The Deportation to Bełżec

The Deportation to Bełżec

On 20 May 1940, 910 persons (550 from Hamburg, 200 from Schleswig-Holstein, and 160 from Bremen) were taken away on the first deportation from Hannoverscher Bahnhof, destined for Bełżec. This camp was located in the “Generalgouvernement,” the German-occupied eastern part of Poland. 

There were already several hundred Jews and Polish Roma interned at Bełżec. The newcomers were forced to do hard labor, and housed in makeshift warehouse accommodations. The food was entirely inadequate, and the death rate very high. 

In July 1940, the survivors were transferred to the former prison at Krychow. Under SS guard, the interned men, women and children were forced to perform very hard labor to drain the moors and construct canals. 

During the winter, the Roma and Sinti were left to their own devices. Many died of cold, malnutrition, or untreated illnesses. Some took up the extremely risky course of struggling back into the German Reich. Over the course of 1941, many survivors were locked up in the Siedlce ghetto. Others survived underground, or were arrested and deported to Warsaw ghetto or Auschwitz-Birkenau.

vergrößern Gottfried Weiß Gottfried Weiß (left), his siblings and parents (Bild: Private collection) »» Listen to: Interview with Gottfried Weiß

(Interview: Hamburg Contemporary History Research Center/Workshop of Remembrance)

Gottfried Weiß, born on 19 November 1928, was deported to Bełżec with his family in May 1940. From there he was transferred to Krychow, and later taken to Warsaw ghetto. After a short escape from Warsaw ghetto with members of his family, he was arrested and brought by way of several stations to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. There, Gottfried Weiß survived to see the liberation by British troops.