Transportation to the Russian East
It is clear that there were rail transports from European towns and cities to the borders of the General Government.
Many people perished on the way through suicide and disease. S.S. special detachment leader Ferdinand Riege wrote to Heinrich Himmler, stating that ‘unexpected difficulties arose as a result of which wastage of human life due to illness, suicide, etc., amounted to 30 per cent.’”
The JTA states:
The men are assembled in camps prior to deportation. Some are sent to the devastated areas of occupied Russia and others to coal mines in German territory. The women and children are being sent to unknown destinations.
It is known that people were transported to Bialystok by train due to the fact that people returned to Lublin a year or so later via Treblinka transit camp. It is known that some were transported by train to the RKU due to a report that many perished after being released from Schutzhaft, unable to fend for themselves with few resources.
It is a known fact that the mass expulsions of juden from Bessarabia and Bukovina into the Transnistrian “reservation” by Romanian authorities were often undertaken on foot
. This involved the crossing of the Dniestr river via either bridges or barges. It does not seem impossible that the Germans in charge of the deportations in some exceptional cases had to resort to a similar manner of transportation, driving columns of Jews across the Bug river.
In the Eichmann “Trial” in Jerusalem, the Polish Jews Zwi Patscher and Yakov Goldfine testified that the Germans drove Polish Jews marching four abreast in long columns onto the Soviet portion of occupied Poland.
The Judaica reported:
With the outbreak of the war in September, the Poles began to loot stores and
attack the Jews. […] the Jews were deported by the Germans [September 1939]
to the area under Soviet control on the other side of the San River. […] Those
who were deported to the Soviet Zone lived there in very difficult economic
conditions. In the summer of 1940 many of them were deported to the Soviet
On 24th Sept 42 the Zurich newspaper reports the following:
This is repeated a day later by the JTA:
25 September 1942 (p. 3):
“Nazis drive Jews and Poles hundreds of miles on foot to devastated Russian areas
ZURICH, Sep. 24 (JTA) – Jews and Poles who are now being sent by the Nazis from occupied Poland to the devastated sections of occupied Russia for slave labor are no longer transported in trains but must make the several-hundred-mile journey on foot under the supervision of Nazi guards, it was revealed in a report reaching here today from Cracow.
Railroad facilities being overburdened, the Nazi authorities in Poland have instituted a system whereby the Jewish and Polish deportees must cover at least forty miles a day on foot. Underfed and exhausted, hundreds of them are unable to stand the strain and collapse on the roads. They are left there by the German guards as ‘human junk.’ Polish peasants from the neighboring villages do their best to provide them with food and shelter.”
Much information can be gleaned from this:
- Railway system used for war effort on the Russian front and not transportation of häftlinge; implication transports were originally used, which also implies a large number of people.
- People were sent from Poland
- Huge distances to be covered (Bialystok to Minsk is 351km or 219 miles)
- 40 miles a day walking ( 64 km)..Walking 12 hours would mean 5.3 km/h which is average walking speed.
- Some too weak to make it, not shot but left to be cared for by civilians.