This page and any featured links is dedicated to the memory of Jakob Gefner, born 3 February 1890, believed to have died at Nisko.


Jakob Gefner pictured in 1938


Jakob Gefner, b. 3 February 1890, husband of Anna [Chane] Edelstein, was one of 912 men deported from Vienna to Nisko, on the German-Polish border, on 20 October 1939,  just five weeks after the outbreak of war. The following article, reproduced courtesy of provides a description and background of these events.



The First Deportations to Poland in 1939 (Nisko-Programme)

The outbreak of war on September 1, 1939, cut down the possibilities for further flight or expulsion of the Jews from the German Reich. As the Nazi leadership stuck to its demand that the Reich should be made "judenfrei", Adolf Eichmann, head of the "Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung" in Vienna, which since August 1938 had pushed ahead with the expulsion of the Jews, planned the creation of a "Judenreservat" (Jewish reservation) in the area east of Nisko on the river San along the frontier of the "Generalgouvernment". Although this plan was in the event not carried out, the head of the RSHA, Reinhard Heydrich, charged with organising the forced migration by the Reichsführer SS, Heinrich Himmler, ordered to have deportation transports assembled to go from Vienna and Ostrava/Maehrisch-Ostrau to Nisko.

Within the framework of this programme two transports from Vienna to Nisko were run, the first on October 10, 1939, with 912, and the second on October 26, 1939, with 672 men on board. The drawing up of the list of 1,000-2,000 "emigres" was left to the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde. Those who showed interest in this transport were however consciously deceived: the IKG was forced, in a message to the Jewish population, to guarantee the persons concerned a large measure of freedom in building a new life. 

Reality in Nisko was different: only a small proportion of those deported from Vienna, about 200 men, ever reached this camp, whereas the majority was chased over the German-Soviet demarcation line while warning shots were fired. Most of these deportees asked the Soviets to help them return to Vienna, whereupon the NKWD, the Soviet Secret Service, categorised them as "unreliable" and sent them to forced labour camps. Only 67 men had returned to Vienna from these camps by 1957.

After the programme was stopped 198 of the men kept back as cadres in Zarzecze near Nisko were sent back to Vienna in April 1940 - many of them again to be deported on later transports.



The above article highlights that several of the 198 Nisko survivors  who had returned to Vienna in April 1940 were subsequently deported again on later transports. Among these was a Jakob Geffner, b. 26 March 1891, who was deported from Vienna to Maly Trostinec, where he was murdered on 09 October 1942. Although there is only one year difference between family member Jakob Gefner (pictured both left and right) and the Maly Trostinec victim, the dissimilarity between the days and months of birth suggests two persons with the same name.