Like the entire fortified town, the Small Fortress in Terezín was built at the end of the 18th century. Terezín originated as a defence against the Prussian forces during the Prussian-Austrian War. Following their occupation of Czechoslovakia the Nazis soon noticed the suitability of the Small Fortress and indeed the whole of Terezín for their inhuman plans.
The Small Fortress functioned as a prison under the Austro-Hungarian regime; incidentally, Gavrilo Princip, who sparked WWI by assassinating the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, was imprisoned there until his death. Historians say that conditions in the jail were quite harsh. However, that was nothing compared to what occurred there in the 1940s. The Gestapo set up a police prison there for patriots and members of resistance organisations from the Czech lands and elsewhere. For most of them it was a way station from which they were transported to court or to concentration and death camps. Today the Small Fortress is part of the Terezín Memorial.