftermath of the cruelty that took place in these hollow buildings can still be seen and felt in the atmosphere of the small town.
It is an unnaturally silent and empty town, with only the occasional car driving through it, some drunken locals and a small flock of tourists who know about the place.
However, the place is still brimming with history with many places to go and see. For example, the Jewish Ghetto Museum that outlines lines from some prisoners’ diary, the former concentration camp for Jewish Prisoners, the National Memorial and the Magdeburg Barracks.
A walk into the courtyards of the concentration camp shows the hollow and bare wooden bunk beds, a bench to sit and eat, and a tiny washbasin in each room. It is a very moving experience but unimaginable to think what it might have been like to be a prisoner there.
The visitors are also able to enjoy a half-an-hour video guide, in a spacious screening room, outlining the history of Terezín and its previous usage. You can also take a walk around the vast Fortress Grounds and even go through a 500m tunnel, which i admit is not for the faint-hearted.
Experiencing such a day out that felt so out of one’s comfort zone makes you realise just how real these events were and still are to the people who live there now. An event that’s your history was their reality.
The administration offices leading to the first courtyard