Kontakt / contact     Hauptseite / page
            principale / pagina principal / home     zurück / retour / indietro / atrás / back
zurück / retour / indietro / atrás / backprevious   nextnext

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
[4.19. Danzig: Peace until 1937 - riots 1937 and emigration]

[1933 and 1934: Announcements that no Nazi legislation will be introduced]

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 October 1934])

[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, (p.177)

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 October 1937]

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 Loan kassa.

[Joint Distribution 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 November 1937];
-- 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 Palestine.

(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 is missing).

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.