The Deportation and Murder of Jews From Southwest Germany

On the 22nd and 23rd of October 1940, thousands of Jews were deported from Baden and Saar-Palatinate to the unoccupied area of France. The official sources cite 6,504 people, but the real number was certainly higher.

This was one of the first organised expulsions of Jewish Germans from their homeland and was initiated by the Nazi Gauleiter (provincial governors) for those regions. It was not until a year later that systematic deportations from the whole of Germany to the East began. The French authorities carried out transports to the Gurs camp which lay at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains in today’s department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Some of those who were deported there managed to flee, but more than a thousand others died in the next few years due to the camp’s catastrophic living conditions. Between 1942 and 1944, the SS and police organised the deportation of these internees to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Sobibor, where almost all were murdered.

Our exhibition looks back on these crimes and their consequences. Regional history will be viewed in the wider context of Franco-German relations and the developments through Europe. By adopting different perspectives, light is shed on those who were affected, but also on the perpetrators, onlookers and beneficiaries of these crimes in Germany and France. This exhibition also examines how the memory of these crimes has been handled and is handled today.

The exhibition of the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Centre is in cooperation with many partners in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and France, as well as the German Foreign Ministry.

Many thanks to the dedicated local memorial initiatives and archives!


Border areas and spaces of violence

This section of the exhibition addresses the history of the deportation. What did the Jews experience before and during the deportation? Who organised the deportation?

© Marchivum, KF013139, KF013142

Places of Internment

This section will describe what Jewish women, men and children in Gurs and other camps in France were made to experience and suffer. How What did the French authorities behavedo?

© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 54582


This part of the exhibition attempts approaches to discuss the unimaginable. It will be and showsn here how the plans to murder the Jews began to take theirbecame murderous reality terrible form.

© Politisches Archiv, Auswärtiges Amt, RZ 214, R 100857, Bl. 171

Spaces of Tension

This section describes how German and French societies dealt with the crimes after 1945. Who was convicted and who remembered?

© Stadtarchiv Emmendingen, Städtische Bildersammlung

The Dimensions of Today

The last section of the exhibition turns its attention to the here and now, describing commemoration initiatives as well as the recurring attacks on Jews in our societies.

© Strasbourg, Privatbesitz

The “Gurs 1940” exhibition is by no means the first on this topic. However, it attempts to consciously forge links between different national narratives and, in doing so, hopes to contribute to an integrated and integrating European account of the marginalisation, persecution and murder of Jews during National Socialism.

An Exhibition by the Memorial and Education Site House of the Wannsee Conference, under the auspices of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.