German Children Find Haven in Zion
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German Children Find Haven in Zion

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At least 600 boys and girls between the ages of ten and seventeen are to be sent to Palestine this Winter and Spring by the Jugend Alijah, the youth emigration bureau working in cooperation with the Jewish Agency for Palestine. These are to be selected from a list of some 5,000 applications from the children themselves as well as from their parents. Last year about, 500 youngsters were sent to Palestine.

The yearning of these young people to leave for Palestine as quickly as possible is understandable in the light of their position in relation to the Christian population of Germany with whom they are obliged to spend most of their time. While relations between the older generation still exist and sometimes these are quite friendly the situation has undergone a complete change with regard to the present generation.


In the past, Jewish organizations of every description have again and again received inspiration from similar Christian institutions and even after the foundation of independent associations of their own, there still remained ample room for common work and friendly cooperation.

This has completely ceased now. The enormous extension of the National Socialist movement which, among others, now comprises all the juvenile associations, and the political influence the State exercises over the schools and educational establishments of every description have broken every link that ever existed between the Jewish and non-Jewish sections of the population. Therefore the young Jew of this generation depends solely upon himself and his kin, and though the Jewish community may have gained new strength from this fact, the young acutely feel being shut off from the active life of the country.


The Jewish juveniles in Germany whatever their trade or handicraft, must at any time be prepared to give up their apprenticeship through no fault of their own. Changes brought about in this way are by no means infrequent. This refers only to that portion of the youth who succeeded in finding apprenticeships. But this is by no means the case as regards all the young people leaving school. Even the extensive organization of the Berlin Jewish Community commanding exceptional means of advising and placing young people, was last year not in a position to satisfy more than a small portion of those seeking apprenticeships.

This problem presents even more difficulties in other parts of Germany, especially in the small cities, where it is in most cases impossible even to place the young people residing in the town. This explains why even if they have been lucky enough to secure an apprenticeship, they live in continuous fear of losing it and remain in a permanent state of unrest which prevents them from wholeheartedly interesting themselves in their chosen work.

The most vital point when seeking an apprenticeship, and one which worries the young apprentice still more, is the fateful question of what is going to become of him when he has finished his training.

There is not the slightest chance that even a small part of the young people who are being trained at the present time, especially in handicraft or agriculture, will find a livelihood in Germany. The possibilities of emigration to other countries than Palestine are so limited as to be practically nonexistent. This question overshadows the entire existence of the young people during their apprenticeship.

But even for those who are going through their training in Germany, intending to emigrate to Palestine later on, the situation is full of perplexities. In the workshop the young apprentice cannot avoid being continually in the presence of his Christian master and journeyman, a situation full of difficulties for the young Jew, often leading to great unpleasantness and worse.


To a great number of parents intent on sending their children to Palestine at a youthful age, material reasons are predominant. There are many German Jewish families whose financial position has grown so precarious during the last years, that they simply cannot afford to give their children a start in life. There is but one way out of a desperate dilemma, namely to send their children to Palestine, the one country where not only training, but jobs and a future awaits them.

It is only because they have no other choice that parents agree with a heavy heart to separate themselves from their children: they do not shrink from this sacrifice in the hope of thus opening to the young people a way of adapting themselves, professionally and physically, to a new life in the country of their hopes and longings.


It was for the purpose of selecting, giving preparatory training and sending these youngsters to Palestine that the Jugend Alijah was founded last year by the late Dr. Ludwig Tietz, founder of the Central Committee; the slain Dr. Chaim Arlosorof and Prof, Otto Warburg. With the liberal financial aid of women’s groups in England, Holland, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland and South Africa, this organization has been able to finance part or the whole cost of training and sending the youthful emigrants of Palestine. The organization is now hopefully looking forward to aid from women’s societies in the United States.

A welter of pedagogical problems require the attention of the Jugend Alijah in proceeding to group the youngsters prior to sending them to Palestine. Their first duty consists in sorting out of the multitude of applicants those boys and girls who are to go over next and to divide there into groups. Then follows a thorough medical examination, after which they are sent to a training camp for five weeks.


Here, during the Summer, they are trained in agricultural work, and in Winter they are taught handicrafts. The last three groups spent five weeks on a farm near Berlin. The farm is completely secluded and nothing interrupts the peaceful progress of work but an occasional visit of Jewish hikers on Sundays. The farm is big and is cultivated in expert fashion, making possible to give the children a good idea of agricultural and gardening work. Boys with a little experience are put to more intricate work in the gardens or granary.

The days’ work is divided up as follows: from 6:30 a. m. to 3:00 p. m. they work in the fields or gardens; towards 6 o’clock the daily lesson in Hebrew is held; afterwards, lectures about life and conditions in Palestine are given, followed by singing, or games or sport. Sabbath and Sunday, on which latter day no work is allowed, are suitably filled up in other ways. This, generally speaking, is the routine of daily life in the training camps, a close observation serving at the same time to establish the fitness and ability of the boys and girls for the work in view.


This camp is the meeting place for young people from all parts of Germany at a singing competition held on the occasion of an evening entertainment, one night, to hear the dialects of East Prussia, Swabia, Bavaria and Saxony of Cologne and Mannheim, not to mention Berlin, in their purest variations.

The origin of the juveniles plays an important part in estimating their fitness and abilities, because it is is not always the case that a timid boy brought up in the seclusion of Jewish life in a small provincial town, is mentally inferior to a young chap from Berlin who talks freely and thinks quickly. Placed in a more favorable milieu, the young fellow, fresh from the province of East Prussia, often shows astounding talents and abilities.

The great variety of clubs and associations to which most of the boys and girls belong, also of many differences of origin and up bringing the boys soon get attached to each other and friendships are quickly made. This makes it easier for the Jugend Alijah to form an opinion as to the social character of the individual members of one group which, besides his physical strength and cultural qualities, guides them in their decisions as to the best way of furthering the juvenile’s career.


The main requirements for selecting the Jugend Alijah are obvious: physical fitness, especially for agricultural work, and the capability and willingness to adapt oneself to the life and conditions of a collective body of young com-

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