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.