Menu JTA Search

Record Exodus from Reich Territories Predicted for 1940

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The Jewish exodus from the Reich and Nazi-occupied territories will reach record proportions in 1940, it was predicted today by central Jewish relief organizations here. The prediction, based on year-end reports from various relief committees in central and eastern Europe, is predicated on the belief that the Nazis will permit emigration and continue to stimulate it by one means or another.

With only 185,000 Jews left in the Old Reich of the more than half million at the time of Chancellor Hitler’s accession, and little more than that in former Czechoslovakia and Austria together, the focal point of the emigration problem will be the approximately 1,250,000 Jews in Nazi Poland.

Efforts of individuals and collective American Jewish relief organizations, it is expected, will be directed largely toward effecting the rescue of as many of these as is feasible. Although the hopes of many who have relatives in the United States will be focused on emigration to that country, the exodus in that direction will be comparatively small since the American immigration quota for Poland totals only about 5,000 per year.

Important roles, it is hoped, will be played in the exodus by Palestine and other overseas countries, including those territories which the Intergovernmental Refugee Committee may succeed in opening for refugee settlement.

In this connection, the HIAS-ICA Emigration Association has just completed a report on the emigration possibilities of more than 11,000 Jews who succeeded in escaping from Nazi Poland to Lithuania. The report, submitted by the group’s Wilno office, states that several thousand of the refugees are daily besieging its headquarters and the American and British consulates in efforts to register for overseas emigration, chiefly to Palestine and the United States, where many of them have relatives.

Among this group are refugees who long ago were registered for American visas at the Warsaw American consulate prior to the Nazi occupation. Some hold American visas granted to them before the occupation. Cooperating with the HIAS-ICA representatives, the American consul in Kaunas is contacting the consulate in Warsaw in an effort to have transferred to the Lithuanian capital all the cases of those who had applied for visas prior to the Nazi conquest.

About 1,200 of the refugees have good prospects of obtaining Palestine immigration certificates. Some have their visas all but ready and are only awaiting transit visas enabling them to proceed to Palestine by way of Odessa. Others have already received visas for Mexico, the Philippines, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Australia and South Africa. In addition there are 77 Czech refugees who will be permitted to enter England, and 30 Jewish doctors who have received permits to enter France.

The British Consulate is trying to be helpful in every way possible. While the Red Cross and an interdenominational relief committee are assisting the refugees financially, the British Consulate is issuing passports for emigration to foreign countries if they can prove that they are Polish citizens.

Despite the most liberal treatment by the Lithuanian authorities, HIAS-ICA representatives in Wilno nevertheless emphasize in their report that there are no chances whatsoever for any of the refugees to remain in Lithuania for permanent settlement. “They must all be considered potential emigrants,” the report states, “as they will all have to leave Lithuania sooner or later, and there is no possibility for them to get any work.

NEXT STORY