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May 28, 2013

the train station for Theresienstadt was at Bauschowitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 11:45 am

I read in a news article today that Claude Lanzmann’s new documentary The Last of the Unjust mentions the train station where Jews got off for the Theresienstadt ghetto. What train station?

Theresienstadt, now known as Terezin, is a tiny 18th-century walled town which is located on the main road that connects the German city of Dresden with Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic.  This is the place that the Germans turned into the Theresienstadt Ghetto, where Jews were imprisoned during World War II.

The train station for Theresienstadt was at Bauschowitz

The train station for Theresienstadt was at Bauschowitz (Bohusovice)

On one of my bus trips to Terezin, the Czech town where the Theresienstadt ghetto was formerly located, our bus passed through Bohusovice, (Bauschowitz), the village where the Jews had to get off the train and walk to the Theresienstadt ghetto, carrying their bundles.

Later, a branch railroad line to the Theresienstadt ghetto was constructed by the Nazis, using the labor of the Jewish inmates of the ghetto.  However, there is no train station inside the present town of Terazin.

Jews carrying their luggage from train station to Theresienstadt ghetto

Jews carrying their luggage from Bauschowitz train station to Theresienstadt ghetto

This quote from this website describes the arrival of the Jews at the Bauschowitz (Bohusovice) train station:

These Jews were crammed in cattle cars with little or no water, food, or sanitation. The trains unloaded at Bohusovice, the nearest train station to Theresienstadt, approximately 2 km away. The deportees were then forced to disembark and march the rest of the way to Theresienstadt – carrying all of their luggage. Once the deportees reached Theresienstadt, they went to the checking point (called “floodgate” or “Schleuse” in camp slang). The deportees then had their personal information written down and placed in an index. Then, they were searched. Most especially, the Nazis or Czech gendarmes were looking for jewelry, money, cigarettes, as well as other items not allowed in the camp such as hot plates and cosmetics. During this initial process, the deportees were assigned to their “housing.”

Each train transport to the Theresienstadt ghetto consisted of around 1,000 Jews. Upon arrival at the ghetto, the Jews went through a checkpoint, which was called “die Schleuse”, which means the lock, as in a lock on a canal.

You can see the location of the railroad branch line and the barracks where the first transport arrived, on a map of the Theresienstadt ghetto, on my website here:

28. Bahnhofstrasse – Railway branch line built by the prisoners and first used in June 1943. Near the Hamburg barracks from which the transports left for Auschwitz.

32. Block E I — Sudeten Barracks where the first transport of men arrived in November of 1942.

The first Jews, who were brought to Theresienstadt on November 24, 1941, were 342 men who were housed in the Sudeten barracks on the west side of the old garrison, from where one can see the Sudeten mountain range near the border between Germany and the Czech Republic.

Sudenten Barracks were inside the wall of the old Theresienstadt fort

Sudenten Barracks were inside the wall of the old Theresienstadt fort

This first transport, called the Aufbaukommando, was brought to Theresienstadt to prepare the 10 barracks buildings for the rest of the Jews who would soon follow. On December 4, 1941 another transport of 1,000 Jews who were to form the Jewish “self-government” of the ghetto was sent to Theresienstadt. These two early transports became known as AK1 and AK2.

During World War II, when the Jews in the Greater German Reich, including what is now the Czech Republic, were sent to the former military garrison in Theresienstadt, they were housed in eleven former barracks buildings used by the Austrian soldiers in the 18th century.

Podmokly Barracks at Theresienstadt

Podmokly (Bodenbach) Barracks at Theresienstadt

The photograph above, taken in 2000, shows the Podmokly barracks, which the Germans called the Bodenbach barracks; in the background is the bastion on the north side of the old fort. There was a metal barrier in front of the bastion, hiding it from view, and it was off limits to tourists when I visited the former camp in the year 2000.

The Podmokly barrack building, shown in the photo above, is in two parts, separated by a narrow courtyard. This photo was taken from near the end of Langestrasse. The Podmokly barracks is directly in line with the Hannover barracks on the opposite side of the garrison town.

On the left in the photograph above, you can see the walls of the bastion which juts out from the garrison on the north side. Directly opposite, on the south side of the garrison, there is another identical bastion. There were buildings located between the double walls of each bastion. Between the bastion walls was the Aussig barracks which was the “die Schleuse” where the prisoners were registered when they first arrived. This building was very primitive with a latrine instead of flush toilets and rough stone floors.

Inside the walls of the bastion on the south side of the old fort was a bakery during the time when the present town of Terezin was the Theresienstadt Ghetto.

Until June 1943, the incoming prisoners had to walk two kilometers from the nearest railroad station in the town of Bohusovice (originally called Bauschowitz by the Germans) and they entered the ghetto on the same road on which the bus coming from Prague enters the town today.

The branch railway line from Bohusovice to the Theresienstadt Ghetto ended in front of the Hamburg barracks, shown in my 2000 photo below.

Hamburg Barracks in former Theresienstadt ghetto

Hamburg Barracks in former Theresienstadt ghetto

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