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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
[F.] The "crystal night" [on 9/10 November 1938]

[6.17. Reichsvereinigung (RVE) set up - support for "non-Aryans"]

[Since 10 Nov 1938: Prohibition for Reichsvertretung RV - Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (RVE) in project]

The November pogrom was a good occasion, from their point of view, to break with the past. Immediately after the pogrom the Nazis decided not to allow RV to be reconstituted. However, there were divided counsels among them as to the precise form of organization that should be forced on the Jews.

In January, Göring still thought that the Jewish central organization should be an adjunct to the new central emigration bureau that he had in mind. But other ideas prevailed, and

[17 Feb 1939:
on February 17, 1939, the Jewish newssheet, Jüdisches Nachrichtenblatt [Jewish Newspaper] the only Jewish "paper" that the Nazis allowed to appear, announced that a new central organization of German Jewry would be set up, the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (RVE) [Reich's Federation of the Jews in Germany], whose members would be nominated by the Gestapo.

[4 July 1939: Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland set up (RVE)]

However, it was not until July 4, 1939, that the official announcement establishing the new RVE came out. This was largely owing to internal squabbling between German ministries.

[April 1939: Berlin Jewish leader Stahl applies for leadership of projected RVE at the Gestapo]

But the crisis also brought forth some ugly squabbles between the Berlin community, led by the conservative liberal Heinrich Stahl, and the old leadership of RV. Things were brought to a head in April, when Stahl went to the Gestapo to ask for its help in asserting his pretensions to leadership of the Jewish community. The Gestapo apparently did not intervene directly, but

[RVE structures - JDC supports the Baeck-Hirsch-Lilienthal group]

in the new RVE, Stahl was made copresident with Rabbi Leo Baeck.

(End note 89: Shaul Esh: The Establishment of the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland and Its Activities (Hebrew); In: Yad Vashem Studies; Jerusalem 1968, 7:19-38)

JDC was informed of what was going on in Germany; it could only deplore internal differences at such critical times. It was not aware, of course, of the intrigues of the Stahl group, but whenever the Baeck-Hirsch-Lilienthal group of leaders required it, JDC supported (p.258)

Table 18
JDC Expenditures in Germany and Austria in 1938 and 1939 (in $)
Total JDC expenditures
In Germany
In Austria

(End note 90: Sources:
-- R12
-- R21
the figures do not always tally. For Germany, for instance, a brochure entitled: Aid to Jews Overseas (R9), gives the figure of $ 981,200).

them to the best of its ability. It must be remembered that people like Baerwald, Kahn, and Max M. Warburg (Felix's brother, who finally emigrated to the U.S. in 1938) knew the German Jewish leadership intimately and had confidence in the group that had founded and led RV since 1933. Indeed, Max Warburg had been the initiator of RV, had taken a decisive part in setting up its leadership, and had been to a great extent the arbiter of its policies.

In light of this grim situation - and also, it must be added, as a result of increased income - JDC was able to increase its financial support for German Jews. A part of that support came through the Quakers, who, as always in times of stress, cooperated closely with JDC.

[Special support for "non-Aryans"]

In February 1939 JDC voted a sum of $ 100,000 to be spent by the American Friends Service Committee, "provided that no publicity whatsoever should be given to this grant, and with the provision that there should be taken into account the reluctance on the part of the contributors to JDC to have American dollars go into Germany."

(End note 91:
-- AC [Administration Committee files], 2/2/39 [2 February 1939];
-- Germany-AFSC [Quaker American Friends Service Committee], 2/9/39 [9 February 1939])

The Friends were inclined to spend this money to help "non-Aryans", that is, people not connected with the official Jewish community but considered to be Jews by the Nazis. Through perhaps overcareful management only $ 26,908 of this money was spent before war broke out in September [1939].