Town Square in Terezin

Town Square with baroque church in Terezin, aka Theresienstadt

In the center of Terezin in the Czech Republic is the Exezierplatz, where military parades were held when the town was a military garrison. Terezin was formerly known as Theresienstadt and it is the location of the former Theresienstadt Ghetto, where Jews were imprisoned by the Nazis in 1941. A beautiful Baroque church is on the east side of the square. The red-roofed building on the right is the former Girls' barracks in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

Church with round fountain in front of it

The town square in the former Theresienstadt ghetto is actually square shaped and it is criss-crossed with paths in the form of an X. When the garrison was originally built in the 18th century, this square was intended to be the parade grounds for the soldiers. From 1942 until the end of 1943, a circus tent stood on the square. It was used to house a factory where the Jewish prisoners assembled wooden boxes and then packed in them special equipment to protect military vehicle engines from freezing. At that time, the whole square was surrounded by a barbed wire fence. The fountain that is shown in the photo above was built at a later date.

South side of town square where music pavilion was built

In 1944, when the Nazis cleaned up the camp for a Red Cross visit, they removed the fence and took down the ugly factory tent. A music pavilion was built on the south side of the square, in front of the cafe which the Nazis had already set up for the the inmates who were allowed to drink ersatz coffee and socialize there as they listened to music played by the ghetto orchestra.

On the north side of the town square is Rathausgasse (Town Hall Street) where the current town hall of Terezin is located. During the ghetto days, this building was used as the Jewish administration's bank, courthouse, post office and other offices. There were also concerts and performances of plays in this building. Although the Theresienstadt ghetto was in actuality a concentration camp, under the jurisdiction of the SS, it had many of the features of a normal town which were deliberately set up by the Germans to fool the outside world into thinking that the Jews were being treated well. The street names were added when the Nazis cleaned up the town for the Red Cross inspection in 1944.

The Theresienstadt ghetto even had stores which the Nazis set up to sell used goods to the Jews. The prisoners were paid a pittance for their work, using fake money, which could only be spent in the ghetto. Eventually, there were 8 stores for the Jews in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

The location of one of the former stores is shown on the left in the photograph below. Next to it on the right is the location of the former cafe where the Jews could meet and listen to music over a cup of ersatz coffee. Tickets for a two-hour stay in the cafe could be bought with the camp money. These buildings face the market square which is now surrounded by trees. On the far left in the photograph below is an apartment building.

Building on the left was a store and on the right was the cafe for the Jews

SS Headquarters building faces the Market Square

The photograph below shows the SS Headquarters building which faces the market square. This building, which flew the black SS flag, had prison cells in the basement where suspected resistance fighters in the ghetto were interrogated.

SS-Kommandatur which had prison cells in the basement

To the left of the SS Headquarters is the building where the former ghetto cafe was located. When I visited in 2000, the cafe building was an antique store, which is shown in the photo below.

Antique store is the former location of Theresienstadt cafe

Old Buildings

Restaurants and Hotel

Children's Barracks

Adult's Barracks

Historic Buildings

Art Museum

Map of Ghetto

Walls and Gate

Ghetto Museum