The fortress of Terezin ( Theresienstadt ) was built under the Emperor Josef II in 1780-1790 . It was meant to protect access roads against the Prussian army during the Prussian-Austrian wars in the 18th century.
It has never fulfilled its duty but even after it lost the status of fortress , it remained a garrison town , with its Small Fortress serving since the early 19th century as a jail .
Both parts - the town called the Main Fortress as well as the Small Fortress became notoriously famous after the occupation of the Czech lands by the Nazi army .
What to see except of the town:
The Ghetto museum ( the former school that served during the war as a boy´s home ) - the exhibition about the 2nd World War , about Terezin , about the Children´s Drawings , the movies in the cinema ( about the History of Terezin , the Children´s drawings , the Propaganda Movie (the part that survived) made for the Red Cross delegates )
The Magdeburg barracks - a seat of the Council of Elders and the Jewish self-administration . Today it houses a meeting Centre and an attic theatre , and visitors can see both a replica of a dormitory of the time of the ghetto ( the survived people offered their private things that they kept from time of the war to exhibit them there ) and a permanent exhibition devoted to various spheres of cultural activities in the ghetto.
The Memorial by Ohre river -
where the ashes of the perished prisoners ( about 22000) were thrown to the river at the Nazis order in 1944 to destroy the evidence about the incredibly high mortality in the town.
The Jewish Cemetery and the Crematorium -
The Jewish Cemetery is situated on both sides of the Crematorium and there are buried in both the mass graves and single garves over 9000 victims that died during the first year of the existence of the Ghetto .
The Crematorium - built by the prisoners in 1942 , till the end of the war they burnt over 30000 corpses there.
The Small Fortress -
It was built as a part of the fortification system . It was used from the beginning as a prison where apart from the soldiers , many people related to the nationalist-liberation struggles were jailed in the 19th century.
During the 2nd World War the existing jails were gradually filled as a consequence of the Nazi terror , the Small Fortress became the Prague Gestapo´s prison in 1940.
The first prisoners came in there on June 1940 and some 32000 inmates , including 5000 women went through the fortress throughout World War Two , mainly Czechs , but later also the citizens of the Soviet Union, Poles , Germans and Yugoslavs , and towards the end of the war also the soldiers of the British army, French hostages and the Jews from the Ghetto - Terezin town.
For most of them it was a way station to Nazi trials , jails, penitentiaries and concentration camps where about 8000 perished.
In the Small Fortress about 2500 inmates died of torture , disease, bad jailing conditions , etc..
At the end of the war the epidemic of spotted typhoid fever spread in the overcrowded prison and the physicians and nurses from Prague and the neighbouring town started the treatment and the repatriation of former inmates , it lasted till August 1945 .
Between 1945 and 1948 it served as a detention camp for the Czech Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia .