Following the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany in March 1939, and the declaration of a Slovak republic on March 14, Hitler announced on March 15 the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Between 1939 and 1941 the Nazi authorities in the Protectorate carried out various anti-Jewish measures, which included the harassment of Jews and of Jewish institutions and the confiscation of property.
On October 10, 1941, the newly appointed Reichsprotektor, Reinhard Heydrich, summoned several SS officers, among them Adolf Eichmann, to a meeting in Prague (Praha). Heydrich, who was also chief of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt - RSHA), revealed a plan to deport 5,000 Jews from the Protectorate to Eastern Europe and in addition to expel the remaining Jews of the Protectorate to an assembly camp in Bohemia. Theresienstadt, a garrison town built in the 18th century, located about 60 kilometers north of Prague, was chosen to serve as the place for concentrating the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia. Mass deportations of Jews from Prague and soon afterwards from other large cities began in late November 1941. In the provincial areas the registration of Jews began in January 1942.
On February 19, 1942, a month after the Wannsee conference, Adolf Eichmann summoned representatives of the Jewish religious congregation of Prague (along with those of Vienna and Berlin) to brief them on the forthcoming mass deportations from the “Greater Reich” to the East or to Theresienstadt.
Before the deportations of the Jews from the provinces began on March 27 1942, all Jewish religious congregations in the provinces were dissolved.
Transport Ce left Klatovy for the Theresienstadt Ghetto on November 30, 1942. It consisted of 619 Jews, residents from Klatovy, Kdyne, Svihov, Kolovec and Domazalice. On November 29, the deportees were brought to a local school building that served as an assembly site.
Prior to the train’s departure, several staff members of the Prague Jewish community Transports Department arrived in Klatovy, to carry out administrative measures according to the orders they received from the Central Office for Jewish Immigration. They prepared a list of deportees, registered Jewish property and issued notices regarding the date of deportation.
Twenty men were selected and, under the supervision of Czech policemen, collected the deportees’ luggage and brought them to a freight car. The following day the deportees were brought to the train station. They were accompanied by three SS men, 10 Czech policemen and a group of employees of the Jewish community in Prague led by Robert Mandler.
Upon arrival in Bohusovice, the deportees had to disembark and were forced to march the remaining 3 kilometers to Theresienstadt.
Excerpts from Karl Stern’s testimony: On 29 November, we came to that building. Each of us had luggage weighing 50 kilogram. Our identification was checked according to our certificates, which were marked by a large letter “J”. We were also hit and kicked for the first time. Three SS men and the Mandler group guarded the deportees. Mandler headed a group of employees of the Jewish community in Prague, which accompanied all transports from the Protectorate. This group was coined the “circus” […]
Approximately 10 Czech policemen guarded the transport […] On November 29, before noon, 20 deportees were selected, I was among them. They handed us our identification papers and then, under the supervision of the Gendarmerie we headed to the train station to load the transport cargo onto a freight car. The train already stood at the station. After completing our work we went back to the assembly site and our identification papers were taken from us.
Livia Rothkirchen, The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia 1938-1945, in: Avigdor Dagan ed., The Jews of Czechoslovakia, Historical studies and Surveys, Vol. 1 ( Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1968), pp.48-49