Hilfsverein Has Aided Many Who Sought to Leave Reich
Menu JTA Search

Hilfsverein Has Aided Many Who Sought to Leave Reich

Download PDF for this date

The machinery which has been set up by the Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden, especially to come to the rescue of German Jews wishing to emigrate and “start life anew,” was described at an annual meeting of the organization held here, by Max Warburg, vice-chairman.

“The Hilfsverein stands on the basis that the German Jews want to stay in their homeland, whose future is their own, in the hope that they will secure for themselves a dignified way of continuing their life,” he said.

“If, however, it appears to German Jews impossible to remain in Germany for economic reasons, and for the future of their children, there arises in consequence the need to emigrate, and the Hilfsverein places great value on the importance of careful preparation of the ground.

“The Hilfsverein has taken in hand a thorough-going inquiry into all the possibilities that exist for the emigration of German Jews. It has collated this material very fully, and there has already been a consultation on a big scale, and another one is being arranged. Sixty thousand people were given advice and information of all kinds during the course of 1933; 7,700 people were financially assisted with grants for railway and ship tickets, visas, food, and the transport of luggage, household goods, machinery and instruments. An extensive correspondence has been maintained on behalf of many thousands of people with the authorities, and with Jewish Communities and aid committees.”


“The Hilfsverein,” Mr. Warburg continued, “considers it its duty to help those who have taken the grave decision to leave the Fatherland to establish for themselves a new existence. The Hilfsverein gives advice to emigrants to all countries except Palestine. Till now it has cooperated in emigration to thirty-four countries. The needs of the emigrant aid work require the material and moral assistance of all our members. We know to what an extent the claims of their own family circle and of the Community demand the attention of German Jews at the present time. But no German Jew or Jewess may at this time stay outside the Hilfsverein. The Hilfsverein has never been faced by tasks more serious than now, and the concentration of all German Jews has never been more essential. Only the loyal cooperation of all will give us the strength to carry our responsibility and to continue our work.”


Dr. Mark Wischnitzer, general secretary, said that the Hilfsverein is indispensable. If it did not exist it would have to be created.

“We always think of the men who founded the Hilfsverein, James Simon, Paul Nathan and Eugen Landau, who is happily still among us,” he said. “German Jewry has them to thank for it that thirty-three years ago an organization was brought into existence that by experience built up an apparatus that is still functioning in 1933 and must continue to function in the future.

“Thanks are also due,” he said, “to the organizations that are collaborating with the Hilfsverein— the Jewish Colonization Association (Ica), the Joint Distribution Committee, whose European director, Dr. Bernhard Kahn, was for many years general secretary of the Hilfsverein, the Hicem and the Anglo-Hicem.”

Dr. Sigmund Wassermann, who submitted the financial report, enumerated the objects on which the Hilfsverein expenditure had gone, emigrant welfare work, Ukrainian orphans’ aid, students’ aid, children’s aid, subsidies for schools, for the children’s village Den Shemen, the Hebrew Grammar School of Dr. Biram, the prospective Palestine section of the Children’s Home Ahawa, etc.

“In 1933,” he said, “the Railway Station Service of the Hilfsverein dealt at the Schlesische Bahnhof with 13,500 emigrants and re-emigrants, 6,213 men, 4,478 women and 2,459 children. The Railway Station Service also looked after the Chalutzim contingents from Eastern Europe passing through Germany on their way to Palestine.”


Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck, president of the Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden and the Central Committee of German Jews for Aid and Construction, emphasized that the scope of the work was much greater now.

“In March, 1933, a new wave of emigration set in,” Dr. Wischnitzer said.

“The Hilfsverein has correspondents in the Argentine, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Chile, Guatemala, Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa, Campala and Mombassa in Kenya, Addis Abeba in Abyssinia, Teheran and Meched in Persia, and in Singapore, Harbin, Shanghai and Manila.

“The doors are said to be closed to immigrants,” Dr. Wischnitzer went on, “yet there are gaps everywhere that can be filled. The prospects for some occupations are very bad. In Palestine, for instance, for merchants, shopkeepers, shop-assistants and the like. But there are employment openings for skilled workers, mechanics, technicians and artisans of all kinds.

“It certainly deserves attention that apart from European countries, the Hilfsverein was able to assist would-be emigrants to transmigrate to thirty-four different overseas countries, primarily to the United States of America. These people have gone out to the Argentine, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, South Africa, South West Africa, Rhodesia, Kenya, Abyssinia, Persia, India, China and Manchuria.


“At the beginning of the country,” said Dr. Wischnitzer, “there were few Jews in the Argentine outside the Ica colonies. Today there are about 300,000 Jews there. In Montevideo, where there were fifteen years ago practically no Jews, the Jewish Community now numbers 17,000. The establishment of these new Jewish centres is due to the pioneering enterprise of Russian, Polish and Lithuanian Jews, who afterwards brought over their families and friends.

“A characteristic appearance in the present emigration movement is the slow but indisputable increase of overseas emigration. But it is only an emigration movement of individuals. The plans for groups or mass settlement have in no country gone beyond the early stages. Colonization requires considerable funds and proper human material. The settlement efforts in France have not prospered. Many enterprises have collapsed, others are still in the constructive stage.

“There have been projects for Jewish group settlement in Ecuador, Paraguay, Angola, Kenya, Abyssinia and Australia. None of these have so far assumed definite shape, but some of them deserve earnest consideration. Expert opinion is that South America, Southern Brazil, parts of Paraguay, the South of Chile and the Argentine come into the picture. To the north of Rio de Janeiro, Asuncion and Santiago de Chile, however, European workers cannot compete with natives.

“The Ica, in addition to its colonies, has in the Argentine a land reserve of over 200,000 hectares. But the position in the grain market must improve before there is a likelihood of settlement there. As things are today, a settler, in the opinion of the Ica administration, must be prepared to live on his capital for two or three years, or longer.

“Africa, Angola, Kenya, Abyssinia, South West Africa and South Africa come into consideration for individual settlement. It must be pointed out, however, that a mixed farm calls for a comparatively large capital, and a coffee plantation in Angola or Kenya requires 50,000 to 60,000 marks. These considerations do not, however, bar young people from finding employment in existing enterprises, particularly in Africa.

“The work of the Hilfsverein during the past year was not conducted solely among poor people,” said Dr. Wischnitzer, “for nowadays emigration demands large sums of money and even emigrants who have capital find it necessary to ask for the assistance of an organization like the Hilfsverein. Nor does the Hilfsverein confine itself to charitable work. The work it did in pre-War days, from 1905 to 1914 was constructive aid. It helped to build up the mass settlement of Russian Jews in North America, which has become so important a factor in Jewish life.


“Present day developments have started new emigration movements,” he concluded, “and if new Jewish Communities are founded and new Jewish centres created, the Hilfsverein is doing its share towards this construction of a happier future.

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