Forty & eights, wooden train boxcars like this one in Salerno, Italy, were used during WWII to transport soldiers, supplies, vehicles, coal, and timber; their nickname earned because, in theory, forty men or eight horses could be moved in a boxcar. The boxcar above was used to transport Jews to “work camps” deep in Germany’s heartland. As many as one hundred fifty terrified “prisoners,” including women, elderly, and children, were brutally shoved into a single “forty and eight” for journeys up to seven days without water, food, or fresh air. Thousands died from suffocation or starvation…all part of the “Final Solution.”
Three years after the war, during the Christmas of 1948, boxcars were shipped from France to the forty-eight states and the District of Columbia and Territory of Hawaii in this heartfelt gesture, a rarely referenced post war event.