The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Deportation of Hamburg's Polish Jews

"Sept. 1, 1939: Germany invades Poland.
"Sept. 15, 1939: Hamburg's Polish Jews declared "enemy aliens," and arrested, imprisoned for five weeks.
"Oct. 21, 1939: The Jews are deported. One eyewitness recalls:

"`We are taken in wagons to a wayside depot somewhere off the beaten track, where they are loading freight cars. We are piled into one, all of us together. It is freezing cold and there is no light. We fumble around in the dark. The car stinks.

"Nobody has been allowed to take anything with him. The few belongings we had - the extra pair of shoes, a couple of shirts, a spare suit, the few clothes which one is allowed to take out of the Reich - have been seized as we left. Even our raincoats which we had carefully taken with us to the jail have become forfeit.

"A clock strickes midnight. It begins to rain. He hear it pelting down on the roof of the car. The engine starts up and we are on the move. All around us there is a rattle of wheels. We seem to be hitched to a freight train.

"Presently, the movement stops and the train draws up at the tiniest and most insignificant wayside halt. We peer out of the window to catch a glimpse of what is going on. Trains are steaming in and out, laden with armaments. Twoops keep pouring in on motorcycle and lorry. The whole of Germany has been turned overnight into a huge military camp. Every now and again the guards pass by outside our car and try the padlock.

"Twelve hours in the foul and filthy car. Not even a drop of water to drink. The few scraps of food we were able to buy at Hamburg with our last couple of marks have long since been exhausted. What we had has been divided among the women and children or given to the old people. We men have had nothing. For us it has been a real Day of Atonement.

"Suddenly the door of the freight car is opened. The captain of the guard pokes his head in and orders us all to get out. We form fours on the platform. The chief of the Berlin Gestapo calls the roll. One hundred and twenty-two 'pieces of baggage.' 'No one dead?' he remarks ironically. 'Wait till they get to Lublin, and we'll put them to bed with a shovel.'" (S. Mogilewer, Leipzig furrier, as quoted in Gilbert, 26-27)

Work Cited

Gilbert, Martin. Final Journey: The Fate of the Jews in Nazi Germany. New York: Mayflower Books, 1979

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