This collection was indexed by World Memory Project contributors. The World Memory Project is part of the Ancestry.com World Archives Project - a community collaborative effort that allows thousands of people around the world to help preserve history that would otherwise be lost. Click here to see additional World Memory Project collections.
This database contains records related to the deportation of Jews to Terezin, referred to as Theresienstadt by the Germans, and Poland, as well as appeals for evacuation from the camps where they were detained.
In early October 1941, as they planned the first deportations of German, Austrian, and Czech Jews to locations in the east, the German SS and police decided to convert Theresienstadt into a transit camp-ghetto. During the three and a half years of its existence, it served three purposes:
- A transit camp for Czech Jews whom the Germans deported to killing centers, concentration camps, and forced-labor camps in German-occupied Poland, Belorussia, and the Baltic States.
- A ghetto-labor camp to which the SS deported and then incarcerated certain categories of German, Austrian, and Czech Jews, based on their age, disability as a result of past military service, or domestic celebrity in the arts and other cultural life.
- A holding pen for Jews in the above-mentioned groups. It was expected that poor conditions there would hasten the deaths of many deportees, until the SS and police could deport the survivors to killing centers in the east.
Theresienstadt also served an important propaganda function for the Germans. The publicly stated purpose for the deportation of the Jews from Germany was their "resettlement to the east," where they would be compelled to perform forced labor. Since it seemed implausible that elderly Jews could be used for forced labor, the Nazis used the Theresienstadt ghetto to hide the nature of the deportations. In Nazi propaganda, Theresienstadt was cynically described as a "spa town" where elderly German Jews could "retire" in safety. The deportations to Theresienstadt were, however, part of the Nazi strategy of deception.
What You Can Find
Entries in this index may include:
- residence year
Additional details about these victims may be included in the original records. While the index is freely accessible from Ancestry.com, the images of these records are not available in this database. Copies of the images can be ordered at no cost from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Click here for ordering information.
More information about Theresienstadt is available in the online Holocaust Encyclopedia.
Click here to view home movies from the prewar period made by two Czech Jewish families in Prague and Southern Bohemia.
Click here to watch the video testimony of Ruth Elias, a Czech woman who was sent with her family to Theresienstadt, from which she was later deported to Auschwitz.