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110 “returnees” Moved to Hamburg; Will Immigrate to Latin America

One of the most pathetic chapters of the postwar history of the Jews in Germany was drawing to a close today as 110 bedraggled “illegal returnees” evacuated the Moehl Strasse Synagogue, where they had been living under the most wretched physical conditions, and left for Hamburg. From that port they will leave for Latin American countries this month.

In Hamburg they will live in a German emigrants’ hostel until they leave for Latin America. Their expenses during the remainder of their stay in Germany will be met by the Joint Distribution Committee and the central Welfare Agency of the Jews of Germany. The cost of the emigration program will be borne by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

The 110 “returnee”–last of some 150 men, women and children–all came here from Israel. Half of them had gone to Israel from Germany while the remainder had emigrated directly from various East European countries. Finding economic or weather conditions unsuitable in Israel, they “infiltrated” Germany via Austria and France this Spring, hoping to use Germany as a springboard for immigration to the Western Hemisphere. Without valid German entrance or residence permits, the “returnees” had hoped to find shelter at Foehrenwald, last remaining Jewish DP camp in Germany.

However, the German authorities, who now administer the camp, had effectively barred this move this past Summer when they carried out a census of the “illegal” DP’s in Germany, giving a semi-legal status to the nearly 800 who registered at that time. The newcomers, penniless and unwelcome – wherever they turned in this new situation – in the end sought sanctuary in the Moehl Strasse Synagogue.

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