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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 4. Refugees: 1933-1938
[4.14. Emigration to North "America" - activities of the Joint in North "America"]

[Figures of German Jewish immigration to the "USA"]

The other main center of immigration for Europe's Jewish refugees was, of course, the North American continent itself. Much has been written to show how restrictive United States practices were, and how occasional attempts by groups and individuals to break through the wall of hostility were foiled by the great latitude that was given to local consuls in their application of visa-granting procedures, and by the support these consuls were given in their restrictive attitudes by State Department officials.

(End note 73:
-- Morse, op. cit. [While Six Million Died; New York 1968];
-- Henry L. Feingold: Politics of Rescue; New Brunswick, N.J., 1969;
-- David S. Wyman: Paper Walls; Amherst, Mass., 1968)

The actual statistics of immigration from Germany to the United States in the 1930s certainly bear witness to these strictures, at least as far as the first years of Nazi rule in Germany are concerned.

The total up to 1938, according to this source, was 63,485 persons from Germany (including Austria, after March 1938). If 85 % of these immigrants were Jews, then the Jewish immigration from Germany would have been about 54,000. The quota for Germany was 26,000 (together with the quote for Austria it came (p.168)

Table 9
Immigration from Germany to the United States
July-December 1938
No. of immigrants
(End note 74: See Germany-AFSC file)

to 27,370); it is therefore clear that up to 1936, U.S. immigration practices even under the existing quota arrangements were very restrictive.

[Rising immigration 1936-1939 - reasons Palestine restrictions and Austria occupation]

But this is no longer quite so clear after 1936. The quota was utilized in 1936 to the extent of 40 %, rising to 63 % in 1937 and to 71 % in slightly over half of fiscal 1938/9. The quota itself was very small, and the fact that even that was not fully utilized is a grim reflection of American practices. The increase in immigration into the United States came just as the British were restricting entrance to Palestine, and by the end of 1938, 38 % of the Jews emigrating from Germany had come to the United States.

[JDC supports the Jewish refugees - and avoids publicity]

JDC's attitude toward Jewish immigration into the United States was ambivalent. The main desire of the organization was to avoid publicity about the numbers of Jews entering the country, for fear of an outcry from the many restrictionist elements in and out of Congress. JDC allocated money to groups and organizations engaged in absorbing these immigrants in the United States, but efforts were made to avoid publicity. These expenditures came to $ 237,180 in 1936 and climbed to $ 342,000 and $ 500,313 in the two succeeding years.

(End note 75: R13, 1936 draft report, and ibid. [Germany-AFSC file], 1937 and 1938 reports)

the great advantage in bringing so many refugees to countries outside of Europe was that for the majority, their wanderings were thereby ended. Overseas settlement meant final absorption within a reasonable period of time. By contrast, refugees in European countries could not expect to remain there indefinitely. Most of (p.169)

them had to plan another move, and their stay in Europe was fraught with economic difficulties and endless frustrations.

[Canada is not mentioned].