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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 6. The Beginning of the End
[D.] The refugees

[6.11. Anti-Jewish laws in Luxembourg, Italy, and Holland 1938]

[May 1938: Luxembourg expelling 52 Austrian Jewish refugees - JDC help for 200 new Jewish refugees]

In tiny Luxembourg 52 Austrian Jews were expelled by the authorities in May [1938].

JDC in Paris intervened with the Luxembourg government - a very rare thing for JDC to do - and asked it to prevent further expulsions. Luxembourg thereupon allowed 200 refugees to enter, with the understanding that JDC would send aid and the refugees would ultimately be moved to other places.

The Jewish community in that country (p. 242)

numbered only 200 taxpayers, and the aid committee, Esra, was at the end of its resources by August [1938]. When JDC could not sent enough money, Esra told the government that it could no longer cope with the Austrian influx, and asked for government restrictions on immigration, without, however, excessive severity. Political refugees, it said, should be treated "more humanely".

(End note 61: 9-38, for all the material on Luxembourg quoted in the text).

[17 Aug 1938: Luxembourg closes the border - police drives refugees back to NS Germany - illegal refugees are handed over to Belgium and France]

Probably as a result of this step, Luxembourg closed its borders on August 17.

But illegal entry continued [with payed smugglers]. The police used to drive the refugees back into Germany, while those who managed to enter the country were sent over the borders into Belgium and France.

[Since end of August 1938: JDC finances Esra - Luxembourg takes 1,000 Jewish refugees]

In late August JDC undertook to help Esra maintain housing and feeding facilities for refugees. This took care of poor refugees; the Luxembourg government than allowed 1,000 people of means to enter the country in late 1938.

[7 Sep 1938: Italy: Law against citizenship of Jews who are staying since 1919]
Similar problems arose in other European countries. An Italian decree of September 7, 1938, translated the growing racist propaganda - instigated by the Germans and their supporters among Italy's Fascists - into harsh practice. All Jews who had become Italian citizens since 1919 had their citizenship revoked by a stroke of a pen. All foreign Jews who had entered the country since 1919 were supposed to leave Italy within six months.

[1938: Holland: Figures - strict border controls]

In Holland the borders were officially closed; 11,000 Jewish refugees had become absorbed in the country's economy, but 2,000 were either on relief or preparing for emigration, or both. Throughout 1938 the government gave permission to about 2,000 additional Jews - mostly parents of youngsters already working in Holland - to enter the country legally. However, all further attempts to enter Holland were frustrated by strict border controls.