Death train to Belzec
11th September 1942: SS reports describes a nightmare train journey as Ukrainian Jews make desperate attempts to escape from their cattle wagons
As so often in many organisations, not least the military, the records of daily events are often routine returns and statistics with little description. Only when things go exceptionally well or exceptionally badly do we tend to get a fuller record.
So it was with the SS. We have records of train movements connected with the Holocaust and a variety of statistics of Jews that they wanted to kill or had killed. Rarely does an official report describe what happened on a daily basis.
This is a record of the appalling suffering that thousands of Jews from in and around Kolomea in the Ukraine - men, women and children - endured as they were rounded up and crammed onto the cattle wagons.
Reserve Lieutentant Westermann of the Schutzpolizei makes clear that the round up of Jews for ‘re-settlement’ was a bloody business and that those that were forced onto the trains in the ‘great heat’ were exhausted, hungry and probably dehydrated:
‘Given the great heat prevailing on those days and the strain on the Jews from the long foot marches or from waiting for days without being given any provisions worth noting…’
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