One thousand and one emigrants left Lithuania during 1932, of whom 725 were Jews, according to the official statistics of the Lithuanian Government. The previous year, the total number of emigrants was 1,750 and 1,128 of them were Jews.
In 1932, the Jews constituted therefore 72Â½% of the total number of emigrants, an increase in comparison with the previous year, when they constituted 64%, a striking demonstration of the emigration urge among the Jewish population, in spite of the severe immigration restrictions, which have affected it much less proportionately than they have general emigration.
Of the 725 Jews who left Lithuania in 1932, 290 went to South Africa and 193 to Palestine. The Palestine emigrants were assisted by the Palestine Office of the Zionist Organization, and those who went to other countries were assisted by the Kovno office of the Hicem.
The new immigration laws in South Africa provide for the admission of only 50 immigrants from each European country in one year. In addition the South African Government may distribute 1,000 visas each year among all the emigration countries. The Kovno Hicem office has endeavored to secure as many of these 1,000 visas as possible for Lithuanian Jews, and owing to its efforts, nearly 500 emigrants were enabled to proceed to South Africa in 1931, and 290 in 1932, instead of only 50, the number of visas ordinarily assigned for Lithuania.
An added difficulty is that no other country imposes such heavy fees on immigration documents as South Africa does. In this direction, the Hicem succeeded in saving the immigrants more than 6,000 dollars in fees.
The work of emigration encountered a series of difficulties during the year on account of the frequent and important changes made in the immigration laws of a great many countries, Argentine, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile. Cuba, Mexico, South Africa, United States, France, etc., and thousands of inquiries had to be attended to from intending emigrants.
The Hicem also encountered a number of other serious difficulties. Many women going out to join their husbands in the oversea countries had only had a religious marriage, and there were many steps to be taken before they could secure their papers.
There was also the problem of young people, who were born during the War when the Lithaunian Jews were evacuated by the Russian Czarist armies to the interior of Russia, under conditions which made it impossible to register their birth.
The Hicem also intervened successfully on behalf of the thousands of Jewish refugees of various nationalities living in Lithuania.