Stories of the Last Deportees, June 1944-April 1945
Deportation of Jews from the Łódź ghetto to Auschwitz-Birkenau. August 1944
From Our Collections
By the summer of 1944, the demise of Nazi Germany seemed inevitable. The German Army suffered defeat after defeat, but despite this, the machinery of extermination relentlessly continued to operate at full strength. While parts of Europe had already been liberated, the last Jews were being deported from areas still under the control of the Germans. This exhibition tells the story of those Jews who were deported in the last months of the war - from June 1944 until April 1945 - from the Netherlands, Hungary, Greece, France, Poland, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Germany. The Jews were loaded onto cattle cars and deported to Auschwitz and to camps in Germany, sometimes just days before the liberators arrived.
The stories told here are based on material from Yad Vashem's Archives and various collections: personal documentation, testimonies, photographs, artworks, Pages of Testimony, diaries, documents, etc. The details of the deportations and their routes can be found in the online research project, "Transports to Extinction" on the Yad Vashem website.
Holocaust survivor Paula Kaufman-Welt talks about her arrest by the Gestapo in Paris in July 1944
Holocaust survivor Zoli-Zvi Schwartz talks about the deportation from Monor, Hungary to Auschwitz
Holocaust survivors Dario and Vittorio Israel talk about their father who was deported to Auschwitz
In keeping with the policy of the "Final Solution," during World War II the Germans and their collaborators uprooted millions of Jews from their homes and deported them to their deaths. This meticulously organized operation was an event of historic significance, obliterating Jewish communities throughout German-occupied territory that had existed for centuries. Vast numbers of Jews were sent straight to the extermination sites, while many others were first taken to ghettos and transit camps. Thus, the cattle – or railway – car, the principal mode of Nazi deportation, became one of the most iconic symbols of the Holocaust. Originally a symbol of progress, globalization and human technological prowess during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the railway car warped into the emblem of the backsliding of human values into the abyss of wholesale mass murder on an unprecedented scale. Read more …