America is one of the few countries which have not acted in behalf of the German-Jewish refugees and the example is being followed by other nations. Unless some action in their behalf is taken, the plight of the refugees will grow worse and the work of the International Refugee Commission appointed by the League of Nations will be seriously hindered.
This was the opinion of Dr. Samuel Margoshes, editor of The Day, expressed following his return from a trip abroad. During several months as an impartial observer, he talked with the dejected, rejected exiles from the Third Reich in London, Paris, Brussels, Antwerp and Amsterdam, and rounded out his work by living for a week in Berlin.
It was a depressing picture that Dr. Margoshes brought back with him. He spoke of the thousands of Hitler victims living on charity and a ten-franc-per-day-per-person grant of the French government, in barracks once occupied by the French army. He described their method of life, a life made bitter because of its purposelessness and its underlying sorrow. What does a man feel who has been expelled from his homeland, bereft of his profession and property and forced at the point of the bayonet to seek habitation in lands where unemployment and economic depression make him only deadwood? What hope is there for the German exile? Where is he to go? To whom is he to turn?
SOUGHT THE ANSWERS
The purpose of Dr. Margoshes’s study was to find out to some extent the answer to these questions. On the heels of the London economic conference for the relief of German-Jewish refugees, where he was present as a delegate of the American Jewish Congress, the editor of The Day toured the cities already mentioned.
The refugees in Paris, he said, are receiving treatment which cannot but reflect the high type of integrity of the French government, which welcomed them and housed them and is feeding them. There are 40,000 refugees living in the French barracks, and their complaint is that they are undernourished. This shortcoming of their relief they attribute not to the French host but to the commissary which, it is charged, has not meted out the relief funds honestly. The refugees appreciate what is being done for them, and they likewise appreciate that France is only a “jumping board”â€”that they cannot remain permanently, since the republic has its own worries on account of overproduction and unemploymentâ€”that the savior nation is marking time until the visiting exiles find a permanent haven elsewhere, in Palestine, in South America, in America, or wherever they will be welcome.
The refugees, said Dr. Margoshes, are disappointed although not outspokenly, at the meagre aid which is coming from American Jews. They are disappointed that Americans have not cast a friendly eye toward them, have not made an attempt to lower the immigration barriers and give them a chance to start life over again.
OTHERS ARE HESITATING
The situation is aggravated by the fact that countries which can absorb large numbers of newcomers are hesitating because of the deaf ear America has given to the Hitler atrocity victims. They look to the United States for inspiration. Whatever action is taken here, he insisted, will be emulated if not imitated, by other countries.
The first wave of emigration from Germany carried with it about 65,000 persons. The number will increase swiftly, the editor of The Day pointed out, proportionately with the intensification of the anti-Semitic program which at present shows no sign of let-up.
Another difficulty refugee committees have to contend with is the fear on the part of a considerable number of foreign Jews that anti-Semitism in their own native soil will become emphasized with the influx of German Jews. The state of economic affairs throughout the world makes possible a resurgence of anti-Semitism. Such a phenomenum would mean disaster for world, Jewry, Dr. Margoshes reflected.
RISKS HE RAN
It took no little amount of courage on Dr. Margoshes’s part to stay in Berlin, where his life was in constant peril. He said that warnings came to him from Mr. Messersmith, the American consul general, and from Jewish leaders with whom he had difficulty in communicating. The substance of the remarks made by the Jewish leaders in Germany indicated strong antipathy toward America, the conviction that by 1934 about 200,000 Jews will have left Germany and that as economic conditions in the Third Reich grow worse, the atrocity campaign will become worse.
The editor, who was born in Galicia in 1887 and received his education in Tarnow and later at Columbia University, which granted him M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, told the Jewish Daily Bulletin that the refugees are making a desperate effort to stave off starvation by studying arts, crafts and trades. They mean to earn their livelihood in their future homeland by these means. They know that in the fatherland they have no chance.
“They exist with eyes outward,” said Dr. Margoshes. “They have no hope. They are struggling for survival and for the life of their children.”