The walk from the Small Fortress crosses the River Ohre and passes through the impressive fortifications.

A few facts before we go any further:

At the Wannsee Conference in January 1942 it was decided that as a part of the 'Final Solution' that Terezin would become a holding pen and transit camp for transportation to concentration camps further east.

All the residents of Terezin had to leave by mid 1942, whereupon the entire town became a large prison.

In total, more than 155,000 men, women and children passed through the gates of the ghetto. Around 35,000 of them died in the ghetto and another 83,000 died after deportation to extermination camps.

Described as 'The Paradise Ghetto' by the Gestapo, in 1943/44 Theresienstadt was the subject of a [sic] 'beautification programme' (or should that be 'sick'?) in order to mislead the Red Cross inspectors who inspected the prison on June 23rd 1944. It has been suggested that the favourable report made by the Danish Red Cross inspectors was an attempt not to make things any worse for the Danish Jews (and presumably the others) who were incarcerated there. Seventy five years later, their motives hardly matter - let's just hope that it worked in some way.

There is more about Theresienstadt here if you are interested.

A couple of pictures of the town as it is now...

Square In Terezin Main Square In Terezin

We've been to several places where atrocities of various kinds took place - Buchenwald, Oradour-sur-Glane, Kalavrita, Flanders, The Somme and more Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemeteries than I can remember... All these places are very sad and sobering, but the next few pictures almost made me cry: they were drawn by children in the ghetto.

Child's Drawing Child's Drawing Child's Drawing Child's Drawing

Most of them didn't survive. Look at the names and dates below the pictures.

Some more pictures of the town...

Square In Terezin Main Square In Terezin
Church In Terezin
Main Square In Terezin Side Street In Terezin

Definitely one of the strangest places that I have seen.

This was the last picture that I took in Terezin. I think that Google Maps said that we were 1272Km from home - we were certainly 340Km from Wernigerode - but it felt like a million kilometers away...

Clara In Terezin

Back to much more mundane matters: a quick check of Clara's oil level (before we started her, of course) said that all was fine with her...

A long drive ahead, we set off feeling very sobered by what we had seen and read. It was a strange feeling that we could visit a place where such awful things had happened and just go back to real life when so many people who had been in Theresienstadt never could.

Fast forward a couple of hours and we were driving down the autobahn which runs across the top of the Harz region at perhaps 160Kph in the dark when the oil level warning light came on. Ouch.

Leaving the autobahn at the next exit - fortunately not very far - I donned my head torch (kept in the door pocket just in case) and put in a litre of oil. Where did that all go? Going to have to do something about this...

Anyway, we got back to Wernigerode just fine and went out for dinner - sadder and hopefully wiser.

This has actually been quite a hard blog post to write.

24 Germany Again Six