Deportations of Jews
First Deportations 1939
»General Gouvernement«
Lodz ghetto
»Reichskommissariat Ostland«
»Operation Reinhard«
# Flight, Emigration and Death
Demography 1938-1945

After the »Anschluss« in March 1938, many Jews and politically persecuted people fled to France. The exile organizations of the Austrian Social Democrats and the Communists were also transferred from Czechoslovakia to Paris in 1938. Further-more, in the spring of 1939 after the end of the Spanish Civil War, tens of thousands of volunteers who had fought on the side of the Spanish republic, arrived in France, among them hundreds of Austrians, who were then interned by the Franch authorities together with the Germans in camps, as for example Le Vernet, St. Cyprien, Gurs, and Argelès.

When the war broke out, the situation for the refugees grew worse. On 4 September 1939 all male »hostile foreigners« were ordered to be detained in make-shift assembly camps. Most »not politically suspect persons« were released again in January 1940. The French authorities offered the refugees to join the Foreign Legion or the military labor service ( »Service Préstataire«), and thousands of Austrians took advantage of this offer.

After the war had broken out in the west and Belgium had been occupied by the German army in May 1940, a fresh wave of internment followed, so that when France collapsed a month later a great number of refugees fell into the hands of the German occupying forces.

First acts of persecution by the German occupying powers in the occupied territories were mainly directed against stateless or foreign Jews. In the year 1941, up to 8000 men were arrested and interned in camps in Pithiviers, Beaune le Rolande, Compiègne and Drancy. On 27 March 1942 a proportion of these internees was deported from Compiègne to Auschwitz as a »retaliatory measure« for acts by the Résistance.

Further transports from the above mentioned camps followed in June 1942. At this point the plans of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) for the deportation of Jews from France were already well advanced. In an agreement between the Vichy Prime Minister, Pierre Laval, and the commanding officer of the Security police and the SD in France, Helmut Knochen, it was agreed that the French police would arrest 22,000 stateless Jews in the occupied zone, and Vichy would hand over the stateless Jews from the unoccupied zone. From the middle of July 1942 until mid-November 1942, 40 deportation transports bound for Auschwitz with more than 42,000 people on board left France, mostly from the assembly camp at Drancy. A further escalation of the deportation measures planned by the RSHA at the end of August, failed, however, because of the increasingly uncooperative attitude of the Vichy government. Even the occupation of southern France (the »free zone«) by the German Reich and Italy in November 1942 changed nothing in the faltering support from the French administration. During the two following years a further 32,000 Jews were deported from France, mostly to Auschwitz. The organisation of those deportations was now taken over by the French »Milice« and a »Sonder-kommando« under Alois Brunner, who had been sent to France by Adolf Eichmann.

Altogether about 75,000, mostly stateless or foreign Jews were deported from France, including more than 3500 Austrians. Of these about 200 are known to have survived.


Georg Halpern
» click see larger image

Georg Halpern (born on
30 October 1935, in Vienna) lived as an »U-Boot« in a hospital in Perpignan. In 1944, he and other children were discovered and deported to Auschwitz on
13 April 1944. Georg Halpern was murdered in Auschwitz.

Berthold and Gisella Linder Frieda and Karin Kornweitz
Adolf, Sobel, and Hanna Unger Emigration paper