Transports to Extinction at Yad Vashem

The Yad Vashem website carries detailed information about many of the transports, and in our context we have found some extraordinary detail, especially in relation to Margot, Heinz and Reha Kornfeld.

From this, in relation to Else and Hermine’s likely destination, we at least know now why there has been no certainty to date about where they were sent.

Assuming that calculations and witnesses are correct and that they were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, as they were elderly, neither are likely to have entered the work camp but will almost certainly have been sent straight to their deaths on arrival, if (especially in Hermine’s case) they even survived the transport.

There is a practical difficulty in finding information where this is the case. The vast ITS database at Bad Arolsen (and at a handful of other sites – I have been using the one at the Wiener Library in London, with the very kind and patient help of Christine Schmidt) only holds records of where a person has appeared in the National Socialist system: where they ‘pop up’, as it were. Thus, if someone was shot in a forest, it is likely that there will be no record of them ‘in the system’/database. For those who did not enter the work camps at Auschwitz but were sent straight to their deaths, there are unlikely to be any entries either. Then, we must factor in that only about ten percent of the Auschwitz records survived the National Socialist bonfires, lit as the Allies were advancing.

In our case, then, we only have the transport lists. Other definitive information is very hard to come by: there were seven known transports out of Gleiwitz from May 16th 1942 to June 29th 1942, which is when we know from our own letters and documents that Else and Hermine were deported. However, as noted in the link below, the records from this time and place are also incomplete because there was a fire at the archive in Gleiwitz, which would have told us the transport destination.

See the following link to Yad Vashem’s notes on this here:

Yad Vashem_Transport from Gleiwitz Oberschlesien