The Lost Train: Bergen-Belsen to Tröbitz

Introduction by Peter Landé

Background

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

 

Database

This database includes 704 records.  The fields of the database are as follows:

 

Acknowledgments

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.

Nolan Altman
August 2008

 

The Liberation of the “Lost Train” near Tröbitz

Transports leaving Concentration Camp Bergen-Belsen on 23rd April 1945

 

The last of the three transports leaving Bergen-Belsen between 6th and 11th April 1945 went down in the annals of history as “lost train”, “lost transport” or “train of those lost”. About 6,700 people were on the three trains in all.

As so-called “Jews on exchange”, the train passengers had been accommodated in special sections at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, i.e. the “Star Camp” and the “Hungarians’ Camp”. The Nazis had contrived plans for the Jewish prisoners of the afore-mentioned camps to be replaced either with merchandise or foreign currency, or for captured Germans. A large number of the Jewish prisoners confined to the “Star Camp” came from the Netherlands, other Jews detained there were in the possession of foreign passports, e.g. from South America or North Africa. The percentage of those actually released among the Jews who had been taken to Bergen-Belsen expressly to be exchanged proved to be insignificant in the end. Or to cite numbers: On 10th July 1944, 222 Jews arrived at Haifa harbour presenting immigration permits. On 21st August 1944, 318 Jews from the “Hungarians’ Camp” reached Switzerland followed by another quota of 1,365 Jews in December 1944. On 25th January 1945, 136 Jews with South American passports managed to get to Switzerland. The rest of the “Jews on exchange” had to wait for their liberation or died just as other inmates did.

The first of the transports bound for Theresienstadt left Bergen-Belsen on 6th April 1945, its route running through Uelzen, Salzwedel and Stendal. On 13th April 1945, that transport was freed by American troops near Farsleben not far from Magdeburg.

The second train which in particular Hungarian Jews were deported on started out from Bergen-Belsen on 7th April and arrived at Theresienstadt on 21st April 1945. Theresienstadt was freed on 8th May 1945.

Having departed on 11th April, the third train was moving across Germany for two weeks – passing Soltau, Lüneburg and Büchen, and then heading for, and finally arriving at, Berlin on 18th April 1945. After leaving Berlin-Spandau, the train went to Neukölln and was obviously supposed to continue passing through Berlin. The trail of devastation stretching along the city made this route excruciatingly long, though. The train stopped off near the Berlin-Dresden highway, then went on heading for Finsterwalde and Falkenberg. This almost incessant moving back and forth imposed on the Jews coming from more than 12 countries was not terminated until 23rd April 1945, when the Red Army freed them near Tröbitz. More than 200 of the Jewish deportees failed to survive the odyssey. Whoever had died en route was buried hastily and superficially near the railway lines. And what is more: illness and emaciation the stresses and strains of that odyssey had caused them claimed the lives of another 320 people still after liberation.

The small community of Tröbitz came face to face with about 2,000 survivors of the Holocaust. The Red Army opened a commandant’s office in the place, and a sort of self-government was established for the survivors of the train. People were put up in a former huts camp for forced labourers and were given an own cemetery ground to bury their deceased fellow-sufferers. With the exception of one family, the survivors had left Tröbitz again by late August 1945.

Among the persons rescued from the lost train were Menachem and Mirjam Pinkhof who had been active and committed saviours of children’s lives from the Holocaust in the Netherlands. Other survivors of the transport in the “lost train” were Hannah Goslar, a schoolmate of Anne Frank, Renata Laqueur, who had become well known as linguist, and Jupp Weiss, the “Eldest of the Jews” in the “Star Camp”.

The Jewish cemetery dug in Tröbitz in 1945 is in the immediate vicinity of the Christian cemetery. In 1947, France demanded and achieved that the mortal remainder of 43 deceased was exhumed and transferred to burial places in their native lands. The remaining graves are marked by memorial slabs with the names and dates of the dead victims. Over the years, memorial stones and slabs were placed or erected along the route the transport train had taken at the time.

“So, my parents were staying in Bergen-Belsen together with the others from the group when we arrived there. They were supposed to stay there on interim only before being taken to Switzerland. The young man who waited on us with what was called ‘morning coffee’ had free access to the group of this ‘special transport’, too. He told us that there were more people from Cluj at Bergen-Belsen, and we found out: these people were our parents! That young man smuggled paper and pen for us, and we wrote them a note to make them know we were alive. My father who had been a major in the First World War and hoped the commanders would know the meaning of ‘honour’ went straight to the camp commandant and asked him: ‘My daughter is here. May I go to see her?’ The thing that happened next was: the daughter was sent to Fallersleben. The names of father, mother and son were erased from the list of the people reserved for the special transport and deported from Bergen-Belsen later on. My father died of meningitis at Tröbitz, my mother and brother managed to survive … My mother told me later on that the last words my father had spoken were: ‘Do not go home before you have found Julia.’ I am awfully sad that my father died.” (Julie Nicholson, in: Überleben in Angst. Vier Juden berichten über ihre Zeit im Volkswagenwerk in den Jahren 1943 bis 1945, Historical Notes. Papers Series of the Historical Communication of the “Volkswagen AG”, Number 12, Wolfsburg 22008)

At the ITS

The ITS is in the possession of comprehensive documentary material on the deportees and the graves’ registers in Tröbitz.

Web Tip

www.bergen-belsen.de

www.hagalil.com/archiv/2008/10/troebitz.htm

Le "Lost transport"
Les victimes de Tröbitz / Brandebourg

En Kramer Heide, Hanovre

Les sœurs Hannah Pick-Goslar et Rachel Mozes-Goslar visite du 14 Mai 2003, le total School Uebigau, le mémorial et les communautés de Long Naundorf Tröbitz (cimetière juif) et dans le Brandebourg Schilda / région de l'Elbe-Elster.

Histoire

Au début avril 1945 envoyé par les nazis à Bergen-Belsen, trois trains, chacun avec 2500 prisonniers à Theresienstadt pour l'extermination. Le dernier de ces trois trains à gauche de Bergen-Belsen, le 10 Avril 1945. En raison de l'avancée de ce front du train de la mort erré sans but à celles émanant de prisonniers plus de douze nations juive treize jours à travers l'Allemagne. Le voyage s'est terminé à Tröbitz, un village dans le Brandebourg. Cette libéré le 23 Avril 1945 l'Armée Rouge plus de 2.000 personnes meurent épuisés par les wagons à bestiaux. Un grand nombre de prisonniers a connu ce moment rien de plus, elle était déjà mort pendant le voyage principalement au typhus. Les morts de la gare ont été enterrés dans des fosses communes à proximité des communautés et Tröbitz Schilda, donc y compris 101,6 kilomètres du chemin de fer à Long Naundorf et 106,7 dans le quartier Wildgrube (1).


Le charnier sur Voyage ferroviaire dans le 106,7

Wildgrube district. Photo: Par type
Permission d'Arlt Erika ©,
Tröbitz / Brandebourg (Elbe-Elster)

Peu de survivants ont été retrouvés dans les maisons abandonnées dans les villages voisins et Tröbitz Schilda hébergement temporaire. Le train de la mort de Bergen-Belsen que le "train of the Lost» et également comme le "Lost Transports» est entré dans l'histoire (2).

Elizabeth et Rachel Hannah Goslar Gabriele dans "Lost Transports

Ruth et Hans Goslar fui en 1933 avec sa fille de cinq ans, Hannah Elizabeth, de Berlin aux Pays-Bas après Amsterdam. Hans Goslar a été jusqu'en 1933, les ministres et attaché de presse au ministère prussien Intérieur à Berlin. Il était considéré comme une dimension journalistique de la période de Weimar. Le 25 Octobre 1940 à Amsterdam était la deuxième fille, Rachel, Gabriel est né. 1942 Ruth Goslar est mort lors de la naissance de leur troisième enfant. Il n'était pas vivant.

1943 Hans Goslar est venu avec ses filles et les parents à travers un grand raid par les Allemands d'Amsterdam, d'abord dans le camp de transit de Westerbork (où, en Novembre 1943, son père Alfred est décédé Klee d'une crise cardiaque), puis en allemand camp de concentration de Bergen-Belsen. Hans Goslar est mort ici le 25 Février 1945, sa mère Thérèse Klee 25 Mars 1945. entièrement laissée à leur propre avait aussi les cinq ans, Hannah et ses quatre ans sœur Rachel Gabriele le 10 Avril 1945 au départ de Bergen-Belsen, dans des wagons, la pulsion de mort à prendre Terezin. Avec des milliers de prisonniers, les filles ont, après treize jours douloureux de Voyage le 23 Avril 1945, la libération par l'Armée rouge à Tröbitz dans le Brandebourg. Le très malade, des enfants affamés trouvé abandonné dans la maison intacte du maire de la ville voisine d'un abri quelques semaines Schilda. Hannah remarqué dans une pièce de la maison une lumière verte à motifs peint des croix gammées. Évidemment, ici, une jeune fille avait vécu leur âge. Un spectacle choquant pour Hannah qu'il ne faut jamais oublier.

Mai 2003: Visite de sœurs Hannah Pick-Goslar et Rachel Mozes-Goslar en Tröbitz et Schilda

En mai 2003, Hannah a été invité à nouveau Pick-Goslar avec sa sœur Rachel Mozes-Goslar par le Bureau régional pour les étrangers (RAA) en Strausberg / Brandebourg. Le tracé devrait cette fois être dans le Tröbitz. La maison dans Schilda qui a fourni elle et sa sœur après la libération du train en avril 1945 a été une femme sans-abri ne pas aller chercher hors de l'esprit. Les années nonante en retard, ils avaient déjà visité lors d'un autre séjour dans le RAA Strausberg les communautés locales et les Schilda Tröbitz et la maison de l'ancien maire de. En Tröbitz elle a rencontré Erika Arlt sais qu'il était possible pour permettre à l'souhaité Schilda Mme Pick rencontre avec l'un de la fille du maire reste de (Mme H.). En mai 2003, sa sœur Rachel Hannah voulait voir les sites authentiques, y compris la maison de l'ancien maire dans Schilda.

Toutefois, Rachel ne se souvient pas à ce qui était alors passe.

J'ai rencontré Erika Arlt en août 2000 lors d'une visite commémorative Tröbitz et Torgau, et nous avons gardé le contact. Je suis heureux de maintenant suivie mai 2003, de leur aimable invitation, seulement un jour plus tôt pour arriver à Tröbitz de faire et de leur région d'origine, parce que nous voulions rencontrer les Sœurs de Goslar.

Erika Arlt

Né le 30 Mars 1926. Elle vient de Halle / Saale et vit depuis les années cinquante dans Tröbitz. À la fin des années nonante, le conjoint décédé et ancien détenu d'un camp de concentration Richard Arlt, elle a passé une dizaine d'années des efforts étendus pour le sort des victimes du «train perdu» n'est pas oublié et pour garder la mémoire vivante. Le dévouement de Mme Arlt, c'est grâce à ce contact, encore et encore les membres du défunt et les survivants de la mort de son transport. Les gens du Voyage dans le monde entier pour contacter Erika Arlt Tröbitz. Elle se rend avec eux sur les tombes de la famille dans le cimetière juif et des lieux commémoratifs dans la région. Il a souvent fourni une femme désintéressée Arlt l'hospitalité généreuse beaucoup voyagé. Dans plusieurs années, elle a étudié le sort des personnes touchées par le train de la mort et à l'écrit. Le milieu des années nonante, elle a publié un document d'information (voir note ci-dessous).

Le 2 Juin 1997 Erika Arlt reçu par l'ancien président fédéral Roman Herzog, la Croix du service de l'Ordre du Mérite de la République fédérale d'Allemagne. Au nom du Président de son administrateur du district de l'Elbe-Elster a remis le 25 Août 1997 ce prix.

In April 1945, 2500 prisoners from Bergen Belsen were put on a train transport to Theresienstadt, in three trains. Theresienstadt was no longer feasible and especially the last train of these, called “The lost train” ("Der verlorene Zug") or “The train of the lost”("Der Zug des Verlorenen"), was liberated by Russian troops at Tröbitz after a long journey through Germany, on April 23, 1945.

Of the prisoners, 198 were deceased then. In the weeks after the liberation another 320 people died because of exhaustion and disease.

Next to the church of Tröbitz is a holocaust-memorial commemorating this train. There is also a mass grave with 160 victims.