The ever tightening persecution of Jews in the west and in ‘Greater Germany’ reached a new stage when they began to be forcibly deported to established ghettos in Poland. The fiction that they were merely being ‘re-settled’ in the East was maintained to ensure their compliance – and to reduce the objections of the local German population watching the departures. They were allowed to leave with personal luggage, although all their other possessions were confiscated by the German Reich as soon as they left.
This was not a ‘new life in the east’, it was effectively a death sentence, given the levels of starvation and deprivation that the Germans enforced in the ghettos.
In the Polish ghetto of Lodz Shlomo Frank recorded in his diary:
19th October 1941
Today 1,000 deportees from Vienna arrived in the ghetto. Among the new arrivals are physicians, engineers, professors, famous chemists, dental technicians, once prominent merchants, several priests from converted families, and twenty Christian women, who have come along with their husbands and children.
The Viennese Jews have brought a lot of food and other goods. They said that between Vienna and the Polish border they travelled in second class railway cars. They were treated well. They say that most of the Viennese population sympathised with them.
Some Viennese women cried openly and asked good God to let them see each other again soon. But as soon as they entered Poland, there was a change of guards, and with it good relations ceased.
The farther they travelled the worse their treatment