Memorial Book

Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 - 1945

Memorial Book

Startpage » Expulsion to Poland » The tragic stories of those expelled to Bentschen

The Expulsion of Polish Jews from the German Reich 1938/1939 and their records

The tragic stories of those expelled to Bentschen

The Polish police began cordoning off the town on a large scale already on 31 October 1938. They accommodated the majority of those affected in the old barracks with adjacent stables and permitted their departure henceforth only under certain conditions, which were fulfilled if the persons affected were able to prove that they could find a place to stay in Poland with family members or friends or those who possessed appropriate documents for an upcoming emigration. There are also cases, in which affected persons were allowed to enter the German Reich for a short time to dissolve their households and to put their finances in order. However, following this they were expelled to Poland again.

The whereabouts of the persons interned in Bentschen was therefore depending on different factors. If they failed to leave Bentschen early, they stayed there until the camp was gradually being dissolved in summer 1939. The Federal Archives had a list of names available from the archives of the American Joint Distribution Committee in New York.[5] What happened to the people registered in the database can be investigated via the box expulsion.

For some of those affected by the “Polenaktion” that have been investigated by the Federal Archives so far, a place of emigration could be determined. However, not all of them were able to escape the grasp of German authorities long term. The war caught up with many of them in the Netherlands, Belgium or France and they were deported from there. The same happened to those, who returned to the German Reich for whatever reasons. If they survived their imprisonment in camps like Sachsenhausen, Dachau or Buchenwald they were also taken to the extermination camps, to the Ghetto Theresienstadt or some labour camp.

The last known trace of those Jews who following their forceful expulsion stayed in Poland is mostly in one of the numerous Ghettos there that had been erected by the Germans, where they were taken with their family members or friends who had provided refuge to them and who had been deported with them. However, no exact details can be given on many victims of the “Polenaktion” up to the present day. Whatever might have happened to them remains uncertain based on the present state of knowledge. It is presently not known whether they were deported, could emigrate or survived the war at all.[6]