Restored train car used to transport Slovak Jews. SŽ stands for Slovenské Železnice (Slovak Railways).
|Date||25–26 March 1942|
|Location||Slovak State, Auschwitz concentration camp|
|Organised by||Slovak State, Nazi Germany|
The first mass transport of Jews to Auschwitz concentration camp departed from Poprad transit camp in the Slovak State on 25 March 1942 and arrived at its destination on 26 March. It was the beginning of systematic deportation of Jews to Auschwitz concentration camp by the Reich Main Security Office and also the first transport of Jews from Slovakia.
Deportation was the natural outcome of the anti-Jewish measures imposed by the Axis-aligned Slovak State between 1939 and early 1942. The Jews had been forbidden to work without special permission and their businesses had been Aryanized, creating widespread poverty. In order to rid itself of this manufactured problem, Slovakia agreed with the German government to deport 20,000 Jews of working age to German-occupied Poland, paying Nazi Germany 500 Reichsmarks each (supposedly to cover the cost of resettlement).According to the agreement, seven thousand unmarried women were to be deported to Auschwitz concentration camp and thirteen thousand unmarried men were to be deported to Majdanek concentration camp.
Auschwitz was established in 1940. Its first victims were Soviet prisoners of war, Polish political prisoners, and some Jewish forced laborers at Schmelt Organization camps in East Upper Silesia who were no longer able to work.The gas chambers were first used in October 1941 on non-Jewish prisoners. The first transport of female prisoners arrived on 26 March 1942 (earlier the same day as the first transport of Jews) and consisted of 999 prisoners, mostly considered asocial, from Ravensbrück concentration camp. They were assigned to be kapos for the Jewish women and were noted for their brutal behavior.
News of upcoming deportations leaked on 3 March 1942, when many Jews visited the Jewish Center offices in Bratislava to confirm the rumors.The roundup of the women from towns and villages in the eastern Šariš-Zemplín region began on 21 March. In some areas town criers announced the deportation while the women were given only twenty-four hours to prepare in order to prevent them from evading deportation. Nevertheless, many women managed to avoid the roundup, although most of these were deported on later transports. Most of the deportees were working class and many came from Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) families. About half were between the ages of 16 and 21.
At Poprad transit camp the women were subjected to abuse and theft from the Slovak Hlinka Guard.Before the transport departed, the SS "Jewish adviser" for Slovakia, Dieter Wisliceny, addressed the deportees on the platform, saying that they would be allowed to return home after they finished the work that Germany had planned for them. The first deportees were unaware of what lay ahead and tried to be optimistic. According to survivors, songs in Hebrew and Slovak were sung as the transport left the platform. The transport left Poprad at 20:20 on 25 March and crossed the Slovak border near Skalité at 4:00 the next day, arriving at Auschwitz in the afternoon. Here they were deprived of the last of their possessions, stripped, shaved, and assigned numbers between 1,000 and 2,000.
It was the first mass transport of Jews to Auschwitz and the first to be organized by Adolf Eichmann's office, Referat IV B4.According to research by the American author Heather Dune Macadam, the Nazis intended to deport 999 Jewish women but their list contained duplicates, meaning that only 997 women were actually deported. Two sisters, both diabetic, committed suicide before the end of the first week at the camp.
The transport of 25 March was the first of 57 transports that departed Slovakia in 1942, carrying away 57,628 Jews of whom only a few hundred returned. The deportation was retroactively legalized in May by Decree 68/1942.For three months, Slovak Jewish women from this and subsequent transports were the only Jewish women in Auschwitz.
Most of the women died of disease, selections, malnutrition, or other causes by the end of 1942.A few were able to secure privileged positions in administration, which allowed them to obtain the necessities for survival. According to testimonies, there were about 20 survivors from the transport. Rena Kornreich Gelissen, a survivor of the transport, coauthored a memoir with Macadam. Macadam later wrote a book on the transport as a whole, 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz (2019).
In 2002 a plaque was installed at Poprad train station to commemorate the deportation. In 2016 it was reported that every year, dozens of people congregate at the site to commemorate the event, including Pavol Mešťan as of January 2020 [update] ., the director of the Jewish Museum of Culture. On the 75th anniversary (25 March 2017) President Andrej Kiska unveiled a plaque at the grammar school where the Jews were held temporarily before their deportation. He also met with the last surviving deportee, Edita Grosmanová, who is still alive
The Drancy internment camp was an assembly and detention camp for confining Jews who were later deported to the extermination camps during the German military administration of Occupied France during World War II. It was located in Drancy, a northeastern suburb of Paris, France. Between 22 June 1942, and 31 July 1944, during its use as an internment camp, 67,400 French, Polish, and German Jews were deported from the camp in 64 rail transports, which included 6,000 children. Only 1,542 prisoners remained alive at the camp when the German authorities in Drancy fled as Allied forces advanced and the Swedish Consul-General Raoul Nordling took control of the camp on 17 August 1944, before handing it over to the French Red Cross to care for the survivors.
The Hlinka Guard was the militia maintained by the Slovak People's Party in the period from 1938 to 1945; it was named after Andrej Hlinka.
The history of the Jews in Slovakia goes back to the 11th century, when the first Jews settled in the area.
Holocaust trains were railway transports run by the Deutsche Reichsbahn national railway system under the strict supervision of the German Nazis and their allies, for the purpose of forcible deportation of the Jews, as well as other victims of the Holocaust, to the German Nazi concentration, forced labour, and extermination camps.
The Topoľčany pogrom was an antisemitic riot in Topoľčany, Slovakia, on 24 September 1945 and the best-known incident of post-Holocaust violence against Jews in Slovakia. The underlying cause was resurgent antisemitism directed at Jewish Holocaust survivors who demanded the return of property that had been stolen during the Holocaust. Rumors spread that a local Catholic school would be nationalized and the nuns who taught there replaced by Jewish teachers.
The Fossoli camp was an internment camp in Italy, established during World War II and located in the village Fossoli, Carpi, Emilia-Romagna. It began as a prisoner of war camp in 1942, later being a Jewish concentration camp, then a police and transit camp, a labour collection centre for Germany and, finally, a refugee camp, before closing in 1970.
In July 1942, Daniel Dionys Lenard escaped from Majdanek concentration camp. He was interviewed by the Bratislava Working Group and brought the first confirmed report of the killings back to the Jewish community in Slovakia.
Sereď concentration camp was a concentration camp built during World War II in the Slovak Republic. It was founded as a labor camp for the Jewish population in September 1941. In September 1944, it was transformed into a concentration camp and was operated by units of the SS.
The Working Group was an underground Jewish organization in the Axis-aligned Slovak State during World War II. Led by Gisi Fleischmann and Rabbi Michael Dov Weissmandl, the Working Group rescued Jews from the Holocaust by gathering and disseminating information on the Holocaust in Poland, bribing and negotiating with German and Slovak officials, and smuggling valuables to Jews deported to Poland.
The Holocaust in Slovakia was the systematic dispossession, deportation, and murder of Jews in the Slovak State, a client state of Nazi Germany. Out of 89,000 Jews in the country in 1940, around 69,000 were murdered during the Holocaust.
The Ústredňa Židov was the Judenrat in Bratislava that was imposed on the Jewish community of the Axis-aligned state of Slovakia to implement Nazi orders during the Holocaust. It was formed on the advice of SS (Schutzstaffel) official Dieter Wisliceny; the first leader, Heinrich Schwartz, was removed after refusing to cooperate with Nazi demands and replaced by the ineffectual Arpad Sebestyen. The collaborationist Department of Special Affairs run by Karol Hochberg aided the authorities in confiscating Jewish property and collecting information that was used to arrest and deport Jews. Nevertheless, most of the ÚŽ members focused on providing opportunities for emigration and improving the social welfare of Jews remaining in Slovakia, although they were hampered by the dwindling resources of the community. In addition, the ÚŽ attempted to resist deportation by bribing Slovak officials, retraining Jews who had been expelled from their previous profession, and improving and expanding labor camps for Jews in Slovakia. The underground resistance organization that ran under its auspices, the Working Group, took over the ÚŽ leadership in December 1943. Since its formation in early 1942, the Working Group had used the ÚŽ as cover for its illegal rescue activities. After the German invasion of Slovakia in August 1944, the ÚŽ was disbanded and many of its members were arrested and deported to concentration camps.
Abraham Armin Frieder was a Slovak Neolog rabbi. After attending several yeshivas, he was ordained in 1932 and became the leader of Slovak Neolog communities before Slovakia declared independence in 1939 and began to oppress its Jewish population. Frieder joined the Working Group, a Jewish resistance organization, and delivered a petition to President Jozef Tiso begging him to halt deportations of Jews to Poland. Frieder was involved in efforts to send relief to deportees and interview escapees to learn about the progress of the Holocaust in Poland. After the German invasion of Slovakia during the Slovak National Uprising, deportations from Slovakia resumed; Frieder was captured but managed to avoid deportation from Sereď concentration camp. After the war, he was appointed Chief Rabbi of Slovakia and attempted to smooth tensions between Neolog and Orthodox Jews. He died after surgery in 1946.
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Einsatzgruppe H was one of the Einsatzgruppen, the paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany. A special task force of more than 700 soldiers, it was created at the end of August 1944 to deport or murder the remaining Jews in Slovakia following the German suppression of the Slovak National Uprising. During its seven-month existence, Einsatzgruppe H collaborated closely with the Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions and arrested 18,937 people, of whom at least 2,257 were murdered; thousands of others were deported to Nazi concentration camps. The victims included Jews, Romani people, actual or suspected Slovak partisans, and real or perceived political opponents. One of its component units, Einsatzkommando 14, committed the two largest massacres in the history of Slovakia, at Kremnička and Nemecká.
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Presidential exemptions were granted by President of the Slovak State Jozef Tiso to individual Jews, exempting them from systematic persecution through anti-Jewish legislation introduced by Tiso's Jewish Code,, during the Holocaust. The exemptions were exchanged for arbitrary monetary fees. From an estimated 20,000 requests, 600 documented exemptions covering 1,000 people were granted, but only after 1942, when deportations to Auschwitz death camp had already stopped. Following the German invasion of 1944, when deportations resumed, all exemptions were nullified.
Anton Vašek (1905–1946) was the head of Department 14 in the Slovak State's Central Economic Office. He is known for accepting bribes in exchange for reducing deportation of Jews from Slovakia.
Dęblin–Irena was a Nazi ghetto for Jews in Irena, a Polish town located in the Lublin District of the General Governorate. Initially, it was an open ghetto; many Jews worked on labor projects for various local firms, especially the railway and the Luftwaffe. Beginning in May 1941, the ghetto became a collection center with Jews sent there from the Opole and Warsaw ghettos. In 1942, two thousand Jews arrived from Slovakia and hundreds more from nearby ghettos that had been liquidated.
From 4 to 7 November 1938, thousands of Jews were deported from Slovakia to the no-man's land on the Slovak−Hungarian border. Following Hungarian territorial gains in the First Vienna Award on 2 November, Slovak Jews were accused of favoring Hungary in the dispute. With the help of Adolf Eichmann, Slovak People's Party leaders planned the deportation, which was carried out by local police and the Hlinka Guard. Conflicting orders were issued to target either Jews who were poor or those who lacked Slovak citizenship, resulting in chaos.