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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 5. Prelude of the Holocaust
[A. Destruction of the Jewish existence in Poland 1929-1939]

[5.7. Plans for emigration of the Polish Jews to Soviet Union and to Madagascar]

[1936 approx.: Plans for Jewish emigration to the Soviet Union and to Madagascar]

In early 1937 JDC changed its attitude even further, because by that time there seemed to be hope for a practical plan of emigration. We have seen that Joseph A. Rosen tried to organize the emigration of German and Polish Jews into the Soviet Union [to Birobidzhan, Biro-Bidjan]. At the same time, there appeared on the horizon another plan for mass emigration - to Madagascar.

[Chlapowski: Madagaskar is not good enough for Poles - but good enough for Jews]

Polish interest in that tropical island under French rule was by no means new. In 1926 the Polish ambassador to France, Count Chlapowski, had inquired about the possibility of Polish peasants emigrating there, but the information he received regarding climate and soil conditions convinced him that this was out of the question. However, if it was not suitable for Poles, it might still be good enough for Jews.

[Jewish mission in Madagaskar - no possibility for a mass immigration to Madagascar]
The French government was quite willing to encourage European immigration into the Malagasy highlands, and the Poles sent a mission there, under Major Lepecki; this mission included two Jews. Lepecki's report was not favorable, and the two Jewish members reported that "there is no possibility for a mass immigration to Madagascar."

(End note 44: Marcell Olivier: Madagascar - Terre d'Asile?; Illustration, February 19, 1938, pp. 197-98)

[1937: France government supports the Madagascar plan - Polish anti-Semitic foreign minister Beck presents his plan]

The French Colonial Office, for its own reasons, nevertheless began exerting pressure on JDC to lend its support to Jewish settlement in Madagascar or other French possessions. In June 1937 Rosen and Kahn were received by officials at the Colonial Office and assured of French interest and cooperation. Despite Lepecki's report, the Polish foreign minister, Józef Beck, discussed the problem in France and proposed a Jewish emigration of 30,000 families yearly, or 120,000 families (about 500,000-600,000 individuals) within five or six years.

(End note 45: ITA, 12/6/37 [6 December 1937]; 44-29 Rosen and Kahn to Liebman, 6/12/37 [12 June 1937])

Rosen thought Madagascar had possibilities, and he wanted an independent JDC commission to go there to investigate the island. Tentatively JDC allocated $ 12,000 for such a commission, but it never got under way.

(End note 46: CON-2, 8/18/36 [18 August 1936], Rosen to Lehman)

The concrete results of all these developments were practically nil. Despite the change of attitude on JDC's part and the great need (p.193)

of Polish Jewry to flee Poland, not more than 8,861 Jews emigrated in 1937; of these 3,423 went to Palestine.

(End note 47: 44-29, HICEM report)

[This is the official emigration figure. The illegal emigration is not counted. The emigration from Poland in total is estimated by Graml to 100,000 every year in the 1930s;
In: Herman Graml: Die Auswanderung der Juden aus Deutschland zwischen 1933 und 1939; Gutachten des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte; im Selbstverlag des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte. München 1958, S.79-84; Tel.: 0049-(0)89-12688-0].

This emigration was considerably less than the birthrate for Polish Jewry,

(End note 48: About 30,000 a year)

and the Poles had before them the shining example of Nazi Germany, which had managed to rid itself of a large number of Jews by forcing them out.

[Supplement: There is proved that Zionist Jewish organizations have well organized the immigration of German Jews to Palestine, and the Yiddish speaking Polish Jews should be exterminated because Yiddish should not be spoken in the "Holy Land"].