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 Bi left Ostrava for the Theresienstadt Ghetto on September 21, 1942 at 23:00. It consisted of 860 Jews. Unlike, transport Bh that left Ostrava two days earlier, transport Bi consisted mainly of residents from Ostrava itself. The deportees were assembled on September 19 at a school building on Kopernikusgasse in Oderfurt (today, Privoz), a neighborhood located near the local train station.
Prior to the train’s departure, several staff members of the Prague Jewish community Transports Department arrived in Ostrava 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, issued notices regarding the date of deportation, and assisted in packing and carrying luggage.
The Jews were transferred from the school to the train station and put on a train. After it arrived in Bohusovice, the deportees had to disembark and were forced to march the remaining 3 km to Theresienstadt.
An official from the the Ostrava Criminal Police (KRIPO) reported the following about the events prior to the deportation:
“On the afternoon of September 19, it became apparent that the Jews who had been selected for the transport of September 21 brought their luggage to the assembly site at the M. Ostrau-Oderfurt school building in both horse-drawn wagons and hand-wagons. The horse-drawn wagons were driven by the carters, while the Jews dragged the hand wagons by themselves. All the wagons were allowed entry to the schoolyard and were held there. […] At the entrance to the assembly site, the owners of the hand wagons went in to take their wagons as soon as the Jews unloaded their luggage.”