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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
[4.18. Other countries for German Jewish refugees and emigration overseas 1933-1938]

[Other countries]

Jewish refugees went to other European countries as well. In Italy there were 1,000 refugees in 1935; and varying numbers of people were temporarily stranded in other countries. But most of these small groups of Jews found their way sooner or later to countries overseas where they could hope to establish a new life. During the first two years of Nazi rule those who could find no way to emigrate usually had to return to Germany.

[1000s have to return to the Reich - 1000s Polish Jews coming into the Reich]
Thousands returned not only from Western Europe, but also from Poland, because they "preferred the bitterness in Germany to the misery in Poland."

(End note 94: R16, monthly bulletin, March-April 1935)

[6000 German Jews go to Poland - and come back, or they continue on]
Apart from the repatriates from Germany, one report puts the German Jewish refugees in Poland between 1933 and 1938 at 6,000. These were either German citizens, some of them of Polish origin, who had lost all contact with Poland, its language, and its Jewish population, or else actually German Jews proper. Most of them either returned to Germany or left Poland for other havens.

The total number of Jews who returned to Germany in 1934 was put at 11,000.

(End note 95: Executive Committee, 3/26/35 [26 March 1935])

[Returning Jews are sent to concentration camps - overhanded Jews by the police]
It was not until early 1935, when the Nazis began sending returning Jews to concentration camps, that the stream of returnees dwindled to a trickle; most of these were people who had been deported from countries of refuge to Germany by the police in those countries. (p.177)

[Czechoslovakia as a temporarily stay for German Jewish refugees - Mrs. Marie Schmolka]

One country that served as a transit point for thousands of Jews in the 1930s was Czechoslovakia. In 1933, with the first wave of refugees, some four thousand Jews arrived there. At first there were separate refugees (2,500) were cared for in Prague. By 1933 a Comité National Tchécoslovaque pour les Réfugiés Provenant d'Allemagne had been founded to represent Jewish and non-Jewish political refugees to the government. The chairman of this committee was Mrs. Marie Schmolka, head of the HICEM office at Prague. Up to 1936 a total of some 6,500 refugees passed through Czechoslovakia, but most of them left the country.

In 1935, when only 800 Jewish refugees remained, Mrs. Schmolka became the head of a central Jewish refugee committee, the Jewish Social Institute (Sociální Ústav), which in effect became the equivalent of the Dutch and Swiss type of centralized community efforts.

(End note 96: JDC Library 13, 1933/4 report. See also: Kurt R. Grossmann: Emigration; Frankfurt 1969, pp. 41 ff.; Also: R14, Kahn report for 1935)

Indeed, there was much in common between the energetic and resourceful individuals at the head of each of these committees: Gertrude van Tijn, Saly Mayer, Marie Schmolka; and JDC trusted them fully. In Czechoslovakia, JDC contributions were very small, and until 1938 the Czech Jewish community itself paid for the help it gave to German Jews under the fairly benevolent protection of a government, whose intense dislike of the German contributed to its humanitarian attitude toward the refugee problem.