1939-1945: The Reichsbahn in The Second World War and The Holocaust
During World War II, the Reichsbahn was an essential component of German military logistics, providing essential transportation services for the Reich throughout the occupied lands of Europe. In addition, the Reichsbahn's participation was crucial to the effective implementation of the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" (Endlösung der Judenfrage). The Reichsbahn was paid to transport Jews and other victims of the Holocaust from thousands of towns and cities throughout Europe to meet their death in the Nazi concentration camp system, using Holocaust trains.
The following is an excerpt from the testimony of Holocaust scholar Raul Hilberg:
"The Reichsbahn was ready to ship in principle any cargo in return for payment. And therefore, the basic key — price controlled key — was that Jews were going to be shipped to Treblinka, were going to be shipped to Auschwitz, Sobibor …so long as the railroads were paid by the track kilometer, so many pfennigs per mile. The rate was the same throughout the war. With children under ten going at half-fare and children under four going free. Payment had to be made for only one way. The guards of course had to have return fare paid for them because there were going back to their place of origin..."
Beginning in November 2007, a museum train, the "Train of Commemoration" (Zug der Erinnerung), began a 3000 km tour of Germany as a rolling memorial to the thousands of youth and children who were deported from all over Europe, many via the Reichsbahn, to the camps. A certain amount of controversy has surrounded the train's tour through Germany, in part because of the apparent lack of cooperation on the part of Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) concerning such matters as compensation for the use of the DB AG's right of way (during the tour) and the stationing of the train, during its visit to Berlin, at the Ostbahnhof station instead of the more centrally located Hauptbahnhof main railway station. The tour was scheduled to end on 8 May 2008 (the 63rd anniversary of the end of the European portion of WWII) when the train arrived at Auschwitz. However, it continued to make appearances through 2009, and as of January 2010 the website requests visitors to look for further travel plans at the end of February.
Read more about this topic: Deutsche Reichsbahn
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