Towards the end of November 1941, the Nazi authorities began to deport the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia (the Protectorate) to the fortress city of Theresienstadt, about 60 km north of Prague. The city’s 18th century fortress now served as a ghetto. Thousands of deportees were housed in the army barracks under terrible conditions. By depicting Theresienstadt as a "model of Jewish settlement" and thus concealing its role as a transit camp for Jewish deportees, the Nazis were able to camouflage thei
r true objectives and policies, namely the mass annihilation of the Jews. Commencing in January 1942, transports began to leave Theresienstadt for Riga. Later, some of the transports were sent to extermination camps and murder sites, including Auschwitz, Treblinka and Maly Trostenets. At the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, Head of the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) Reinhard Heydrich announced that Hitler had authorized the evacuation of the Jewish population in Europe to the East. Heydrich added that the evacuation of the Reich’s Jews would be given priority because of housing problems and other socio-political considerations. Jews over the age of 65, war invalids, or Jews decorated with the Iron Cross would be sent to the newly established “old people’s ghetto” – Theresienstadt. On March 6, 1942, following Heydrich’s announcement, Adolf Eichmann, Director of the Department of Jewish and Dispossession Affairs (Department IVB4) in the RSHA, convened a meeting of Gestapo delegates from all over the Reich to discuss the measures necessary to carry out the deportation of 55,000 Jews from Germany and the Protectorate. Eichmann stressed that elderly Jews were not to be included in the transports. Jews belonging to this category would be deported to Theresienstadt. Eichmann also warned the Gestapo not to notify the Jews in advance of their deportation in order to prevent attempts to elude the transport. On May 15, 1942, Department IVB4 issued new guidelines signed by Gestapo Head Heinrich Müller, regarding the deportation of Jews to the “old people’s ghetto” in Theresienstadt: the evacuation of the residents from old age homes was cited as a top priority. Jews of foreign nationality or those enrolled in the war industry were exempt from deportation. With the exception of the “Einzeltransporte” (transports of individuals), none of the transports that left Leipzig for Theresienstadt originated in Leipzig. Rather, these trains came from places like Weimar and even as far as Frankfurt (am Main) and stopped in Leipzig en route to Theresienstadt to pick up the Jews from Leipzig and the vicinity. The general guidelines recommended that Gestapo units force the Reich's Association of the Jews in Germany and local Jewish leaders to assist in preparing the transports. The head of the Leipzig Gestapo at that time, Karl Fistler, played a key role in organizing the transports together with the Department of Jewish Affairs in the RSHA. The local Gestapo ordered the Jewish community to provide them with lists of the remaining Jews in the city. Dr. Fritz Grunsfeld, the administrative director of the city’s Jewish community, was responsible for this task in Leipzig. He was ordered to provide lists of local Jews according to criteria (such as age groups), all specified by the local Gestapo. As soon as the lists were obtained by the Gestapo in Leipzig, they would pass copies to their local Department for Jewish Affairs, known in German as Judenstelle. Those Jews selected for deportation were notified in writing. The deportees were permitted to bring a sum of 50 Reichmarks, a suitcase, a full set of clothes, suitable shoes, bedding, tableware and food supplies for eight days. Additionally, those selected for deportation had to produce an inventory of all their properties. If one or more of the proposed deportees committed suicide, or for any other reason could not be deported at the last minute, the Judenstelle would ensure that others would be deported in their place. The deportees were normally kept in the assembly site for two days prior to deportation. The transport left Leipzig for Theresienstadt on May 24 or 25, 1943 and arrived in Theresienstadt on May 25. It consisted of one 52 year-old Jewish woman, the actress Anna Steiner. It is assumed that this transport was conducted by train, and that the final train station would have been Bohusovice, from where the deportee would have had to walk 2 to 3 km to Theresienstadt Ghetto. The transport was given the reference XVI/1 Ez, where the Roman numeral XVI refers to Leipzig. Ez were the German initials given to special transports of individuals (Einzelreisende Sondertransport).