THE ASPANGBAHNHOF (ASPANG RAILWAY STATION) DEPORTATION SITE MEMORIAL
Leon-Zelman-Park, 3rd District
Nini Ungar clearly recalled that Friday in February 1942 when the Nazis loaded her, her husband and her parents on a cattle cart and transferred them, standing upright, to the railway station in Vienna. She was in her mid-20s and did not yet know that she was pregnant. The family had already spent days in the squalid compound of a school where thousands of Jews destined for deportation were warehoused. She was among 1,000 on the transport that set out that day for the ghetto in Riga, Latvia.
The Viennese were standing and laughing. ‘Finally, they got the Jews out!’ ” Ms. Ungar, who was born Mina Tepper and was one of only 36 from that transport to survive the war, recounted. “We scraped the ice from the windows — we were so thirsty. We didn’t have water. We didn’t have anything,” she said of the train journey.
The Aspang Railway
It is not permissible to forget, it is not permissible to remain silent. If we remain silent, then who will speak?
Primo Levi (1919-1887)
Unlike in Germany, where the Jewish population was deported from several different cities, in Austria deportations of the Jewish population were centralized from Vienna’s Aspangbahnhof or Aspang Railway Station. From February 1941 to October 1942, the majority of the Vienna’s Jewish population was deported to ghettos and extermination camps in the east from this train station.
The Nazis deliberately chose the Aspangbahnhof because it was nestled away in a quiet neighborhood in the middle of the city, away from the larger stations and main railway routes. Although the Nazis hoped the heinous activities at this railway station would largely go unnoticed, the weekly transports of 1,000 Jewish men, women, and children from Aspang were carried out in plain sight.
The transports to the concentration camps were organized by Austrian born SS Captain Adolf Eichmann, who was in charge of the Nazi Central Agency for Jewish Emigration in Vienna. Eichmann had one primary objective — to speed up the rate that Jews were being deported from the city.
Before being deported, Jews were held against their will at four internment camps in Vienna — Kleine Sperlgasse 2a, Castellezgasse 35, and Malzgasse 7 and Malzgasse 16 — all in the 2nd District. At these camps, the Jews were bullied, humiliated, and robbed of their last possessions.
Between 1939 – 1945, a total of 48,953 Jews were deported from Vienna. Of this number, 47,035 Jews were forcibly transported on trains that departed from the Aspangbahnhof. Tragically, only 1,073 of the Jews deported from the Aspangbahnhof would survive the Holocaust.
Adolf Eichmann’s mass deportation work in Vienna was so effective, Hitler tasked him to duplicate his efforts in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Ultimately, Eichmann would become known as one of the architects of Hitler’s Final Solution and would be responsible for transporting millions of Jews to the death camps during the Holocaust.