During the Nazi regime, the state-owned German Reichsbahn was the majority shareholder of MER. Since 1937, the German Reichsbahn had been completely integrated into the National Socialist state and thus directly involved in the crimes of National Socialism. *
The state-owned Reichsbahn used the subsidiary MER as an official travel agency during the Nazi era. During this time, MER cooperated with at least three Reich ministries: the Reich Ministry of Transport, the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and the Reich Security Main Office. Hence according to sources available to us, Nazi facilities used MER, among other things, as an accounting office of the German Reichsbahn. On behalf of the German Labour Front, the German Reichsbahn organised trips abroad by KdF (Strength through Joy).
During this time, the special trains business was particularly relevant – a business field in which MER had also been active since 1920. Special trains were deployed by the Nazi regime not only for tourism purposes such as KdF trips, but from 1938 were also increasingly used for the deportation of forced labourers, Jews and persecuted groups. The Deutsche Bahn AG has reappraised this in the travelling exhibition “Sonderzüge in den Tod” (Special Trains En Route to Death), which also comprises accompanying documentation in book form.
Further research work on this topic including the role of MER in the Nazi era can be publicly accessed by interested parties in the Hessisches Wirtschaftsarchiv (Hessian Economic Archive) (only available in German language).
*See also here. On this page you will find further information on the Deutsche Bahn’s corporate history.