LISBON (Oct. 31)
More than 5,000 Vienna Jews, including aged and ill, were deported to Poland in five groups over a period of ten days and amid scenes of brutality comparing with the worst chapters in the history of Vienna’s Jewry since the Anschluss, according to authoritative information reaching here today.
Orders for transportation of the Jews were announced by the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, which is a branch of the Gestapo housed in the Rothschild Palace on Prinz Eugenstrasse. This office has a complete list of all Jews in Vienna and selected 8,000 for shipment to Poland. Apparently the deportations to Poland were carried out throughout the Reich on a “quota” system, each city being given a specified total.
The selected victims received printed cards giving them four days’ notices to appear at Kastelletz School with a maximum of 50 kilos (112 1bs.) of luggage and 100 marks (nominally $40) in cash. The notices created the greatest panic and depression and resulted in a veritable wave of suicides among the recipients. The exact total of suicides is not known but scores were reported, resulting in roundups throughout the city and vicinity by the S.S. men.
VICTIMS FORBIDDEN TO RECEIVE MEDICAL AID
The S.S. men surrounded and searched Jewish houses and seized the victims, many of whom were not given an opportunity to bid their families farewell or pack their miserable belongings for the journey. The searches were carried out under the direction of the notorious Jew-baitor, S.S. group leader Brunner, who constantly complained of the slowness in collecting the victims and the delays in sending out the trains.
Brunner forbade the Rothschild Hospital to admit patients who were included in the deportation list. Thus the hospital, before aiding the ill or the victims of accidents had first to ascertain if they were on the list. If so the hospital was barred from rendering aid. Cases were reported of people dying in the streets and their homes when they were deprived of hospitalization because they had been ear-marked for deportation.
One specific case about which this correspondent received definite information concerned an aged man in a comatose condition who had to be denied admission to the hospital and who subsequently had to be carried to the concentration center.
Some of those marked for deportation succeeded in escaping by proving they had been enabled to emigrate themselves within the next few days. The Nazis also exempted the families of men taken to work in Germany but curiously enough did not exempt families of those employed in Vienna. Removal of their names from the list. however, only accelerated S.S. activities, resulting in the seizing of others to complete the transport quotas.
An example of this was the case of a Jewish doctor who was treating a patient when the S.S. men surrounded the house. When he left, he was stopped by the guards, who demanded his papers. When he shifted his medical kit under his arm to reach for the papers he inadvertently covered part of the Star of David he was wearing. The S.S. men thereupon accused the doctor of concealing the badge, beat him for hours and then included him in a group of deportees.
DEPORTEES STAMPED LIKE CATTLE WITH INDELIBLE INK
More than 1,200 were jammed in the Kastelletz School awaiting the first shipment to Poland. Guarded by S.S. men, all received an indelible stamp on their wrist, marking them as deportees as an added precaution in the event of escape. After nightfall they were herded into open trucks, being packed so tightly that they couldn’t move, and taken to the railroad station. The sight was so pathetic as the trucks jounced along the streets that passerbys were moved to sympathetic comment.
Nightmare conditions prevailed on the trains, in which the deportees were jammed so tightly that they had to stand for the entire journey of several days and nights to Ledz, which apparently was the reception center. The oldest rolling stock available, unequipped with toilets or water supply, were used. Under the conditions prevailing when the trains left Vienna there is little doubt that scores of aged and invalids must have perished en route.
Their baggage, containing all the worldly possessions these miserable people were allowed to retain, was taken from them at the school for shipment in baggage cars or subsequent trains. To judge from past experience, it is doubtful if they will ever receive it. Some of those snatched during the roundups had no hope of obtaining baggage since they had no chance to pack before their Seizure.
No information is available on whether arrangements had been made to house the deportees in Polish ghettos, but if previous experience is a guide here, they are doomed to face the cruel hardships of the Polish winter without shelter or any clothing except what is on their backs.