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The Jewish Refugee Crisis in Europe, 1939 (with apologies for its length)

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Introductory Note: This column offers a paper on the emigration/immigration of European Jews fleeing Nazi terror in the decade before the onset of World War II. It was written by my father, Harold J. Jonas, and published in the Contemporary Jewish Record in the Sept.-Oct. 1939 issue. Comparisons with the contemporary World situation, from the Western border of Myanmar to the Southern border of the United States, are purely intentional.


My father, Prof. Harold J. Jonas, the author of the academic paper on the plight of the Jews of Europe in mid-1939, published in the Contemporary Jewish Record of Sept.-Oct. 1939, republished below, was a fighter against organized anti-Semitism in the United States from the mid-1930s until he was drafted into the US Air Force (at age 34[!]) in 1944. His principal achievement was that he did the bulk of the research for the first book that proved that the so-called "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" are a forgery. For political reasons at the time --- anti-Semitism was still certainly rife in the United States --- it was published under the name of a gentile --- by Columbia University Press: John S. Curtiss: An Appraisal of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, New York: Morningside Heights: Columbia University Press, 1942.

As far as his paper below is concerned, the situation he described was the direct result of the outcome of the so-called "Evian Conference" of 1938 ( ) and the international policy of "no Jews here" that was formalized by it. Called by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and attended by 32 nations and a number of voluntary agencies to discuss the "Jewish situation" in Europe and consider what might be done about it, it concluded that for the most part, the attendee nations would/could do nothing. The result was, when Adolf Hitler had determined that Germany would become "Judenrein" (clean of the Jews) and surely had that in mind for any European country that he might conquer in the future, that no major nations agreed to take any of the Jews. This led to the situation that my father described in this paper.

It should be pointed out if any significant number of European Jews had been offered refugee status by any significant number of the attending nations, including the United States, A) it is likely that any then-future Holocaust in Europe would have claimed many fewer victims, and B) it is unlikely that the State of Israel as it is known today, most unfortunately, especially for Jews like myself, practicing its own form of racist discrimination and subjugation, would exist. And now to Dad's paper.


People in Flight



THE problem of political refugees is not new in the post-War period. As a result of territorial adjustments and internal upheavals hundreds of thousands of homeless people were thrown upon a war-worn world. The groups most affected were the Russian "Whites," the Armenians, and the Assyrians. The Russian "Whites" and the Armenians scattered into various countries in both hemispheres. The Assyrians, driven out from their homeland, following the assumption of independence by Iraq, were settled mainly in Syria and Lebanon. Other post-War refugees were Greeks, Bulgars, and Turks, whose problems were solved, though not fully, by mass repatriation or exchange of populations.

International cooperation was in every case a large factor in the eventual solution of the problem created by these refugee migrants. By 1930, the most crying needs had disappeared and the world was already beginning to take an academic view of the problem. The rise of Hitler to power in 1933, however, set in motion a new stream of refugees from Germany. Because of the racial laws, Jews were the first among those who were faced with the choice of exile or death. Others were political opponents, such as the Catholic Centrists, Social Democrats, and Communists. Still others feared the concentration camps and fled immediately. Christians of "non-Aryan' descent, too, furnished a large proportion of those forced to leave,

As Nazi imperialism swept across other countries, many emigre's again had to flee the terror of the Gestapo. Not uncommon are cases of men who sought refuge, first in Vienna, and later in Praha, only to be trapped there. While Germans, Austrians, and Czechs are not forced to leave their homelands, a Jew or a Christian "non-Aryan," is faced with the choice of leaving, or facing slow death by starvation or quick death in the concentration camps. It is their lot to bear their sufferings grimly and await the day of liberation.

JEWISH mass migrations had begun even before the destruction of the Second Temple and remained an important factor throughout Jewish history. The emancipation period served to cement Jewish communities in Western Europe, but in Eastern Europe economic pressure caused great waves of Jewish migration. From the period of the 1880's onward, Jews fled in large numbers from the intolerable conditions in the Russian Pale of Settlement. Rumania, and other East European lands to new homes in Western Europe, in South Africa, and the Americas. Restriction of immigration after the World War, particularly in the United States, served to choke off the flow of a harassed people and to aggravate their condition. It must be noted, however, that German Jews were not at first affected by this policy. It was their brethren in East Europe who suffered.

Formerly, the problem of immediate refuge for large numbers of migrants was not pressing. While the threat of pogroms was not pleasant, the Jew was not required by law to leave Russian lands. When he did come to America, there were employment opportunities, although life itself was hard and the process of adjustment to new surroundings difficult. Today, the Jew in many European lands is forced, willy-nilly, to become a migrant; often without adequate funds, and, in many cases, without a destination. Previously even the lowliest Russian Jew had a reasonable expectation of a job, food, and shelter in his new home.

Prior to 1933, those who migrated as Jews were Jews, by birth, by custom, by observance. The present situation is different, for a more inclusive. definition finds many non-Jews and professing Christians grouped as Jews. It has been estimated that from one to three million persons in Germany may be affected by such legal definitions. Another distinguishing factor is the problem of the ''stateless" Jew. The plight of the post-War Russian refugee was alleviated by the Nansen passport, but no such international action was undertaken until a rather late period on behalf of the German refugees. Today some 56,000 persons are tainted with "statelessness.'

A rotten barge floating on the Danube, a wind-swept barn, a weed-filled ditch, a canvas tent pierced by the cold--each of these in turn has been the uncertain domain of migrant Jews in flight. These are the latest, the unprecedented types of refugees--the residents of no-man's-land. At one time more than 5,000 persons congregated in a no-man's-land at Zbaszyn on the Polish-German frontier.

IN considering the migration of Jews from Germany an important factor is the actual number residing there when Adolf Hitler assumed the Chancellorship. The official German figure puts the number of Jews around 500,000 or 0.76 of the total population. The following table shows the distribution of Jews throughout the various German states in 1933:

Prussia 371,658













Total 499,682

To this number, the successive territorial acquisitions of Germany added 186,000 Austrian Jews in March, 1938, and more than 300,000 as a result of the piecemeal absorption of former Czechoslovakia--Sudetenland, later Czechia in the form of the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia, and now Slovakia. In 1930, the former Czech nation counted 356,830 Jews, comprising 2.42% of the whole population. The Hitler conquest caught additional thousands of Jews who had previously fled the Nazi terror in Germany. Thus, the potential number of Jews facing migration has steadily increased. While the number within the boundaries of the old Weimar Republic had been reduced to 325,982 by January, 1938, the Austrian conquest jumped the figures back to 517,390. The Czech totals put it over 800,000.

These figures give no clue to the inner aspects of Jewish life in Germany, nor to the complete falsity of racial alarums concerning the flooding of that country by East European Jews. Jews living in Germany and Austria in 1933 showed all the characteristics of a declining population. Austria, for instance, showed a decline of 28,000 Jews between the census of 1923 and 1934, a phenomenon fairly typical of the entire Central European region, with the sole exceptions of Slovakia and Carpatho-Ruthenia. While German Jews enjoyed the low death-rate of modern civilization, they were also subject to the declining birth-rate characteristic of most urban populations in the West. This is shown most clearly by the fact that four-fifths of the Jews leaving Germany in 1937 were over twenty years of age. One-third of all emigrants in 1937 were over forty years of age. Even Nazi leaders admit that 200,000 aged Jews may be expected to remain in Germany.

THE exodus of German Jews can be divided into three periods. The first two years following Hitler's accession to power witnessed a precipitate emigration of more than 75,000 persons, of whom some 9,000 were non-Jews. Most of the German Jews preferred to stay in a land which had been their home for centuries. They did not believe that Hitler would fully carry through his announced racial program. Some Jews, particularly those from Poland and Lithuania, and Rumania were "repatriated" to their homelands. During this period, Germany's neighbors were quite willing to receive the refugees and accommodate them temporarily. During 1933-1934, Austria received about 1,600 refugees; Belgium, 4,800; Czechoslovakia, 8,500; France, 25,000; Holland, 8,500; and Switzerland, 5,000. About 16,500 Jews went to Palestine, which during that period accommodated more than 72,000 from all countries. Only 2,500 came to the United States, while insignificant numbers went overseas to other countries.

The period of September, 1935, through the summer of 1938 may be considered as the second stage. The passage of the Nuremberg laws in September, 1935, precipitated a new outpouring of Jewish migrants. By December 31, 1937, the total Jewish community in Germany had decreased to 325,000, the total emigration for the years 1933 to 1937 being estimated at 150,000. The occupation of Austria, in March, 1938, brought with it a sudden wave of brutally forced emigration. Thousands of Jews were arrested and told bluntly to leave or to join the ranks of the "other Germany' in the concentration camps. Consulates of foreign countries were literally besieged by thousands of harassed people seeking immediate refuge from starvation, pogroms, and concentration camps. Under such pressure, it is no wonder that one-third of the entire Jewish population of Austria fled the country, and it has been estimated that 120,000 to 140,000 persons left Greater Germany in 1938 alone. Part of this enormous total was due to the November riots, an event which introduced the third period of flight.

This period covers the time between the riots and the beginning of the present war. The riots were a brutal exhibition of Nazi force directed against the German Jewish community, ostensibly because of the assassination, by a young Polish Jew, of an embassy official in Paris. Not content with terrorization of individuals, mass arrests, the destruction of property and the burning of over 500 synagogues, the Nazis also levied a billion mark fine upon the Jewish community. These events caused new departures of e'migre's. By June, 1939, Sir Herbert Emerson, League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, estimated that not less than 120,000 refugees left Germany in 1938-1939. A large part of this movement was concentrated in the winter of 1938-9. In fact, during the first four months of 1939, 30,000 emigrants were assisted in leaving Germany, while an unknown number were able to leave without outside aid, indicating that the totals would probably have exceeded those for the previous year, had war not broken out. Thus, if the total estimate of 150,000 up to December, 1937, is correct, nearly as many were now leaving in single years as in all the five preceding ones.

WHERE have they gone? At no time in their long history have the Jews faced such wide dispersion. A survey of the New York Times for the months of June and July, 1939, showed that events concerning Jewish migrants were reported from 31 countries. One of the principal Jewish emigrant aid societies, the HICEM, reported that it had directed refugees to 44 different countries in the early months of 1939.

The following tables give the latest estimates of Jewish migrants in various parts of the world, but it must be noted that these totals are only estimates which may not agree with the findings of other bodies:

The Countries of Destination of Jews from Germany, 1933-1939

South and Central America. .


South Africa .






England .


Other Countries Europe.




United States of America. . . . .


Other countries overseas. . . . . . . . . . . . .


Total . . . 270,000

These figures are based on statistics obtained from the Joint Distribution Committee. To supplement them, the following table showing Jewish emigration in 1938 gives a more complete breakdown of the places to which Jewish migrants have been going. It is taken from a HICEM report.

The Countries of Destination Of Jews from Europe in 1938

United States










1 ,ooo


1 ,900



Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Paraguay .


Central America including Mexico and Cuba. .




South Africa



I ,800

Far East, particularly Shanghai


Other countries overseas


The HICEM report for the first six months of 1939 gives further evidence of the wide-spread dispersal of Jewish migration. For example, the list of countries to which refugees went includes Siam, Singapore, Senegal, Kenya, Morocco, Ceylon, Japan, and the Fiji Islands.

IN contrast to earlier contingents of immigrants, the present emigrants from Germany do not even bother to inquire about "possibilities for adjustment" in the lands of refuge. Their only desire is to escape from a vast concentration camp. Hence, they do not overlook any shelter, be it permanent or temporary, visa or no visa. Neither smuggling over the border, nor sailing in rotting ships, hold any terror for them. The flight of refugees to Shanghai which had few immigration restrictions is a case in point. To this far-off city located in a war-devastated country have come more than 12,000 Jewish migrants within a relatively short period. They did not and could not ask if Shanghai was a proper place for them; many were loaded on boats by the Gestapo. In May, 1939, it was reported that only 20% of the Jewish refugees in Shanghai were self-supporting.

Most of the emigrants left Germany legally. The legal migrant has a passport with the proper visas. Supplementing such documents may be affidavits of support, cash deposits, surety bonds, letters of credit, or other indicia that he will not be a burden upon his new country. At the same time, legal immigration has been marked, perhaps too frequently, by fraudulent practices on the part of officials and others. A good example is the revelation in May, 1939, that 3,000 Jews already in Bolivia had illegal entry permits, while others in Europe were reported to have similar documents. A subsequent investigation revealed that blank entry permits with the signature of the Bolivian Foreign Minister had been secured by an immigration ring and sold for $200 to $1,500 in Paris, Zurich, and Buenos Aires. It was estimated that $4,000,000 was mulcted in this fashion from harassed German Jews, and the Bolivian Government was reported as taking immediate steps to eliminate this vicious practice. Salvador, too, was forced to discharge two consuls for the fraudulent issue of visas.

The most poignantly publicized case of this type was that of the passengers of the S.S. St. Louis who, in the words of a British official, were the victims of "abuses, unfortunately practiced by certain steamship agencies, travel bureaus, and officials." Earl Winterton, chairman of the Intergovernmental Refugee Committee (Evian Committee), took official cognizance of these fraudulent acts in a speech to the House of Commons early in August, 1939. He was unremitting in his attack and "accused many of those who foment it of being on the same plane with white slavers.'

THE problem of illegal immigration became acute following Germany's occupation of Austria and Czecho-Slovakia and as a result of the curtailment and subsequent closing of Jewish immigration to Palestine.

unjust, however, to charge these migrants with illegal acts. They have been forced by the Gestapo to connive in such acts. There was, for instance, a small group attempting clandestine entry from Italy to France, who were recently seized by the Monaco customs police. It was reported that they were "mostly former Czech army officers, lawyers, merchants and bankers, who were in the German concentration camp at Dachau until a week ago, when they were put across the Italian border. The Italian Government gave them seven days to leave the country." Other persons, in a similar plight, have put themselves at the risk of robbery and murder in the hands of smugglers to be taken surreptitiously across the "green border." The number of those who have crossed in this fashion remains unavailable, but it is probable that the figures have dwindled, for such flight has become too hazardous.

A curious phase of the "green border" traffic was shown in reports that German police were forcing Jews across the borders of neighboring lands, particularly Belgium. In some cases, Gestapo agents then informed upon the very persons they had carried into Belgium! There have even been reports of a tunnel from Germany to Belgium to facilitate this illicit practice. Earl Winterton pointed out that there was "big money being made in certain countries of Europe with the connivance of certain authorities in this cruelest traffic--illegal immigration . . . These Jews are being asked to give over enormous sums of money to be smuggled over the frontiers of Belgium, Holland, Palestine and elsewhere a practice which Winterton and his colleagues condemned in the strongest terms. It is to be noted that he, unlike Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, British Colonial Secretary, absolved the Jewish refugees from blame.

In turning to "illegal" immigration into Palestine, the darkest picture yet seen is presented, for Palestine has been a beacon of hope to thousands of sorely pressed migrants. To this country, from 1926 to 1937, went over 41% of all Jewish migrants. In the years since Hitler's advent, "legal" admissions to Palestine have been as follows:

Per Cent. of Total world Jewish




















THE WHOLESALE " illegal" entries into Palestine were precipitated by the publication of the latest White Paper in May, 1939. Prior to this, immigration had been proceeding normally, and entries for January and February were stated by the Jewish Agency to be 2,684. In March over 4,000 entered, mostly from Germany and Austria. During these months, only trifling references to illegal immigration may be found, the principal incident involving a Greek steamer, "Astir," with more than 600 persons on board. By the middle of April, with all kinds of rumors arising from the Round Table ''Conference" and later substantiated by the limitation of entry to 1,000 immigrants for the same month, illegal activities became more noticeable and took on the character of a popular protest movement. The Palestine authorities took official cognizance of the situation by increasing the Coast Guard. Seizures of suspected vessels followed and some persons were turned away, while many others were interned in special camps, Still others successfully evaded the Coast Guard and landed upon the shores of Palestine. The actual number who succeeded in doing this may never be known, but early in May, before the White Paper was published, the Palestine Government took further official recognition of illegal entrance by deducting the number under surveillance from future quotas. The Government was forced to take this step because the illegal entrants could not be deported. Obviously, they could not go back to Germany; others had destroyed their passports. Furthermore, some of the ships which brought them to Palestine quickly disappeared, and the administration had to accept a fait accompli so far as entry was concerned. At the same time, normal immigration for the first four months of 1939, as reported by the Jewish Agency, was 8,022.

IN the face of the need of a receiving point for forced migration, the White Paper on Palestine (Cmd. 6019) of May 17, 1939, abandoned the principle of ' 'economic absorptive capacity" and established a permanent ratio for immigration. An annual quota of 10,000 immigrants for a period of five years plus an additional 25,000 refugees for the entire period was laid down. During the following weeks repeated seizures of boatloads of suspected "illegals" took place. The policy of deducting the number of entrants from immigration quotas continued. On June 14, 1939, the quota for the six months ending October 1, 1939, was announced as 10,350. 5,350 certificates were earmarked for refugees. From the remaining 5,000, 1,300 were deducted for illegal and undeportable entrants as well as an additional 1,200 admitted pending issuance of the White Paper. Legal entries into Palestine in June, 1939, were 1,000 while "illegals," the secret migrants, were 2,300.

Zionist officials in Palestine never approved of illegal immigration and looked "apprehensively on the deduction of illegal immigrants from the total for legal immigration, which hitherto [had] been controlled regarding the qualifications of the immigrants." Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald took the position that "during the last few months there [had] been an organized attempt to defeat the proper regulation of immigration by traffic in illegal immigrants and, as many of these illegal immigrants are Jews from Poland and Rumania, the movement even threatens to some extent our effort to help refugees." It may be pointed out that many of the "Jews from Rumania" might very well have been German or Czech Jews who came packed in leaky boats from the port of Constanza, Rumania, a way station for Jews in flight from the Nazi terror and a center of illegal traffic. The fact that East European Jews seek haven in Palestine must be examined in terms of the wretched condition of the Jewish community in these regions and the increasing anti-Semitism on the part of nationalist groups.

SUCH were the facts up to the outbreak of the present European war. The war situation undoubtedly presages great changes in Britain's Palestine policy. Prior to this war, it would have been safe to predict that illegal immigration into Palestine would have been accelerated under the principles of the White Paper and the stoppage of all immigration for the six-months period following October 1, 1939. The White Paper is now virtually scrapped and the strategic importance of Palestine will require Great Britain to use all available man-power. Three days after the declaration of war, it was announced that 50,000 Jews had volunteered for war service. Unverified reports tell of increased admission of persons of military age to the Holy Land. Great Britain's Palestine policy, in the face of her broader imperial interests, will probably be "liberalized."

Effective international action, such as brought about the partial settlement of the problems of the Russian "Whites" and the Armenians, was slow in materializing in the case of Jewish migrants from Germany. The League of Nations considered the refugee question in September, 1933, but instead of establishing its own instrument, it set up the High Commission for Refugees (Jewish and Other) Coming from Germany, a separate body not responsible to the League and supported by private funds. In the face of the increasing pressure of refugees and the non-cooperation of the Nazi Government, the task of the Commissioner, James G. McDonald, was well-nigh insuperable. HC resigned his post in December, 1935, pointing out that direct League control was needed. The League retained the office in amended form, but its failure to grapple realistically with the political aspects of the problem finally led, in March, 1938, to President Roosevelt's proposal for an intergovernmental conference to consider the removal and settlement of political refugees from Germany and Austria. At a conference, the first international session of this type, held in July, 1938, at Evian-les-Bains, France, the twenty-nine participating nations canvassed the situation and set up the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees, the present instrument of international efforts to bring about a solution of the refugee problem, as it existed prior to the outbreak of war in September. Myron C. Taylor, American member of the Committee, indicated that the problem was to substitute "an orderly system of departure from countries whence there is involuntary emigration for the existing disorderly exodus of men, women and children who have no place to go."

AT various sessions the cooperating nations were canvassed on their plans and ability to accept Jewish migrants, and while great sympathy was expressed for the purposes of the Committee, little immediate hope was held for large-scale settlement. This attitude of the participating countries was criticized, as was also the exclusion from the agendas of Palestine as a possible place of refuge. The Committee has continually attempted to work out some reasonable plan of action with the German Government, but this Government again showed little willingness to cooperate, while, at the same time, it made the problem more acute through the November riots and the subsequent billion mark fine. A definite proposal finally came in the form of the Schacht plan (December, 1938) which, as the Schacht-Rublee plan, was presented to the Committee in January, 1.939. Described by the Manchester Guardian as "a masterpiece of cynicism," the plan called for the allocation of only 25% of the possessions of German Jews to refugee emigration. The disposition of the remaining 75% was not specified, nor was the total amount of wealth stated. In February a plan was submitted by Dr. Helmuth Wohlthat, an official of the German Ministry of Economics. Following this, the German Government was informed that a project was under way for ' 'a private international corporation" to finance systematic emigration of Jews.

In July, the Intergovernmental Committee announced the establishment of the Coordinating Foundation, a semi-public Jewish and Christian body intended to facilitate the orderly migration of refugees. Implemented with a fund of $1,000,000 and headed by Paul van Zeeland, former Premier of Belgium, this body hopes to serve as a ''board of directors for the handling of refugee questions and the resettling of exiles." As a German counterpart, Lord Winterton in August predicted the establishment of an "internal trust" to facilitate that end of the matter. The war undoubtedly destroys the prospects there, but it will not interfere with the plans for a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee to be held at the White House in October. Thirty-two governments have been invited, and Mr. Taylor announced on September 6, that the meeting would take place as scheduled.

SINCE the Jewish migrant has started upon his path, either following the legal or illegal course, new difficulties confront him. The Jewish migrant of past years found the gates of entry open to him, but the situation changed almost overnight following the enormous impact of the forced migrations from Germany. The causes for higher immigration barriers are linked to modern nationalism, to the continued economic depression, to more scientific approaches to population problems, and, in part, to anti-Semitic feeling in several lands. A complete statement of immigration restrictions set up by every country would fill many pages, but a rapid survey will give an inkling of the present situation. In Europe, for instance, Belgium, France, and Holland, all of which have accepted thousands of refugees, have been in the process of completely closing their gates. Italy, curiously enough, has been admitting German refugees on temporary visas. Sweden also has been extending temporary permits. England still permits entry although the procedure is an involved one. Australia, whose "wide open spaces" are not as inviting or feasible as journalists imagine; has granted 15,000 visas for the next three years. Applications already exceed this number. Canada, prior to the present war, was receiving men, women, and children coming to join families already resident in Canada, "whereas in the past male adult immigrants preponderated".

In 1938, Canada received 15,645 immigrants, including 584 Jews. Hundreds of farm families from Sudetenland were accepted in recent months, but the prevailing opinion is that Canada must be cautious in her future immigration policy. Emigration to any of the thirty-nine colonial dependencies of the British Empire is a risky venture, and prospective immigrants have been advised not to proceed to any such place until confirmation that entry will be permitted is received from the Colonial Government concerned.

In South America, the restrictions have been mounting ever higher and Immigration to Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela is extremely limited, although some infiltration is still taking place. Bolivia, which received over 6,000 migrants, is now aiming at a maximum entry of 250 persons per month, a number which has not yet been reached. Brazil has established a quota system permitting an annual entry of 4,700 Germans, of whom only may be engaged in non-agricultural pursuits. The agricultural restrictions found in several South American lands serve as an effective barrier to Jewish immigration at this time. Considerable retraining of prospective migrants is needed, a requirement difficult to fulfill in the face of forced departures. The same strictures apply in Colombia and Ecuador. As for British Guiana, the trial settlements proposed by the investigating commission were a possibility when the war began. Grave doubt is expressed concerning their realization in the near future.

THROUGHOUT Central America and the Caribbean countries the picture is likewise grim. Cuba is now practically closed to migrants. Immigration to Haiti is not encouraged and permanent residence permits are difficult to obtain. Barbados and Jamaica, British dependencies, are closed, while Trinidad requires advance permission and a cash bond, but some possibilities were expected to materialize in the Windward Islands. Grandiose schemes for settlement in the Dominican Republic have been bruited about, and settlement of 10,000 to 100,000 persons has been mentioned, Throughout the Central Americas small numbers of refugees are found, but the same barriers found to the south are now being raised. Nicaragua, for example, has granted no visas to refugees since November, 1938, while Panama, which harbors about 1,500 at present, does not grant permanent visas. Mexico is almost closed except to those who can raise a large capital requirement, although this country recently accepted a number of Spanish refugees.

This brief survey should make it amply clear that the normal process of infiltration is growing less and less certain for migrants. There is little doubt that the tendency to raise immigration barriers will continue and that increasing restrictions will be made. Whether this tendency will be reflected in the United States is unknown, since the maximum immigration permitted under our laws is 153,774, a figure which has not been filled at any time since its adoption. Even with German, Czech and Austrian quotas filled to the limit, annual immigration into this country will probably remain around 75,000. Coupled with emigration from this country, the net gain in population from this source is likely to remain small.

To point out where Jewish migrants have gone in the last six years is only part of the picture, for most of the European nations have ceased to accept Jewish refugees for permanent residence and now permit them to remain only while in transit. Consideration, therefore, is now being given to really wild and undeveloped lands as places of settlement and colonization. Prominent among the places mentioned for large-scale development are Ceylon, Kenya, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, Madagascar, British Columbia, Lower California, Alaska, British Guiana, French Guiana, Dutch Guiana, and New Caledonia. Other schemes concern China, Mexico, Brazil, the Argentine, several islands in the West Indies, Australia, and some of the wilder parts of the United States. Some of these lands have already been subjected to examination on the spot, and both British Guiana and Alaska have been covered in recent reports. The British Government, according to Malcolm MacDonald, had ''considerable hope" about its possession, while Harold L. Ickes, United States Secretary of the Interior, asserted "that there [was] room, need, and a warm welcome waiting in Alaska for qualified settlers, especially for those seeking refuge from intolerance and oppression."

SETTLEMENT in British Guiana is attended by enormous difficulties which a mixed Commission did not underemphasize, and a trial settlement requiring $3,000,000 and 5,000 selected persons was suggested. Prime Minister Chamberlain responded on May 12, 1939, by offering "the fullest facilities for establishing experimental colonies," but by July 6th he was indicating that "all the British Government would do, apart from roadbuilding . . . would be to 'cooperate fully' and to appoint 'such administrative officers as may be necessary. In August, 1939, it was announced that a colonization experiment by several hundred people would be undertaken in the fall. The Alaskan proposal is still in the early stages, but it would seem that the plan is to extend legal and administrative aid rather than financial assistance.

In respect to the four African lands--Kenya, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, and Northern Rhodesia--one observer has felt that the prospects were limited and noted that refugees were to be received there "but literally by tens but not by thousands". In the early months of 1939, seventeen migrants were directed to Rhodesia and Kenya out of almost 4,000 persons handled by one agency alone (HICEM). Madagascar, a favorite place for the disposition of refugees in the minds of the ill-informed, presents limited prospects, although the French Government was reported considering a plan for largescale settlement in this island and New Caledonia. Similarly, plans for building a colony of 100,000 refugees in Yunnan Province, South Central China, seems to be without realistic foundation. An African homeland for Jews as suggested in a speech by Representative Hamilton Fish before the Interparliamentary Union Conference in Oslo, in August, 1939, is also one of the plans doomed to fail.

The Dominican Republic has been suggested as a possible site, and a report on this country concerning the progress of the proposal is expected shortly. Secretary Ickes recently announced in this connection that the Puerto Rican Reconstruction Administration "had been instructed to make available its data on five years' experience in rural resettlement and to arrange for an exchange of information with the colony, to which a tract along the Haitian frontier has been offered." A more tangible suggestion involved the Philippines. A committee appointed by the President's Advisory Committee on Refugees went to the Philippines to survey the practicability of Mindanao and Polillo, two islands of the Archipelago. The Mindanao plan received a definite setback when President Emanuel Quezon announced that there was no land available in Lanao Province there, but he indicated that Cotabato Province might be suitable. The Refugee Economic Corporation stated in its annual report for 1938 that a preliminary survey suggests the colonization of 10,000 refugees on a selected piece of land affording a pleasant climate suitable for western people."

VARIOUS South American countries have been proposed for large-scale settlement in spite of the barriers raised by immigration laws. Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay have each been mentioned in connection with some scheme. Recently a plan was announced for the settlement of 3, OOO German Catholics of Jewish ancestry in Brazil. Mention might be made of other proposals although none of them have advanced much beyond the paper stage," but, as one observer has noted, "various plans for Jewish immigrants have been wrecked in recent months by an exaggerated publicity, which led the native population to protest at what mistakenly appeared as an overwhelming invasion of their economic security.

This rapid glance at places where Jewish migrants might go brings no conclusive answer. Even those places which on demographic and economic grounds seem to hold greatest hope are surrounded with difficulties. Sir John Hope Simpson has thoughtfully pointed out: "It is clear that no colonization on a large scale can be improvised. New settlement as distinct from the incorporation of individual families in existing settlements, requires careful preparation entailing heavy expenditure on preliminary development. If offers of suitable land are made there are various conditions to be fulfilled before the refugees can enter into occupation of their new home, the intending migrants must have their health and morale maintained by purposeful training under good conditions; capital must be found for the opening up of the territory and the provision of the necessary institutions of civilization."

THE future of Jewish migration is grim. The numbers involved, the manner of their going, the rising barriers, and the remote possibilities of large-scale settlement are the chief obstacles in a problem which calls for complete international action. There is hope that the quotas of the United States and Australia will alleviate the pressure in some respect. Infiltration, restricted as it is, into other lands, principally South America and Canada, has held other possibilities. The local problem of absorbing these new arrivals is now being handled in a concerted intelligent way by public and private bodies, while special importance must be attached to the retraining of Jews in the refugee-producing nations. The new Coordinating Foundation may be an important step, although without firm intergovernmental cooperation behind it, it will be no more than window dressing. Palestine, where immigration has, until the new policy, been based upon the economic absorptive capacity of the land, still presents the greatest hope for many Jewish migrants.

As for large-scale settlement in Alaska, British Guiana, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic, immediate prospects are still slim, but it is important that the governments concerned have given attention to the problem. Out of such efforts may come not only salvation for a number of Jews, but also insight into the problem of establishing people upon marginal lands. Curiously enough, the present war has caused an almost complete cessation of the flight of Jewish refugees per se from Germany, although there is no doubt that continued hostilities will add to the refugee problem. in a broader aspect. (In this connection Spain as a refugee-producing country must be noted, while Poland is already witnessing the flight of her people from the war zone). The problem of Jewish migration is ever complicated by anti-Semitism, an instrument of reaction. The spread of this force may jump the number involved from 800,000 to several millions. At this moment it is only a hideous eventuality, but as the storm of war becomes more intense no one knows what developments will come. The problem can, however, be settled by international action in a way that will preserve human values, enhance human dignity, and rest upon firm international cooperation. It is hoped that the new peace will achieve that.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a ├ éČ┼"Trusted Author,├ éČ Ł he is a Senior (more...)
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