PARIS (Jun. 14)
Saved from returning to Hamburg and probable concentration camps, the 907 Jewish refugees on board the German liner St. Louis will begin the final chapter of their dramatic odyssey with disembarkation at Antwerp, it was learned today. Morris C. Troper, European director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, is planning to proceed to Antwerp to supervise the redistribution of the refugees to the four nations that have agreed to accept them.
Tired and worn after incessant activities on behalf of the refugees during the past week, Mr. Troper praised the efforts of collaborating Christian and Jewish groups and paid warm tribute to the “magnificent, wholehearted cooperation” of the Belgian, Dutch, French and British governments.
Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet expressed appreciation of the J.D.C.’s efforts in behalf of the refugees when he received Mr. Troper, who thanked the French Government for its prompt response in consenting to the admission of 250 of the passengers. M. Bonnet expressed great sympathy with the refugees and stated that he was happy that the arrangement had been effected, thanks to “the generous offer” of the J.D.C. in guaranteeing the maintenance of the refugees. He pointed out that France still had 250,000 refugees from Spain and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the passengers on the St. Louis were reported overcome with joy following receipt of a wireless from Mr. Troper in which he stated: “Final arrangements for disembarkation of all passengers completed. Happy to inform you governments of Belgium, Holland, France and England cooperated magnificently with American Joint to effect this possibility. The captain will be advised officially shortly with regard to landing instructions. Gerdial greetings.”
Mr. Troper last night told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the detailed story of the successful effort to rescue the St. Louis refugees from return to Germany after their vain attempt to land in Cuba.
As soon as word was received from New York that the St. Louis had left Cuban waters and sailed for Hamburg, the J.D.C. initiated an international effort to secure a haven for the passengers. Through a three-cornered tie-up among Mr. Troper in Paris, Paul Baerwald, J.D.C. chairman, and Harold Linder in London, and James N. Rosenberg, J.D.C. national council chairman, in New York, during which telephone communication was maintained for five days, the negotiations were conducted which culminated in the action of the four nations.
Mr. Baerwald and Mr. Linder, through contacts with British Jewish organizations, the Intergovernmental Refugee Committee and other groups, succeeded in obtaining the British Government’s agreement to accept 250 of the refugees, while Mr. Troper secured intercession of French, Belgian and Dutch agencies to obtain permits for the remainder.
Through Dr. Max Gottschalk, chairman of the Brussels Refugee Committee, the Belgian Government agreed to take 260 of the St. Louis passengers. Mr. Troper then approached the Dutch Refugee Committee and Prof. Cohen and Madam Vantijn, with the support of Christian Committees, appealed directly to Queen Wilhelmina and Premier Hendrik Colijn Sunday night, reporting to the J.D.C. on Tuesday that Holland had agreed to take 194 of the refugees.
In France, Mr. Troper appealed to a number of committees and organizations, including the HIAS-ICA Emigration Association, the OSE (Jewish health society) the Coordinating Committee and other groups which then submitted a joint appeal to the French Government. The appeal was supported by strong representations by M. Riquet, representing Cardinal Verdier, Madame Weiss, secretary of the Central Committee, and others. In every case, Mr. Troper stated, the J.D.C. renewed its undertaking to guarantee that $500 would be available for each refugee to assure that none would become public charges.