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Located 48 kilometres north of Prague in the Czech Republic, Terezín was built in the eighteenth century as a defensive star-shaped fortress during the Habsburg Empire and Prussian wars. But, the fortress never came under direct attack and remained an army garrison. In the latter half of the nineteenth century it was also used as a prison.


During the first World War, the prison was used to jail political dissidents including the assassin of Franz Ferdinand, Gavrilo Princip and his wife. Both died there of tuberculosis in 1918.

In 1940, after the Munich Agreement, the existing prison was full due to the Nazi influence and the smaller fortress was set up as the Prague Gestapo Police prison.


During World War II, Terezín was known by the German name Theresienstadt and became a Ghetto housing mostly wealthy and intellectual 

Czechoslovakian Jews under the false impression the Ghetto was to be their retirement spa town. While not an extermination camp, about 33,000 died there and around 88,000 were transported to Auschwitz and other extermination camps. Of the 150,000 Jews sent to Theresienstadt, only 17,247 survived.


Czech Restitution Claim

Link for information about the reclaiming of property lost during WWII.


At the end of World War II, the name, Terezín was restored and the small fortress interned ethnic Germans until 1948 when the camp was officially closed.


In 1948, Czeckoslovakia became a Communist state within the Eastern Bloc. Many thousands became political prisoners until reformist Alexander Dubček was elected in 1968. This period was to be known as the Prague Spring when an attempt was made to grant additional rights and freedoms to Czech citizens. It ended when the Soviets sent thousands of troops and tanks to occupy the country until 1991.


Terezín housed Soviet soldiers till the end of the occupation and the town deteriorated. In 2002 a severe flood added to the damage and a long-term conservation plan was drawn up that involved restoration, documentation and archaeological research. 


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