Not much is known about the early history of München 12 246.
Like other German railway cars, it was built there early in the 20th century and was used to transport cattle.
A little more is known about its history during World War II — it carried Jews instead of cattle.
The train wagon was among hundreds that became the final home of some 1.5 million Jews during the Third Reich’s “Final Solution” to the “Jewish problem.” Many among the human cargo died en route to concentration camps, confined in cramped cars like München 12 246 that lacked ventilation, food or water, and bathroom facilities.
München 12 246, a place of death in Germany, is now a site of remembrance in Israel.
Found in 2013 by Holocaust researcher and preservation expert Roni Dotan, the wagon was shipped to Israel last year after extensive negotiations with the German government, and now is part of a memorial center in Netanya, next to a memorial for fallen Israeli soldiers. It was accompanied from the port of Ashdod by a delegation of motorcyclists, police and Netanya officials.
Today, school groups visit the “living monument” to the Shoah, reading about the wagon’s wartime background, and educational seminars are held there.
And last week, on Yom HaShoah, the wagon served as the venue of visitors’ impromptu Mincha afternoon prayer service, above.