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Convoy 5

History of the convoy 5


On May 14, 1941, 3,700 Jews of foreign nationality living in Paris and its close suburbs were arrested in the assembly areas where they had been summoned “to examine his situation”. The green bill addressed to them requested that a member of his family or a friend accompany them. It was generally this relative who brought back some strictly specified personal effects before the men left for the two internment camps opened in the Loiret, at Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande.

On January 20, 1942, senior Nazi party officials met at Wannsee to discuss the implementation of the final solution. Following this conference, the deportation of Jews from the whole of occupied Europe to extermination camps intensified. In France, the deportations that began on 27 March 1942 reached their peak in the summer of 1942.

In May 1942, Theodor Dannecker, of the anti-Jewish section in Paris, reported that in the rail transport service in occupied France, Lieutenant General Kohl had assured him of his full support for the deportation of the Jews, whose “annihilation without a remnant” he wished to see.

The Wehrmacht took semantic precautions with regard to the deportation. In a secret telegram of May 13, 1942, it is noted that “sending to the East” should be avoided. The same applies to the expression deportation, a term directly reminiscent of the expulsions to Siberia during the time of the Tsars. In all publications and correspondence the term “forced labor” should be used.

On June 11, 1942, a conference was held in Berlin under the direction of Adolf Eichmann, head of the Office of Jewish Affairs at the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, Reich Central Security Office). The heads of the Jewish affairs offices of the Sipo-SD in France, Belgium and the Netherlands are present. At this meeting, plans were made for the final solution of the Jewish question.

In order to complete the workforce needed at Auschwitz, Jews would have to be deported from southeastern Europe or the occupied territories in the west. The directives specify that Jews (of both sexes) between the ages of 16 and 40, up to 10% of whom are unfit for work, may be deported. For France, it was agreed that 100,000 Jews would be deported from both zones.

On June 18, Eichmann asked Dannecker, one of the organizers of the deportation of the Jews, to immediately announce the stations of departure in chronological order. He replied that there were 2 trains from Bordeaux, 1 from Angers, Rouen, Nancy, Dijon, and 30 from Paris. He insisted on the fact that on June 22, 25 and 28 the first three transports will start. On June 19, the schedule was established.

Dannecker confirmed the departure of the fifth convoy of Jews from France by special train No. 815 on June 28, 1942 at 5:20 a.m. from Beaune-la-Rolande station.

The train could carry up to 350 tons and run at a speed of 80 km/h. It was composed of a locomotive, a sleeping car and ten cattle cars marked “men 40 or horses 8”. These cars were leaded. It had to be ready on the platform three hours before the scheduled departure time. He probably took the following route once he crossed the German-French border: Saarbrücken, Frankfurt-Main, Dresden, Görlitz, Nysa, and Katowice before arriving at Auschwitz.

This convoy left Beaune-la-Rolande with 1038 people including 1004 men and 34 women, among them French citizens. The majority of the men included in this convoy were registered among the Jews apprehended in May 1941 and one hundred came from the Orléans region, victims of a special gestapo action; among them were 34 women and 16 teenagers.

Conditions in the cattle cars were appalling, with only one bucket per car for needs. At the border in Alsace, while the inhabitants tried to help the deportees by giving them water, the Germans refused and the deportees remained without drink.

After a three-day journey, the deportees arrived at night on June 27th at the train station of Oświęcim, then to Auschwitz by what was called the Judenrampe located halfway between Auschwitz and Birkenau. They had to walk about 1 km on foot to reach the main entrance of the Birkenau camp and its sinister porch surmounted by a turret. 

They were assaulted by soldiers and vicious dogs who led them inside the camp. All were assigned to forced labor and were tattooed on their left arms. The men were registered from 42777 to 43780, and the women were numbered 8051 to 8084.

There were 87 surviving men from this convoy, but no women.


Sources Yad Vashem and Serge Klarsfeld.