This greyscale image depicts a front view of the cattle wagon (German train car) situated in Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp at Ofiar Faszyzmu 12, 32-600 Brzezinka, Poland.
The primary role of the cattle wagon and train system was for the Final Solution. To transport ethnic groups of people, predominantly Jewish citizens, to their death from all over Europe.
Holocaust trains were railway transports run by the Deutsche Reichsbahn national railway system under the control of Nazi Germany and its allies, for the forcible deportation of the Jews, as well as other victims of the Holocaust, to the Nazi concentration, forced labour, and extermination camps.
The speed at which people targeted in the “Final Solution” could be exterminated was dependent on two factors: the capacity of the death camps to gas the victims and quickly dispose of their bodies, as well as the ability of the railways to transport the victims from Nazi ghettos to extermination camps. The most modern accurate numbers on the scale of the “Final Solution” still rely partly on shipping records of the German railways.
The first trains with German Jews expelled to ghettos in occupied Poland began departing from central Germany on 16 October 1941. Called Sonderzüge (special trains), the trains had low priority for the movement. They would proceed to the mainline only after all other transports went through, inevitably extending transport time beyond expectations.
The trains sometimes consisted of third-class passenger carriages but more commonly freight cars or cattle cars; the latter was packed with up to 150 deportees, although 50 was the number proposed by the SS regulations.
No food or water was supplied. The Güterwagen boxcars were fitted with only a bucket latrine. A small barred window provided irregular ventilation, often resulting in multiple deaths from either suffocation or exposure to the elements.
At times, the Germans did not have enough filled cars ready to start a significant shipment of Jews to the camps, so the victims were kept locked inside overnight at layover yards.
The Holocaust trains also waited for military trains to pass. On average, transport took about four days. The longest transport of the war, from Corfu, took 18 days. When the train arrived at the camp, everyone was dead.
Image size: 2625×3920
File size: 1.8MB
Bit: 24 bit
Property/model release: No
Edited: Yes. Adobe Lightroom CC
Location: Auschwitz II, Poland
Year took: 2020
Copyright owner: J. J. Williamson