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Theresienstadt was the name Nazis gave to the Czech garrison town of Terezín in November 1941 when they turned it into a walled ghetto. The function of Theresienstadt was to provide a front for the extermination operation of Jews. To the outside it was presented by the Nazis as a model Jewish settlement, but in reality it was a concentration camp.

The town Terezín is located in northern Bohemia, Czech Republic. It was founded in 1780 and baceame notorious because it was used as a walled ghetto (or concentration camp) from 1941 to 1945 by Nazi Germany. Theresienstadt was also used as a transit camp for Jews en route to Auschwitz and other extermination camps.

The camp was established on 24 November 1941 by the head of the SS Reinhard Heydrich. It was given the name of Theresienstadt and soon became the "home" for a great number of Jews from occupied Czechoslovakia. The 7,000 Czechs living in Terezín were expelled by the Nazis in 1942. As a consequence the Jewish community became a closed environment.

Theresienstadt was originally planned to house priviledged Jews from Germany, Czechia and Austria. It was home to many elderly and is known for its rich cultural life. Some prominent artist from Czechoslovakia, Austria and Germany were either born in Theresienstadt or found their death there. There were artists, writers, scientists and jurists, diplomats, musicians and scholars.

The community in Theresienstadt ensured that all the children that passed though continued with their education. Daily classes and sports activities were upheld. This affected some 15,000 children, of wich only about 1,100 survived the end of the war. Other estimates give the number of the surviving children as low as 150.

The conditions in Theresienstadt were extremely hard. In a space previously inhabited by 7,000 Czechs now over 50,000 Jews were gathered. Food was scarce and in 1942 almost 16,000 people died.

Some 500 Jews from Denmark were sent to Theresienstadt in 1943. It were Jews who did not escape to Sweden before the arrival of the Nazi. The arrival of the Danes is of great significance as the Danes insisted on the Red Cross having access to the ghetto. This was a rare move, given that most European governments did not insist on their fellow Jewish citizens being treated according to some fundamental principles.

The Nazis permitted the visit by the Red Cross in order to dispel rumours about the exterminations camps. To minimize the appearance of overcrowding in Theresienstadt, the Nazi deported many Jews to Auschwitz. They also erected fake shops and cafés to imply that the Jews lived in relative comfort. The Danes the Red Cross visited lived in freshly painted rooms, not more than three in a room. The guests enjoyed the performance of a children's opera Brundibar. This hoax was so successful for the Nazi that they went on to shoot a propaganda film at Theresienstadt. The aim was to show how well the Jews lived under the (benevolent) protection of the Third Reich. After the shooting most of the cast were deported to Auschwitz.

About 144,000 Jews were sent to Theresienstadt. About a quarter of them (33,000) died in Theresienstadt, mostly because of the appaling circumstances there. About 88,000 were deported to Auschwitz and other extermination camps. When the war finished, there were a mere 19,000 survivors. On 3 May 1945 control of the camp was tranferred from the Germans to the Red Cross. On 8 May of the same year – just five days later - Terezín was liberated by Soviet troops.

After the war has finished, Theresienstadt was resurrected as Terezín. Terezín itself is noted for its production of furniture and knitwear as well as for manufacturing. Today Terezín has a population of about 3,000 people.

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