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Yad Vashem This Month in Holocaust History
August 1939, Jews deported from Germany to Zbaszyn, Poland, living on a farm outside of Bialystok

August 1939

Jews deported from Germany to Zbaszyn, Poland, living on a farm outside of Bialystok

The deported Jews in the photograph were cared for by the Jewish community of Bialystok. Some of those pictured here were members of the agricultural training camps of the youth movements.

On October 27, 1938, German authorities began arresting Jews of Polish citizenship living in the Reich and transporting them to the Polish border. Responding to a Polish decree that all passports of Polish residents abroad would be rescinded by the end of October unless a special permit for reentry to Poland was received, the Germans preempted the Polish government by forcibly deporting thousands of Jews across the border into Poland. The Jews were given no warning of the deportation and were not allowed to bring with them any possessions or valuables beyond 10 marks. Almost 17,000 Jews were deported to Poland, the vast majority of whom were placed in a camp in the Zbaszyn area. Deported with no means of survival, the Jews were initially cared for by the local inhabitants of Zbaszyn, and were then provided for by representatives of the Joint Distribution Committee, whose team in Zbaszyn was headed by the historian and Jewish activist Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum. The Polish government decided to close the refugee camp in November 1938, and the refugees thus sought relatives and places of refuge, such as Jewish communities willing to adopt them and support them. Some of the refugees received visas and left Poland; a number of the young people in Zbaszyn joined the agricultural training camps of the Zionist movements. The German and Polish governments eventually reached an agreement in January 1939, in which the deported Jews were allowed to return to Germany for a short period of time in limited numbers, where they liquidated their assets and deposited them in blocked accounts in Germany out of which they were unable to make withdrawals. The Polish government then allowed these individuals to return to Poland along with their families from Germany.

Yad Vashem Photo Archives 7642/2