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 The Vacation of a Lifetime...Everytime!

Prague

Our trip to the town of Terezin and the fortress that was used as a concentration camp by the Nazi’s during WWII is 40 miles north of Prague and south of Dresden, Germany.  During WWII Hitler transported tens of thousands of communal objects to Prague and then had the owners rounded up and shipped first to Terezin for processing.  There they died of disease and torture or if they survived were processed on to other concentration camps.  In 1780 Terezin was established as a fortress to protect Prague by Joseph II from invaders from the north.  He named the city after his mother, Maria Teresia, and called it Terezin.  Hitler ordered Jews, notable musicians, writers, artists, and political exiles to be sent to Terezin from the Czech Republic and eight other countries in Europe.  Over two hundred thousand men, women, and children passed through the gates of Terezin to be processed to other concentration camps in Europe.  Many of them were executed, tortured to death, or perished by the rampant disease, due to unsanitary conditions, at the camp.  When you arrive at Terezin the first thing you see is what looks like an old stone fortress with the upper part of the stone walls covered in barbed wire.  A large cemetery lies in front of the fortress.  There is a large Cross and a Star of David dividing the Christian and Jewish burial grounds.  Your eyes are fixed on thousands of foot stones, on most of which are only carved numbers.  Once we passed through the main gate we were guided by a docent through a fortress that showed the horrific conditions that the detainees lived and died in.  Not to dwell but we saw dormitories that were approximately 800 square feet that held 400 people with two sinks and one bathroom.  That is about two square feet of living space per person.  You get the picture.  Meanwhile the accommodations for their Nazi captors were quite lavish with nice living quarters surrounded by lush gardens.  Our hearts were heavy and emotions drained.  It made us realize that man’s inhumanities have stretched from the beginning of mankind and even continue today around the world to people of every ethnicity and faith.  We left the fortress and went into the town of Terezin.  We visited a holocaust children’s museum that displayed thousands of drawings and paintings done by the children who were processed through the Terezin camp.  The stories, drawings, and videos tugged at our hearts.  The town itself has a rural look to it and is still inhabited by local residents.  Another journey outside the city of Prague was to the town of Karlstejn.  We rode the train from the main Prague station and fully enjoyed the 18 mile ride through beautiful countryside and small towns along the way.  Once arriving in the movie like train station in Karlstejn (Hlavni Nadrazi) we were approached by a scruffy old man who gave us a fast roller coaster ride for several miles up the winding roads to Karlstejn Castle.  The large gothic castle was founded in 1348 AD by the King of Bohemia, Charles IV.  We had a guided tour of this massive structure high on a hill with breathtaking vistas on all sides.  The 14th century castle has many royal treasures, wall painting, and portraits.  Many of the artifacts are reproductions which help to tell the story of the castle’s history through the ages.  We decided to walk back several miles to the Karlstejn train station which was a downhill journey through the very quaint village.  We stopped and enjoyed a beer during our walk and had a visually pleasing stroll through the village.  It is fully inhabited and has a storybook look to it with many small shops, eateries, and little cottage type homes.  The weather was spectacular and made our walk that much more pleasant.  When you visit Prague we highly recommend a day trip to the town of Karlstejn.