A tale of two camps: contrasting approaches to interpretation and commemoration in the sites at Terezin and Lety, Czech Republic

J. John Lennon, Hugh Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Concentration camps have left deep scars on the landscape of Europe. They are the physical testaments to the Nazi ideals of racial superiority, and their approach to annihilating the Jewish Race. Despite the negative connotations associated with the camps, several have become major tourist ‘attractions’. It is suggested that approximately six million visitors each year visit six of the major museums and former camps connected with the Holocaust. At many of the sites there is, however, little or no interpretation. In this respect, this paper discusses and contrasts the developed site at Terezin and the largely ignored site at Lety, both located in the Czech Republic. Terezin's importance is related to its notorious history as a concentration camp which incarcerated Jews, following the Nazi occupation of the Czech lands. Terezin is, however, now a significant tourist and visitor attraction receiving more than 250,000 visitors per year. In contrast, the camp at Lety was intended for the internment of ‘anti-social’ Roma from Bohemia, and around 1,300 prisoners passed through it. Minimal interpretation exists at this site today. It is underdeveloped, shows limited investment and its site and buildings have been covered and replaced with a large agricultural plant. This paper will suggest that there are a number of reasons for the varying levels of development at these sites beyond the obvious difference related to whether or not the original buildings are extant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-25
Number of pages11
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004



  • Roma
  • gypsy
  • Holocaust
  • concentration camps
  • Terezin

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