Menu JTA Search

When Israel Comes Home

Download PDF for this date

(M. Pierre Goemacre, the author of this remarkable series of articles on Palestine and the German Jewish refugees, is one of the leading Catholic writers in Belgium and the editor of the important magazine “La Revue Belge.” Mr. Goemaere was considered an anti-semite before his recent visit to Palestine. He was so deeply impressed with the jewish achievements he witnessed in Palestine that his views about the Jews have undergone a complete change. These articles will be published in the “Soir”, of Brussels, and “Intransigeant”, of Paris. The Jewish Daily Bulletin has obtained the exclusive American ritghts to this series.)


They speak but reticently, with furtive looks about them, betraying their fear of having said too much.

“You understand, if my name is mentioned, or event the name of the teh place where this hppened,they will recognize me, theywill guess. It makes no difference to me; I’m never going back. But my relatives, my friends, those who are still there, they will pay. They are cowards, you see. They have to promise them that, to get our passports. We must announce that we have never been treated badly, and that everything the foreign press has publised about Germany is slander. We must say that my young brother was free to express his every thought when he announced before the microphone at the police station in X…. that, during the week’s term in prison to which he had been sentenced for having ‘insulted with a look’ a brown-shirt, he was very well treated, and that his sentence had been merited. We must not say that, while my brother was talking, a Nazi soldier was holding a fifle against his stormach…”

The woman who tells me this is sitting on a fox, in a corner of the dock at Haifa. She has taken a coffee grinder out of her bag and is turning its handle. Around her, a group of exiles is waiting, like her, to enter the offices of the immigration bureau.

The idea came to em to enter these number of things. Under what conditions are these refugees accepted? How many of them have already arrived? What is the absorptive capacity of this country. hardly as large as Belgium? And how is the division made: I know that most of these immigrants will he sent to the Agricultural colonies (the culture of the soil is the foremost point in the Zionist program) but how, from this group of Jews, the majortiy of which is made upof merchants and members of the liberal professions, can farmers be made?

Yes, I wanted to learn all this. But David, who was running all over the pier, seeking his nephew, said to me: “No. Not today. Just talk with these people here. Keep your questions for later on, when we’re in the City.”

For every Jew in Palestine, there are only two cities: Jerusalem (or rather Yerusholaim), the mystical capital, the city of the Temple; and Tel Aviv, the city that belings to the Jews alone, the metropolis of their reconstructive effort, the concrete flowre of Hebrew renaissance…. But when David says “the City”, he means Tel Aviv, where we have agreed to meet.

So we wait, then, and force ourselves to swallow without a grimace the foffee given us in one of the cups which the woman has taken out of aa hatbox, and which she is distributing to everyone.

“Your many of them. There are former officials here, too, and professors, and teachers. Look, that man over there”, she pointed to a huge man with a metropolitan face, who bowed so low that some of his coffee spilled from his cup, “he is an actor. You know, the persecution the middle classes mainly. You see that young married couple over there? They were married several days before leaving this is their honeymoon! Well, the husband is a lawyer. And the gentleman with whom they are speaking is a notary from Leipzig.”

“I had a store at X…. A little stationery store from which I made a livingsince my husband died. (He was killed during the War, at the front-Jews were always permitted to die for the great German Father-land). I was force to abandon this store, from which I made my meager living, because of the boycott of Jewish businesses.”

“But the boycott has stopped, hasn’t it? They leave you alone now, don’t they?”

“Leave us alone! Oh, how little you know of German duplicity, of their undercover oppressions! Yes, before the indignation that the persecution ot our race provoked throughout the world, and especially before the menace of commercial reprisals, they decided to leave us alone. Leave us alone, officially. So they let us take off the condemning stickers from our windowns, and they sent away the soldiers who stood at our doors. But then,the other stores, the ‘Aryan’ stores, pasted large signs on their windows-“National Store’ or ‘German Store’. We were not permitted to have signs like that. So, you understand….?

“But yhour store had its regular cuatomers. Among them, there must have been a few who…”

“Not in Germany! Don’t forget the discipline thta unites those people….. And besides, to rstrain those who might forget, there is always the fear of the informer, of the concealed photographer who will give over tomorrow to the Nazi newspapers the picture of the ‘German traitor’ crossing the threshold of a Jewish store. They threshold of a Jewish store. They are cowards, sneaks! Oh, yes, the persecution has been stopped, but one morning I find the glass in my show-win-dow broken from top to bottom. Another morning, I find that the door to my store was nailed up during the night. Then I have a visit from my landlord, who announces that he will break my lease because of the damages to his property. You can understand how excited I was. I was alone, as I told you. How could I resist this daily persecution? No, there were no bloody massacres in the steet such as make up the most horthe number of victims there. But those in which you can never count the number-a number much greater of sacrificed, those are the ones that are carried out in silence, in the shadows, under a thousand different forms, against people with no defence, deprived of the resources necessary for life, driven by their misery to a slow death. They say the great foreign press has told about the atrocities in the streets, but it never says anything about the much greater atrocities committed on the thousands of Jews who are dying of hunger in Germany. Take, for in stance, my brother abut whom I spoke just now. A little while, before leaving, he had to go to the hospital. From his detention in the police cells, he had contracted bronchitis, which was threatening to develop into pneumonia. They could nt accept him at the jewish Hospital. Do you know why? First, because there were already too many patients, but mainly because, noiselessly, the government had just taken away its subsidies from all the Jewish Hospitals in Germany!”

I sat there a few moments without asking any more questions, because tears were running donw the woman’s checks.

“Tell me, Madame”, I asked her, “did you hav any trouble in getting your permit to leave Germany?”

“Only after a hundred attempts, a thousand insults and humiliations. But what difference does that make? To leave Germany there are even worse difficulties. Have you ever heard of the frontier? Do you know ot the harshness of the customs examination? Do you know that they condiscate all money over 200 marks? Yes, that’s right: two hundred marks! With that amount we must travel Germany, but they keep our money back. Don’t you see how sneaking it all is. And besides, you can expect all the whims of Hiler’s soldiers at the frontier. Ask that man there why he is alone here, why his brothers haven’t come with him. Elias, tell him.”

Elias was a tall, dry-boned old man. In his silver heard there were streaks of gold. His sunburnt face, his wrinkled neck, all proved him to be a laborer of the soil.

He took glad to talk. I translate his words, attempting to keep the rough flavor:

“Yes, we had it good, we at the farm. Three brothers, none married three happy men! But the taking on of workers didn’t come along so well, in spite of the unemployment. In the country as well as the cities maybe worse than in the cities-they don’t want to work for Jews. So, one morning, we found twenty of our cows in the stable, their throats cut. And there was a sign, saying, ‘These cows have been condemned to death for having had so litle bovine dignity as to have acquiesced to living with Jews.’

“Another time, a part of our farm was burned down. And my young brother was almost caugght in the fire. And another time, it was something else. So we decided it would be better to leave….”

“But your brothers, Elias. Tell the gentleman the story about the frontier.”

“Wait, Rachel, wait. You see I am telling everything. Well, sir, wer left the farm. At the frontier, where we arrived together, the oberleuienant looked at my passport and said: Good. He looked at the passport of my third brother and said: “That makes three from the same family. Three farmers. You are leaving because there are no farms in Germany. Go back!

“Then my secod brother said they ought ot let my thirs brother go with us because our passports were in order and our farm had burned down.

“So the oberleutenant anwered:

” ‘Then you must all stay with your brother to rebuild the farm.’

Then I said:

” ‘Since your order it, I will stay with them.’

” ‘No’, said the oberleutenant, ‘you’re too old, and with you gone, we’ll have just one less me onto train that was leaving. And that is why. I came here alone.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund