In January 1945, Nazi Germany faced military defeat. Allied forces liberated France, Belgium and most of the Netherlands. In Eastern Europe, the Red Army had advanced in to the Baltic States and Eastern Poland. On January 10, the Soviet forces launched a large scale offensive in East Prussia and Poland (Operation Vistula – Oder). On January 17, Soviet forces entered Warsaw. Following the German withdrawal, Heinrich Himmler, Head of the SS, ordered the evacuation of all camps in Poland. On Janua
ry 18 Auschwitz and its sub camps were evacuated. Many German cities were heavily bombed and destroyed during the Allied aerial attack. The German transportation system was thrown into chaos. However, the Gestapo continued to issue deportation announcements all across Germany. On January 19, the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) informed all "Mischlinge" (who had been exempt from deportation) to prepare for deportation to Theresienstadt. The transport left Leipzig for Theresienstadt on February 11 or 12, 1945. It consisted of 55 Jews. The transport 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. Following this transport Leipzig was considered “judenrein”. 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 was likely conducted by regular train under guard. 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 mayor of Leipzig, Alfred Freyberg, and Stadtamtmann (City Councellor) Kurt Voigt, who had senior responsibilities in Leipzig’s Judenstelle, may have helped in organizing this transport. Since 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 Riedstrasse and/or the prison on Wächterstrasse. The general guidelines prepared by the RSHA recommended that the local Gestapo notify in writing those Jews selected for deportation. 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. The deportees were normally kept in the assembly sites for two days prior to deportation. The transport arrived at Theresienstadt on February 12, 1945 and was given the XVI/6 in the ghetto listings where the Roman numeral XVI refers to Leipzig.