On May 21, 1943, Rolf Guenther, Adolf Eichmann’s deputy in Department IVB4, informed all local police headquarters that Heinrich Himmler required the completion of all deportations of Jews from the Greater Reich and the Protectorate to the East and to Theresienstadt by June 30, 1943. The new regulations included several groups of Jews whose deportation had been postponed until then. These were the sick and the infirm, Jews who were still employed in slave labour for the war industry, and employees of the Reichsvereinigung der Juden (Reich Association of Jews in Germany). The only exemptions were Jews married to non-Jews. The regulations also gave guidelines regarding the procedure of the deportations. In the case of smaller deportations of up to 400 Jews, special cars, connected to regular trains, were to be used.
In June 1943 Germany was officially declared “ Jew-Free” ("judenrein"). According to the 1943 census, there remained in Germany 9,529 people who were defined as Jews according the Nuremberg laws. Most of them were spouses in mixed marriages, Jews of mixed ancestry and Jewish community personnel that worked in the Jewish hospital. In addition, more than 2,000 Jews still lived in hiding.
On June 10, 1943, the Nazi authorities officially closed the "Reich Association of Jews in Germany" (Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland). All financial and property assets were confiscated.
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 transport left Leipzig for Theresienstadt on June 17 or 18, 1943. It consisted of 18 Jews altogether, twelve from Leipzig, five from nearby Halle, and one from Merseburg.
The Head of the Gestapo of Leipzig, Karl Fistler, organized this transport with the forced cooperation of the Leipzig Jewish community. Dr. Fritz Grunsfeld, the administrative director of the Leipzig’s Jewish community, was among the deportees with his family. Prior to his deportation, it had been his responsibility to provide lists of local Jews destined for deportation according to criteria such as age groups, all specified by the local Gestapo. Following Dr. Grunsfeld’s deportation, this task was transferred to a ‘new’ middleman from the Jewish community. The director of Halle’s Jewish community, Leo Hirsch, was also on this transport, as was Dr. Otto Michael, the last head doctor of Leipzig’s former Jewish hospital.
Whilst it is not clear how the Jews from Halle and Merseburg joined this transport, the Jews from Leipzig were most certainly taken to the central station station from the 32. Volksschule in Yorckstrasse, which at the time was the assembly point for Jews being deported from Leipzig.
The transport was likely conducted by regular train under guard. According to the testimony of deportee Bernhard Wiesengrund, this transport left from Leipzig’s central station. Its final destination was the Theresienstadt Ghetto, where it arrived on June 18, 1943. There it was given the reference XVI/2, where the Roman numeral XVI refers to Leipzig.