19th May, 1944

On 19th May, 1944, 245 Sinti and Roma were deported from Westerbork to Auschwitz-Birkenau camps. One of them was Settela Steinbach, the girl who became famous all over the world because of the photograph of her peering out of a Westerbork transportation cattle-truck. Settela was born in 1934 in Buchten in the former municipality of Born in the south-east of the Netherlands,. During World War II she lived with her nine siblings in a caravan park in Eindhoven. On 16th May, 1944, Settela ended up in Westerbork, in barrack 69. Three days later she was deported.

The departure of this transport was filmed by camp prisoner Rudolf Breslauer. The film clip is seven seconds long and shows a long-shot of a line of goods wagons. There are men, women and children all looking for a place on the wooden planks in the wagons. They wait, talk, say goodbye. A woman is brought to the train on a stretcher. Guards smoke cigarettes on the platform. One of them has brought his dog. In the doorway of the train is a young girl. She has a thin face and wears a headscarf. Her eyes flash left and right. On the wagon’s outer planking is chalked ’73 Pers’.. The doors are then closed and the train moves away, transporting the occupants to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The film is the last visible reminder of the 245 Sinti and Roma people who were deported by the Nazis from Westerbork on 19th May, 1944. The girl’s photograph is recognised throughout the world and is frequently shown when the World War Two Holocaust is discussed. It was originally thought that the girl was Jewish but years ago journalist Aad Wagenaar discovered that she was in fact the Sinti girl Settela Steinbach. She was put on a train at Westerbork, together with her mother and siblings, destined for Auschwitz-Birkenau.

On 22nd May, 1944, the Sinti and Roma arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau. They were housed in a special 'Zigeunerlager', a section of Birkenau which in that period housed more than 22 000 Sinti and Roma prisoners. In late July 1944, the 'Zigeunerlager' was evacuated. The Sinti and Roma who could still work were transferred to other camps. Those remaining were killed.

Of the 245 Sinti and Roma deported from Westerbork, only 30 survived the war.
Settela Steinbach was killed on 3rd August, 1944, in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.