Demands that the Deutsche Bahn AG repays travel costs from Thessaloniki to Auschwitz


In April 2015 the non-government organisation “Train of Commemoration” together with the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki sent a letter to the Deutsche Bahn AG which, amongst others, was sent to Dr. Rüdiger Grube. In this letter it says: “We are approaching “Deutsche Bahn AG”, the historical successor of the “Deutsche Reichsbahn”, with our demand to reimburse to heirs of Greek Holocaust victims of Thessaloniki for train fares that they were forced to pay for their deportation from Thessaloniki to Auschwitz and Treblinka between March and August 1943.” In the letter the logistical calculation is made that the Reichsbahn mostly charged 2 “Reichspfennig” per rail kilometer for transportation in goods wagons mainly designed to transport animals. This means the company charged 39 Reichsmark for every deported person for the 1.985 km long track from Thessaloniki to Auschwitz/Treblinka. In total it is assumed that the Deutsche Reichsbahn made around 2,3 million Reichsmark from these deportations alone.

The model of making deported people pay for transport towards their own deaths was used by the Reichsbahn with most holocaust transports. Sometimes Jewish Communities, where still in existence, paid for the transport fees. In a few cases where no one on the Jewish side could be found to collect the transport blood money from, the Reichsbahn charged the SS. This terror organisation then duly paid up.

The letter explains in great detail that it was possible to achieve partial compensation for similar transport costs from the French state-owned railway company SNCF which was contracted by the Deutsche Reichsbahn to organise transports of Jewish people to the concentration camps. Polish holocaust survivors have also publicly accused the Deutsche Bahn AG because of similar transport costs. About this matter it says in the letter: “By diplomatic consultations between the German government and the Polish government it was agreed to allow Deutsche Bahn AG to offer 5 million Euros in exchange for a traffic licence for Deutsche Bahn AG in Poland.”

The letter ends with these sentences: “We are demanding full compensation from your company to the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, which is the legal representative of the Holocaust victims of Thessaloniki Jews. Copies of the train tickets are available.” The letter is signed by Hans-Rüdiger Minow, board spokesperson of “Train of Commemoration” and David Saltiel, president of The Jewish Community Thessaloniki in the Hellenic Republic.