The Railways

The uprooting and transportation to the death camps of such a large number of people over so sustained a period would not have been possible without mobilising the railway system throughout Europe and the specialised clerical staff and rail workers needed to carry out the logistics of expatriation, expropriation and deportation. The person put in overall charge of this process was Adolf Eichmann.

The trains carrying Jews to the death camps were given priority over all other train transports. For example, in July 1942, the Germans launched an offensive in Russia with 266 divisions and imposed a ban on all non-military uses of the railways while the offensive was in progress.

Yet throughout this period, 5,000 Jews were transported by train to Treblinka each day, and another 5,000 were transported twice-weekly to Belzec. Some months later, when the German offensive was halted at Stalingrad, trains that could have been used to bring supplies to German troops on the front were diverted by Himmler for use in transporting Jews to the death camps.


Visual Evidence of the Process Leading to the Mass Murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau Credit: Yad Vashe

The Auschwitz Album is the only surviving visual evidence of the process leading to the mass murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is a unique document and was donated to Yad Vashem by Lilly Jacob-Zelmanovic Meier.