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Nazis to Use Jewish Prisoners to Enlarge Dachau; Link to War Scare Seen

June 5, 1938
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Scores of Jewish women inquiring at the Rossau-Erlaende prison and the central police station about the fate of arrested relatives were informed today that those who had been sent to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany during the past week would be put to work enlarging the camp.

It was intimated that those conscripted specifically for this purpose would be released after the job was finished. While informed quarters did not place great weight in this explanation, others were inclined to give credence to it, linking it with the current war scare as possible preparation for the wholesale handling of civil and military prisoners that war entails.

The last transport of prisoners to be shipped to Dachau was a trainload of nearly 1,000 Jews which pulled out of the West Station at 11:45 o’clock last night to the accompaniment of Nazi anthems and the blaring of a storm troopers’ band which was on hand to see off celebrities departing on a train at an adjoining platform.

Only a handful of taxicab drivers and idling passers-by viewed the departure of the “Dachau special,” which comprised eight third-class coaches. The curtains of all but a few windows were pulled down. Through the uncurtained windows prisoners were seen sitting shoulder to shoulder, their heads back against the seats, their hands resting on their knees, in the postures of identical statues under the glare of the lights. Many of the prisoners, against whom nothing was charged except that they were Jews, sat in this position for nearly five hours before the train’s departure.

The first police van carrying Jewish prisoners to the train arrived at seven p.m., followed by others at frequent intervals until 10:30 p.m. The vans were driven directly alongside the train, out of the sight of watchers, who were kept back by patrolling soldiers. The prisoners were taken from the Karajongasse jail, but there was every evidence that the jail was still far from empty. There was no indication that the current round-up of Jews, commenced a week ago today, had yet ceased.

The extraordinary callousness with which police have withheld information is one of the most terrifying aspects of the situation. An example of the casual attitude was revealed when this correspondent asked an officer at the Hermanngasse School, which is now a jail, whether arrested Jews were held there. The officer asked which case the questioner was interested in. The correspondent gave the name “Eisen” at random. The officer replied, without looking up: “Oh, yes, he is here,” and referred the questioner to the Gestapo for further information.

Whether all or a few of the several thousand arrested have been sent to Dachau or to Styria or whether they will soon be released is a matter of frightening uncertainty. The events of the past few days will never be erased from the minds of thousands of women here.

Among those sent to Dachau, it was learned, was Fritz Altman, brother of the head of the Palestine Foundation Fund, Zionist fund-raising organization, in Austria.

Joseph Smetana, 53 years old, head of a chain of cleaning and dyeing establishments, committed suicide by poison.

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