This railroad car has been placed at the ramp at Birkenau concentration camp where victims were hounded off trains to face the selection process, where most were sent immediately to their deaths. Over 120,000 of these cars were produced in Germany between 1919 and 1925, designed to transport freight around the country. Thousands of them were ultimately used to transport victims as part of the Nazi’s final solution plan, each initially intended to hold 50 people but there were frequently over 150 in this small space.
The railroad car here was restored with funding from Sir Frank Lowy, the former chairman of the Westfield shopping centre company. His father, Hugo Lowy, was beaten to death here on the ramp when he refused to leave his Jewish prayer shawl on the train. Frank Lowy only found out about this over forty years on and he said about his father:
“Actually, in a way, in all my sadness, I felt very proud: that my father was able to make such a sacrifice of his life for his principles. I finally found out what happened to him. I used to dream about him, but after I discovered it, I didn’t dream anymore. You know, it was kind of a closure. In my dreams about my father, he bent over me and I didn’t know if he was really there or not. I dreamed about him many, many times. The dreams have not returned. So it must have been some kind of closure.”
The railroad car may not have been one which actually transported prisoners, but is an authentic one from the period. What is known though is that Hugo Lowy died at around the spot where the railroad car is now placed. A tribute not just to him, but to all those who died here.