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As the end of World War II approached, efforts were made at many concentration camps to destroy records and either to murder the remaining prisoners or to transfer them elsewhere before the Allies arrived. This was in response to the SS instructions that no prisoners should be found when Allied troops arrived. While infamous "death marches" are better known, there were also many transfers by train. These transports were usually from places outside Germany -- e.g., Auschwitz, to camps inside Germany -- but also within the German camps themselves.
This article and its accompanying database focuses on a single transport, one of three which left Bergen-Belsen April 10, 1945. Its destination was Theresienstadt, but in fact it ended up at the little German town of Tröbitz on April 22. It is often referred to as "The Lost Train", since Allied bombings prevented it from going to Theresienstadt and, instead, it ambled, seemingly aimlessly, through eastern Germany.
I first became aware of this transport when I read a booklet "Die jüdischen Gedenkstätten, Tröbitz, Wildgrube, Langennaundorf und Schilda im Landkreis Elbe-Elster", written by Erika Arlt and published in 2000 by Landkreis Elbe-Elster. This booklet focuses on approximately 600 persons who perished during the train trip and immediately after arrival in Tröbitz. Initially, there were about 2,500 persons on the train. The 600 died from a variety of diseases, including typhus and the effects of malnutrition. The booklet lists the victims, to the extent that they could be identified, and shows where they died and were buried. Beginning with Erika Arlt's list, I have utilized additional sources of information, including the International Tracing Service collection, to fill in gaps in information and add places of birth. The information is still not complete, but the database includes all the information available to me. The number of entries exceeds the number of persons who perished since, where conflicting information on persons was found, the person was listed more than once. I have made no attempt to list those who survived and my efforts to locate a "Lost Transport Victims Memorial Society" in Israel were unsuccessful.
Of course, the number of victims from this one train is dwarfed by the numbers who died in the concentration camps and elsewhere. However, there were some unusual aspects to this train. First, all of the "passengers" were Jews, while in most of the transports I have examined from this time period, other groups were included. Second, as the reader can see from the database, many held "passports of convenience," that is, passports which they had purchased from South and Central American consulates in the hope that they would protect them. They include one United States passport holder, though it is unclear whether this person had a legitimate right to this document. The train held persons of widely varying ages, from infants to persons over the age of 70.
Finally, the train included a large number of persons whose nationality was simply listed as "stateless." While many were undoubtedly stateless, an examination of the list shows that most/many were born in Germany, where they had presumably been stripped of their German citizenship. The German Government's Gedenkbuch lists some of them correctly, others incorrectly, and others are omitted totally.
Burial locations (sometimes simply between two train stops) listed in the booklet are as follows (see booklet for further information as well as information whose bodies were exhumed and returned to their place of origin):
Bergen-Belsen, Finsterwald-Falkenberg, Hagenau-Wittenberge, Münster-Uelzen, Nordfeld, Riesa, Schilda, Schipkau, Senftenberg-Schipkau, Soltau-Munster, Tröbitz, Uelzen-Lüneburg, Wildgrube, Wittenberge
This database includes 704 records. The fields of the database are as follows:
The information contained in this database was indexed from the files of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [USHMM File AA0015]. The original source of the document was the booklet "Die jüdischen Gedenkstätten, Tröbitz, Wildgrube, Langennaundorf und Schilda im Landkreis Elbe-Elster," as noted above. Peter Landé, a volunteer at USHMM, compiled the list.
In addition, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible. Special thanks to Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy. Particular thanks to the Research Division headed by Joyce Field and to Nolan Altman, coordinator of Holocaust files.
This database is searchable via JewishGen's Holocaust Database.
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Last Update: 10 Aug 2008 by MFK