Ever since I took these photos last summer I've been hesitant to share them. I didn't want to exploit or undermine the stories of the people who were interned here. However, in the midst of the haunted halls and empty town I knew these photos were important to me.
Terezin was a ghetto and concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. More than 150,000 people were sent there in a short 5 years and even though it wasn't actually an extermination camp, 33,000 still died due to the conditions, over crowding, and mistreatment.
What I found most notable about Terezin was that it was a front. The Nazis put the town through a "beautification" process to convince the Red Cross they were treating the prisoners fairly. The prisoners themselves were forced to create propaganda depicting a quaint life with recreation facilities, gardens, and self appointed town councils. Elderly Jews were told the camp would be their safe haven, World War I veterans thought that their service to Germany was being rewarded, and prominent Jews thought they were being given special treatment for their German nationalism with fine accommodations and protection from the war.
These crimes unfolded quickly and strategically. It was too late before the world took a closer look. We remember history to not forget so we don't have to repeat it. Don't shut down, keep listening, watch your sources, read all sides, engage with your community, don't be distracted by talking heads and comforting articles. Propaganda is powerful no matter which direction it's wilded.