- Terezin Memorial
On the initiative of the newly created Czechoslovak government, in 1947 the National Suffering Memorial was opened on the site of the suffering of tens of thousands; it was later on renamed the Terezin Memorial.
The Terezín Memorial specialises in preserving evidence of history of the Nazi repression apparatus in the Czech Republic, and particularly in Terezín and Litoměřice. To a lesser extent it also considers the history of Terezín prior to the Second World War. The Memorial’s collections may be divided into four groups: written documents, pictorial material, three-dimensional items and works of art created by prisoners, and anti-war art by post-war and contemporary artists.
The foundations of the collections were laid by those items obtained from various institutions and former prisoners in connection with the creation of the first museum exhibition, which was opened in May 1949. It comprised primarily documents and objects brought from the Military Historical Institute in Prague. Care for the collections gained a firmer footing, however, only in 1960, when a professional member of staff was employed and the first inventory book drawn up. Initially the three-dimensional pieces and written material were looked after at the same site, which later became the foundation of the collections department. In 1965, the archive was separated from the collections department, and three years later the photographic was separated from the archive. The archive and photographic archive are now part of the Memorial's documentation department. The archival collections are not large, because by the time the Memorial had started to make acquisitions much evidence that would have been of interest had already been gathered in other archives, both in the Czech Republic and abroad (e.g. at the Jewish Museum in Prague, the State Central Archive in Prague and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem). The collections of the Terezín Memorial were built up primarily from items obtained as gifts or purchased from former prisoners (or their relatives), and to a lesser extent articles transferred from other institutions.
Collections of the Department of Documentation
The Department of Documentation brings together both written source material (prison documentation, correspondence, manuscripts, private writings, the recollections of former prisoners) and pictorial material (photographs and postcards) relating mainly to the history of Terezín from its foundation to the year 1945. The greater part comprises material from the Second World War period coming from the concentration camp for Jews – the Terezín Ghetto, the Gestapo police prison in the Small Fortress at Terezín and the concentration camp at Litoměřice. A smaller part relates to the persecution of Czechoslovak citizens in other parts of the Nazi repression apparatus, e.g. at the Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Auschwitz Flossenbürg and Dachau concentration camps and their branches.
The earlier history of Terezín (to 1939) is represented in the collections mainly by pictorial material (period postcards). At the end of January 2011 it contained 12,830 indexed items.
A library is also available to researchers, where it is possible to study relevant professional literature. The department is based in the Small Fortress, in the “Mansion” building.
Collections of the Department of Collections
The Department of Collections amasses primarily 3D objects and works of art. These include items relating to the persecution of the inmates (instruments of torture, weapons), their labour duty assignments (products made in the Ghetto workshops), their personal objects (prison clothes, dishes and cutlery), as well as objects created by the inmates during their free time activities (souvenirs, drawings, poems, sheet music). Covering items from all walks of the Ghetto’s cultural life – fine arts, music, arts and crafts, theater, literature including works by self-taught writers – the collection comprises paintings, drawings, musical scores, poems and illustrations. An important part of the collection is made up of documents relating to the cultural life in the Terezín Ghetto, primarily a representative set of memorial posters tracing the history of cultural activities in the Ghetto in the years 1941 – 1945. The periods of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy as well as World War I and World War II are represented in the collection by the militaria, army uniforms, medals, insignia and badges. As for the postwar era, this is illustrated predominantly by paintings, drawings and sculptures, works of art with anti-war and anti-fascist themes and artworks devoted to the Holocaust.
As of December 31, 2010, the fond of the Department of Collections had as many as 12,316 inventory numbers. Most collection items are kept in the building of the Small Fortress Museum, while works of art and sheet music written by composers imprisoned in the Terezín Ghetto are deposited in the former Magdeburg Barracks in Terezín.
The collections of the Terezín Memorial consist primarily of objects acquired by gift or purchase from the former inmates, eventually their relatives; to a smaller extent by transfer from other institutions.
A database of the collections held by the Memorial's Department of Documentation can be found here:
A database of the collections held by the Memorial's Department of Collections can be found here:
The archives of the Terezin Memorial in the Small Fortress is open to the public on workdays (Monday to Friday) between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Researchers must send a request for permission to study in the archives or photo archives (firstname.lastname@example.org). After the request is approved by the director of the Terezin Memorial or his deputy, they can arrange the term of their visit in the archives (at least two days before the planned visit).
Research rules in English and German can be downloaded from the following page (under 'Important Documents'):