Peace until 1937 - riots 1937 and emigration]
[1933 and 1934:
Announcements that no Nazi legislation will be
A special problem arose in Danzig, which was a free city
under the protection of the League of Nations. Danzig's
population, which was almost wholly German, became more
and more influenced by Nazi ideology. The local Nazi
leader, Artur Greiser, had declared in August 1933 that no
"Aryan" legislation would be introduced in the city;
another declaration on July 2, 1934, even went so far as
to say that the constitution of the city "makes it
impossible for inhabitants to have their rights restricted
in any way on account of their race or creed."
(End note 97: 12-14, report by Neville Laski, 10/15/34 [15
[The situation worsens]
Yet despite these fine words - representing probably not
only a tactical move of the Nazis but also the more
moderate policies of the first Nazi ruler in Danzig,
Hermann Rauschning (who later changed sides and turned
against Nazism) - the actual situation deteriorated
steadily. Newspaper attacks sparked a boycott, and Jewish
lawyers and doctors soon found their jobs threatened by an
unofficial but effective line of action.
[3,000 native Jews, and
5,000 Polish Jews in Danzig]
There were about 3,000 native Jews in Danzig, in addition,
about 5,000 Polish Jews, who had been attracted by the
favorable economic conditions there, had entered the city.
[The 1/4-, 1/2- and 3/4-Jews are not mentioned].
[Riots on 21 and 23
In late 1937, a time when there was relatively little
overt anti-Jewish activity in Germany, disaster struck the
Danzig community. Two days of violent outrages (October 21
and 23) were followed by the arrest of Jews and the
seizure of the property of prominent Jewish merchants. JDC
had not supported Danzig Jews prior to these events, save
for $ 1,000 it had once donated for the creation of a Free
Committee in Danzig - Isaac Giterman - discussion if the
Jews should leave or not]
Now it sent the head of its Warsaw office, Isaac Giterman,
to investigate and to send back a recommendation for
action. Giterman reported that the situation was
disastrous and that emigration from Danzig should receive
the same kind of priority as emigration from Germany.
(End note 98: Ibid. [12-14, report by Neville Laski,
11/4/37 [4 November 1937])
Some money was sent to support relief cases, but the
problem was how to handle the larger issue. It was clear
that a significant proportion of the newer Polish
immigrants would have to leave the city and return to the
misery of Polish Jewish existence. Kahn was quite
reluctant to support Danzig openly for fear that other
governments would draw the conclusion that Jewish
organizations would always rescue the Jews if they were
threatened with expulsion.
(End note 99:
-- Ibid., [12-14, report by Neville Laski, 11/4/37 [4
-- Kahn at a meeting in Paris, 12/12/37 [12 December
1937]: "Man darf nicht zeigen, und dies besonders in
Danzig wegen dessen internationaler Lage, dass, sobald die
Juden durch die Regierung bedrückt werden, gleich jüdische
Organisationen zur Stelle sind, die mithelfen, dass die
Juden den Platz räumen."
["One mustn't show, and surely not in Danzig because of
its international position, that, as soon as the Jews are
pressed by governments, Jewish organizations are coming
and helping to bring away the Jews."])
In the end a small sum ($ 12,500) was appropriated for the
support of Polish Jewish returnees from Danzig, on the
condition that the recipients prove they could make
themselves self-supporting with the help of the money they
received. There was to be no relief and also no support
for large-scale emigration.
Giterman's opinion was different: he thought that the
situation in Danzig paralleled that in Germany; he felt
that there was no escaping the conclusion that the Jews
had to leave Danzig. At the end of November 1937 Giterman
sent another report to Kahn, in which he repeated his
previous statements and added that Jewish (p.178)
capital in the city was no longer transferable because
Jews were forbidden to sell their property, and therefore
they had to be supported.
[Jewish emigration from
Danzig 1937 and 1938]
Despite the reluctance of JDC, Jewish organizations in
Danzig saw no other alternative but to help as many Jews
emigrate as possible. Between October 1937 and the end of
1938 4,900 Jews left Danzig; 3,300 went back to Poland,
and the rest went abroad. These were the official figures.
But Giterman thought that in actual fact fewer people had
emigrated and that 5,500 Jews were still in Danzig.
[Giterman for emigration
to Palestine - illegal emigration to Palestine]
Giterman was in favor of a well-organized emigration plan,
whereas the Danzig community, under the influence of the
Zionist-Revisionists (whose leader Giterman rather rashly
suspected of being in the service of the Gestapo), was
trying to find the means for mass illegal emigration to
(End note 100:
-- Ibid. [which?];
-- Giterman report of 12/30/38: "A Jewish community has
started the dangerous adventure of deporting their own
members from Danzig." Giterman warned JDC "not to assume
any responsibility for this adventure." The text of this
document is an English translation of the original, which
JDC, Giterman warned, should not give its support to these
plans. In the end, of course, the people who did go on
illegal ships to Palestine were saved from what followed
in their native city.
(End note 101: Eliahu Stern's Ph.D. thesis at the Hebrew
University, on the Danzig community, should clarify these
points before long).
JDC, on the other hand, increased its support for Danzig.
It spent $ 24,885 there in 1938, and $ 54,000 in 1939.