An hour or so from Prague is the small town of Terezin. It is not a pretty Czech town; no quaint picturesque buildings with red tile roofs. In Hapsburg times, late 18th century, it was a town with a fortress near the confluence of the Ohre and Elbe Rivers. In World War I, the fortress was a prison camp. In World War II, the Gestapo evacuated the entire civilian population. The town became garrison for the Gestapo and the fortress was made into a concentration camp for POW hard cases, political prisoners, and Jews. 155,000 people were held there. Prisoners worked in nearby industry as slave labor. When 88,000 could no longer provide useful work, they were sent to Auschwitz where they went directly into one of the gas chambers that looked like the shower room at Terezin. 33,000 died at Terezin; their ashes were eventually dumped into the Ohre River to hide the evidence as the Russians liberated the camp in May 1945.
It was over 90F when the bus dropped us off at 10 AM in front the Museum in Terezin. The last return bus would be at 3 PM; five hours to get a feel for this place. We passed the tracks that the prisoners built so the nearby town would not see the train unload the prisoners and then walk to the camp.
We, and the prisoners, walked by this apartment/garrison on the way to camp.
Everyone was greeted and processed here before entering the camp gate.
All concentration camps had this welcome sign.
No heat in winter, no light, no open window, no blanket, no…
Their was one window; open for the tourists.
Mandatory showers once a week. Clothes were left outside to be sent to the steam cooker to kill lice. Prisoners showered with the water that was not heated winter and summer. They exited the room, retrieved their wet deloused clothes and went to work. If the clothes froze or they died of hypothermia so be it. At Auschwitz, the gas chamber had the same appearance but gave gas instead of water.
The walk to the Terezin execution yard went past this tree.