Thursday, 27 March 2008


Tane and I spent the Easter weekend in the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic. As well as spending some fabulous times strolling around the old town and sampling Czech cuisine, we spent a day in and around the small town of Terezin, located near the German border. Terezin, or Theresienstadt as it was known in German, was a prominent Jewish ghetto during World War Two before most of its 100,000 odd residents were shipped to Auschwitz and the like. Not exactly a recipe for a fun day out as such, but a very, very interesting and memorable place to visit nonetheless.
The great Nazi lie: "Work Brings Freedom"

The first place that you see when coming into Terezin is a massive cemetery and a brick fort that just looks plain creepy. After a couple of hours of wandering around inside, we also discovered that the creepy feeling that the "small fort" as it's known gets worse rather than better. It's one of those places that you can't really describe without sounding corny as walking through dismal barracks, execution grounds and past a swimming pool made by forced labourers who were later killed in some way is a profoundly moving experience.
After visiting the small fortress we ventured into the town of Terezin to get some lunch and find the famous ghetto as well. While we were lucky on the lunch front, we couldn't find the ghetto. It wasn't until we visited the Terezin Ghetto Museum that we learned that we had been walking around it the whole time as not only was the entire town the ghetto, but the place we had eaten our lunch was a SS dining hall. This was a bit of a surprise as while the town had a strange feel to it, it was just a town where people live and go about their daily business. I would love to have talked to some residents about how they feel about their town's history, but that's not exactly something to bring up with someone serving your lunch or selling snacks.
A street in Terezin. The worst part of here for me was seeing in the museum all the pictures drawn by the children who were kept here before they were sent to Auschwitz.

After a day trip to Terezin, it was a real relief to return to Prague. It's worth seeing something a little emotionally challenging every now and then though, and I totally recommend it for anyone who is interested in history and wants a little more from a weekend in Prague than beer and pretty buildings.

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