On the last weekend of October 1938, 25,000 Jews with Polish passports were arrested, rounded up and deported by train to the Polish border. This exhibition marks the 85th anniversary of the expulsion.

After living in Germany often for decades, they were expelled without prior warning. A huge humanitarian catastrophe played out at the German-Polish border. Hundreds were injured and dozens died as they were forced to cross into Poland at gunpoint.  In Poland they became refugees, looked after by the Polish-Jewish community in a huge wave of solidarity, disregarded as a pawn in international politics by the Polish government. About 150 children were saved by three special kindertransports from Poland to the UK.

Arrival in London of Jewish children who had been expelled to Zbąszyń, February 1939, Courtesy Bundesarchiv

This exhibition tells the history of the Polenaktion, the first mass deportation of Jews from Germany at the end of October 1938. It chronicles the lives of families from all over Germany, who fell victim to this deportation. It is an often untold story, yet it is crucial for our understanding of the development of the Holocaust.

This travelling exhibition, presented at The Wiener Holocaust Library for the first time in English, was produced by the Aktives Museum Berlin Faschismus und Widerstand e.V. and generously sponsored by the Federal Foreign Office, the Sanddorf Foundation and the Ursula Lachnit Fixson Foundation.

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