Scrapbookpages Blog

December 12, 2012

the Boxcar has become an icon of the Holocaust

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:17 am
Boxcar on display at Auschwitz-Birkenau


Boxcar on display at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Boxcar at Judenrampe near Auschwitz-Birkenau

My 2005 photo of a Boxcar at Judenrampe near Auschwitz-Birkenau

Boxcar at Neuengamme Memorial Site Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

Boxcar at Neuengamme Memorial Site   Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

Jews being loaded into a boxcar to be transported to the Belzec "extermination camp."

Jews being loaded into a boxcar to be transported to the Belzec “extermination camp.”

This quote is from Rainer Froebe, University of Hannover: <Rainer.Froebe @mbox.hist-sem.uni-hannover.de>:

The German railway box car (Gueterwagen) is widely used as an icon for the
deportation of Jews and Gypsies.  Full size box cars are on display at
memorial sites in Berlin, Neuengamme, Nordhausen (Dora-Mittelbau
concentration camp), Les Milles (France), Yad Vashem, Washington, D. C. (US
Holocaust Memorial Museum), and Dallas, Texas.
Which other museums or memorial sites (worldwide) have a similar exhibit?
The *Deutsche Technikmuseum* (German Technical Museum) in Berlin which has
been the first institution to put a box car on display in October 1988 is
preparing an iconographic survey.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC has a German boxcar on display; you can read about it and see a photo of the interior of the boxcar here.

German boxcar that was lifted by a crane into an American Holocaust Museum

German boxcar that was lifted by a crane into an American Holocaust Museum

The photo immediately above shows a boxcar that was recently brought from Germany and lifted by a crane into a Holocaust Museum in Farmington Hills, MA.  After the boxcar was in place, the unfinished Museum was built around it.  You can read all about it here.  This quote is from another article about the Holocaust Museum in Farmington Hills:

The morning after Henrietta and Rachel’s family had their first Passover seder in the Warsaw Ghetto, Nazi soldiers came, gathered hundreds of Jews and put them into a railroad boxcar headed for the concentration camps.

It took the sisters and their family: Sara, mother; Israel, father; and two brothers, Reuben and Herschel, one week to reach Majdanek, an extermination camp near Lublin, Poland.

When the train finally reached its destination, Nazi soldiers made their selections. The men and women were separated. They never again saw their father or brothers. Their mother was pulled out of the group of women. Rachel and Henrietta last saw her waiting in a grassy area. “Little did we know that she would be put in the gas chamber,” Rachel Schwartz said. “Never did we think we would never see her again.”

Gallery dedication

The sisters, Rachel Schwartz and Henrietta Weisberg, told their story at the Nov. 20 dedication of The Henrietta and Alvin Weisberg Gallery at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills.

It’s been 70 years since Henrietta and Rachel were transported to an “extermination camp.”  How old was Henrietta when her mother was sent to the gas chamber at Majdanek?

I did a search and found that Henrietta is now 83, so she was 13 at the time that she arrived at the Majdanek “extermination camp” but was not selected for the gas chamber.  How did this happen?  As everyone knows, Jews younger than 15 and older than 45 were immediately gassed, hours after their arrival at an “extermination camp.”

Dead German soldiers on a train at Dachau

Dead German soldiers on a train at Dachau

The photo above shows German soldiers who were taken to a boxcar, parked outside the Dachau concentration camp, and shot after they surrendered the camp to the American liberators of Dachau.  This boxcar had brought prisoners from the Buchenwald camp to Dachau in the last days of World War II.

During World War II, German civilians and German soldiers were routinely riding in boxcars.  During the Depression in America, hobos were “riding the rails,” going from town to town, trying to find a job.  No one makes a big deal about this.  The railroad Museum in Sacramento, CA has an American boxcar on display, which is shown in the photo below.

Boxcar on display in Sacramento railroad museum

Boxcar on display in Sacramento railroad museum