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Yehuda Bauer: My Brother's Keeper

A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939

[Holocaust preparations in Europe and resistance without solution of the situation]

The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1974

Transcription with subtitles by Michael Palomino (2007)



Chapter 4. Refugees: 1933-1938
[4.16. Jewish haven in Belgium 1933-1938]

[Emigration wave - since 1938 border crossing is made difficult]

A similar situation developed in Belgium. Two committees functioned there: one in Brussels under Dr. Max Gottschalk, and a second, less effective one, in Antwerp. JDC allocations to Belgium also grew, approximating the expenditure in Holland

(End note 83: Expenditures in 1934 came to $ 16,589; these had risen to $ 94,000 in 1938, and jumped to $ 649,000 in 1939 (34-Germany, refugees in Holland, 1941/2).

and about the same number of refugees arrived there. By 1940 30,000 refugees were estimated to have entered the country since 1933. Of these, about one-half arrived before 1938 and the rest after March 1938.

(End note 84: R9, JDC report: "Aid to Jews Overseas", 1939 and the first six months of 1940; and: 31-Refugees, 1939-1942)

The Belgian government, which had been very liberal during the early 1930s, became more and more restrictive toward the end of the decade. Gottschalk's committee was in serious trouble by the autumn of 1938.

[Training farm Wieringen for young German Jews for emigration to Palestine]

Probably the most impressive piece of work done by the refugee committees in the Benelux countries was a retraining farm at Wieringen in Holland, establishes on March 13, 1934, by Mrs. van Tijn's group. On the lands of a typical Dutch polder-land reclaimed from the sea - an attempt was made to prepare young German Jews to emigrate and become farmers in various countries. After social difficulties encountered during the first couple of years of Wieringen's existence, owing to the presence there of Communist youth, the farm became a great success. The Communists disappeared from the farm during the Spanish Civil War, and the majority of the young people who remained and those who joined later from Germany leaned toward Palestine.

Wieringen was in fact run by a Palestinian couple, Moshe and Lea Katznelson. By April 1936, out of 60 youngsters, 33 had gone to Palestine. In late 1938, after the November pogroms in Germany, a noted German Jewish educator, Dr. Kurt Bondy, brought over 20 pupils from the training farm at Gross-Breesen in Germany. Up to 1939, it appears, 245 pupils had left Wieringen, of whom 111 went to Palestine.

(End note 85: Gertrude van Tijn: Werkdorf Nieuwesluis; In: Leo Baeck Yearbook; London 1969, 14:182-99)