The Holocaust in Germany: Emigration (1933-39)

Figure 1.--This looks to be a well-to-do Jewish family preparing to board a liner to leave Germany. The photograph is not dated, but would have ben in the late-1930s. We arenot sure if it was before or after Kristalncht. They would not have neen able to take many of their assetts with them.

Over 0.5 Jews lived in Germany at the time when Hitler seized power (January 1933). This xwas less than 1 percent of Germany's 67 million population. They were a largely urban population with one third The Jewish population was predominantly urban and approximately one-third lived in Berlin. Nearly 0.2 million Jews lived in Austria wgich was annexed to the Reich as a result of the Anschluss (March 1938). Hitler and the NAZIs made no secret about their animosity toward Jews. Many Jews were terrified to learn that Hitler had been appointed Chancellor. There was an immediate wave of emigration, nearly 40,000Jews streamed across the border to neighboring countries (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland). Poland refused to allow many Jews to enter. They wre safe for a time, although many would fall into NAZI hands after Hitler and stalin launched World War II. Jews who had been politically active and outspoken about the NAZIs were especially likely to flee. Early NAZI actions (book burning, boycotts, and dissmissing civil servants all spurred emigration. Most Jews remained in Germny. When a brutal pogtrom and murder did not occur, ome of the first rmogrants retuned. There was never a steady flow of Jews from Germany. Rather emigration varied depending on the level of repression and implementation of new regulations. Another major factor was the ability to obtain visas from countries willing to accept them. Another factor affecting who left was financial. Up until Kristalnacht, the NAZIs actually promoted emigration, happy to be rid of Jews. There was actually disappointment that more Jews did not leave. After the initial wave of emigration, the emogratiin rate actually declined. The political situation seemed to stabilize. There was no mass violence. Another problem was finding a country to accept them. Legal immigration was complicated. Most countries had immigration quotas and others did not want any Jews. Only about quarter of German Jews left (1933-38). NAZI actions against Jews came by drips and drabs. One little action after another. Many German Jews adjusted as best they could not wanting to leave family and friends abd what they had considered their country. Starting a new life in another country was a daunting pospect. The NAZIs sought to steal the property of Jews fleeing Germany by levying increasingly heavy emigration taxes and severely restricting the amount of money that could be transferred abroad. Thus emigration meant impoverization. Even the issuance of the Nuremberg Race Laws depiving Jews of citizenship and legal rights did not cause surge of emigration (September 1935). Only gradually did many Jews come to realize that thy must leave Germny. It was Kristallnacht that changed everything. Relatively few Jews were actually killed by the NAZIs during Kristalnacht, but the terror, destruction, and brutality shocked the Jewish community and the world (November 1938). Synagihues were burned, shops ransacked, and homes broken into and vandalized. Most adult male Jews and older teenagers were arrested, humiliated, beaten, and interned in Dachau and other concentration camps. This finally convinced virtully all remaining Jews that they had to leave Germany, but by this time it proved too late for many. Desperate families began sending their children abroad as part of the Kindertransport. The flood of emigrants created a major refugee crisis. While the numbers were small, most Jews seeking to emigrate were able to find some country to acceot them. This changed with Kristalnacht. No country still rrcovering from the Drepression was willing to accept large numvers of desperate, now impoverished Jews. Nearly all of the Jews unable to get out of Germany were murdered in German death camps opened in occupied Poland.


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Created: 6:28 AM 7/29/2015
Last updated:v 6:28 AM 7/29/2015