Theresienstadt Concentration Camp
|Historical Name of Location||Terezín, Cechy, Czechoslovakia|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe fortress town of Terezín (German: Theresienstadt) in the region of Cechy (English: Bohemia; German: Böhmen) was occupied by the Germans, along with the rest of Czechoslovakia, in Mar 1939. One of the fortresses, the small one on the east side of the Ohre River, was taken over by the German Gestapo organization in Jun 1940 to be used as a prison; the first prisoners arrived within days. The prison in the small fortress was administratively separate from the concentration camp. The concentration camp was created in Nov 1941 out of the walled town on the west side of the Ohre River, under the control of the SS organization, with SS-Hauptsturmführer Siegfried Seidl as its first commandant. Its mission was to house Jews in transit for concentration camps in the east. 342 Jewish forced laborers were brought in to convert the town into a concentration camp. The Czech population of the city, about 7,000, was expelled in the spring of 1942. Jews from the occupied Czech lands, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany were then brought in; Czech Jews would remain the majority of the population for the remainder of the camp's existence. While the camp was presided over by the SS, internal policing was supported by Czech policemen (who reported to the Germans) and a small police force made up of Jewish prisoners (who reported to the nominal Jewish council). The population of the camp was mainly employed in the mining industry.
ww2dbaseIn Jun 1944, the Danish Red Cross (with a representative from the International Red Cross) was permitted to inspect the Theresienstadt camp. Prior to the visit, a large number of Jews were deported to minimize the appearance of crowding; those who remain were forced to provide a positive feedback to the Red Cross representatives. After the success in preventing the Red Cross representatives from detecting anything foul, the Germans decided to make Theresienstadt the model camp for propaganda purposes. A motion picture film, directed by Jewish prisoner Kurt Gerron, was made to present a false image of the camp to the outside world. Gerron was murdered by the Germans in Oct 1944, a month after the completion of the filming. The production was never completed. An attempt was made to destroy all copies of the film at the end fo the war, but a few survived nevertheless.
ww2dbaseBy the end of the war, the small fortress had processed more than 32,000 prisoners, 5,000 of whom were female. The main fortress, ie. the ghetto or the concentration camp, saw the arrival of 144,000 Jews (about 80,000 Czech Jews, 40,000 German Jews, 15,000 Austrian Jews, 5,000 Dutch Jews, 1,600 Polish Jews, 500 Slovak and Hungarian Jews, and 300 Luxembourger Jews). The camp also held a small number of Allied prisoners of war (21 British, 21 New Zealanders, and 17 Australians) who had unsuccessfully attempted to escape their places of imprisonment previously. 33,000 of the Jews would die in Theresienstadt (mainly from starvation and disease), while 88,000 of them would die in death camps in Eastern Europe.
ww2dbaseIn Feb 1945, a transport of approximately 1,200 Jews, most of whom Dutch, was sent from Theresienstadt to neutral Switzerland; a payment of $1,250,000 was made to Germany for their release. In Apr 1945, King Christian X secured the release of 423 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt.
ww2dbaseIn Apr 1945, the International Red Cross returned to Theresienstadt to assess the camp. On 2 May 1945, it took over the administration of the camp. Commandant Karl Rahm fled from the camp on 5 May 1945 (he would later be captured by American troops in Austria). Soviet troops arrived to liberate the camp on 8 May 1945.
ww2dbaseIn 1964, West Germany paid the British government Ł1,000,000 for having held British prisoners of war illegally in Theresienstadt; similar arrangements were made with Australia (A$10,000 per prisoner) and New Zealand in the late 1980s.
Last Major Update: Oct 2017
Theresienstadt Concentration Camp Timeline
|10 Jun 1940||The Nazi Gestapo organization took control of the small fortress in Terezín (German: Theresienstadt) in occupied Czechoslovakia for use as a prison.|
|14 Jun 1940||The first immates of Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia arrived.|
|10 Oct 1941||Reinhard Heydrich ordered the town of Terezín (German: Theresienstadt) to be converted into a camp-ghetto for deported German, Austrian, and Czechoslovakian Jews. He placed Adolf Eichmann and Rolf Günther in charge of establishing this camp-ghetto.|
|30 Oct 1941||Reinhard Heydrich appointed Siegfried Seidl the commandant of the camp-ghetto soon to be known as the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.|
|24 Nov 1941||The walled city of Terezín (German: Theresienstadt) began its conversion into a ghetto for Jews. Its mission was to serve as a transit camp for Jews en route to concentration camps to the east.|
|4 Dec 1941||Adolf Eichmann appointed Jacob Edelstein, originally from Prague, the chairperson of the Council of Jewish Elders of Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.|
|9 Jan 1942||A transport of 1,005 Jews departed from Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia for locations in Eastern Europe. Most of them were sent to Riga, Latvia.|
|2 Jun 1942||About 50 German Jews from Berlin arrived at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. They were the first German Jews to arrive at this camp.|
|20 Jun 1942||About 1,000 Austrian Jews arrived at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia; they were the first Austrian Jews to arrive at this camp.|
|2 Jul 1942||A group of Jews from Berlin, Germany were sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.|
|14 Jul 1942||Some German Jews were deported from Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia to Minsk, Byelorussia and other locations in Eastern Europe.|
|31 Jul 1942||1,000 Jews from Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia were taken to Baranowitsche Concentration Camp in Poland and gassed in vans.|
|18 Sep 1942||Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia surpassed its maximum capacity; 58,491 prisoners now resided in the camp.|
|29 Sep 1942||Esther Adolphine, sister of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, passed away in Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.|
|17 Dec 1942||Jewish violinist Julius Stwertka, a former leading member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and co-leader of the Vienna Philharmonic, passed away in Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.|
|28 Dec 1942||Alfred Flatow, German Olympic gymnast, passed away in Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.|
|20 Jan 1943||Transports of Jews from Theresienstadt Ghetto in occupied Czechoslovakia departed for Auschwitz Concentration Camp in occupied Poland; several more transports departed from Theresienstadt in the following 6 days.|
|22 Apr 1943||A transport of Jews from Westerbork Concentration Camp arrived at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in Sudetenland in southern Germany (occupied Czechoslovakia).|
|11 Aug 1943||Jews from Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia began to be transported to Auschwitz Concentration Camp in occupied Poland.|
|24 Aug 1943||1,260 Polish Jewish children from the liquidated Bialystok ghetto in Poland arrived at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.|
|11 Nov 1943||Theresienstadt Concentration Camp commandant Anton Burger ordered the 40,000 prisoners of the camp to stand at attention outdoors in freezing weather; about 300 prisoners died from hypothermia.|
|15 May 1944||Over the following three days, about 7,500 prisoners of the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia were transferred to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in occupied Poland; part of the reason was to relieve Theresienstadt's overcrowded condition in preparation of a visit by the International Red Cross and the Danish Red Cross in the following month.|
|23 Jun 1944||Two representatives (one Danish and one Swiss) of the International Red Cross and one representative of the Danish Red Cross visited Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia for six hours; the prisoners gave them positive reports about the living conditions as they were instructed to do by the camp administration.|
|1 Sep 1944||Jewish prisoner Kurt Gerron began filming a propaganda motion picture at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.|
|12 Sep 1944||The filming of a propaganda motion picture at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia ended.|
|5 Feb 1945||The RSHA transported approximately 1,200 Jews from Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia to Switzerland.|
|8 Mar 1945||Between 1,070 and 1,150 Hungarian Jews arrived at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. They were originally deported to the Austrian border in 1944.|
|6 Apr 1945||In occupied Czechoslovakia, International Red Cross representatives visited the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp.|
|14 Apr 1945||On this day and the next, 423 Danish Jews were transferred from the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia back to their home country via trucks hired by the Swedish Red Cross.|
|15 Apr 1945||King Christian X secured the release of 423 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.|
|20 Apr 1945||Between 13,500 and 15,000 prisoners were transferred from Buchenwald and Gross-Rosen subcamps to the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia over the following 20 days.|
|21 Apr 1945||International Red Cross representatives visited the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp.|
|2 May 1945||Commandant Karl Rahm of the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp relinquished control of the camp to the International Red Cross.|
|5 May 1945||The Council of Jewish Elders at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia, operating under Commandant Karl Rahm, met with the commandant for the last time. The council was dissolved after that meeting. Later that day, Rahm fled the camp ahead of the advancing Soviet troops.|
|8 May 1945||Soviet troops liberated Theresienstadt Concentration Camp; about 30,000 prisoners were present at the camp at the time.|
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|WW2-Era Place Name||Terezín, Cechy, Czechoslovakia|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945