Theresienstadt concentration camp (often referred to as Terezín) was a Nazi German concentration camp during World War II. It was established by the Gestapo in the fortress and garrison city of Terezín (German name Theresienstadt), located in what is now the Czech Republic.
The fortress of Terezín was constructed between the years 1780 and 1790 by the orders of the Austrian emperor Joseph II in the north-west region of Bohemia. It was designed to be a component of a projected but never fully realized fort system of the monarchy, another piece being the fort of Josefov. Terezín took its name from the mother of the emperor, Maria Theresa of Austria who reigned 1740–1780. By the end of the 18th century, the facility was obsolete as a fort; in the 19th century, the fort was used to accommodate military and political prisoners.
From 1914 till 1918 it housed one of its most famous prisoners: Gavrilo Princip. Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife on June 28, 1914, which led to the First World War. Princip died in cell number 1 from tuberculosis on April 28, 1918.
On June 10, 1940, the Gestapo took control of Terezín and set up prison in the Small Fortress (kleine Festung), see below. By November 24, 1941, the Main Fortress (große Festung, i.e. the town Theresienstadt) was turned into a walled ghetto. To the outside it was presented by the Nazis as a model Jewish settlement, but in reality it was a concentration camp. Theresienstadt was also used as a transit camp for European Jews en route to Auschwitz.
Dr. Siegfried Seidl, an SS-Hauptsturmführer, served as the first camp commandant in 1941. Seidl oversaw the labor of 342 young men, known as the Aufbaukommando, who converted the fortress into a concentration camp. Although the Aufbaukommando were promised that they and their families would be spared transport, eventually all were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943, for Sonderbehandlung, or "special treatment", i.e. imme...