How French Groups Cope with Problem of Jewish Refugees
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How French Groups Cope with Problem of Jewish Refugees

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The prediction that 200,000 Jews will make their exodus from Germany is made by George Bernhard, formerly editor of the Vossiche Zeitung and an ex-member of the Reichstag and the Economic Council of the Reich.

Bernhard estimates that 50,000 Jews have already left Germany since the beginning of the Nazi regime. He proposes that an international commission be established to deal with the question of these refugees.

All civilized countries, and especially those possessing colonies, should consider what can be done to receive these exiles and afford them a means of livelihood, Bernhard suggests. He proposes a commission, which might be appointed by the League of Nations, should establish the proportion of the various types of Jewish workers which the various countries would be prepared to receive. At first, he says, there ought to be established a kind of passport of international validity along the lines of the Nansen passport, which could be used by the exiles pending their choice of new nationalities.


Three organizations, catering to the German exiles, are now functioning in Paris.

A visit of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency representative to the offices of the German First Aid Committee, first of the societies to be organized, found the waiting room crowded with German-Jewish emigres. The head of the office is Dr. Strauss, formerly a Frankfurt lawyer and himself a refugee.

“We are all in the same boat,” Dr. Strauss declared. “I had to leave my country early in the morning five weeks ago. We have practically no funds with which to help all these people. Some we send to the Salvation Army, but they can’t remain there indefinitely. There are from fifty to sixty applicants daily and we can give material assistance only to a few. Fortunately, some have arrived with a little money and are helping others. A few of them have friends here. We do what we can. The crying need is for employment. If only we could find work for some of them. There are engineers, professors, doctors among them. Some of these physicians would be glad to offer their services for practically nothing.”

A tall, slim young woman with brick-red hair and drooping lips spoke up. “I was one of the best-paid actresses on the Berlin stage. Couldn’t I get work as a cook or a chamber maid? I’d do the most menial work there is.”

The small waiting room was so crowed that half the applicants were obliged to stand. Some looked as if they had been standing for hours. The air was hot; a woman with a child in her arms was very pale and kept closing her eyes.


“Those two old men sitting next to the window,” Dr. Strauss said, “were professors of sociology at Heidelberg.” One of the men suddenly straightened up and from his pocket drew a knife. Holding it in a hand that was none too steady, he slowly unclasped the blade. Others were watching him. With the same deliberation, he cut a sandwich in two; one half he gave his colleague. He ate the other half.

In addition to the First Aid Committee, there is the “Comité d’aide et d’accueil aux victimes de Anti-Semitisme en Allemagne”, presided over by M. Painleve. This committee has already dealt with the cases of nearly 2,000 Jewish refugees. Most of these people are shopkeepers and professional men. Many of them left in a state of panic, leaving behind everything they owned in Germany. They will tell you that they have lost everything but they are only too happy “to be out of that hell.”

It is difficult for them to earn money in France, and their position is not an easy one. Many of them are anxious to emigrate to Palestine or to the French colonies; but as they have no capital, the Painleve committee is not encouraging them to make any final decision for the present. Though headed by M. Painleve, this relief organization is composed mainly of Jews.

More remarkable as an example of the French spirit of tolerance is the “Comite Francais pour la protection des intellectuels juifs”, which is non-Jewish, composed of prominent French Catholic and Conservative personalities.


This organization accepts as its task that of creating “a suitable atmosphere” in France for German-Jewish intellectuals. “The Jews,” explained the secretary, M. de Remusat, “are not a passive people; they are full of energy and enterprise. At the end of six months most of them will have found something to do. But we must give them a start.” He then gave some details of the committee aims and methods:

Dr. Jacobson, well-known specialist of the Rothschild Hospital, interviews twice a week German physicians and recommends them as assistants to French doctors whenever possible. He has already found work for several. As it happens many of these German doctors are first class men. “For the most eminent of these German scientists we try to found chairs or provide them with laboratories, though this is an expensive business; it costs about two thousand pounds to equip a laboratory and our funds are still low.”

Physicians, said M. de Remusat, are easier to handle than lawyers. For the German lawyers obviously do not know French law. “Musicians are also a difficult problem, for there are many unemployed French musicians, but we manage to get them work in the colonies. As regards writers and scientists, they will have their most valuable writings published under our auspices.”

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