Beit Terezin Museum or Beit Theresienstadt (German: Haus Theresienstadt) is a research and educational institution that opened in 1975 in Kibbutz Givat Haim (Ihud), a museum and a place of remembrance of the victims of Nazi Germany persecution at the Theresienstadt concentration camp and dedicated to the history of the ghetto.
On display are documents, artefacts, testimonies and art made by prisoners. There is also an archive holding an index of the 162,000 Jews from the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark and other European countries, who were imprisoned in Theresienstadt.
One motivation for setting up Beit Terezin was that the communist government of Czechoslovakia avoided commemorating the Holocaust. Therefore the Theresienstadt Small Fortress became a national memorial for the victims of fascism, but neither here nor on the commemorative plaque in the city were the murdered Jews explicitly mentioned. The Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, which served as the national memorial site for the murdered Jews of Czechoslovakia from 1960 to 1968, had not been open since the Prague Spring of 1968.
Beit Theresienstadt was established by “Theresienstadt Martyrs Remembrance Association”, a non-profit organization that was founded by the survivors of Ghetto Theresienstadt (Terezin, Czech Republic) in Kibutz Giv’at Haim Ihud, Emek Hefer. Givat Chaim Ichud was not incidental, but because many of the kibbutz members are the ghetto survivors
The foundation stone was laid in 1969 and the buildings were constructed with the support of Zionist youth organisations. Beit Terezin was opened at the beginning of May 1975 on the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Theresienstadt concentration camp by the Red Army.
The twelve-sided rotunda
The central element is the twelve-sided rotunda made of reddish-brown bricks, whose ground plan and material are intended to remind us of the Theresienstadt fortress, which originally served as a memorial hall and place of remembrance. Today it is the main room of the Beit Theresienstadt Museum and the core of Beit Terezin with its permanent exhibition.[
Theresienstadt (Czech: Terezín) was a hybrid concentration camp and ghetto established by the SS during World War II in the fortress town Terezín, located in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (a German-occupied region of Czechoslovakia). Theresienstadt served two main purposes: it was simultaneously a waystation to the extermination camps, and a “retirement settlement” for elderly and prominent Jews to mislead their communities about the Final Solution. Its conditions were deliberately engineered to hasten the death of its prisoners, and the ghetto also served a propaganda role.