Topic 4: Deportations


In response to this new "resettlement" policy, the first death camps were designed. Chelmno was the site of the first gassing of Jews, which occurred on December 8, 1941. (Timeline) The Nazi war machine had limited resources, including slave labor, much of it Jewish. Even so, the Nazis made a decision that the annihilation of the Jews of Europe was a more important achievement than the value of their labor. Similarly, the Nazis made a decision not to let the need for transport for the war effort interfere with the need for trucks and rail cars to carry the Jews to concentration camps and death centers. It was Adolf Eichmann who masterminded the logistics of the deportation of Jews.

Deportation was the first step in the "Final Solution." Typically, the Jews were informed that they were going to be resettled for work. Each was told to take some clothing, blankets, shoes, eating utensils (but no knife), a bowl, and some money. Rounded up, they were herded into trucks for the trip to the rail station, or were forced to walk. The rail cars were often strategically located at a distance from the passenger terminals, so that this scene would not arouse the ire of the local populace. Many who did see chose not to protest.

The deportees were forced into rail cars, most of which were windowless, unheated cattle cars, and squeezed in so tightly that most were forced to stand. The doors were then sealed shut from the outside. Neither drinking water nor sanitary facilities were available. Each car held more than 120 people, and many froze or suffocated to death or succumbed to disease during the trip to the camps. The dead were not removed from the cars during the journey because the Nazi bureaucracy insisted that each body entering a car be accounted for at the destination.

The First Expulsions within the Framework of the "Final Solution"

On 10 October 1941 a meeting held in Prague was attended, amongst others, by Heydrich (to whom in the meantime had been entrusted - in addition to his tasks as head of the Head Office for Reich Security - effective rule in the Protectorate) and Adolf Eichmann. A memorandum of this meeting has been preserved.

At this meeting, a program was set for future action for the solution of the Jewish question in the Protectorate and the territory of the Old Reich, but measures already taken were also mentioned. The main points may be summed up thus:

     (a) The date for the beginning of evacuation had already been set earlier for 15 October 1941.

     (b) Reference was made to difficulties with the authorities in Lodz (the Lodz Ghetto was intended to be one of the main places of reception for deported Jews).

     (c) 50,000 Jews were to be sent to Minsk and Riga.

     (d) "SS Brigadefuehrer Nebe and Rasch could also receive Jews in camps for Communist detainees within the operations areas. This had already begun, as was reported by SS Sturmbannfuehrer Eichmann."

In connection with paragraphs (c) and (d), we shall see presently that Riga was the center for Operations Unit A, commanded by Stahlecker, that Nebe commanded Operations Unit B (with Minsk as its centre), and that Rasch was commander of Operations Unit C.

     (e) Terezin (Theresienstadt) was decided upon as the place for the concentration of Jews from the Protectorate, and the memorandum includes many details in connection with the carrying out of the concentration and the administration of the ghetto to be set up there.

     (f) Gypsies were to be transferred to Riga.

At the end of the memorandum, there is a remark:

     "Since the Fuehrer's wish is that, by the end of the year, the Jews be removed, to the extent possible, from the German area, all pending problems are to be solved immediately. Even the problem of transportation is not to present difficulties in this matter."

First, Jews were expelled to Lodz. On 30 September 1941, Brunner, one of Eichmann's assistants, who at the time was in charge of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna, informs Dr. Loewenherz that:

     "because of the need of the Aryan population to change their residences, due to air raids, some of the Jews from the Old Reich, from the Protectorate and Vienna must be removed to Lodz."

A quota of 5,000 people was fixed. They were permitted to take with them luggage up to 50 kilogrammes and 100 Reichsmark only. Thus, from 15 October up to 2 November 1941, 5,002 people were deported.

In a series of documents, it can be shown that as from 15 October 1941, 20,000 Jews, including 5,000 Jews of Vienna, were deported from the Reich to the Lodz Ghetto, and also 5,000 Gypsies. As far as we know, these were the first expulsions from Reich territory after Hitler issued the order for the Final Solution.

The Loewenherz Report also describes the deportations to Riga and Minsk. Dr. Loewenherz received information on this from Brunner on 27.10.41, and on 25.11.41, 28.11.41 and 2.12.41, 3,000 Jews were deported from Vienna to Riga and Minsk.

The documents submitted also illustrate the method of carrying out these expulsions to Riga and Minsk, as follows:

(a) on 24 October 1941, the head of the Order Police (Ordnungspolizei) in Berlin (General Daluege) writes to the commanders of the Order Police of the Reich in Vienna, Prague and Riga that, during the period 1 November 1941 - 4 December 1941, the Security Police will expel 50,000 Jews from the Old Reich, from Austria and the Protectorate, to the East to the vicinity of Riga and Minsk, and continues:  "According to what has been agreed with the head of the SD and the Security Police, the Order Police undertakes to guard the deportation trains by posting an escort...details should be worked out in co-operation with the local SD authorities. The duty of the escorting guards ends with the handing over of the transports in due order at the places of destination to the competent authorities of the Security Police ..."

(b) On 11 November 1941, the Nuremberg Gestapo office sends to its affiliated authorities organizational instructions for the evacuation of Jews on 29 November 1941. The instructions were given in reliance upon a decree by the Reichsfuehrer-SS (Himmler) dated 31 October 1941, bearing the reference number of Eichmann's Section IVB4, and therefore issued from this Section.

The directives were styled with the accuracy of a military operation order and allocated the various duties - who would receive the Jews arriving from other places; who would transfer them to the place of concentration; who would guard them until they were loaded on to the freight cars of the train. Nor was the robbery of the evacuees' property forgotten. This, too, would be carried out according to plan. On a certain date, Jews were to be informed that, retroactively as from 15 October 1941, all their property was considered as confiscated by the State Police, and that they were to draw up a full list of their property for this purpose. On the day of expulsion, their apartments were to be closed and sealed by the police. A search was to be carried out upon the persons of the evacuees, and every object of value was to be taken away, except a watch and a wedding ring.

(c) in three letters dated 27.11.41, 3.12.41 and 11.12.41 sent from Eichmannís office and signed by Heydrich and Mueller. They contained instructions to prevent the irregular transfer of property by Jewish evacuees.

(d) in a document dated December 1941, the local authority in Duesseldorf informs Eichmann's section - for the attention of Eichmann or his deputy, and the commander of the SD and Security Police, Operations Unit A in Riga, that on 11 December 1941 a train with 1,007 Jews left the Duesseldorf railway station for Riga. Handwritten notes are attached to this document which cannot fail to stir the heart of the reader. They show the composition of the transport, according to age, sex and profession. 1,007 personal tragedies found their expression in lines - one line per man, woman or child, four straight lines cut by one slanting line, until the full number is reached.

The document from December 1941, in which Police Captain Salitter, the commander of this transport, reports on the journey, up to the handing over of the unheated train at its destination in a temperature of 12 degrees below zero on the night of 13-14 December. According to the report, there were in Riga previously 35,000 Jews who had been transferred to the ghetto, and he continues:

     "Now, from what I have heard, there are in this ghetto only 2,500 male Jews exploited as manpower. The other Jews were directed to some other suitable occupation (Verwendung) or shot to death by the Latvians."

During the period of these expulsions, Regulation No. 11 was published under the Reich Nationality Law, dated 25 November 1941.  According to para. 1 of this regulation:

     "a Jew whose regular place of sojourn is abroad cannot be a German national. The regular place of sojourn is abroad when a Jew stays abroad under circumstances which show that he is not staying there only temporarily."

Para. 3 provided that the property of a Jew, who lost his German nationality according to these regulations, is confiscated for the benefit of the Reich. The sting in these regulations - "the legal trick," lies in the fact that this "legal" arrangement was used also against Jews expelled from the Reich territory, as if they moved their places of residence of their own will to the place to which they were expelled.

January 1942: Wannsee Conference

The Wannsee Conference, often described as the central event in the history of the Final Solution which, on the one hand, sums up the events of the period from the beginning of the German-Russian war, and, on the other, serves as a starting point for all the events which follow. (Protocols) On 29 November 1941, identically phrased, but personally styled invitations went out from Eichmann's office, signed by Heydrich, to a number of persons of the rank of State Secretary, or holding similar ranks. Two such invitations were submitted, one to Under-Secretary of State Luther at the Foreign Ministry, and a second to Gruppenfuehrer Hoffman at the Head Office for Race and Resettlement. In this invitation, Heydrich refers to Goering's letter of appointment, dated 31 July 1941, and attaches a photocopy of this letter, and he continues:

     "Considering the extraordinary significance which is to be attached to these questions, and in order to reach an understanding amongst all
     central authorities concerned with the operations yet to be carried out in connection with this final solution, I propose to bring up these
     problems as a subject for joint discussion, especially because of the fact that, since 15 October 1941, Jews are being evacuated in regular
     transports from the Reich territory, including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia - to the East."

The date set for the conference is 9 December 1941, and the letter concludes with a list of the other persons to whom an identical invitation was
extended.  Special invitations were sent to Buehler (State Secretary in the Generalgouvernement area) and to Krueger (Senior Commanding Officer of the SS and
the Police in the Generalgouvernement). Heydrich then instructed Eichmann to invite them, too, after learning from a conversation with Krueger that "from measures taken in the area of the Generalgouvernement lately in this sphere, it can be seen with increasing clarity that the Governor General (Frank) aspires to take upon himself the entire handling of the Jewish Question."  At the last moment, the conference was deferred - perhaps because of the outbreak of war with the United States - and on 8 January 1942 new invitations were sent for 20 January 1942.

At this conference, State Secretaries and S.S. officers and senior officials of the same rank, or near that rank, participated, representing Reich and
Party offices, the official in charge of the Four-Year-Plan (Goering's office), the Foreign Ministry and of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice,
the Ministry for the Eastern Occupied Territories and the Governor General in Poland. Offices controlled by Himmler were represented by a
representative of the Race and Resettlement Head Office, and by Heydrich, Mueller, and Eichmann, as well as by the Commander of the SD and the
Security Police in the Government General, and by the Commander of the Security Police and the SD of the "Reich Ostland Administration" (the latter
five, naturally, were RSHA men). Only one amongst all those present (the representative of the "Ostland" Security Police Command) was of a rank lower
than that of Eichmann, and all the others were of higher rank (see the conference minutes, exhibit T/185).

Heydrich opened the conference with a speech, reviewing achievements in the field of emigration. Summing up, he says:

     "In the meantime, emigration was banned (by Himmler), because of the dangers of emigration in wartime, and taking into consideration the
     possibilities in the East."

And he continues:

     "Instead of emigration, evacuation of the Jews to the East now comes as an additional possible solution, after prior appropriate approval by
     the Fuehrer. But these operations are to be regarded only as passing possibilities. The results of these practical experiences are already
     being collected, since they are invaluable in view of the approaching Final Solution of the Jewish Question."

A statistical survey follows, in which the number of Jews throughout Europe (also including countries not under German rule) is estimated at eleven
million; and now come the decisive sentences:

     "Under suitable direction, the Jews should be brought to the East in the course of the Final Solution, for use as labour. In large labour gangs,
     with the sexes separated, the Jews capable of work will be transported to those areas and set to road-building, in the course of which,
     without doubt, a large part of them (ein Grossteil) will fall away through natural losses. The surviving remnant, surely those with the greatest
     powers of resistance, will be given special treatment, since, if freed, they would constitute the germinal cell for the re-creation of Jewry, they
     being the result of natural selection, as history has proved" (supra, pp. 7-8).

The intention behind this convoluted language is clear and simple: The Jews of Europe were to be expelled to the East and put to hard labour; the weak
would die from overwork and the strong would be killed.

In connection with questions of implementation, Heydrich gives the following information, inter alia:

     (a) Europe will be combed from the West to the East, giving priority to the Reich and the Protectorate.

     (b) A "ghetto for the aged" will be set up in Terezin, which will also take Jewish war invalids and those who hold medals for distinguished

     (c) "The 'Central Authority' (Federfuehrung) for the handling of the Final Solution of the Jewish Question will be in the hands of the
     Reichsfuehrer-SS and the head of the German Police (the head of the Security Police and the SD - viz. Heydrich himself), without regard to
     geographical borders" (supra, p. 3).

     (d) "In regard to the handling of the Final Solution in the territories occupied by us and those under our influence, it has been suggested that
     the officials dealing with the matter at the Foreign Ministry contact the authorized Referent of the Security Police and the SD" (viz., Eichmann).

Not one of those present expressed any reservations to what Heydrich said. On the contrary, there was a complete consensus of opinion. The
contribution to the discussion made by Buehler, representing the Generalgouvernement, is worthy of mention:

     "He (Buehler) stated that the Generalgouvernement would be glad if the Final Solution of this Question were launched in the area of the
     Generalgouvernement, since transport was not a serious problem there and labour considerations were not likely to disturb the smooth
     running of such an action. Jews must be removed from the Generalgouvernement area as quickly as possible, since it was here that the Jew
     represented a blatant danger as the carrier of diseases, and he was always upsetting the country's economy by continuous profiteering.
     Moreover, out of the two and a half million Jews to be handled, most were unfit for work" (supra, p. 14).

And this is how the discussion ended:

     "In conclusion, various types of possible solutions were discussed, and the attitude taken (by representatives of the Ministry for the Eastern
     Occupied Territories and of the Generalgouvernement) was that they themselves would immediately make certain preparations to bring
     about the Final Solution in the areas concerned. At the same time, the creation of unrest amongst the population should be avoided."

When Eichmann was asked in cross-examination in Israel during his trial what was the meaning of the words "various types of possible solutions" discussed
towards the end of the conference, he answered simply: "Various ways of killing were discussed" (Session 106, Vol. IV, p. xxxx11).

According to Eichmann, his role at the Wannsee Conference was threefold: (a) sending invitations in accordance with particulars given to him by
Heydrich; (b) supplying Heydrich with material for the preparation of his opening speech; (c) taking the minutes.

When the conference was over, Heydrich, Mueller and Eichmann remained behind for a chat "by the fireside." When asked why he, too, was asked to
join in this intimate gathering, he replied that Heydrich gave him instructions in connection with the preparation of the minutes.

But the Wannsee Conference carried a more important meaning also for Eichmann personally, for it was there that his position as the authorized
Referent of the RSHA in matters connected with the Final Solution of the Jewish Question was confirmed in the presence of representatives of all the
other authorities. This much is also evident from a letter sent by Heydrich to Luther at the end of February 1942. He noted there with satisfaction
that the basic policy for the practical implementation of the Final Solution had now been laid down with the full consent of all the authorities concerned,
and he invites Luther to send his representative to a discussion on details of implementation. He requested that Luther's representative contact "my
authorized Referent, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann" for this purpose.

    July 14, 1942: Systematic Deportations from the Netherlands Begin

Jews in the Netherlands have been systematically concentrated in the Westerbork transit camp. The majority of Jews sent to Westerbork remain there only a short time before their deportation to killing centers in the east. Beginning on July 14, 1942, the Germans deport more than 100,000 Jews from Westerbork: about 60,000 to Auschwitz, over 34,000 to Sobibor, almost 5,000 to the Theresienstadt ghetto, and nearly 4,000 to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The overwhelming majority of those deported are killed upon arrival in the camps.

   July 22, 1942: Warsaw Jews Deported to Treblinka Killing Center

Between July 22 and mid-September 1942, over 300,000 people are deported from the Warsaw ghetto: more than 250,000 of them are deported to the Treblinka killing center. Deportees are forced to the Umschlagplatz (deportation point), which is connected to the Warsaw-Malkinia rail line. They are crowded into freight cars and most are deported, via Malkinia, to Treblinka. The overwhelming majority of the deportees are killed upon arrival in Treblinka. In September, at the end of the 1942 mass deportation, only about 55,000 Jews remain in the ghetto.

    May 15, 1944: Systematic Deportations of Jews from Hungary Begin

German forces occupy Hungary on March 19, 1944. In April 1944, all Jews except those in Budapest are ordered into ghettos. Systematic deportations from the ghettos in Hungary to Auschwitz-Birkenau begin the next month, in May 1944. In less than three months, nearly 440,000 Jews are deported from Hungary in more than 140 trains. The overwhelming majority are killed upon arrival in Auschwitz.

The Implementation of the Final Solution after the Wannsee Conference

We shall now review the implementation of the Final Solution in various countries and begin with those countries in which Jews were rounded-up, brought to assembly points, and expelled to places of mass extermination in the East. We shall go from country to country and note briefly the background of events, emphasizing certain facts, the description of which is necessary to lay the ground for the evaluation of Eichmann's responsibility, which will be made later on. We wish to emphasize at this point again that we are neither require or able to take upon ourselves the task of the historian, and those matters of which we will mention will be made, out of the whole complicated web of events of the years of the Holocaust, will necessarily be fragmentary, and they are not cited here for the purpose of exhaustive historical description.

Again, we begin with Germany itself, because the actions there served as the prototype for what happened in the other countries from which Jews were expelled to the East, both in regard to the anti-Jewish legislation which preceded the expulsion, and also in regard to the carrying out of the expulsions themselves, naturally with changes necessitated by special conditions in each country.

Of the later anti-Jewish legislation in Germany, mention should be made of:

(a) The order for the marking of Jewish apartments, issued in March 1942, in order to complete the isolation of the Jews from the rest of the population. As with other anti-Jewish decrees of this kind, this order was not published in the usual way, but handed to the Jewish organizations, which had to publish it in a bulletin intended for Jews only.

(b) A Jew was no longer considered fit to keep domestic animals (dogs, cats and birds), according to special instructions published on 15 May 1942.

(c) Regulation No. 11 "legalized" the robbery of Jewish property only if the expulsion was to a place beyond the Reich borders. When the expulsion was to a place within the Reich - for instance Terezin, or in the case of a Jew who had died before crossing the borders of the Reich - other ways were found, so that everything should proceed in a proper and orderly manner. One of the ways is described in detail in a circular issued by Eichmann's section, signed by Suhr, the Section's expert in such matters. The law dated 14 July 1933 was invoked, enabling the confiscation of property devoted to aspirations "hostile to the nation and to the state," as defined by the Minister of the Interior. The Minister of the Interior published an overall definition on 2 March 1942, which stated that the aspirations of all deported Jews were hostile to the nation and to the state.

(d) On 18 September 1942, a conversation took place between Himmler and Thierack, the then Minister of Justice, drastically limiting legal proceedings and the ordinary processes of punishment. It was agreed between them, inter alia, that "unsocial elements would be excluded from the operation of penal procedure and handed over to the Reichsfuehrer-SS for extermination through labour." Those mentioned included all those under protective custody - Jews, Gypsies, Russians and Ukrainians.

In other words, a Jew, a Gypsy, a Russian or a Ukrainian who was sentenced to imprisonment for any offence, would be handed over to the SS for "extermination through labour." The open use of this term should be noted, in contrast to the method customary in the Nazi regime, of  euphemistically distorting the usual meaning of words. Thierack again returns to this matter in his letter to Bormann, dated 13 October 1942. These discussions culminated in Regulation No. 13 under the Law of Nationality, published on 1 July 1943, according to which only the police was competent to deal with crimes committed by Jews. This completed, also according to the letter of the "law," the process of putting the Jew outside the pale of the law, which had been a matter of practice long before this.

How expulsions from Reich territory were carried out during the period after the Wannsee Conference can be illustrated by a Duesseldorf Gestapo file. The circular dated 31 January 1942, issued by Eichmann's office and bearing his signature. The circular includes instructions defining certain categories of Jews, such as foreign nationals, which are not to be included in the deportations. For the time being, the purpose of the circular is to fix the number of people to be expelled. According to the circular, the Duesseldorf office collects the necessary data and transfers them to the Accused's office on 9 February 1942. Then within another document was included "instructions for the technical implementation of the evacuation of Jews to the Generalgouvernement (Trawniki near Lublin)." The part played by the local Gestapo authorities was defined thus:

"The rounding-up and arrest of individuals to be evacuated, the transport of these Jews in special trains of the Reich Railways according to a timetable laid down by the Head Office for Reich Security, in co- ordination with the Ministry of Transport, and also the transfer of property."

Each train will carry one thousand Jews. Each person is permitted to take with him fifty Reichsmark, one suitcase, a complete outfit (good shoes), bedding, food for two weeks, eating utensils (a plate or a pot) and a spoon. The document continues:

"The Commander of the Security Police and the SD in Cracow is responsible for the reception of the evacuees in the Generalgouvernement, and for this purpose he will avail himself of the units of the Commander of the SS and the Police in the Lublin district...the departure of a  deportation train is to be communicated immediately by means of the attached the Head Office for Reich Security, Section IVB4, (b) to the Commander of the Security Police and the SD, SS Oberfuehrer Dr. Schoengarth, in Cracow, (c) to the Commander of the SS and the Police in the Lublin district, SS Brigadefuehrer Globocnik.

The arrival and orderly reception of transports at the place of destination, will be reported by the receiving authority (Commander of the SS and the Police in the Lublin district) to the Head Office for Reich Security, Section IVB4, by means of the attached form... On the completion of the operation, a general report containing numerical data (division according to sex, age and profession) is to be supplied to the Head Office for Reich Security by both the forwarding authority and the receiving authority."

        Special Account "W"

Special Account "W" was the name of a cunning device invented by Eichmannís section for the transfer of money from evacuated Jews to its own direct disposal. Perhaps this device was rather aimed against other Reich authorities which might benefit from Jewish property than against the Jews themselves, for they lost their property in any case.

The procedure used was an instruction to the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, to ensure that each evacuated Jew "contribute" not less than twenty-five per cent of his cash to the Special Account "W." Eichmann in his post-war testimony explained that the account was used to finance the expulsion of the Jewish "contributors" themselves. Even if this explanation is correct, the balance left over after the expulsion was completed in any case finally passed into the hands of the RSHA, all the accounts of the Association of Jews having been blocked in favour of the RSHA from the outset.

This is the directive transmitted by Eichmann's office to the District Gestapo at Duesseldorf, which in turn writes on 17 March 1942 to its local branches, conveying to them instructions requiring action by them. On 10 April 1942, a telephone message is received from the Accused's office stating that a transport is likely to leave Duesseldorf on 22 April 1942. Accordingly, the action is planned in Dusseldorf: The timetable, the men to handle the matter and their duties are fixed along the lines of the instructions issued at Nuremberg, as mentioned above. The Gestapo man at Duesseldorf is charged with additional tasks before the transport leaves:

He must see to it that two execution officers are present to hand the confiscation orders to the Jews; he has to meet with the local railway authorities to co-ordinate sub-transports from various points; he also has to overcome difficulties made by the local labour authority which is reluctant to release Jews employed in enterprises important to the war effort. In this connection, a telephone conversation takes place with Novak, one of Eichmannís assistants.

Three Jews escaped and another three committed suicide. And thus the transport rolled eastwards.

The International Military Tribunal: Deportation for Slave Labor and for Other Purposes of the Civilian Populations of and in Occupied Territories

During the whole period of the occupation by Germany of both the Western and the Eastern Countries it was the policy of the German Government and of the German High Command to deport able-bodied citizens from such occupied countries to Germany and to other occupied countries for the purpose of slave labor upon defense works, in factories, and in other tasks connected with the German war effort.

In pursuance of such policy there were mass deportations from all the Western and Eastern Countries for such purposes during the whole period of the occupation.

Such deportations were contrary to international conventions, in particular to Article 46 of the Hague Regulations, 1907, the laws and customs of war, the general principles of criminal law as derived from the criminal laws of all civilized nations, the internal penal laws of the countries in which such crimes were committed, and to Article 6 (b) of the Charter.

Particulars of deportations, by way of example only and without prejudice to the production of evidence of other cases are as follows:

1. From the Western Countries:
From France the following deportations of persons for political and racial reasons took place - each of which consisted of from 1,500 to 2,500 deportees:

1940        3 Transports
1941        14 Transports
1942        104 Transports
1943        257 Transports
1944        326 Transports
Such deportees were subjected to the most barbarous conditions of overcrowding; they were provided with wholly insufficient clothing and were given little or no food for several days.

The conditions of transport were such that many deportees died in the course of the journey, for example: In one of the wagons of the train which left Compiègne for Buchenwald on 17 September 1943, 80 men died out of 130; on 4 June 1944, 484 bodies were taken out of the train at Sarrebourg. In a train which left Compiègne on 2 July 1944 for Dachau, more than 600 dead were found on arrival, i.e. one-third of the total number. In a train which left Compiègne on 16 January 1944 for Buchenwald, more than 100 men were confined in each wagon, the dead and the wounded being heaped in the last wagon during the journey. In April 1945, of 12,000 internees evacuated from Buchenwald 4,000 only were still alive when the marching column arrived near Regensburg.

During the German occupation of Denmark, 5,200 Danish subjects were deported to Germany and there imprisoned in concentration camps and other places. In 1942 and thereafter 6,000 nationals of Luxembourg were deported from their country under deplorable conditions as a result of which many of them perished.

From Belgium between 1940 and 1944 at least 190,000 civilians were deported to Germany and used as slave labor. Such deportees were subjected to ill-treatment and many of them were compelled to work in armament factories.

From Holland, between 1940 and 1944, nearly half a million civilians were deported to Germany and to other occupied countries.

2. From the Eastern Countries:
The German occupying authorities deported from the Soviet Union to slavery about 4,978,000 Soviet citizens. Seven hundred and fifty thousand Czechoslovakian citizens were taken away from Czechoslovakia and forced to work in the German war machine in the interior of Germany. On 4 June 1941, in the city of Zagreb (Yugoslavia) a meeting of German representatives was called with the Councillor Von Troll presiding. The purpose was to set up the means of deporting the Yugoslav population from Slovenia. Tens of thousands of persons were deported in carrying out this plan.

Adolph Eichmann

Transporting enough Jews to feed the death camps was a major logistical undertaking. The Nazi officer in charge of this duty was Adolph Eichmann, who traveled from country to country that was under German occupation to systematically plan the deportation of the local Jewish population to the death camps.

Eichmann received various levels of cooperation from each of the various occupied governments. But in countries such as Holland, Belgium, Albania, Denmark, Finland and Bulgaria, some Jews were saved from their deaths by the action of the sympathetic populace and government officials. Denmark's government and populace were exemplary in their heroism in saving Jews. In other countries such as Poland, Greece, France, and Yugoslavia, the deportation of Jews to the death camps was facilitated by the cooperation of the government.


SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Karl Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962) was head of the Department for Jewish Affairs in the Gestapo from 1941 to 1945 and was chief of operations in the deportation of three million Jews to extermination camps. He joined the Austrian Nazi party in 1932 and later became a member of the SS. In 1934 he served as an SS corporal in the Dachau concentration camp. That same year he joined the SD and attracted the attention of Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich. By 1935 Eichmann was already working in the Jewish section, where he was investigating possible "solutions to the Jewish question." He was even sent to Palestine to discuss the viability of large scale immigration to the Middle East with Arab leaders. British authorities, however, forced him to leave. With the takeover of Austria in March 1938, Eichmann was sent to Vienna to promote Jewish emigration. He set up the Zentralstelle fuer juedische Auswanderung [Center for Jewish Emigration], which was so successful that similar offices were soon established in Prague and Berlin. In 1939 Eichmann returned to Berlin, where he assumed the directorship of Section IV B4, Jewish affairs and evacuation, in the Reich Security Main Office. It was Eichmann who organized the Wannsee Conference of January 1942, which focused on issues related to the "final solution of the Jewish question." From this point Eichmann assumed the leading role in the deportation of European Jews to the death camps, as well as in the plunder of their property. At the end of the war, Eichmann was arrested and confined to an American internment camp, but he was able to escape unrecognized. He fled to Argentina and lived under the assumed name of Ricardo Klement for ten years until Israeli Mossad agents abducted him in 1960 to stand trial in Jerusalem. The controversial and highly publicized trial lasted from April 2 to August 14, 1961. Eichmann was sentenced to death and executed in Ramleh Prison on May 31, 1962. (Text from USHMM Photo Archives)

Deportation of Jews from Austria to Nisko (Lublin), October 1939*

Further to the Note on the conversation between SS Hauptsturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, Dr. Ebner of the Gestapo and the Special Representative of Reichskommissar Dr. Becker, it is stated that the Resettlement operation to Poland will begin at 22.00 hours on October 20, 939, with the first transport of 1,000 Jews fit for work, from the Aspang Rail Station in Vienna.

The Jews were supplied by the Jewish Community with tools for the erection of a barracks village at Nisko, where transports of Jews fit for work have already been sent from Maehrisch-Ostrau. The Jews on the transport will also be given foodstuffs for 4 weeks.

Further transports will leave regularly on Tuesdays and Fridays of each week with 1,000 Jews. The second and third transports will consist of Jews and Jewesses at present under arrest in Vienna, whose departure date has been set by the Gestapo. From the fourth transport on, complete families will already be sent.

When the barracks village at Nisko has been completed, the Jews who arrived with the first transport will in continuous progression be distributed to the interior to the formerly Jewish villages in that area.

The composition of the transports is arranged by the Jewish Community of Vienna (as long as this remains possible) and a Jewish transport management is responsible for the transports. In addition, each transport is accompanied by 25 police (Schupo) officers under the command of a police captain, who must prevent all danger of escape by use of arms.

[Dokumentationsarchiv des oesterreichischen Widerstandes (Document Archives of the Austrian Resistance), 2536. * Report by the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, October 18, 1939.]

Instructions for the Deportation of the Jews From the Palatinate (Pfalz), October 1940

Notes for the Responsible Officials

1. Only full Jews will be deported. Mischlinge, partners in mixed marriages and foreign Jews, as long as they are not citizens of enemy nations or of areas occupied by us, will be excluded from the Aktion. Stateless Jews will, on principle, be detained. Every Jew is considered fit to be moved; the only exceptions are Jews who are actually bedridden.

2. In order to assemble the Jews collection points have been established in... The transport of those who are being held will be by buses. Every bus will be accompanied by a Crime Police official as transport leader. He will have with him, according to need, regular police, Gendarmerie or Crime Police. The transport leader is responsible for the assembly, transport and supervision of his group until the departure of the train from the collection point.

3. Every transport leader will receive a list at the concentration point, noting the bus which he has been allocated, the police officials who will work with him, and the names and addresses of the persons to be detained. Where the names of the officials to work with him have not yet been listed they will be inserted later by the transport leader.

4. The transport leader will inform the officials working with him of the names and addresses of the persons to be detained.

5. When the officials appointed for this purpose have received the personal information on the Jews, they will go to the homes of those concerned. They will then convey to them that they have been detained in order to be deported; it is to be pointed out at the same time that they must be ready to move in two hours. Possible queries are to be communicated to the head of the collection point, who will clarify the issue; no delay in the preparations is to be permitted.

6. Those who have been detained should take with them, as far as possible:

    a) A suitcase or parcel with clothing for each Jew; the weight permitted is 50 kg. for each adult, 30 kg per child.
    b) A complete set of clothing.
    c) A woollen blanket for every Jew.
    d) Food for several days.
    e) Utensils for eating and drinking.
    f) Up to RM 100 in cash per person.
    g) Passports, identity cards or other identification papers. These are not to be packed but to be carried by each individual.

7. ...

8. A questionnaire is to be filled in for every head of a family or single Jew, in accordance with the sample provided, and is to be signed by the official in charge.

9. Attention should be paid to the following before the apartment is vacated:

    a) Livestock and other live animals (dogs, cats, cage birds) are to be handed over to the local head official, chairman of the local farmers' association or other suitable person against a receipt.
    b) Perishable foodstuffs are to be placed at the disposal of the NSV [Nazi welfare organization].
    c) Open fires are to be extinguished.
    d) Water and gas supply is to be turned off.
    e) Electrical fuses are to be disconnected.
    f) The keys to the apartment are to be tied together and provided with a tie-on label with the name, city, street and number of the house of the owner.
    g) As far as possible the persons detained are to be searched before their departure for weapons, ammunition, explosives, poison, foreign currency, jewelry, etc.

10. After the apartment has been vacated the entrance to the apartment is to be locked by the official and sealed with the adhesive strip provided for this purpose. The keyhole must be covered by the adhesive strip.

11. After the persons detained have been taken to the bus the official will hand over to the transport leader the objects or valuables, questionnaires and keys, for delivery at the concentration point.

12. After the transport leader has handed over the detainees at the concentration point he will check the list which he received, amend it if required, and mark it as having been dealt with.

13. It is absolutely necessary that the Jews will be dealt with in a proper manner when they are detained. Excesses are in any case to be avoided absolutely.

[P. Sauer, ed., Dokumente ueber die Verfolgung der juedischen Buerger in Baden-Wuerttemberg durch das nationalsozialistische Regime 1933-1945 (Documents on the Persecution of the Jewish Citizens of Baden-Wurttemberg by the National-Socialist Regime1933-1945), II, Stuttgart, 1966, pp. 236-237.]

Holocaust Logistics -- Railroads

The Reich railroad would not carry Jews - or any other "passengers" or "cargo" -- without payment. In the case of Jews and other unwilling boxcar passengers, the SS negotiated a deal by which prisoners were counted and the SS charged tickets at the Excursion Fare, Group Rate, One Way.  Leaving aside the issue of lost labor potential, some scholars am convinced that moving the Jews to the death camps had little or no effect on the German economic war effort. If you look at the book, The Collapse of the German War Economy, p. 201, n. 8, in which it is estimated that 3,000 trains were used to move the Jews to the death camps. Hilberg arrived at the same number. That was just 15% of the total number of trains that the Reichsbahn operated on one day.  The Reichsbahn's (DRB) train orders as well as the SS's instructions to local police concerning loading the trains make clear that 2500 victims were moved per train.  About 3 million people were taken to the death camps by train according to camp records. But this is not the whole story.

Additional trains were necessary to bring materials to the locations chosen for the construction of a camp, and supplies had to be brought to the camps throughout their operational lives both to provide fuel, equipment and materials, and also to support the SS and contractors who operated them. An additional traffic was generated by the movement of Jews possessing special skills among the concentration camps and death camps and between Theresienstadt and the death camps. This traffic was handled by putting the Jews either in special Gefangenenwagen or in locked compartments in passenger cars, both in regular trains. In short, the overall burden on the DRB caused by the killing process was greater than just the number of victims would imply, but still operationally insignificant.

Two operational considerations are also important for assessing the economic significance of the transports. Railways try to find return loads so that car space can be utilized after completion of a shipment. The industrial enterprises at Auschwitz did not generate sufficient freight to use the car space committed to bringing the Jews to them. The result was a waste of car space. Compounding the problem, was that some groups of cars used for the transports, consisting usually of 20 gedeckten Güterwagen (freight cars with roofs), plus a single passenger car for the guards, were often kept together and returned to the embarkation points to be used for subsequent transports. They were thereby removed for long periods from the car pool. This procedure, however, reduced the administrative burden on the offices that prepared the train schedules (Generalbetriebsleitung Ost and the Direktionen [divisions]). The second operational consideration has to do with line capacity. As you probably know, Auschwitz, for example, was chosen as the site of a camp in part because it was on a mainline. That line was the primary logistical artery that supported Army Group South and it successors on the southern third of the German front in the East. Therefore, the transports to Auschwitz had to compete for time on that mainline. Under normal circumstances, the Reichsbahn's scheduling procedures provided for slots that could be used for extras. However, there were occasions, such as in the Spring of 1942, when the DRB denied the SS time on the main line due to the need to satisfy the military's requirements. The number of transports compared to the total number of trains operated on the DRB and Ostbahn at a given time was less important than the number of transports that the SS wanted to run on a particular line at a particular time.

This is where problems arose. The priorities established by the Reichsbahn gave military and armaments traffic priority. Consequently, the transports sat on sidings while the high priority movements passed by. A comparison of the schedules prepared for the transports and the actual duration of trips that we have from reports written by commanders of the guard detachments with the regular freight schedules over the same lines and the average speed for DRB freight trains, shows that the transports moved comparatively slowly. Numerous accounts by survivors also provide evidence of the long waits. Also, if one analyses the equipment assigned to the Jewish transports by the DRB, one notices that older, weaker, less reliable locomotives were allocated to them. This is a clear indication of the low priority of the transports for the Reichsbahn.

To summarize, the Reichsbahn, as van Crefeld, and more recently, Patzold and Schwarz have indicated, had no operating problems effecting the entire system due to the Jewish transports. Local difficulties arose, but were overcome quickly in accordance with the priorities for allocating car space and train movements. As for the calls for sabotage in southeastern Europe, the operations of the Greek (CEH), Serbian (SDZ) and Croatian (HDZ) railways were supervised by the Chef des Transportwesens. Partisan attacks on the rail lines had little operational effect in 1941, with the damage being repaired very quickly. Economic transports were restricted primarily due to lack of double track on the main lines and especially their viaducts. Increased partisan activity combined with inadequate track and bridge capacity lead to serious delays on the Agram-Belgrade and Athens-Saloniki lines beginning in 1942. From the Summer of 1943, many local railroaders stayed away from work in the expectation that their countries would soon be liberated. The Germans took over operations using the Feldeisenbahntruppen.

Eichmann Informs the Jews on Deportations From Austria and on the Theresienstast Ghetto, 1942

[Vienna, June 1, 1942] Memorandum on the visit to the Reich Security Main Office, Reich Ministry of the Interior, Department IV B 4, on Friday, May 29, 1942, at 10:30 A.M. and to SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann on Saturday, May 30, 1942, at 12:00 noon at the same office.

1. In accordance with an order received I reported to the Reich Security Main Office, Dept. IV B 4, on May 29, 1942, together with Dr. Benjamin Israel Murmelstein, the six members of the Presidium of the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Berlin: Baeck, Eppstein, Henschel, Kozower, Kreindler and Lilienthal, as well as the two representatives of the Jewish Community of Prague: Janovic and Friedmann. There we were informed that in connection with a sabotage attack on the exhibition "The Soviet Paradise" in Berlin, in which five Jews had been actively involved, 500 Jews had been arrested in Berlin and of these 250 had been shot and 250 sent to a camp. We were further informed that additional measures of this kind were to be expected in the event of any other act of sabotage in which Jews took part.

An instruction was given that this position was to be made known to the Jews in a suitable manner in order to make clear to them what the result of such acts would be.

2. During the visit to SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann I reported on the situation in Vienna, the position [reached] by the emigration transports, the probable number of Jews over 65, who were to be taken to Theresienstadt for permanent residence, as well as on financial questions.

SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann informed me that the total evacuation of the Jews was planned from the Altreich [Germany before 1938], the Ostmark [Austria] and the Protectorate. Jews under 65 years old would emigrate to the East, and those over 65, as well as some groups of those under 65, such as men seriously disabled in the War, and those who received medals in the World War, etc., would be sent to Theresienstadt for permanent residence.

In accordance with the Regulation of February 16, 1942, the Czechs living in Theresienstadt must leave the locality by May 31, 1942, so that the entire area of the city will be available for the Jews. After this a start will be made on transporting the Jews designated for permanent residence there. The administration of the city is to be carried out independently by the Council of Jewish Elders (Judenaeltestenrat). In addition to the old people, several thousand young people are to remain there in order to carry out necessary work in the city and countryside (about 640 (?) acres of land are available) and to look after the old people.

Institutions necessary for the maintenance of the Jews are also to be set up or, where possible, existing institutions will be enlarged. According to the instructions of the Council of Elders the Jews will be accommodated partly in the existing large barracks, or privately in the houses. A part will be catered for in communal kitchens, and a part privately. In addition to personal luggage of up to 50 kgs. per person, a large quantity of equipment and furniture for apartments and dormitories, as well as tools, are to be sent to Theresienstadt. The number of items of this type will be decided on each occasion by the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna, in accordance with the freight cars available.

Special importance will be accorded to the provision and maintenance of sanitary installations. Good doctors and nurses will go to Theresienstadt to look after the health of the Jews and, in particular, to prevent epidemics. This will also to a large extent be the task of the Council of Elders.

The financial maintenance of the Jewish population settled in Theresienstadt will be provided by the funds of the three organizations, the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Berlin, and the Jewish Communities of Vienna and Prague. These organizations in general have considerable funds at their disposal.

The budget will be decided in accordance with requirements for certain periods at a time, and the necessary sum made available to the Council of Elders in Theresienstadt. The capacity of Theresienstadt to accommodate Jews is quite large. When I was asked how many Jews from Vienna might be considered for Theresienstadt, I named a figure of about 12,000 persons; SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann declared that the number of Jews from Vienna could be settled there.

I pointed out that a total evacuation of Jews from Vienna was scarcely possible, because as a result of the large-scale emigration and the unusually high age of the remaining population there is a disproportionate number of aged and sick persons, who must be considered as incapable of travelling. In any case a fairly large number of Jews will remain in Vienna owing to the exclusion from deportation of [members of] Jewish mixed marriages.

I also asked that a part of the Jews designated for emigration, particularly the children at present in youth and children's homes, who are under my care as guardian of orphans, should be sent to Warsaw with the personnel looking after them, because I could then be sure that they will receive the proper care and attention in a large Jewish center.

SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann declared that the destination for emigration was decided together with departments of the Wehrmacht, and that it was not possible to say in advance where the transports would go; he would see what could be done in this matter.

    signed Dr. Josef Israel Loewenherz
    General Director and
    Head of the Jewish Community, Vienna

Yad Vashem Archives, TR-3/1156.

Jewish Responses: Cases of Suicide to Escape Deportation*

...The arrest and information of the deportation was a terrible experience for those concerned. It was inevitable that some souls could not face this trial. There were several cases of suicide and attempted suicide in the course of the first hours of the Aktion. In Mannheim (with 2,500 deportees) there were about 10 cases, and as many in Baden-Baden (with scarcely 100 members of the community). These cases of suicide - there were others during the journey - involved almost exclusively Jews who had moved far from Judaism, had left the community or were baptized. The fate of these people was tragic: the road into exile forced them back (to Judaism, to being a Jew) where their own efforts had taken them away. They no longer wanted to be Jews and now were forced to be Jews....[H.D. Fliedner, ed., Die Judenverfolgung in Mannheim 1933-1945 (The Persecution of the Jews in Mannheim 1933-1945), II, Stuttgart, 1971, p. 79. * From a report prepared by Dr. Eugen Netter, one of the heads of the Mannheim Community.]

The Jewish Population Disbelieves Reports of the Extermination*

...The liquidation of the Jews in the Government-General began at Passover 1942. The first victims were the Jews of the city of Lublin, and shortly after that the Jews of the whole District of Lublin. They were evacuated to Belzec, and there they were killed in new gas-chambers that had been built specially for this purpose. The Jewish Underground newspapers gave detailed descriptions of this mass slaughter. But [the Jews of] Warsaw did not believe it! Common human sense could not understand that it was possible to exterminate tens and hundreds of thousands of Jews. They decided that the Jews were being transported for agricultural work in the parts of Russia occupied by the Germans. Theories were heard that the Germans had begun on the productivization of the Jewish lower-level bourgeoisie! The Jewish press was denounced and charged with causing panic, although the descriptions of the "rooting out" of the population corresponded accurately to the reality. Not only abroad were the crimes of the Germans received with disbelief, but even here, close by Ponary, Chelmno, Belzec and Treblinka, did this information get no hearing! This unjustified optimism developed together with the lack of information, which was the result of total isolation from the outside world and the experience of the past. Had not the Germans for two and a half years carried out many deportations of Jews - from Cracow, from Lublin, from the Warsaw District and from the "Reich?" Certainly there had been not a few victims and blood had been shed during these deportations, but total extermination?

There were some people who believed it, however. The events at Ponary and Chelmno were a fact, but - it was said - "that was just a capricious act of the local authorities." For, after all, the German authorities in the Government-General did not have the same attitude to the ghettoes in the cities and the small towns, not until death brought an equal fate to all. More than once, in various places, the reaction to the information we had about the liquidation of the Jews was: "That cannot happen to us here."

It was of course the Germans themselves who created these optimistic attitudes. Through two and a half years they prepared the work of exterminating the three and a half million Jews of Poland with German thoroughness. They rendered the Jewish masses helpless with the aid of individual killings, oppression and starvation, with the aid of ghettos and deportations. In years of unceasing experiments the Germans perfected their extermination methods. In Vilna they had needed several days to murder a thousand Jews, in Chelmno half an hour was enough to kill a hundred, and at Treblinka ten thousand were murdered every day!... [Yad Vashem Archives, O-25/96. * From a report by Yitzhak Cukierman in Warsaw in March 1944, and sent to London on May 24, 1944, through the Polish Underground.]

Internet Resources

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Yad Vashem
Trial of Adolf Eichmann