Die Deportation nach Gurs

Filmaufnahmen aus Bruchsal vom 22. Oktober 1940

Deportation in Bruchsal County

From the deportation exists a list of the deportees created by the Nazis and just this approx. 1-minute film sequence with the title "Bruchsal free of Jews! The last Jews leave Bruchsal", which shows the deportation at Bruchsal railway station. The people, guarded by police officers, hurry past the Bruchsal storehouses to the tracks, where the special train, consisting of run-down wagons of the fourth class, is to bring the people from Heidelberg to the next boarding station in Karlsruhe. By the way, this is the only photograph in Germany that shows the deportation of Jews from southwest Germany to Gurs in moving (and touching) pictures.

"When the Jews were being transported, I was on duty at the station. I saw an SA man in uniform kicking a Jewish man. I also saw some women spitting in front of the Jews. But I also saw women crying in horror at these disgraceful deeds."

Hans Schmitt, Bruchsal


"She was pushed down the stairs, jostled and spat at. It was terrible to watch. They were Bruchsal SA people in uniform."

Josef Doll, railway official

Hans Dollinger from Östringen had to witness the removal of the Jews from his village:

"Only two people of our provincial town, a sibling couple named Ludwig and Malchen (Amalie) Wolf, lived in our market town. They were given the first names "Israel" and "Sarah" stamped in their passports by order of the NSDAP or Gestapo. I never really managed to develop feelings of hatred against Ludwig Wolf, even though I was 'allowed' to start my "leader career" at DJ (Deutsches Jungvolk) at that time. In 1914 Ludwig Wolf was a war volunteer for the emperor and his fatherland, who went to the First World War and returned home with various bravery and merit awards. But there was also no 'mercy' for former front fighters of Jewish faith, although he pleaded with the SA/SS command that picked him up: 'Please leave me alone; I'm no worse German than you are'. He and his mentally ill sister had to board the truck on which some Jews from the neighbouring villages had already been. Our English teacher, Professor D. from Bruchsal, who was also a district speaker for the NSDAP, then announced the next day in the English lesson with a grin: 'All the Jews in our region were deported to southern France yesterday, so that this work-shy rabble finally learns how to work.'"

From: Hans Dollinger: Kain, wo ist dein Bruder? 1983, p. 66

How the deportation in Bruchsal took place was also reported by Rosa Spohrer from Bruchsal, the long-time cleaning woman of the Westheimer family. Adelheid, Frieda and Kurt Westheimer had to vacate their flat in Schwimmbadstraße 27 and move to Bahnhofplatz 7 to join Samuel and Marie Katzauer and Betty Marx. Rosa Spohrer helped with this move and reported in 1954 on the day of the "sudden pick-up". She hurried to the apartment of the Westheimers early in the morning to say goodbye:

"But they had already spent time at the Bruchsal Bürgerhof and the apartment was occupied by a police officer named Kohl who had died in the meantime. Mr. Kohl confirmed to me that all the things were still there, but that he was no longer allowed to let me go into the apartment. I cannot say what happened to the property of the Westheimer family, but as far as I know the entire Jewish property was auctioned off. [...] Westheimers were good, honest, helpful people."

Edith Leuchter, née Löb, reported that on 22 October 1940 two policemen arrived early in the morning and told the family to pack their bags quickly. The family had to follow the policemen to the station without knowing where they were going.

Hannelore Kolb, née Wildmann, from Philippsburg, reports that the Jews of Philippsburg were loaded onto trucks and brought to Bruchsal.

The Bruchsal contemporary witness Klara Krotz reports:

"It must have been 1941 [1940 was correct] when one day my relative came up to me on the third floor and said, shocked, 'They're picking up the Wolf family'. We then went down to the first floor and looked out behind the window curtains. I just saw Mrs Wolf get into a truck. She only had a small cardboard box with her, nothing else. Her husband and son Richard, then 14 years old, must have already been in the truck. This shocked me so much that I can't remember whether police officers or SA people were there. But I think I can remember brown uniforms."

The Gestapo was responsible for organising the deportation. Bruchsal and its environs were the responsibility of their Karlsruhe headquarters, where the pickup squads were set up and arrested together with the local police. From Bruchsal, the special train with Jewish Germans travelled to Karlsruhe Central Station, which the Nazis had designated as the collecting station for the region between Bühl, Pforzheim and Bruchsal.

Using excerpts from this books: "Jürgen Stude, Geschichte der Juden in Bruchsal" and "Anton Heuchemer, Zeit der Drangsal".

Only a few years ago photos appeared showing Recha and Fritz Sicher as well as Adelheid Heß in Prinz-Wilhelm-Straße on the way to the railway station. Two other persons in the photo have not yet been identified.

Deportation of the family Sicher to Gurs. Left front Fritz Sicher, in the middle wife Recha Sicher, right beside Adelheid Heß. Taken in the Prinz-Wilhelm-Straße. In the background the Bürgerhof. Photo: Stadtarchiv Bruchsal.