The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter X
Conditions of Deportation & Slave Labor
(Part 1 of 4)

The Nazi conspirators were not satisfied to tear 5,000,000 persons from their families, their homes, and their country. They insisted that these 5,000,000 wretches, while being deported to Germany or after their arrival, be degraded, beaten, and permitted to die for want of food, clothing, and adequate shelter. Conditions of deportation are vividly- described in a report to Rosenberg concerning treatment of Ukrainian labor (054-PS):

"The starosts esp. village elders are frequently corruptible, they continue to have the skilled workers, whom they drafted, dragged from their beds at night to be locked up in cellars until they are shipped. Since the male and female worker. often are not given any time to pack their luggage, etc., many skilled workers arrive at the Collecting Center for Skilled Workers with equipment entirely insufficient (without shoes, only two dresses, no eating and drinking utensils, no blankets, etc.) In particularly extreme cases new arrivals therefore have to be sent back again immediately to get the things most necessary for them. If people do not come along a once, threatening and beating of skilled workers by the above mentioned militia is a daily occurrence and is reported from most of the communities. In some cases women were beaten until they could no longer march. One bad case in particular was reported by me to the commander of the civil police here (Colonel Samek) for severe punishment (place Sozolinkow, district Dergatschi). The encroachments of the starosts and the militia are of a particularly grave nature because they usually justify themselves by claiming that all that is done in the name of the German Armed Forces. In reality the latter have conducted themselves throughout in a highly understanding manner toward the skilled workers

[Page 896]

and the Ukrainian population. The same, however, can not be said of some of the administrative agencies. To illustrate this be it mentioned, that a woman once arrived being dressed with barely more than a shirt."

"*** On the basis of reported incidents, attention must be called to the fact that it is irresponsible to keep workers locked in the cars for many hours so that they cannot even take care of the calls of nature. It is evident that the people of a transport must be given an opportunity from time to time in order to get drinking water, to wash, and in order to relieve themselves. Cars have been showed in which people had made holes so that they could take care of the calls of nature. When nearing bigger stations persons should, if possible, relieve themselves far from these stations."

"The following abuses were reported from the delousing stations:

"In the women's and girls' shower rooms, services were partly performed by men or men would mingle around or even helped with the soaping; and vice versa, there were female personnel in the men's shower rooms; men also for some time were taking photographs in the women's shower rooms. Since mainly Ukrainian peasants were transported in the last months, as far as the female portion of these are concerned, they were mostly of a high moral standard and used to strict decency, they must have considered such a treatment as a national degradation. The above mentioned abuses have been, according to our knowledge, settled by the intervention of the transport commanders. The reports of the photographing were made from Halle; the reports about the former were made from Kiewerce. Such incidents in complete disregard of the honor and respect of the Greater German Reich may still occur again here or there." (054-PS)

Sick and infirm citizens of the occupied countries were taken indiscriminately with the rest. Those who managed to survive the trip into Germany, but who arrived too sick to work, were returned like cattle, together with those who fell ill at work, because they were of no further use to the Germans. The return trip took place under the same conditions as the initial journey, and without any kind of medical supervision. Death came to many, and their corpses were unceremoniously dumped out of the cars with no provision for burial. Thus, the report continues:

"*** Very depressing for the morale of the skilled

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workers and the population is the effect of those persons shipped back from Germany for having become disabled or not having been fit for labor commitment from the very beginning. Several times already transports of skilled workers on their way to Germany have crossed returning transports of such disabled persons and have stood on the tracks alongside of each other for a longer period of time. Those returning transports are insufficiently cared for. Nothing but sick, injured or weak people, mostly 50-60 to a car, are usually escorted by 3 men. There is neither sufficient care or food. The returnees made frequently unfavourable but surely exaggerated statements relative to their treatment in Germany and on the way. As a result of all this and of what the people could see with their own eyes, a psychosis of fear was evoked among the specialist workers resp. the whole transport to Germany. Several transport leaders of the 62nd and the 63rd in particular reported thereto in detail. In one case the leader of the transport of skilled workers observed with own eyes how a person who died of hunger was unloaded from a returning transport on the side track. (1st Lt. Hofman of the 63rd transport Station Darniza). Another time it was reported that 3 dead had to be deposited by the side of the tracks on the way and had to be left behind unburied by the escort. It is also regrettable that these disabled persons arrive here without any identification. According to the reports of the transport commanders one gets the impression that these persons unable to work are assembled, penned into the wagons and are sent off provided only by a few men escort, and without special care for food and medical or other attendance. The Labor Office at the place of arrival as well as the transport commanders confirm this impression." (054-PS)

Mothers in childbirth shared cars with those infected with tuberculosis or venereal diseases. Babies when born were hurled out of windows. Dying persons lay on the bare floors of freight cars without even the small comfort of straw. These conditions are revealed in an interdepartmental report prepared by Dr. Gutkelch in Rosenberg's Ministry, dated 30 September 1942, from which the following quotation is taken:

"How necessary this interference was is shown by the fact that this train with returning laborers had stopped at the same place where a train with newly recruited Eastern laborers had stopped. Because of the corpses in the trainload of returning laborers, a catastrophe might have been

[Page 898]

precipitated had it not been for the mediation of Mrs. Miller. In this train women gave birth to babies who were thrown out of the windows during the journey, people having tuberculosis and venereal diseases rode in the same car, dying people lay in freight cars without straw, and one of the dead was thrown on the railway embankment. The same must have occurred in other returning transports." (084-PS)

Some aspects of Nazi transport were described by Sauckel himself in a decree which he issued on 20 July 1942, (2241- PS). The original decree is published in section B1a, page 48e of a book entitled "Die Beschaeftigung von auslaendischen Arbeitskraeften in Duetschland." The decree reads, in part, as follows:

"According to reports of transportation commanders (Transportleiters) presented to me, the special trains provided by the German railway have frequently been in a really deficient condition. Numerous windowpanes have been missing in the coaches. Old French coaches without lavatories have been partly employed so that the workers had to fit up an emptied compartment as a lavatory. In other cases, the coaches were not heated in winter so that the lavatories quickly became unusable because the water system was frozen and the flushing apparatus was therefore without water." (2241-PS)

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