Despite the German withdrawal on the Eastern front and the heavy aerial bombardment of German cities, the deportation of Jews from German cities did not stop. On December 18, 1943, a circular signed by Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller was sent out to all local Sipo (Security Police) headquarters. It permitted the deportation of Jews, whose marriage to non-Jews had terminated due to divorce or death of the non-Jewish spouse.
The transport left Leipzig to Theresienstadt on January 13 or 14, 1944. It consisted of 46 Jews, among them six from Halle and the surrounding area.
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 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 and Stadtamtmann ( City Councellor) Kurt Voigt, who had a senior responsibilities in Leipzig’s Judenstelle.
The guidelines prepared by the RSHA also recommended that Gestapo units force the Reich Association of Jews in Germany and local Jewish leaders to assist in preparing the transports. The local Gestapo then ordered the Jewish community to provide them with lists of the remaining Jews in the city. 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 camps for two days prior to deportation.
According to Ellen Bertram, a researcher of Leipzig Jewry, this transport was the second one from Leipzig that included people categorized by the Nazi authorities as “half Jews” who were no longer protected from deportation because their non-Jewish spouses had either died or divorced them. If the non-Jewish spouse of a mixed marriage had died, the offspring of such marriages was now also destined for deportation. Among the deportees was the famous philosopher, translator and author Paul Stern, who had refused to leave Germany and even allowed himself to be baptised in order to remain. Nevertheless, he was eventually deported, first to Theresienstadt and then to Auschwitz where all traces of him have been lost.
Once the 32. Volksschule had been destroyed in an air raid on December 4 1943, the deportees were ordered to assemble in the municipal labour office on Riebeckstrasse and/or the prison on Waechterstrasse. The transport was likely conducted by regular train under guard. Its final destination was the Theresienstadt Ghetto, where it arrived on January 14, 1944. There it was given the reference XVI/4, where the Roman numeral XVI refers to Leipzig.