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On January 21, 1945, more than a hundred Jews from the slave work labor camp Golleschau, a subcamp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, were loaded into sealed cattle cars labeled Property of the SS and transported westward without food or water.

The train travelled aimlessly on the railways for ten days, covered in ice - the stamps, with the date, of the following train stations can be seen on the bill of lading, preserved in the archives of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Authority:

Golleschau, January 21

Teschen, January 21

Oderberg, January 22

Schönbr., January 22

Freudenthal, January 25

Brüssen-Brünnlitz, January 29.

The author Thomas Keneally tells in his milestone of Holocaust literature Schindler's Ark how the starving and freezing prisoners were travelling without food for many days and with the doors frozen shut. They were abandoned on sidings, reattached to locomotives, dragged for 50 miles, uncoupled again.

Many prisoners froze to death as the erratic journey continued. After six days the sealed cattle cars reached Zwittau where they were detached and abandoned on an isolated siding.

But several more days passed before a railway worker heard human scratching and cries from inside the cattle cars. He informed Oscar Schindler's brother-in-law, who worked for the German Railway, and Schindler was immediately notified that cattle cars with Jewish prisoners had arrived at the station.

Sir Martin Gilbert tells in his great books Atlas of the Holocaust and The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy how Schindler desperately tried to get permission from the SS to shunt the cattle cars to his armament factory nearby at Brunnlitz. He was unsuccessful, but then decided to go personally to the railway station.

 

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