The Holocaust would not have been possible without the help of the railways, at least not to the extend as it happened.
The Deutsche Reichsbahn was headed by Julius Dorpmüller, who was also Reich Minister for Transport, but it was his deputy , Albert Ganzenmüller, who had the responsibility for the organisation of trains for deportation.
Ganzenmüller had replaced Wilhelm Kleinmann, who’resigned’ on May 26,1942. Kleinmann had stated that he had exceeded the age limit for the position, the reality was that he was pushed out because the Nazi regime weren’t impressed by the performance of the Reichsbahn in relation to the deportation and Operation Barbarossa, Hitler even threatened to send Kleinmann to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, as he did with other railway executives.
However Ganzenmüller was a more enthusiastic Nazi than Kleinmann. He collaborated in the transportation scheme for elderly German Jews to Theresienstadt and made sure the running of transport to the extermination camps set up under Operation Reinhardt would go smoothly.
On 16 July 1942, Karl Wolff, the Personal assistant to Heinrich Himmler, complained to the newly appointed deputy chief of the Deutsche Reichsbahn about irregular transport and track repairs on the line to the extermination camp at Sobibor.
On July 28,1942, Ganzenmüller sent the following reply in writing to Karl Wolff:
“A train carrying 5,000 Jews has run daily since 22 July from Warsaw to Treblinka via Malkinia; furthermore, another train has run twice a week with 5,000 Jews from Przemysl to Belzec. The senior management of the eastern division of the railways, ‘Gedob’ (Generaldirektion der Ostbahnen), is in constant touch with the security service in Krakow.
The latter is in agreement that transport from Warsaw to Sobibor via Lublin should continue while the reconstruction work on this stretch renders such movements impossible until approximately October 1942.”
Karl Wolff, personally thanked him in writing on 13 August 1942 :
“I note with particular pleasure from your communication that a train with 5,000 members of the chosen race has been running daily for 14 days and that we are accordingly in a position to continue with this population movement at an accelerated pace.”
Ganzenmüller was directly approached by Himmler in early 1943 in order to ensure the pending removal of Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Albert Ganzenmüller escaped to Argentina in 1945 but was given amnesty in 1952, he returned to Germany in 1955. He did serve a few weeks in remand in 1957, after his correspondence with Wolff and Himmler had been discovered but he wasn’t charged. In 1974 new charges were presented at a regional court but the case was halted and eventually terminated.
Aside from the obvious ,another sickening aspect of the transports was the fact that the victims had to pay for the tickets.Adults paid 4 pfennigs per kilometre, children 2 pfennigs, while those under the age of 4 traveled free. Trainloads of 400 or more, which amounted to massive overcrowding, received a 50% discount.
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