A couple of minutes walk from Theresienstadt a fortification called the Small Fortress can be found. It was built between 1780 and 1790 and served as a prison and penitentiary for army and political prisoners. If it had stayed at that the Small Fortress would probably have played a much smaller part in history.
As you can probably guess, it didn’t. The most tragic chapter in its history came during the occupation by Nazi Germany from 1939 until the end of the Second World War in 1945. The nazis began housing enemies of their regime; at first Jews and Gypsies from across the third Reich and later Partisans (Czech resistance fighters) and members of the illegal communist party. During all those years the prison was run by the Gestapo and more than 32000 prisoners passed through its gates. For most of them the Small Fortress was a stop on their way to other Nazi prisons or concentration camps where they would perish later on. Thousands of prisoners also died in the prison from a combination of overwork, undernourishment, disease and brutality from the guards.
The Small Fortress is today a museum in which you can walk around and experience. It is well worth a visit even though it’s a bit of a hassle to get there by bus. More pictures of our visit will be posted tomorrow.
The National Cemetery was set up shortly after 1945 and stands in the foreground of the Small Fortress. The bodies of the prison, the Theresienstadt Ghetto, The Litoměřice Concentration camp and death transports from Lovosice were buried in individual and, later on, mass graves.
Same as all over Europe many Jews were murdered in Theresienstadt and the Small Fortress.
These white clothes were part of an Installation created by Kamila Ženatá at the Small Fortress.