It had been a very busy week for us. This past weekend, my parents arrived from the Philippines. Since their arrival, I found myself caught up with household work and travelling.
My parents’ first 2 days in Kolin were spent resting and readjusting their body clocks.
We only started our first out of town trip yesterday. Our first stop: The Terezin Memorial in the village of Terezin.
Terezin is a former garrison town which was later on turned into a concentration camp by the Nazis. We visited the Small Fortress with a private tour from a friend, Ms. Rosa Machackova, who is a tour guide in the memorial.
Growing up in Asia, I was not familiar with the names and places of the Nazi concentration camps. Back then, Europe seemed so far away and I was not very interested in European history. I remember learning about the Jewish concentration camps only through books and movies. When I moved to the US, this knowledge did not change.
The visit to Terezin afforded me a whole new experience in viewing the Holocaust.
Walking through the path where those murdered Jews have tread gave me an eerie feeling.
In the main entrance, the inscriptions “Work Frees” (translated from German) is written on top of the gate.
This quarter over here used to house close to a hundred Jews. It only had one bathroom and one heater. Imagine living in such small space.
Being a fortress, escape was almost impossible in this place.
It is bordered by gates composed of an inner and outer wall in between a water moat. Those who have tried and were unsuccessful were punished either through shooting or hanging in this.
But while the inmates were living in squalor, the gestapo lived in these quarters.
They even had their own pool.
The trip to Terezin left me with a heavy heart. The succeeding trip to the Ghetto museum where it showed the artwork of the children in the camp was even more heartbreaking.
Our next stop for this trip was Litoměřice.
Litoměřice is a very beautiful city. It used to be called the “Garden of Bohemia” during the 17th century due to its fertile landscape. Presently, the gothic and baroque structures surrounding the city are enough to enchant the adventurous tourist.
But for us Filipinos, the significance of this city has historical origins. This is the city where Jose Rizal, our national hero, spent some time to write his novels, and also formed a very close friendship with Ferdinand Blumentritt, a Czech national. Needless to say, it was our first documented contact with Czechs.
When we got there, the goal was to find the Rizal bust, which was built in commemoration of the friendship between Rizal and Blumetritt.
But in the process of looking for the Rizal bust, I was momentarily captivated with this.
Despite the long walk and the sultry sunny weather, the trip was very worthwhile. It is one of the places I can definitely recommend on your visit to the Czech Republic.
More information about the city can be found here.