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

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
[H. Reactions abroad to the Reichskristallnacht / crystal night and to the split of CSSR]

[6.21. Belgium's anti-Semitic threats - but no measures taken]

[Nov 1938: About 13,300 Jewish refugies in Belgium]

Another country of immigration in Europe was Belgium. Prior to November 1938 there were about 13,300 Jewish refugees in the country, of whom some 3,000 in Brussels required help.

(End note 114: R12, 1938 report)

The government declared that all those arriving illegally after August (p.265)

27, 1938, would be expelled. But in actual fact there seem to have been no expulsions. Between November 10 and the end of the year about 3,000 more refugees arrived, all of them illegally. By the end of January 1939 there were 7,500 people who had to be supported - 3,000 in Antwerp and 4,500 in Brussels.

[Belgium: JDC help to the Jewish refugees]

JDC action in Belgium was much more speedy than elsewhere because it was obvious that, of all the West European countries, Belgium  had the relatively poorest community. In December 1938 JDC gave $ 20,000 to meet the rising costs of maintaining the refugees; but this covered about one-sixth of the actual cost, and only $ 20,000 could be raised locally per month. In January, JDC gave $ 20,000. But that was not enough, and Professor Max Gottschalk, head of the Brussels Jewish aid committee, told Troper that he might have to tell the government that his committee could no longer look after the refugees.

[Reduce of the help - undernourishment and tuberculosis]
This insufficient help had to be further reduced, and that at a time when JDC estimated that 95 % of the refugees were undernourished and that tuberculosis was on the increase.

[Since March 1939: Belgium: Flow of refugees - appeal and government's help]

In March [1939] the Belgian government was told that the committee's resources were at an end. At that time there were already 25,000 German, Austrian, and Czech Jewish refugees in the country, of whom 10,000 had to be supported; 400 more were entering the country illegally every week. The government's attitude was hardening, and even legal entrants who overstayed their time faced deportion.

(End note 115: AC [Administration Committee files], Troper report, 3/31/39 [31 March 1939])

However, possibly as a result of Gottschalk's intervention, the government relented to a considerable degree. It increased its budget by 6 mio. Belgian francs (about $ 20,000), which enabled 3,000 refugees to receive a government allowance. Camps were opened to house the newcomers. The principle that Jewish organizations were the only ones responsible for Jewish refugees was, at least in Belgium, overcome.

[Since 15 July 1939: Belgium: Deportation threat to new refugees]

Until July 15, 1939, all those fleeing from Germany were allowed to remain; after that date, they risked expulsion unless they were political refugees.

JDC increased its allocations to $ 40,000 in April, $ 60,000 in (p.266)

August, and $ 80,000 in September. As a result, JDC expenditure rose from a mere $ 106,000 in 1938 to $ 694,000 in 1939.

(End note 116:
-- R21;
-- 30-Germany, refugees in Belgium (Bruxelles);
the figures in these two sources are contradictory; file 30 has a figure of $ 94,000 for JDC expenditures in Belgium in 1938. The discrepancy might possibly derive from the inclusion of JDC's support for the Belgian HICEM in the higher figure).

By the summer of 1939 two-thirds of the refugee expenditure in Belgium was covered by JDC.