Deportation to Krakow

By Joey Poehling

Sara Spira was deported from her home in Leipzig, Germany in October of 1938 to the city of Krakow, Poland where she remained until the summer of 1940.[1] Her deportation was a part of a mass eviction conducted by the Nazi regime. The Nazi regime was able to carry out mass deportations swiftly and effectively. Sara’s deportation was part of one of the first rounds of mass eviction conducted by the Nazi regime. The way in which the deportations were carried out by the Nazi regime is well documented.

Sara Spira was arrested in October of 1938 while in Leipzig during a mass eviction of Jews with Polish nationality. The mass eviction was in response to the Polish government issuing a decree stating that all Polish citizens residing abroad would have to have their passports revalidated. Thousands of Jews of Polish nationality throughout the Third Reich were arrested and forced to return to Poland.[2] These Jews were being escorted to the Polish border “from the Reich by train, but large groups also arrived on foot, sometimes subjected to beatings as they were forced across the border onto Polish soil.” Those being deported were not allowed to carry more than ten Reichsmarks and very little of their own personal possessions. The majority of the deportees were brought and forced to cross the Polish border near the town of Zbaszyn. Once across the border they were forced to remain where they were. Eventually, the deportees were brought into the town of Zbaszyn and given food and medical attention.[3] Two of the people forced to return to Poland were the parents of Herschel Grynszpan. In response to the deportations of his parents Grynszpan shot Ernst vom Rath, a German embassy official, in Paris. This assassination was a key element in the beginning of the pogroms on the nights of November 9th and 10th known as Kristallnacht.[4]

The deportees’ experience was not easy; they faced violent aggression while being forcefully moved away from their homes with no explanation. They were only allowed to bring a few items with them, most of which were of little value leaving them with few options when they arrived to their destination, while the rest of their possessions were confiscated by the German government. Ultimately, the deportations inspired a young man to shoot a German diplomat in reparation for the actions taken against his family; the shooting then sparked Kristallnacht a mass demonstration against Jews in the Third Reich.


[1] Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. Accessed February 19, 2016. http://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en.

[2] “The Holocaust.” Holocaust History. Accessed February 19, 2016. http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/holocaust/about/01/crucial_year.asp.

[3] “Zbaszyn Deportation to the Border Town Camp – 1938.” Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. Accessed February 19, 2016. http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/holoprelude/Zbaszyn.html.

[4] “Kristallnacht.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2016. https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005201.

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