Reichsbahn-‘Weapon’ of mass destruction.


If it hadn’t been for the Reichsbahn-the Nazi contolled railways ,the Holocaust would not have been possible to the extend it was.The irony, for lack of a better word, the hate for the Jews by  Hitler ,Himmler and the other Nazi leaders quite possibly caused them to lose the war. So many trains had been allocated to transport Jews and others to the death camps and concentration camps, that there was a lack of trains for transport of troops,supplies and equipment especially to the Eastern front.

Julius Heinrichtrein Dorpmueller was  general manager of Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft and the Reich Minister for Transport from 1937 to 1945.After the Nazi seizure of power Dorpmüller replaced nearly all “non-Aryan” workers with National Socialists. Dorpmüller became Reich Transport Minister on 2 February 1937

Dorpmüller had doubts about the capacity of the Reichsbahn and had confessed to Albert Speer  at one stage that the  Reichsbahn had not enough  cars and locomotives available for the German area that it was no longer possible  to meet the most urgent transportation needs.

Speer then convinced Hitler to appoint Albert Ganzenmüller state secretary under Dorpmüller. Ganzenmüller immediately goy  involved in the organisation of trains for deportation.Albert He collaborated in the transportation scheme for elderly German Jews to Theresienstadt and made sure  the  transport to the extermination camps as set up under Operation Reinhardt  ran as smoothly as possible. However there were some complaints about the management of the transports by Ganzemüller. On July 16 Himmler’s personal adjutant Karl Wolff, , complained to the newly appointed under-secretary about irregularities on  transport and track repairs on the line to the extermination camp at Sobibor. Ganzenmüller replied in writing on 28 July 1942 as follows:

“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 Krakau. 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 thanked him on 13 August 1942 in a personal letter:

“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.”

Not only was the Reichsbahn used as a sort of weapon of mass destruction , it was also used as a money making tool.Most of the Jews were forced to pay for their own deportations, particularly wherever passenger carriages were used.According to an expert report established on behalf of the German “Train of Commemoration” project, the receipts taken in by the state-owned Deutsche Reichsbahn for mass deportations in the period between 1938 and 1945 reached a sum of  an equivalent of close to 450 Million Euro or 505 Million USD.

It must be said that it wasn’t only the German railways who were involved, most of the other European railways also transported Jews and other so called’undesirables’ to the camps. Although they were controlled by the Reichsbahn, they still had some level of autonomy.

slovak train


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  1. nealhugh says:

    Thank you!!! Neal.


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