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The Small Fortress

The Small Fortress, about 1 kilometer far away eastern direction from the town Terezin, was buit at the same time as the Main fortress. Its role was to protect the whole inundation system of the Terezin´s for­tification complex and also to control an important waterway – the river Labe flowing nearby. The inner area of the Small Fortress served as a gunpowder storage, soldiers and officers quarters, and from the very beginning also as a prison with a penitentiary for military delinquents. It soon began to be used as the prison for political opponents of the Hapsburg monarchy. The most famous prisoner of this period was Gavrilo Princip, convicted for the assassination of the heir to the throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand d´Este in Sarajevo in 1914 to twenty years in prison. After two years in the fortification cells he was taken to the military hospital in Terezin because of serious health problems, where he died in 1918. His remains are buried in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Small Fortress remained a military prison and a penitentiary even after the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918. During the German occupation, the Small Fortress became a dreaded police prison for Gestapo in June 1940. By May 1945, 32 000 men and women passed through the police prison mainly for political reasons. Number of prominent personalities, such as members of Obrana naroda (Defense of the Nation), Politicke ustredi (the Political Headquarters), Communist Party, etc. were imprisoned here. However, prisoners of the Small Fortress were also people sentenced for individual expressions of resistance against the occupiers, such as boycott of forced labor, listening to banned foreign radio etc. The police prison was kind of a pass through facility from which about 33 % prisoners were sent to concentration camps and 22% were sent to trials. The high sickness rate of prisoners was caused by a terror of the supervisory staff and by really bad living conditions. Approximately 2,600 people died in the Small Fortress between the years 1940 – 1945, of which about 300 people died directly at the local execution grounds. After liberation by the Red Army in May 1945, a small part of the Small Fortress served as a detention camp for Germans determined for an expulsion from Czechoslovakia until the beginning of 1948. About 3,700 people passed through this camp, of which approximately 600 died. In May 1947 the Small Fortress was converted into a National Suffering Memorial by the Czechoslovakian government and later renamed to Terezin Memorial. Detailed information about the history of the object can be found in the Museum of the Small Fortress.

Malá pevnost

Národní hřbitov

Cesta k Malé pevnosti před r. 1918

Useful information


GPS position

N 50° 30.786', E 14° 9.633'



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Věra Gruntorádová