South-West Africa, former German colony, and now under the mandate of the Union of South Africa, was advocated as a haven for “the millions of declassee Christians in Germany, for those who have inherited a minimum share of Jewish blood in their veins and are being therefore humiliated and persecuted by the Nazis” by Michael S. Sawmellee in the May issue of The Standard, in an article entitled “‘Poetic Justice’ for German Refugees.”
The Standard is issued by the American Ethical Union “to promote ethical thinking and to encourage better ways of living.” The author of the article is a former trustee of the Boston Ethical Society and members of the Vocational Board of Boston University. During his forty years in this country he has been Swedish Commissioner for a number of international expositions. The magazine introduces the article as “a valuable idea towards meeting the needs of the party-Jewish refugees from Germany.”
“Among these millions of persecuted Germans,” Sawmelle writes, “there are over 800,000 young men and women between the ages of 20 and 35 years who have no future in their native country. Where can they go? The depression and unemployment at home prevent other nations from absorbing them. Are the fever infested jungles of South America or Africa or the narrow confines of Palestine their only opportunities?
“South-West Africa is a country with only 200,000 inhabitants yet nearly as large as Germany and France together. It was always considered the healthiest of the German colonies and the one best adapted for white settlers. After the World War it was placed under a British Union of South Africa ###andate, and it is unlikely ever to be returned to Germany; it is too close to Union soil. And the English might well feel that there was “poetic justice” in colonizing it with expatriates of the Fatherland. South-West Africa would make staunch citizens of these exiles. And the British and United States governments could well afford to extend to them credit similar to that given to the Chinese government by the United States not long ago. Also there are in the world at least 70 million persons of partly Jewish ancestry or close relationship through intermarriage. If these were appealed to by an appropriate organization, would not many of them come to the financial aid of their unfortunate brethren in Germany?
The world’s shipping has been hard hit by the depression; innumerable idle ships could be used advantageously for the transportation of large but carefully selected groups of refugees who are suitable to become pioneers. Our own economic situation would certainly be helped by the sending of a surplus of our products where it cannot interfere with regular trade opportunities. It would help stimulate general business recovery.
“The refugees belong to every sort of vocation-they would constitute a genuine community and they have been accustomed to a high standard of living. They would need machinery, tools, food products, material for housing, clothing, etc., and they would by degrees call for many other things besides the bare necessities. With modern machinery and methods, they would build up South-West Africa in much less time than it look the pioneers in the United States to build up the West.
“South-West Africa has an ocean frontage of 800 miles with opportunities for fishing industries. The land along the ocean is low and often fog-bound, but at distances varying from 20 to 100 miles from the ocean the great Katakari Plateau and other rolling plateaux are spread at an altitude of from 2,000 to 6,000 feet. The temperature is changeable, but the atmosphere is clear and bracing, and in the dryness and purity of the air pulmonary diseases cannot flourish. The mountain scenery in certain parts is very beautiful and is visited by tourists from all parts of the world.”