As far as concentration camps go, Terezín (often known as Theresienstadt) in the former Czechoslovakia was remarkably elegant. At least it was at first, this little town where 4,000 people lived in gorgeous mansions or grand terraces painted in jaunty pinks and yellows. As more people poured in, the conditions behind those fine edifices grew squalid. At first, Jews from nearby Prague were sent there by the Nazis, to "clean them out" of the newly conquered city. Then others arrived, exiled from Denmark, Slovakia and Hungary as Hitler’s empire expanded and Jews were forced out of occupied territories. Rows of bunk beds were crammed into every room. More people squeezed into the lofts or lived in the basements with scant room to lie down. The water supply often petered out, food was scarce and each toilet served dozens of people. By the time the population of this country town hit 58,000, each person had just more than a square metre of living space.

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.