Scrapbookpages Blog

September 27, 2015

The many gates at Theresienstadt

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:49 am
Main gate into the walled town of Theresienstadt

Main gate into the walled town of Theresienstadt

This morning, I went to Wikipedia to get the facts on Music at  Theresienstadt.  On the Wikipedia page, I saw the photo below, which was purported to be the gate into the Theresienstadt camp.

The gate into the Small Fortress, NOT the gate into the Theresienstadt camp

The gate into the Small Fortress, NOT the gate into the Theresienstadt ghetto (Click on photo to enlarge)

Gate into the Small Fortress at Theresienstadt

Gate into the Small Fortress at Theresienstadt, NOT the gate into the Theresienstadt ghetto

The wall around Theresienstadt fortress

The wall around the Theresienstadt fortress

When Theresienstadt was built as a military fortress in 1780, it consisted of two parts: the Main Fortress, where the Jews were later imprisoned by the Nazis in World War II, and the Small Fortress which was originally built as a prison and was used as such from the time it was completed until a few years after World War II, when the last of the German war criminals, who were incarcerated here by the victorious Allies, were executed.

Old building in Theresienstadt ghetto

Old building in Theresienstadt ghetto (click on photo to enlarge)

Detail of old building at Theresienstadt

Detail of old building at Theresienstadt

The Small Fortress is on the east side of the Ohre river that divides the two parts of the old military fortress, which was named Theresienstadt. The Theresienstadt ghetto is on the west side.

The Main Fortress is now the town of Terezin, which is open to visitors, and even has a hotel where tourists can stay if they don’t mind spending the night in the exact location where Hitler’s SS soldiers once slept.

Gate into the section of the Small Fortress which has the Arbeit Macht Frei sign

Courtyard of the Small Fortress which has the gate with the Arbeit Macht Frei sign

The Small Fortress became a Gestapo prison in June 1940, even before the Main Fortress was turned into a transit camp for the Jews in November 1941.

The following quote is from a pamphlet that I obtained when I toured the Small Fortress:

Begin quote:

People were sent here [to the Small Fortress] for taking part in the democratic and communist resistance movement, for aiding parachutists sent from the west and east to help the Czech resistance, for supporting partisans, escaped prisoners-of-war and Jews, or for individual acts against the Nazi regime. They were intellectuals, workers, farmers, clericals, artists and students, men and women.

The fate of the Jewish prisoners here was particularly tragic. After arrest by the Gestapo for taking part in the resistance movement or breaking the rules established for Jews in Terezin town, they were sent here, given the hardest work and subjected to the worst terrorism by the guards.

It was actually a transit prison as most of the inmates were sent after a certain time before a Nazi court and from there to other prisons and penitentiaries or to concentration camps in Germany, Poland and Austria.

End quote

After visiting the firing range in the Small Fortress at Theresienstadt, tour groups go through the Gate of Death which was the gate through which condemned prisoners had to walk to reach another execution site outside the fortress.

If you don’t want to go through the tunnel to get to the execution site, you can reach the Gate of Death by walking straight ahead when you enter the Small Fortress, instead of turning left into the Administration Court. You will then enter the Fourth Courtyard which is where my tour group emerged when we came through the Gate of Death.