During World War II, Terezín was the largest of the concentration camps constructed by the Nazis to imprison Europe’s Jews; while not an extermination camp in itself, more than 30,000 prisoners died here due to the appalling, disease ridden and cramped conditions, while 80,000 more were shipped to the death camps in eastern Europe such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.
The Magdeburg Barracks were originally constructed in 1780 in Baroque-style and formed part of a military fortress commissioned by Habsburg Emperor Franz Josef II to protect the Austro-Hungarian Empire from invasion by Prussia. During WWII they became part of the Terezín complex, housing countless Jewish families in primitive, freezing conditions in ramshackle, ghetto-like dormitories.
Thanks to the Soviet Army, liberation finally came to the Magdeburg Barracks in May 1945; ironically Terezín ended up as the prison and execution site for many Nazi war criminals. Today the barracks are a place of reconciliation and hope, restored and reopened in 1997 as a conference center run by the Holocaust Education Trust; also displayed are the replica prison dormitories and heart-wrenching exhibitions showcasing the art, literature and music produced by Jewish inmates during the Holocaust.
Principova alej 304, Terezín. Opening hours Nov–Mar Mon–Fri 8am–4.30pm; Apr–Oct Mon–Fri 8am–5pm. Admission adults CZK 170; all concessions CZK 140. Best accessed by car from Prague in under an hour via the E55.