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Deportation of Białystok Children from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz

Abtransport Dn/a on October 5, 1943,
of 53 Adults and 1,196 Children from the Białystok Ghetto

by Judi Langer-Surnamer Caplan

INTRODUCTION

In the Spring of 2000, just before Passover, a copy of the April 2000 issue of the Bialystoker Shtimme, a publication of the Bialystoker Center & Bikur Cholim (228 East Broadway, NY, NY) arrived at my home.  Included amongst the articles was a special supplement entitled "The Transport of 1,200 Children from the Białystok Ghetto to the Theresienstadt Camp."

In this gripping article, Bronka Klibanski told the story of one specific group of Jewish children from the Białystok Ghetto who were used as helpless pawns in a Nazi propaganda attempt at negotiations.  While most of these children were born in Białystok, there are also children who were born in almost 30 other towns.  When the children were no longer necessary in the Nazi scheme of things, they were brutally sent on to their deaths in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

Ms. Klibanski shared some additional details in a letter I received from her in October 2000, especially that "the transport list Dn/a was prepared by the SS in Theresienstadt" and that after the decision was made to transfer the children to their deaths, this list was transferred to the Auschwitz administration.  In addition, "copies of the list were transmitted by the SS to the Reichssicherheits Hauptaunt in Berlin and to the Auswärtiges Amt".

What stirred me the most when I first looked through this list was how many children from a single family — two, three, four, even five — were taken at one time. Part of the reason for the multiple members of a family being in this transport might be that about 400 of the children were taken from ghetto orphanages.  But the other part of the reason might lie in the nefarious dealings and subterfuges of the Nazis who had suggested these children might be used as part of an exchange deal, and ultimately go to Palestine.  Many parents may have turned their children over in the hope of saving their young, precious lives.


Enlarged view

As I typed in the many names, such as Mejlach Gemore ~ King of Talmud, or Szejna Szadchen ~ The Beautiful Matchmaker, I could not help but think there is a certain magic and music in the Hebrew and Yiddish names of many of these children who lived such tragically short lives.

The following are the fields included in this list:

List Number of Adults - list number associated with each of the 53 adults in this transport
List Number of Children - the list number associated with each of the 1196 children in this transport
Surname
First Name - includes any middle name or title such as Dr.
Transport Number - included only for adults
Born - full date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy) included for the adults, only year of birth for children
Born in - city of birth included only for the children
Father's Name
Mother's Name

BACKGROUND

There is also another historical account associated with this particular list, for it is from the Herman Weiss collection.  According to information from Yad Vashem:

"Herman Weiss was born in 1917 in Czechoslovakia and was a lawyer, and starting in the late thirties was active in a Zionist organization in Prague which arranged illegal immigration to Palestine. On November 30, 1941 he was deported to Theresienstadt, where he was appointed by the Altestenrat (Council of Elders) to found the statistical department, which he in fact did found and head.

One of the jobs of the department was to record all deportations which arrived and left Theresienstatdt. Hermann Weiss carefully made extra, underground copies of all the lists. In this undertaking he was joined by other workers in the department, who were conscious of the danger in doing so. When the Gestapo sent an order to destroy all documentation, the extra copies were already ready to be hidden until liberation. Hermann Weiss took the documentation with him to Paris, and then to Canada. He died in 1979. In 1980 the documentation was found by Dr. Stephen Barber, and brought to the Yad Vashem archive."

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The information contained in this database was indexed as part of the data sharing agreement between Yad Vashem and JewishGen.  Thanks to Zvi Bernhardt and the Hall of Names staff, the data was provided from the files of Yad Vashem (file 064/318).  This information is accessible to you today, thanks to the effort of the following JewishGen volunteer who is responsible for the transcription of this file: Judi Langer-Surnamer Caplan.


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