After the first phase of deportations from the "Reich"
and "Protectorate" to Minsk had been concluded in
November 1941, 16 trains with more than 15,000 people from
Vienna, Königsberg, Theresienstadt and Cologne arrived
in Minsk between May and October 1942.
Following an order by Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Security
Police and SD, the deportees were killed as they arrived in
a pine forest a few kilometres from Maly Trostinec, a former
The executions themselves followed a pattern and relied on
the participation of 80 to 100 men, including members of the
Schutzpolizei and the Waffen-SS. After arrival of the trains
at the freight station in Minsk generally between 4 and 7
a.m., a detachment from the KdS office disembarked the newly
arrived persons and their luggage.
The people were then herded to a nearby place of assembly
where another detachment from the KdS office relieved the
Jews of their money and valuables. At this place of assembly
KdS members selected those very few - between 20 and 50 people
per transport - whom they deemed suitable for forced labour
on Trostinec estate.
Finally the deportees were driven on lorries from a loading
point at the edge of the place to the trenches which were
situated about 18 km away.
This process remained unchanged for the first 8 transports.
From August 1942 onwards the trains were routed via a branch
line much closer to the estate itself, and from now on it
was there that disembarkation and selection took place.
After the first transport from Vienna to Maly Trostinec on
May 6, 1942, a further 8 transports containing 7,500 Viennese
Jews followed, along with several hundred Austrians taken
there from Theresienstadt.
Only 17 people are known to have survived among the almost
9,000 Austrian Jews deported to Maly Trostinec.
The outbreak of war on September 1, 1939, cut down the possibilities
for further flight or expulsion of the Jews from the German
As the Nazi leadership stuck to its demand that the Reich
should be made "judenfrei", Adolf Eichmann, head
of the "Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung"
in Vienna, which since August 1938 had pushed ahead with the
expulsion of the Jews, planned the creation of a "Judenreservat"
(Jewish reservation) in the area east of Nisko on the river
San along the frontier of the "Generalgouvernment".
Although this plan was in the event not carried out, the head
of the RSHA, Reinhard Heydrich, charged with organising the
forced migration by the Reichsführer SS, Heinrich Himmler,
ordered to have deportation transports assembled to go from
Vienna and Ostrava/Maehrisch-Ostrau to Nisko.
Within the framework of this programme two transports from
Vienna to Nisko were run, the first on October 10, 1939, with
912, and the second on October 26, 1939, with 672 men on board.
The drawing up of the list of 1,000-2,000 "emigres"
was left to the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde.
Those who showed interest in this transport were however consciously
deceived : the IKG was forced, in a message to the Jewish
population, to guarantee the persons concerned a large measure
of freedom in building a new life.
Reality in Nisko was different : only a small proportion of
those deported from Vienna, about 200 men, ever reached this
camp, whereas the majority was chased over the German-Soviet
demarcation line while warning shots were fired.
Most of these deportees asked the Soviets to help them return
to Vienna, whereupon the NKWD, the Soviet Secret Service,
categorised them as "unreliable" and sent them to
forced labour camps.
Only 67 men had returned to Vienna from these camps by 1957.
After the programme was stopped 198 of the men kept back as
cadres in Zarzecze near Nisko were sent back to Vienna in
April 1940 - many of them again to be deported on later transports.
Theresienstadt which had been founded at the end of the 18th
century as a garnison town by the Emperor Joseph II, in the
Nazi period served as prison and ghetto.
Situated northwest of Prague, the smaller fortress was used
as a Gestapo prison, whereas the larger fortress was turned
into a ghetto for 140,000 Jews, mainly from Bohemia and Moravia,
but some of them also from the German "Reich", from
Austria, the Netherlands and from Denmark.
The ghetto was under the jurisdiction of the "Zentralstelle
für jüdische Auswanderung" in Prague which
in turn reported to the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA).
Guarded by Czech gendarmes, the ghetto was run by the SS and
commanded by Austrians Siegfried Seidl (November 1941 to July
1943), Anton Burger (July 1943 to February 1944) and Karl
Rahm (February 1944 to May 1945).
People in the ghetto lived in constant fear of deportation
to one of the extermination camps Treblinka, Auschwitz or
At the same time conditions of life and work continued to
As in other camps there was also in Theresienstadt a Jewish
Council of Elders, chosen by the SS, under the chairmen (in
that order) Jakob Edelstein, Paul Eppstein, and Benjamin Murmelstein.
They had to draw up lists for deportations, to distribute
food, clothes, and work, and to keep up order in general.
Thanks to the great number of artists, writers and academics
among the prisoners there was a very active cultural life
in the ghetto, which the SS not only tolerated but even capitalised
When at the end of 1943 the first facts about the extermination
camps became internationally known, the Nazi leadership decided
to allow the International Commitee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
a visit to Theresienstadt.
In preparation of this event thousands of prisoners were deported
to Auschwitz in order to reduce the overcrowding in the ghetto.
The ICRC-delegation in July 1944 was shown the Potemkin facade
of a normal town with pseudo-shops, cafés, kindergardens,
a school and even a bank.
But that visit changed nothing as far as the reality of the
ghetto was concerned.
Hunger, the lack of sanitary installations, and inadequate
clothing led to thousands of deaths.
Of the roughly 140,000 people deported to Theresienstadt,
33,000 died there, 88,000 were taken to extermination camps
Only 1,900 were still alive when the ghetto was liberated
on April 20th, 1945.
For the most deportees Theresienstadt ghetto was - provided
they did not die as a result of the appaling living conditions
there - only an interim on their way to the extermination
The deportations from Theresienstadt took place in five stages:
* From the beginning of January until September 8, 1942, there
were 26 transports carrying altogether 26,000 prisoners to
Izbica, Lublin, Maly Trostinec, Riga, Zamosc, Piaski, Rejowiec,
Warsaw, Raasika, and Minsk as well as other places.
* On eleven "Altentransporte" (old people's transports)
between September 19 and October 22, 1942, 19,004 people,
almost all of whom were more than 65 years old, were deported
to the extermination camp at Treblinka and to Maly Trostinec,
where they were murdered without exception.
Only three survived.
* Between October 26, 1942, and February 1, 1943, 8,867 persons
were deported to Auschwitz on six transports.
They were subject to a "Selektion", as was the practice
Most of them went to the gas chambers. Of those selected as
"capable of work" 124 people lived to see the liberation.
* From September 6, 1943, to May 18, 1944, 17,570 prisoners
from Theresienstadt were brought to the so-called "family
camp" in Auschwitz-Birkenau on eight transports.
They were not subject to a Selektion. Those who did not die
in the camp or were not deported as "capable of work"
to other concentration camps, were murdered in the gas chambers
in the night March 8/9, 1944, or between July 10 and July
12, 1944. 1,167 prisoners survived.
* Between September 28 and October 28, 1944, a further 18,402
people were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on eleven transports,
of whom 1,574 survived.
Apart from these large-scale transports, smaller deportations
took place, whose destinations we do not always know.
Of the more than 15,000 deportees from Vienna and from Bohemia
and Moravia about 7,500 were later transported to extermination
camps and murdered.
Over 6,200 Viennese Jews died in Theresienstadt itself from
the deprivations they had to suffer and the ensuing diseases.
After the "Anschluss" in March 1938, many Jews and
politically persecuted people fled to France.
The exile organisations of the Austrian Social Democrats and
the Communists were also transferred from Czechoslovakia to
Paris in 1938. Furthermore, in the spring of 1939 after the
end of the Spanish Civil War, tens of thousands of volunteers
who had fought on the side of the Spanish republic, arrived
in France, among them hundreds of Austrians, who were then
interned by the French authorities together with the Germans
in camps, as for example Le Vernet, St. Cyprien, Gurs, and
When the war broke out, the situation for the refugees grew
On September 4, 1939, all male "hostile foreigners"
were ordered to be detained in make-shift assembly camps.
Most "not politically suspect persons" were released
again in January 1940.
The French authorities offered the refugees to join the Foreign
Legion or the military labor service ("Service Prestataire"),
and thousands of Austrians took advantage of this offer.
After the war had broken out in the west and Belgium had been
occupied by the German army in May 1940, a fresh wave of internment
followed, so that when France collapsed a month later a great
number of refugees fell into the hands of the German occupying
First acts of persecution by the German occupying powers in
the occupied territories were mainly directed against stateless
or foreign Jews.
In the year 1941, up to 8,000 men were arrested and interned
in camps in Pithiviers, Beaune le Rolande, Compiègne
On March 27, 1942, a proportion of these internees was deported
from Compiègne to Auschwitz as a "retaliatory
measure" for acts by the Résistance.
Further transports from the above mentioned camps followed
in June 1942.
At this point the plans of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA)
for the deportation of Jews from France were already well
In an agreement between the Vichy Prime Minister, Pierre Laval,
and the commanding officer of the Security police and the
SD in France, Helmut Knochen, it was agreed that the French
police would arrest 22,000 stateless Jews in the occupied
zone, and Vichy would hand over the stateless Jews from the
From the middle of July 1942 until mid-November 1942, 40 deportation
transports bound for Auschwitz with more than 42,000 people
on board left France, mostly from the assembly camp at Drancy.
A further escalation of the deportation measures planned by
the RSHA at the end of August, failed, however, because of
the increasingly uncooperative attitude of the Vichy government.
Even the occupation of southern France (the "free zone")
by the German "Reich" and Italy in November 1942
changed nothing in the faltering support from the French administration.
During the two following years a further 32,000 Jews were
deported from France, mostly to Auschwitz.
The organisation of those deportations was now taken over
by the French "Milice" and a "Sonderkommando"
under Alois Brunner, who had been sent to France by Adolf
Altogether about 75,000, mostly stateless or foreign Jews
were deported from France, including more than 3,500 Austrians.
Of these about 200 are known to have survived.
Before the occupation of Belgium in the spring of 1940, the
Jewish population consisted of about 90,000 persons, who for
the greater part were immigrants and new arrivals not, or
not yet in possession of Belgian citizenship - about 1,000
refugees from Austria among them.
The invasion by the German army in May 1940 and the subsequent
installation of the German military administration led to
a mass flight of the Jewish population, to France, Great Britain
and overseas, with the result that only about 52,000 remained
in Belgium at the end of 1940.
The German military administration in Brussels enforced first
anti-Jewish measures in the autumn of 1940.
In order to intensify their grip on Jewish citizens and prepare
the ground for their economic annihilation, registration of
Jews was started in October 1940.
A year later right of residence for the Jewish population
was restricted to four cities : Brussels, Amsterdam, Liège
Preparations for the deportations reached their peak with
the erection of two camps : the fortress Breendonk, built
during the First World War, was transformed into a detention
camp with however small holding capacity.
Malines/Mechelen served as central collecting camp, strategically
situated between Antwerp and Brussels, the cities with the
highest proportion of Jewish residents.
Since the Jewish population hardly heeded the German autorities'
request to register, the military administration started taking
"more efficient" measures.
Wide-spread police raids were supposed to guarantee the carrying
out of the deportations which startes in the summer of 1942.
Until July 31, 1944, altogether about 30 transports with approx.
25,000 human beings left the camp in the direction of Auschwitz,
about 1,200 victims from Austria among them.
About a 140 of them survived.
On November 28, 1941, a deportation train left Vienna Aspang
Station with 999 Jewish men, women and children on board.
The train's destination was the White Russian capital Minsk,
which had been part of the "Reichkommissariat Ostland"
since the invasion by German troups.
Before the war broke out Minsk was host to a large Jewish
community numbering about 70,000, for whom as soon as June
1941 a quarter of the city of about 2 square kilometres was
turned into a ghetto.
The ghetto was controlled by the command of the Security police
and the SD in Minsk, a unit of Einsatzgruppe B, which had
also a company of Lettish "volunteers" at its disposal.
These troops were responsible for continual maltreatment and
killings in the ghetto and the labour camps.
Mass shootings began as early as autumn 1941 and at first
concerned sick people incapable of work, old people and children.
Thus on November 7 and 20, 1941, 17,000 Jews were taken from
the ghetto and shot in Tuchinka.
Because of these murder programmes, and also because of illness
and hunger the number of people in the ghetto dropped to about
25,000 persons by the beginning of January 1942.
The attempt to build up a resistance organisation in the ghetto
was followed at the end of March 1942 by a "punishment
programme" with the murder of 5,000 people.
A further murder programme carried out on July 18, 1942, cost
another 10,000 lives.
By the spring of 1943 only about 2,000 were still alive, a
number which was again halved by the autumn.
At this time the deportations of "working Jews"
to occupied areas further west of Minsk was intensified.
The final extinction of the ghetto and the labour camps in
Minsk was carried out before the liberation by the Red Army
in September 1944.
Of the 999 Austrian Jews deported to Minsk ghetto three are
known to have survived.
On November 23, 1941, a deportation transport with 1,000 Jewish
men, women and children on board left from Vienna Aspang Station.
However, this transport never arrived in Riga, its original
The transport from Vienna was, like some of the deportation
transports from the "Altreich" destined for Riga,
for reasons which never became clear diverted to Kaunas in
Lithuania, and handed over to Einsatzkommando (EK) 3.
This unit of Einsatzgruppe A, with massive participation of
local men, now set about "making Lithuania free of Jews"
from June 1941 onwards, and murdered altogether 130,000 people.
Immediately after arrival the deported Viennese Jews were
shot in Fort IX, a part of the Tsarist fortifications where
in the meantime regular massacres had taken place, carried
out by Lithuanian volunteers under the command of members
of the EK 3.
Of the 1,000 deportees from Vienna no one is known to have
Between April 9 and June 5, 1942, altogether four deportation
transports with 4,000 Jewish men, women and children aboard
went from Vienna Aspang Station to Izbica.
The village of Izbica is situated about 18 km south of the
Kreisstadt Krasnystow in Lublin district, whose original population
of about 6,000 was about 90 percent Jewish.
By means of deportations from other parts of Poland, from
the "Protectorate" (Austrians among them), from
the old "Reich" and from Vienna the number of Jewish
residents rose at times to 12,000.
Most probably to make room for the new arrivals about 2,200
people were deported from Izbica to Belzec extermination camp
as early as March 24, 1942.
After a gap of a few months an "Umsiedlungsstab"
(resettlement unit) of the SS took over the organisation of
the deportations in the summer of 1942.
From summer 1942 at the latest, Izbica seems to have functioned
as a kind of "waiting room" for the Belzec extermination
camp, whose intake was determined by the capacity of the Belzec
On October 15, 1942, 10,000 Jews were hoarded together at
Izbica railway station and 5,000 taken away.
During this "selection", there occured a massacre
in the course of which about 500 people were shot.
Of the 4,000 Austrian Jews deported to Izbica not one survived.
The concentration and extermination camp of Majdanek was situated
in a quarter of the city of Lublin and planned in September
1941 as prisoners-of-war camp for the Waffen-SS.
In 1942/43 it was mainly Poles (both Jewish and non-Jewish),
and Jews from the former Czechoslovakia, Slovenia and the
ghettos in Warsaw and Bialystok who were detained there.
On February 16, 1943, the camp was renamed "Lublin concentration
Between September and November 1942, a gassing plant was installed
where victims were murdered both with "Zyklon B"
and carbon monoxide.
On account of the appalling living conditions in the camp
the death rate among the prisoners was considerable even without
the murder programmes.
On November 3, 1943, all Jews living at this point in Majdanek/Lublin
camp, 17,000 people, were shot in the course of the "Aktion
Erntedankfest" (Harvest Festival).
From this day the gas chambers were probably no longer used.
On July 23, 1944, the camp was liberated.
The total number of victims is presumed by historians to be
approx. 200,000 people, including 60,000 - 80,000 Jews.
For the time being we cannot establish with absolute certainty
how many Austrians have been murdered in the extermination
Of the 999 Austrian Jews deported to Modliborzyce in March
1941, 13 are known to have survived.
All the others died in the ghetto or were transported to Belzec
The Croatian Ustascha-state (Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska - NHD),
was 1941 de facto occupied by the German army, but remained
It acquired jurisdiction over Bosnia-Herczegovina, the Dalmatian
coast however was occupied by Italy.
In the course of growing anti-Jewish repression many Jews
were deported into Croation concentration camps.
Not only Austrian, but also tens of thousands of Croatian
Jews as well as Serbs and Roma, so called "fremdländische
Elemente" (foreign elements) were deported, with the
help of high ranking SS officers and the Ustascha-regime,
mostly to Jasenovac and Auschwitz and murdered there.
A few Austrian Jews succeeded in escaping to Palestine, others
to Dalmatia and thence to Italy, or were taken after stopovers
in several refugee camps erected by the Italian authorities,
to the island of Rab in July 1943.
There they lived in relative security till the Italian capitulation
in September 1943.
From September 1943 onwards many of the 2,000 refugees on
the island joined the Croatian resistance fighters, who helped
others move into already liberated areas in northern Dalmatia.
300 persons, mostly old and sick people as well as women and
children, remained on the island.
After its capture by German troops they were deported to Auschwitz.
In Riga, the capital of Latvia which was annexed by the Soviet
Union in 1940, there lived 43,600 Jews in 1935, which corresponded
to 11.3 percent of the population.
Excesses directed against the Jewish population followed immediately
after the invasion by German troops on July 1, 1941.
After the introduction of numerous discriminatory decrees,
and after plunderings and massacres, the ghetto was installed
and surrounded by a wall in September/Oktober 1941.
Between the end of November and the beginning of December
1941, 27,000 Jews, most of them from Latvia, but including
about 400 elderly people from Vienna, were shot in Rumbula
forest. In this way space was to be provided for fresh transports
from Germany and Austria.
Transports with totaly 4,200 Jews arrived from Austria in
Riga after a journey lasting 8 days, on December 3, 1941,
and on January 11 and 26 and February 6, 1942.
The deportees were put into those areas of the ghetto which
had been emptied by the murder programme or else had to perform
forced labour in the outpost of Salaspils.
The mortality rate of those interned in the ghetto rose sharply
because of the frightful living conditions, particularly among
the weaker ones, but above all among the elderly and the children.
When on February 6, 1942, the last transport from Vienna arrived
in Riga, on arrival at Skrotave station those to whom the
kilometre-long march on foot to the ghetto seemed too exhausting
were offered lorries - which in fact were camouflaged gasvans
- to travel to the ghetto.
Of 1,000 deportees from Vienna, only 300 reached the ghetto
Only about 800 of the 20,000 men, women and children deported
to Riga survived the selection for forced labour, the ghetto
and the various concentration camps, and among them were about
100 Austrian Jews.
In the extermination camp Treblinka in a densely wooded and
sparsely populated part of the northeast of the "Generalgouvernment",
approximately 870,000 people - mostly Jews - but also Roma
and Sinti were murdered in the course of "Aktion Reinhard"
from July 1942 until the dismantling of the camp in the fall
The same as the camps of Sobibor and Belzec, the camp measured
400 to 600 square meters, and was fenced in with barbed wire
that was camouflaged with branches.
The camp was divided into three zones: housing barracks, arrival,
Upon arrival the victims were taken to changing rooms in baracks
that were separated according to their sex.
They had to hand in their clothes, money and valuables.
As of the fall of 1942, women's heads were shorn here as well.
Then the prisoners, women and children first, then men, were
driven naked into the gas chambers through the so-called "pipe",
a passage that was 90 meters long and 5 meters wide.
Into the gas chambers carbon monoxide was inserted.
Within 30 minutes everybody inside had suffocated.
After the addition of further gas chambers in September 1942,
up to 3,500 people were murdered within one to two hours.
At first, the corpses were buried in mass graves, from spring
1943, they were burnt on grills of rails so as to eliminate
any traces of the mass murders.
Between October 5 and 25, 1942, about 8,000 Jews were transported
from Theresienstadt to Treblinka in five transports.
About 3,100 of them were Austrians.
The sum total of all the victims from Austria in Treblinka
extermination camp is difficult to establish.
Obersturmführer Franz Stangl, Austrian camp commander
of Treblinka, was sentenced to life imprisonment in Düsseldorf