25,000 Jewish Refugees Rescued Since Fall of France, Hias Convention Hears
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25,000 Jewish Refugees Rescued Since Fall of France, Hias Convention Hears

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Expressing their unshakable faith in the victory of America over the Axis powers and giving voice to their hope that the triumph of the United Nations will restore to bleeding humanity “a truly democratic world order founded on equality and justice for all,” 2,500 delegates of 1,250 religious, labor and welfare agencies attending the annual convention of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society here today, “pledged their all” for the triumph of American arms and called upon 1,000,000 men and women who are either members of or affiliated with the participating organizations to give their utmost to the national war effort.

This resolution was the climax of an all day session at the Hotel Astor, marking the 57th annual convention of HIAS. A budget of $865,000 to continue during 1942 what has been described as service on the “Front of Human Salvage” through the Society’s “Rescue Through Emigration” work was unanimously adopted. The Budget was submitted by Abraham Herman, President of the Society, who delivered the keynote address and presided. Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General, Earl G. Harrison, Judge Jonah J. Goldstein, Justice Mitchell May, Rabbi Aaron D. Burack, Morris C. Feinstone, secretary of the United Hebrew Trades; Joseph Weinberg, president of the Workmen’s Circle; Adolph Held, president of the Jewish Labor Committee; Dr. S. Margoshes, editor of The Day, and Isaac L. Asofsky, Executive Director, addressed the session.

The highlight of Mr. Herman’s report for the 18 month period since the fall of France was the fact that HIAS in cooperation with its European affiliate, the HIAS-ICA Emigration Association, was instrumental in facilitating and aiding the rescue of 25,000 men, women and children who fled from the Nazi hordes and found havens in the Western Hemisphere including the United States.

More than 50% of those aided to emigrate were taken from concentration camps in unoccupied France from which they were released only when the opportunity for emigration was created for them. Detailed figures were given in the report concerning the rescue of 10,000 persons for whose transportation overseas, a sum of $2,049,000 was expended. 15,000 men and women in French concentration camps have been registered at the Society’s branch at Marseille, France, for Rescue Through Emigration, the report added.


Highly interesting details concerning the services of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society to American relatives of refugees and to the refugees themselves upon their arriving in this country, were given in the report submitted by Mr. Asofsky.

The Society was called upon to answer 545,854 inquiries of American sponsors of refugees abroad in matters affecting immigration, naturalization and transportation, Mr. Asofsky reported. During the period January 1, to December 31, 1941, 25,152 Jewish aliens entered the United States. Of this number 20,280 were immigrants. The Society’s pier service met 706 incoming steamers and gave special service to 12,494 new arrivals who were released by the Federal immigration authorities into the care of the Society which provided the new arrival and transients with 165,049 kosher meals and 33,819 nights of shelter. Fourteen branches of the Society’s apparatus in the fields of Americanization, legal aid, transportation, personal service and employment carried on an extensive program with a view to ameliorating the plight of the refugees and helping them in their adjustment to a new environment in this country and in the Central and South American Republics.

Dr. James Bernstein, director of the HIAS-ICA, reported on the refugee emigration activities of the organization’s headquarters in Lisbon. He stated that 5,160 refugees were aided on their road to freedom in the South American Republics by the HIAS-ICA rescue program.

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