Menu JTA Search

Red Cross Official Describes Ousting of 6,000 German Jews to France

Some 12,000 refugees, including 6,000 Jews uprooted on one hour’s notice from their German homes, are existing on rations sufficient only for about 9,000 persons in the Gurs concentration camp in unoccupied France, according to F. Sahlman, a Portuguese Red Cross official who inspected the camp and was interviewed by a United Press correspondent while an route to the United States.

“When 6,000 German Jewish refugees arrived from the Palatinate, Baden and Wurtemberg the commander of the camp received no increase in his food allowance,” Sahlman said. “If this situation on continues many of the older refugees, as well as the sick and some 500 children, will die for lack of nourishment.”

Sahlman had obtained a letter smuggled out of the camp, telling of the plight of the Jewish refugees. It said:

“On the morning of Oct. 22 Jews from the Saar Palatinate, the Palatinate, the Grand Duchy of Baden and the Wurtemberg Province were awakened by the Gestapo and warned to be ready to leave Germany within one hour.

“They were informed they would be allowed to carry with them 100 Reichsmarks and 110 pounds of luggage. The great majority took with them the bare necessities, fearing they would have to carry their own luggage. Aged persons, some 80 and 90 years old as well as sick and feeble men and women, were among those deported.

“Due to the great number of exiles it took many trains, which left at short intervals between the 22nd and 23rd of October. After crossing the Rhine bridge there was no possible doubt that our final destination would be French soil. After a 54-hour train ride, during which soup was given us only once, we arrived at 01oron, in the Basses Pyrenees Department. From there we were taken to the Gurs camp in trucks, which also took our meager luggage.

“Owing to the fact that the French commander of the Gurs camp had not been advised as to our number and was taken by surprise by our mass arrival, it is not astonishing that he lacked food at the beginning. Despite the fact that the French administration are doing all it can to help the internees, it is understandable that old people and the sick cannot resist the hardships of camp life.

“During the few weeks of our stay here at Gurs the camp cemetery has grown in an anguishing proportion.”

NEXT STORY