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Yad Vashem This Month in Holocaust History
October
October 1941, Jewish forced laborers digging a sewage ditch, Hanau, Germany

October 1941

Jewish forced laborers digging a sewage ditch, Hanau, Germany

Hanau, outside of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, had a Jewish population in 1933 of less than 500 out of a general population of 40,655. Antisemitism was rampant in Hanau throughout the period of Nazi rule, with a murderous pogrom taking place against the Jews on the morning of November 10, 1938. The synagogue was set aflame, and by June 1939, the Jewish community had shrunk to only 82 people.

In September 1941, approx. one month before this photograph was taken, German Jews above the age of six were required to wear the Jewish star. In the photo are Jews from Hanau who were enlisted in forced labor, compelled to dig a sewage ditch and clear the streets of snow and ice, while wearing a Jewish star on arm bands. During this period there were only about 30 Jews left in Hanau. The others had been arrested and deported to concentration camps, had moved to other cities in Germany, or had migrated from Germany, leaving in particular for the Americas. Approximately one month after the photograph was taken, the Germans announced that Jews “not employed in essential factories for the state’s economy” would be deported to the East.

In May 1942, 75 Jews were deported from Hanau and its environs to concentration camps in Eastern Europe. Only half-Jews and Jews married to Aryan spouses remained in Hanau. The majority of these Jews were deported to Theresienstadt in February 1945. Most of them survived the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem Photo Archives 436/21