*** war and social upheaval: World War II -- the Holocaust countries M-Z

War and Social Upheaval: The Holocaust in Individual Countries (M-Z)

NAZI separating children
Figure 1.--Here a mother, with an older son and daughter, is saying goodbye to her younger son at the Lodz Ghetto. It was their farewell. The boy was one of the younger children the NAZIs had picked up for deportation as a result of the Allgemeine Gehsperre (September 1942). This was rounding up the younger children not useful for work. They were transported to the nearby Chemo Death Camp where they were immediately murdered.

The NAZI Holocaust varied substantially from country to country. And the chances for Jews to survive depended largely on where they lived. We have collected the following information on the Holocaust in the mostly European countries that were occupied by Germany or came under German control. We have also added several countries that were threatened are sympathetic to the Germans.

Madagascar (France)

Madagascar at the time of World War II was a French colony. NAZI planners put forward the Madagascar Plan before the final decesion was made to murder European Jews. It was not a new idea. French anti-Semites had conceived the idea years before. Paul de Lagarde suggested deporting Eastern European Jews to Madagascar (1885). Poland investigated the possibility of using Madagascar to solve over-population (1926). They were seriou enough to send a commission to Madagascar to assess the possibility. The idea occurred to Germans even before the NAZI taje over, A German publicist wrote, "the entire Jewish nation sooner or later must be confined to an island. This would afford the possibility of control and minimize the danger of infection." (1931). After the the fall of France (June 1940), Governor General Armand L�on Annet was steadfastly loyal to Vichy. With the German victory in the West, NAZI planners briefly toyed with using Madagascar as a kind of remote island ghetto for Jews, but never bothered to discuss the plan with the French. It would be administerd by the SS and there far away from prying eyes, Jews could be quietly worked and starved to death. When the British refused to surrender, however, the Royal Navy made transport to the island impossible.

Malta (Britain)

Malta in the Mediterranean had only a small Jewish population. The community commonly lived without a rabbi. Occasionalyy a rabbi from Sicily would come to perform religious ceremonies. As the NAZIs seized poer in Germany (1933), Jews began to seek asylum in foreign countries. Few came to Malta because of its remoteness and small size. This began to change as the NAZIs expanded persecution Jews and especially after Mussolini under pressure from Hitler introduced anti-Semetic laws. Malta was relatiovely easy to reach from southern Italy and Libya, an Italian colony. Apparently British authorities on Malta did not require an entry visa. After the outbreak of World War II, the Bristish interned Jews of German origins, although they were soon relaeased. The same thing occured with Jews of Italian oprigins when Italy entered the War (June 1940). Many of the Jewish men who reached Malta enlisted in the British Army to fight the Germans. The British needed all the help they could get as Malta after the Italians launched the campaign in the Western Desert, Malta became a primary Italian and German target.

Morocco (France--1940-42)

Morocco in 1940 was a French protectorate, nominally rulled by the Moroccan emir. After the fall of France (June 1940), a French Goverment was established in an unoccupied zone with a capital at Vichy. This Government while not totally controlled by the Germans, but collaborated with them in many ways. One of these was the Holocaust. A Vichy law of October 4. 1940 provided that "foreign nationals of the Jewish race" would be detained in "special concentration camps". [Laskier, North Africa, p. 65-66.] The Emir of Morocco wa a French client, however, the German victory provided an opportunity to expand his perogarives against a weakened France. The role of Mohammad V is a matter of historical debate. He had earlier ordered the detention of various persons who could be used as forced labor. These camps were primarily set up for European Jews, not Moroccan Jews. One report indicated that there were 12 such camps set up in Morocco. Conditions in these camps were harsh, although the fate of the interned Jews in Morocco was apparently better than that of the Tunisian Jews in concentration camps. The situation of Jews was "precarious," especially European Jews. The Emir attempted to protect Moroccan Jews, however, Vichy regulations imposed in Morocco included severe limitations on Jews, including work as professionals and education for children. There were forced relocation to the "mellahs" (Moroccan ghettos) as well as financial extortions, land expropriation, exclussion from holding public office, and a variety of other regulations. We know of no actual deportations of Jews from Morocco. These restrictions were only ended after Operation Torch (November 8, 1942). The Jews were not immediately released because Eisenhower allowed Admiral Laval to retain Vichy's authority. After Laval's assasination, General de Gaulle ended all Vichy influence in Morocco and abrogated the Vichy race laws (June 3, 1943). [Laskier]

(The) Netherlands (1940-45)

Some German Jews had fled to the Netherlands before the War began. Dutch Jews had heard rumors of what had happened in Poland. Many had thought that they were safe in the Netherlands. Most Dutch thought that the Germans would respect Dutch neutrality as they had in World War I. They were wrong. The Germans invaded and occupied the country in only a few days (May 1940). The terror bombing of Rotterdam and threats of similar bombings of other Dutch cities convinced the Dutch that resistance was futile. (The success of this strategy in Poland and the Netherlands also convinced Hitler that it could be successfully employed in the upcoming Battle of Britain.) Queen Wilemina fled with her family to England. Hitler appointed an Austrian, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, who had been involved in the administration of occupied Poland to seve as the NAZI governor of occupied Poland. In his first addressed to the Dutch people, Seyss-Inquart assured the Dutch people that Germany would not impose NAZI ideology and that they would respect existing Dutch laws. Unlike Poland thaere were no mass killings of Jews or burning of syynagoges as German soldiers occupied the country. The NAZIs administered the Netherlands differently than other occupied countries in the West (Belgiumm Denmark, and France). Most scholars believe that if Germany had won the War that the Netherlands would have been annexed to the Reich. The Dutch population was in fact more Aryan than the German population and thus for the race-obsessed NAZIs like Hitler and Himmler it would be a valuable addition to the Reich. Seyss-Inquart ruled by decree. Over the 5 years he governed the Netherlamds (1940-45), he issued hundreds of decrees. Contrary to his pledge, he turned the Netherlamds into a throughly NAZI police state. Many of his decrees were inconsequential, but slowly they created thge circumstances that permitted the NAZIs to murder most Dutch Jews.

Norway (1940-45)

Norway is a small country. It also had a small Jewish population. The Jewish population in 1940 totaled about 2,100 people, about 1,500-1,600 were Norwegian citizens. The Norwegian Jews were largely concentrated in Oslo and to a lesser extent Trondheim. The NAZIs after conquering Norway intalled Vidkun Quisling to head a puppet Government. Quisling also confiscated Jewish property and immediatey ordered the Norwegian police to begin arresting male Jews over 15 years old. The police took the male Jews of Oslo to Bredveit prison. They were then sent to the Berg internment camp near Tonsberg over the next 2 weeks. The women and children were arrested soon after (November 25). Virtuallyall those transported were killed, mostly at Auschwitz. About half of Norway's Jews were saved by the Norwegian underground, which helped them reach neutral Sweden which took them in. This saved about 900 Jews. The underground operation was conducted at great danger.

Palestine (Britain)

The NAZIs never reached Palestine. With the German invasion of Poland, terrible rumors began to reach Palestine bout NAZI attricities. After the fall of France and the withdrawl of the French fleet, Palestine itself became threatened by the Axis. The British 8th Army stopped and subsequently defeated the Afrika Korps at El Alemain (July-October 1942). The NAZIs, however, had an ally in the Grand Mufti of Jurelselum. The Arabs both in Palestine and most other areas supported the NAZIs. There was only the open revolt in Iraq (1941), but most Arabs supported the NAZIs. This was for the most part because the British were the colonial power and the Germans had no Arab colonies. Anti-Semitism was a further factor in Palestine, but much less so among other Arabs. Outside of Iraq, the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini issued a formal fatwa-- "a holy war against Britain" (May 1941). The Mufti's announced the fatwa in Iraq and helped to launch "the pro-Nazi" Iraqi uprising. At the time the NAZIs had just seized Greece and Crete, convincing the Iraqis that with Axis aid they could drive out the British. The uprising suprized the NAZIs who were not prepared for it. The NAZI Arab policy was in some way constrained because of Hitler's focus on Russia and his willingness to give deference to Musollini when dealing with the Arabs. The Arab revolt in Iraq was of considerable significance. Iraqwas the source of the oil used by the British Mediterranean Fleet and the 8th Army fishing the Afrika Korps in the Western Desert. The British supressed the Iraqi Revolt (March 1941) with a pick up force from Palestine and then an Indian Division rushed to Iraq. Husseini escaped first to Tehran and then to Italy, finally reaching Berlin. He was enthusiastic received by the "Islamische Zentralinstitut" and the small Islamic community of Germany which due deference to the NAZIs pronounced him the "Führer of the Arabic world." Husseini's first speech in Berlin denounced the Jews as the "most fierce enemies of the Muslims" and an "ever corruptive element" in the world. Arab supporters of the NAZIs seemed to have blithy assumed that they would be liberated by the Axis and thus achieve independence. It is difficult to see how any minimally educated observer in 1940-41 could have reached that conclusion, especially given Italian conduct in Libya and German conduct in the Occupied East. Another largely ignored question is the fact that the Arabs are also semmites. NAZI racist science claimed that the Jews had genitically carried diseases. One wonders why the Arabs did not carry these diseases. Of course the NAZIracist science was a pseudo science so they could invent an Arab people free of such contamination. Husseini was an honored guest of the NAZI's in Berlin. He was received by Hitler twice. He pressed Hitler on the last group of Jews left in NAZI hands--the Hungarian Jews. He did not want them to be allowed to escape, fearing they would come to Palestine. Adolf Eichman at the time was attempting to negotiate with the British to exchange 5,000 Hungarian children for German POWs. Husseini's point of view prevalied. The SS were dispatched the children to the NAZI death camps in Poland. Husseini is reported to have visited Auschwitz and encouraged the SS staff operating the gas chambers to work harder. Husseini was exploited by Goebbels' propaganda machine and made numerous broadcasts in Arabic to the Middle East promoting the NAZIs and giving virulently anti-Semitic sermons.


Paraguay had a very small Jewish community. Spain did not allow Jews or Protestants in its colonies. Few Jews arrived in Paraguay even after independence. The first synagogue in Paraguay was opened by tablished in 1917 by Sephardic Jews who emigrated from Palestine, Turkey and Greece (1917). Ashkenazi Jews from the Ukraine and Poland founded the Uni�n Hebraica (1920s). Paraguay allowed some 15,000-20,000 Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to find saftey in Paraguay (1930s). The terrible Chaco War with Paraguay (1932-35) may have been a factor in the willingness to attract immigrants. A similar phenomenon occured in Bolivia. On a percapita basis this was surely one of the most substantial openings to Jews fleeing NAZI oppresion. Many later settled permanelty in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, all countries with influential German minoritie, agreed not to accept Jewish immigrants that had not legally immigrated from their countries of origin (November 1941). The killing phase of the Holocaust was already well underway. This essentially meant that these countries were demanding Jews get NAZI exit permits in the middle of the Holocaust.


As in the rest of the Spanish Empire, neither Jews or Protestants had been allowed in the Philippines. This only began to change in the late-19th century. As a result The Philippines had only a few Jews when the United States seized the Philippines at the onset of the Spanish American War (1898). With the coming of the Americans, the small Jewish community grew and prospered. After Hitler and the NAZIs seized power in Germany, the oppression of the Jews began and individuals began to flee the country. This only increased as the NAZIs steadily restricted Jewish life and intensified perscecution, especially after the Nuremberg Laws were promulgated (1935). The Jewish community in the Philippines organized to support refugees. And the had support from President Quezon (1935-44). He was a devoted Christian who attitudes toward the Jews was, how could you not aid the people who provided us our savior. There was some anti-Semitism in the Philippines despite the fact that were so few Jews in the country. Quezon's rival in the 1935 election was Emilio Aguinaldo who saw Jews as a dangerous people. Efforts to provide a safe haven for refugee Jews were complicated by the Philippines limited resources and the lack of cooperation from the U.S. State Department. The first refugees came from the International Setttlement in Shanghai, China. A few Austrian Jews managed to reach the Philippines before the Anchluss (1937). The Frieder Brothers and High Commissioner Paul McNut began planning for a massive rescue effort to settle refugee Jews on Mindanao. At atime when other countries were turning their backs on refugee Jews, the Pgilippines despite State Department interference was prepaing to welcome them in large numbers. In the end this effort was cut shot by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor launching the Pacific War (December 1941). The Japanese after seizing the Philippines interned American citizens, including American Jews. Ironically the German and Austrian passports proved an assett in that as citizens of an Axis family thy were not interned. And as such they did what they could do get food to friends who had been interned. Most of the refugee Jews were in Manila. They had to endure the harrowing final days of Japanese occupation. Japanese Marines and other units defied orders to evacuate the city and fought to the death, indesrimately killing any civilian they encountered (February 1945). All in all the Philippines saved some 1,300 refugee Jews.

Figure 2.--Jews in Poland and other Eastern European countries grew up in an environment of rising anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism was not new, but stood in sharp contrast to the generally improving conditiins during the 19th century. Independent Poland was marked with with anti-Semitism, but was an improvement over Tsarist rule. Few Jews could have understood the horific fate that awaited them after the German invasion launching World War II. Here a German police unit humiliating Rabbi Moshe Yitzhak Hagermann, in the main square Olkusz, Poland (July 31, 1940). The Jewish men of the town were firced to lay on the ground. Two were killed.

Poland (1939-44)

Poland had one of the world's largest and most vibrant Jewish communities dateing back to the medieval era. Poland had the largest Jewish population in Europe with the exception of the Soviet Union. Poland was the center of the NAZI Holocaust of the Jewish people. The German invasion and seizure of western and central Poland made it possible to perfect the process of killing Jews. There were some if limited constraints on the NAZIS in German. There were no constraints in Poland. Heydrich in September 1939 layed out the NAZI plan for the Jews to SS officers. The NAZIs proceeded to concentrate the Jews into ghettos, a medieval institution, where they were easily accssible fortransport to the death camps built nearby. The death camps were located in Poland not Germany. And in Poland the Germans found many willing to help them and few Poles intersted in protecting the Jews. Einsatzgruppen began killing Polish Jews with the German invasion (September 1939). This was done, however, in relatively small numbers. Most Polish Jews were forced into the new ghettos which after the viloence directed at them semed almost a haven. It also gave the NAZIs the opportunity tocompletely strip threm of their property and restrict consumtion of food and other consumer products as well as to force them into slave labor. The impetus for murder outweighed the benefits of slave labor. The SS largely liquidated the ghettos (meaning murdered the Jews in them) during 1942 following the Wannsee Conference: Lublin (March 1942); ghettos of Eastern and Western Poland (Spring 1942); and the Warsaw Ghetto (July-September 1942). Hitler had largely succeeded by 1943 in destroying the once vibrant Jewish community of Poland. The death camps in Poland were also used to kill the Jews in NAZI occupied western and southern Europe.


Portugal was a major gateway to saftey for Jews and Europeans who had opposed the NAZIs. Portugal itself had perhaps the smallest Jewish population in Europe at the time of World War II. The country had a Jewish population of about 380 people and 650 Jewish refugees, mostly from Central Europe. The Government granted these refugees "resident" status. Prime Minister Salazar was in a difficult position. Portugal was a traditional British ally. After the fall of France (June 1940), Portugal adopted a liberal visa policy allowing thousands of Jewish refugees to enter the country, however, those of Russian origin or birth because they might be Communists were excluded. Portugal came under increasing pressure from the NAZIs. Salazar has some breathing space because Franco refused to enter the War or allow German armies to transit Spain to seize Gibraltar. Even so, Salzar had to tread the Germans with care as he could not be sure that Germany might not invade Spain. Unlike Spain, Portugal did not close its border, but refugees had to get accros the French-Spanish border which was closed. The danger posed by the NAZIs caused Salazar to issue more stringent immigration restrictions (late 1940). Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese diplomat in Vichy France, ignored Government directives and issued large numbers of visas allowing Jews in France to travel to Portugal. The Portuguese Government dismissed him as a result. Portugal as the War turned against Germany felt safe to begin granting more entry visas. The Government cooperated in various rescue efforts. The Government granted the visas with the condition that Portugal would be a transit point and that other countries would accept them. Portugal like other neutral countries attempted to save Hungarian Jews. An estimated 100,000 Jews and other refuges fleeling NAZI opression managed to reach safty through Portugal. All the Jews who managed to reach Portugal survived the War.

Romania (1939-44)

About half of Romania's Jews were killed in the Holocaust. The fate of Romanian Jews was differed, depending on where they lived in the country. The borders of Romania changed greatly in the late 1930s and eraly 40s and the Jews were significantly affected by these changes. Members of the pro-NAZI and virulently anti-semeitic Iron Gurard assasinated Prime Minister Armand Calinescu on September 21, 1939. Calinescu had sought to supress the Iron Guard. The Iron Guard was being trained by German army officers suposedly in Romania as teachers at Romanian schools. [Gilbert, p. 276.] General Ion Antonescu who had been the Minister of War seized power on September 6, 1940. He ininiated a Fascist state. Despite an Alliance with Hitler, the Romanians had lost considerable territory. As a result of the NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact, Stalin had ceased Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. Bulgaria had obtained southern Dobruja. About 40 percent of Transylvania had gone to Hungary under the terms of second Vienna Award. These humiliating losses had fueld the rise of Antonescu and the Iron Guard. The territorial changes also affected the NAZI strategy at getting at Romanian Jews.

(El) Salvador

El Salvador is the smallest of the Latin American republics. At the beginning of the War the president was sympathetic to the Germans, as was the case in several other Latin American regimes. And the population was as was the case throughout South and Central America had a largely anti-Semetic attitude. Despite this a Salvadoran diplomat helped save about 30,000 Hungarian Jews. Col. José Arturo Castellanos before World War II while on official business in Europe before the War met a Hungarian Jewish businessman, George Mandel. The two become friendly. After Hiler launched the War (1939), Col. Castellanos is posted to various European cities. Mandel as Hitler succeeds begin his conquests and receives accounts of NAZI actions begins to understand the danger. He contacted Col. Castellanos who made him an honorary Salvadoran diplomat and passport. Mandel changed his name to Mandel-Mantello to make it more Spanish sounding. Castellanos began to issue small numbers of Salvadoran visas to other Jews. Unlike other Latin American diplomats he did not sell these visas for large sums. Col. Castellanos with the Germans begining large-scale killing, brought Mandel to Geneva and made him First Secretary without authorization of his government. The two decide to issue Salvadoran documents to help save Jews. This began with small numbers which is probably why the NAZIs did not complain to the Salvadoran Government and have Col. Castellanos recalled.

Slovakia (1939-45)

The NAZIs seized Czechoslovakia and created the Protecorate of Bohemia and Moravia (March 1939). Slovakia succeeded and became a nominally independent German protectorate. It also became a an enthusiastic participant in the Holocacaust. There were before the Munich Conference about 138,000 Jews living in the Slovakian portion of Czechoslovakia. The Slovaks succeed from Czechesoslavakia and set up slavishly compliant pro-NAZI state (March 1939). The NAZI's carved up Slovakia and the resulting NAZI-puppet state had a Jewish population of about 89,000. The Slovaks seeking to appeal to their NAZI masters began enacting anti-Semitic laws nased on the NAZI Nuremberh Laws. Officials targeted Jews as the enemy of the Slovak people. The Slovakian Government enacted the Jewish Code (1941). Slovakian officials began deporting its Jews to NAZI occupied Poland as the death camps were beginning to operate (March 25, 1942). Officials deported 57,628 Jews to Poland, about two-thirds of the Slovakian Jews, in the next 7 months. Only about 600-800 Jews survived these transports. Most of the Slovakian Jews were killed in the death camps of the Lublin district. Some were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Slovakian officials stopped deportations (October 20). At that time the killing of the deportees became widely known in Slovakia. The remaining Jews that were unable to hide were interned in labor camps in Slovakia (Sered, Novaky, and Vyhne). After the tide of battle shifted on the Eastern Front, NAZI allies began reconsidering their position. A Slovak National Uprising occurred (1944). The NAZIs as a result occupied Slovakia (autumn 1944). The first deportations were carried out by the Slovaks. Now the NAZIs began deporting the remaining Slovakian Jews. The NAZIs deported 13,000 Jews to the Polish death camps (primarily (Auschwitz-Birkenau) and to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia and German camps. Slovakia special police commandos murdered 1,000 at this time. While the Slovakian Government loyally supported the NAZIs in killing Jews, there were many Slovaks who risked their lives to hide their Jewish countrymen. Slovaks hid about About 10,000 Jews.

Soviet Union (1941-44)

Hitler launched Opperation Barbarosa, his invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Preparations were laid for murdering Jews as part of the invasion. The NAZIs in 1939 had not yey worked out wht ws to be done with the Jews. As a result, while there were many killings, most were rounded up and confined into gettos. The success of the Wehrmacht in 1939-40 had convinced Hitler and other NAZIs that they could begin the mass slaughter of Jews. There ws no written document, but Hitler sme time in late 1940 or early 1941 must have ordered Himmler to prepare for mass killings with the invasion of the Soviet Union. The NAZI genocide had not yet been perfected and large scle gas chambers were not yet operating at Auswitz and other Polish concentration camps. The SS created four Einsatzgruppen to accompany the Wehrmacht and kill Jews in large numbers. Full details are not available, but we know from the similarities in many of the killing actions that the Einsatzgruppen were well trained and procedures developed for maximum efficency. Heydrich was in overall command of these killing machines and he was meticulous for his meticulous planning.


The NAZIs could demand the authorities in occupieec countries turn over their Jews and also did so in countries allied to them. This was, however, not always possible. Hitler met with General Franco on the French border at Hendaye on October 23. Hitler had assumed that Franco would be a willing ally given the assistance provided his Nationalist forces during the Civil War. Franco refused to enter the War or even allow German troops to transit Spain to attack the British at Gibraltar. Franco flatly refused. This was in part because of Admiral Canaris, the head of German Military Intelligence. Canaris had been apauled by the NAZI brutality he had witnessed in Poland. He had worked with Franci during the Civil War and had a close personal relationship with Franco. He told him privately that Hitler was now obsessed with Russia and would not risk any kind of diversion in Spain. Thus Franco refused to be cowed. Hitler went on to meet Musolini, who had also assissted Franco. He told Musolini that, "I would rathger have three or four teeth extracted than go through that again". Franco also refused to hand over Spanish or foreign Jews to the NAZIs. Franco in fact probably saved more saved more Jews than any other Ruropean country. He did close the Spanish border in an act of solidarity with the NAZIs, but allowed Jews and others with Portuguese visas to transit Spain. I'm not sure about what happened to Jews who entered Spain illegally.


Jews have lived in Sweden since the Middle ages under a wide range of restrictions. The effort to achieve emancipation began after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. King Charles XIV took the first step when he rescinded some restrictions placed on Jews (1838). This provided Jews basic civil rights and legal protection. Sweden was one of the first European states to take this step. There were still restructions on intermarriage. Most of the remaining restrictions were removed by the 1870s, but a prohibition on holding politica office conctinued into the 20th century, finally veing removed in 1951. Aftercemacipation in the mid-19th century, Jews became full Swedish citizens and anti-Semitism was much less prevaleng in Sweden than most other European countries. Sweden's Jewish population increased after emancipation, reaching about 6,500 in 1920. While this was a substantial increase, the Jewish population was minor compared to the large Jewish populations in Russia, Poland, and other European countries. Much of the increase was the result of emmigration resultung from pogroms and other repressions in Russia which at the time controlled much of Poland. Sweden adopted restrictive immigration laws after World War I. After the NAZIs seized power in Germany (1933), small numbers of German Jews emmigrated to Poland. The NAZI Anschluss in Austria brought fears of expanded Jewish emmigration. University students at Uppsala and Lund demonstrated against increased Jewish immigration (1938). A wave of anti-Semmetic action spread over Europe even before World War II began. The Swedish Government prohibited the Jewish ritual slaughter of animals. The Swedish Government allowed only 3,000 Jews to immigrate or enter Sweden as a transit point (1933-39). When reports of NAZI attricities reached Sweden, the Government began reassessing its policies. The NAZI pogrom of Kristallnacht shocked Swedes and other Europeans. After the the NAZI invassion and occupation of Poland much more apauling accounts of NAZI brutalities reached Sweden. The Government opened Sweden to any Jews which could reach Sweden. Sweden olayed a key role in saving Noewegian and Danish Jews. Sweden gave refuge to 900 Norwegian Jews (1942). Even more importantly, Sweden accepted 8,000 Danish Jews, virtually the entire Danish Jewish community (October 1943). Sympathetic Danes snatched the Danish Jews from the NAZIs just as they were about to be rounded up and transported them on small fishing boats to Sweden. Sweden also played a major role in effots to save Hungarian Jews. Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg was dipatched to Budapest and became a thorn in Eichmann's side, saving thousands of Hungarian Jews. Another Swede, Count Folke Bernadotte, managed to gain the release of some Jews and non-Jews from NAZI concentration camps. As with other countries, Sweden's record is not without blemishes. Some Swedes, traded in NAZI gold and other looted valuables. Sweden was also an important supplier of iron ore and ball bearings. This had to be put in perspective. The NAZIs had already invaded Norway to the east and Finland to the west was a NAZI ally. The German military could have easily occupied Sweden in 1940-42. Only in 1943 as the German military position on the Eastern Front deteriorated did a threat of NAZI invasion recede. (SWitzerland was in a similar position.) Thus it is diffifult to fault the Swedes for maintaing trade relations with the NAZIs. Even during the NAZI accendancy, however, Sweden refused to close its borders to Jews as the Swiss did. Sweden like other European countries had their own domestic Fascists. A small number even emmigrated to German and served in the SS and as concentration camp guards.


Switzerland was another country not conquered by the NAZIs. It was in fact the only country which bordered on Germany that the NAZIs did not annex or invade. After the fall of France, however, the Swiss were certainly vulnerable to the NAZIs and possible German invasion. There is no doubt that had the NAZIs prevailed in the War that Switzerland would have been subgegated. The Swiss never turned over their Jews to the NAZIs. The Swiss did, however, participate in the Hlocaust in a number of ways. They did turn over thousands of Jews fleeing the NAZIs that sought refuge in Switzerland and closed their border to thousands more. The Swiss can argue with some validity that they had to placate the NAZIs because of the danger of a German invasion. This possibility began to decline, however, by 1942 after the MAZI disasters in Russia. Some othere threatened neutrals (Spain and Sweden) did stand up to the NAZIs as well as Finland which fought with them for 3 years. The Swiss also accepted about $5 billion (2002 value) in NAZI gold which as early a 1942 they knew to be looted or victim gold. This continued into 1945, even after the Swiss were provided information from the Allies. These fund were used by the NAZIs to purchase critical war materials from other neutral countries. Swiss banks kept Jewish accounts out of the hands of the NAZIs, they also refused to provide the assetts to survivors after the War. [Gumble] Americans will be confused because in America banks are required to turn inactive accounts over to state governments. Inactive bank accounts in Europe, however, generally become the property of the banks. Thus there was a major vested interested on the part of the Swis banks to make it difficult for survivors and their descendents to access these accounts. Swiss companies in Germany also used slave laborers. [Eizenstat]

Syria (France--1940-41)

Jews have a long history in Syria. At the time of World War Ii there were about 30,000 Jews in Syria. There were three major Jewish communities in Syria. Kurdish-speaking Jews were centered in Kamishli. Jews of Spanish ancestry were concentrated in Aleppo. Jews desended from the original eastern Jewsish community lived primarily in Damascus and were referred to as the Must'arab. The status of these Jews changed radically with the dall of France (June 1940) and the formation of the Vichy Government. Syria and Lebenon (administered as part of Syria) were only two Vichy controlled colonies around the Mediterrean. Vichy also controlled Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Vichy's 1940 anti-Jewish regulations were extended to all these jurisdictions. The Vichy regulations involved a range of persecution and denial of of rights. Committees for Aryanization were established and the citzenship of French Jews was revoked. Camps were established abd many Jews internened. The pattern differed somewhat in each jurisdiction with Tunisia adopting particularly harsh regulsations in 1941. The Vichy High Commissioner in Syria, Henri Dentz, was planning to open concentration camps, but theBritish and Free French forces seized control of Syria before he was able to do so. [Stillman, p. 146.] As a result of Vicvhy support for the pro-Germanm Rashid Ali revolt in Iraq, British and Free French forces occupied Syria (June-July 1944). About 1,350 Syrian Jews were transported to Palestine in a complicated operation as part of the Aliyah effort. The Jewish community in Syria gained only a brief respite from persecution. After Syria achieved independence, the government prohibited Jewish immigration to Palestine. Other regulations followed as well as attacks on Jews.

Tunisia (France--1940-43)

Tunisia in 1940 was a French colony. After the fall of France, a French Goverment was established in an unoccupied zone with a capital at Vichy. This Government while not totally controlled by the Germans, collaborated with them in many ways. One of these was the Holocaust. A Vichy law of October 4. 1940 provided that "foreign nationals of the Jewish race" would be detained in "special concentration camps". [Laskier, North Africa, p. 65-66.] Additional legislation in 1941 were imposed in Tunisia, although we do not yet have full details. The situation worsened after Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa (November 1942). Unlike Morrocco and Algeria, there were no Allied landings in Tunisia. Tunisian Jews, about 4,000, were forced into labor camps where because of the harsh conditions some died. [Arbitol] There were schools for Jewish children. We are unsure how they vared during the Vichy period and German occupation. Some Jews were deported to the European death camps, presumably during the German occupation. Reports suggest that the Germans began constructing extermination camps in Tunisia. We can not yet confirm this. If true, these plans never materialized because of the Allied military campaign. Hitler with the assistance of Vichy commanders rushed in reinforcenents despite the deteriorating situation at Stalingrad. This prevented the Allies from seizing Tunisia immideately. The presence of the Italians, retreating from Libya, may have been a moderating influenmce. Allied forces by December 1942 reached Tunisia. This only prolonged the inevitable, ut the major urban centers where the Jews lkived were in German hands for several months. Tunis and Bizerte fell May 7 and the last remaining German units surrendered may 13, 1943. [Ward]


Turkey after the NAZIs seized power in Germany (1933) offered refugee to Jewish university professors and scholars, mostly scientists. The country at the time was laying the foundation for a modern university system and the refugee Jewish scholars played an important role in that undertaking. Turkey subsequently played a role in saving thousands of European Jews from the NAZIs. Turkey remained neutral most of the War. Both sides made extensive diplomatic efforts to draw Turkey into the War. NAZI diplomats thought they had succeeded, but the Soviet victory at Stalingrad ended any possbility of Turkey joining the Axis. The Turks allowed the passage of thousands of Jewish refugees to Palestine at a time that Both the Germans and British attempted to prevent this. The Turks also protected its Jewish citizes and attempted to resuce Turkish Jewsin the occupied countries. They succeed in saving 3,000 of the 10,000 Tukish Jews in France and several hundred in Greece. As many as 100,000 Jews may have been saved by the Turks. [Shaw] The Struma incident suggests that the Turkish policy as to non-Turkish refugeees was essentially passive (1941-42). The Turks did, however, allow Istanbul to be used by Jewish Agency and by other Jewish organizations established to assist and rescue East European Jews fleeing the Holocaust. Turkish Authorities allowed eefuges without passports or visas to enter the country. I'm not sure, however, how many were allowed to stay in Turkey. Authorities also allowed ships carrying refugees to pass through its coastal waters. Individual Turkish diplomats also helped save Jews. Turkish diplomats even issue false papers to Jews in NAZI-occupied areas. Turkish Consul Selahattin Ulkumen on the Greek island of Rhodes arrived at about the same time as the NAZI occupation force (1941). When the NAZIs began rounding up Jews on the island, he intervened maintaing that some were Turkish citizens. He helped save 32 Jews, but his pregnant wife was killed in the process. He was then rescue 32 Jews from the island's Jewish community, but ultimately led to his wife's death. The NAZIs deported Ulkumen to Piraeus where he spent the rest of the War in jail. The Apostolic Delegate in Turkey, Archbishop Roncalli (who became Pope John XXIII) attempted to rescue Hungarian Jews. Islamicists in Turkey are today joining Holocaust deniers in the Arab world. A well-financed book published in Istabul during 1997 entitled Soykirim Yalani ("Holocaust Deception") perpetrates the preposperous charge of Zionist collaboration in the Holocaust.

Ukraine (1941-44)

The Ukraine at the time of World War II was part of the Soviet Union. The Holocaust unfolded in the Ukraine much as it did in the Soviet Union as a whole. Estimates suggest that at the time of World War II that the Jewish populstion in the Ukraine totaled about 1,5 million people (1939). This was a substantial portion of the Soviet Jewish population. While substantial, it was only about 3 percent of the overall Ukranian population. The large Jewish population was the result of the Ukraine being part of the Tsaist Pale of Settlement. This was part of a policy designed to keep Jews out of Russia itself. After the NAZI invasion (June 1941), the Soviets evacuated large number of individuals east out of harms way, estimates rin up to 3.5 million people. Those evacuated included government and Party officials, scientists, skilled workers, and other educated individuals. As the NAZI armies made more progress in the northern and central sectors of the front, there was more time in the south (meaning the Ukraine) for the evacuations to take place. The reason there was less progress in the south is that a subsantial portion of Soviet armor had been deployed in the south. It is unclear just how many Jews wre evacuated, but estimates suggest about half to two-thirds of Ukranian Jews were able to reach safty in the east. [Reitlinger p. 251.] Behind the combat forces which swept east were the NAZI Einsatzgruppen C and D. YThese were especially trained units of 500 to 1,000 men who were mobile killing squads with orders to kill Jews. As soon as a city was secured, the Einsatzgruppen began rounding up and killing Jews. Major actions were conducted at Lutsk, Zhitomir and Berdichev. The Romanian Army which participated in the invasion also participated in the killing of Jews. The killoing continued throughout the summer of 1941. They suceeded in killing about 0.6 million Ukraniamn Jews. SS Standartfuehrer Paul Blobel was particularly diligent in carrying out his orders. He commanded Sonderkommando 4A, Einsatzgruppe C. And he participated in the the huge killing operation at Kiev. The killing was conducted at Babyn Yar (Babi Yar) (September 29-30, 1941). Blobel's unit reported killing killed 33,771 Jews in only 2 days. Blobel was tried after the War at Nuremberg and hanged in Landsberg Prison (June 8, 1951). This was where Hitler had been jailed after the BeervHall Putch and wrote Mein Kampf. The Ukranians are often accused of cooperating withbthe NAZIs in the killing of Jews. We arecnot yet able to assess these charges. There were collaborators in every country. Wether there wetre more in the Ukraine than other countries we are not sure. It is true that there was a great deal of anti-Soviet feeling among Ukranian nationalists many if whom saw Jews as supportive of both Communism and the Soviet regime. Miltia groups sometimes referred to as Ukranian Police did aid the NAZIs both in actiins against the Jews, but in anti-Partisan operations. The composition of these units, however, was not entirely ethnic Ukranines, but included Poles, Volksdeutsche, While Russians, and Russians.

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)

See the Soviet Union.

United States

The United States had a very signoficant Jewish population. Large numbers of Russian/Polish Jews fleeing Tsarist oppression begn flowing inti the United States (1880s). This only ended with immigration reform after World War I. The United States was of course not occupied by the NAZIs and thus the substantial American Jewish population was not directly touched by the Holocaust. The United States, however, had one of the largest Jewish population in the world. (The three principal countries with Jewish populations were America, Poland, and the Soviet Union.). American Jews did, however, have families in Europe from where they had immigrated. American Jews did try to protest early NAZI actions with boycotts on German products. They were unable to achieve, however, much traction with the American people, in part because of still prevalent anti-Semitism and a fervent sesire to avoid another war, especially a war with Gernany. Congress refused to even consider changes in immigration quotas. President Roosevelt did not engage the issue even after the situation in Germany became desperate. His focus was on the politics of increasing defense spending. The Isolationists further complicated the issue by claiming that American Jews were trying to drag America into War--a claim also pushed in NAZI propaganda. In the end, about half of Europe's Jews were saved from the NAZIs. The entry of the United States in the War and the success of the D-Day landings played an important role in saving the Jews that survived as did Lend Lease aid to the Soviet Union. The United States has been criticized for its efforts both before and after the War. Some of the criticms are valid. Certainly the failure to increased immigration quotas was a failure, although the United States did permit more Jewish immigration than any other country. Crititicism of American actions during the War are often based on a misunderstanding of what the United States knew and the ability of the American military to effectively stop the killing. Some authors point to reports reaching American officials. The problem is that in the fog of war, it is not always clear what reports are accurate. As to how America could intervene, there is a widespread and totally inaccurate belief that the Air Force could have stopped the killing easily by bombing the rail lines leading to the death camps and the gas chambers in Auschwitz. This is not to say that the American response was adequate, it is to say that much of the criticism is not well founded, over stating American caoabilities. .


Uruguay had a very small Jewish community and it was divided between religious Jews and secular leftists that arrived after World War I (1920s). Parly because of the Depression, there were both Fascist and liberal groups opposing immigration. There was special opposition to Jewish immigration. This made it very difficult for Jews after the NAZI seizure of power in Germany to obtain Uruguayan visas. Many Uruguayans did not accept Jews in polite society and attacks on Jews were not unknown. This harsh situation was reduced with with the administration of anti-Fascist General Alfredo Baldomir (1938-43). Soon after Baldomir was elected, the Uruguyan Government was confronted with the issue arrising after the Nttle of The Rio Plat. The dmged German pocket battleship Graf Spee sought refuge in Montevideo Harbor while British cruisrs waited off shore (November 1939). Cpt. Langsdorff and the German Ambssador were unable to gain any concessions to repair the danage. Baldomir is most notable for leading Uruguay to support the Allies during World War II. Immigrations quotas wee not changed, but some Jewish refugees were able to use Uruguay as a way station to other countries. Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, all countries with influential German minority communities, agreed not to accept Jewish immigrants that had not legally immigrated from their countries of origin (November 1941). By this time the killing phase of the Hollocaust was well underway. This essentially meant that these countries were demanding Jews get NAZI exit permits in the middle of the Holocaust.


Venezuela did not play an important role in the Holocaust. The primary involvement was two German liners, SS Koenigstein and SS Caribia. Aling with other passangers, they transported some 300 very fortunte Jewish refugees ouit of Germany just before the outbreak of World War War II. The Koenigstein with 86 Jews on board, departed Germany (January 1939) destined for the British colony of Trinidad. Neville Chamberlain was still prime-minister. When it arrived in Port-of-Spain, the British authorities there refused to allow the Jewish passengers to disembark. The ship on to Honduras, but authorities also refused to allow the Jews to desenbark. Finally the shop sailed to Veneuzelawhere ir arrived (February 17, 1939.) The SS Caribia carried 165 Jews and had a similar experience after sailing to Georgetown in British Guiana. Authorities there also refused to allow the Jewish refugee passengers to desinbark. The ship also sailed to Venezuela, arriving (March 16). The president of Venezuela was General Eleazar Lopez Contreras who gave gave the refugees special permission to disembark and stay temporarily, until they could safely relocate. [Caestecker and Moore (eds.) ] They were prohibited, however, banned from finding employment other than in agriculture. The refugees had no agriculturl skills. Jews in Germany had been prohibited from owning farms. President Lopez made in clear that Venezuela would not accept any more Jewiush refugees, unless they had the proper immigration documents. There were virtully no Jews living in Venezuela ar=t the time. President Lppez eventuaklly allowed the refugees to remain in Venezuela permanently. These refugees became some of the founding members of Venezuela's Jewish community. More immigration occurred after the War.


See Indo-China.

Yugoslavia (1941-44)

Yugoslavia was an ehnic killing field during World War II. The Croatians who had been disatisfied with Serb dominance of the Yugoslav Goverment formed the Ushachi and joined the Germans and began killing Serbs and Moslems in Bosnia. Serb guerrillas called Chetnicks began killing Croats in response, as well as Jews and Moslems. In many cases it was not a matter of rounding Jews up and turning them over to the Germans. The Croats and many Serbs (both Chetniks and collaborationists) were willing to kill Jews themselves. Only with Titos partisans could Jews seek refuge, but this was only the able-bodied who succeeded in finding a partisan group. Few Jewish children survived in Yugoslavia.


Abitbol, Michel. History of the Jews of Arab Lands (In Hebrew, Merkaz Shazar).

Caestecker, Frank and Bob Moore (eds.) Refugees from Nazi Germany and the Liberal European States (Berghahn Books: 2010)

Eizenstat, Stuart. Imperfect Justice.

Gilbert, Martin. A History of the Twentieth Century Vol. 2 1933-54 (William Morrow and Company, Inc.: New York, 1998), 1050p.

Gumble, Peter.

Laskier, Michael. The Jews of the Maghreb in the shadow of Vichy and the Swastika (Hebrew, Univ. of Tel Aviv, 1992).

Michaelis, Herbert and Enst Schraepler. eds. Ursachen und Folgen, Vol. 18. (Belin Dokumenten-Verlag Dr. Herbert Wendler & Co, undated).

Noakes, Jeremy and Geoffrey Pridham. ed. Documents on Nazism, 1919-1945.

Reitlinger, Gerald. The House Built on Sand (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1960), 459 p.

Stillman, Norman. The Jews of Arab Lands in Modern Times (NY: Jewish Publication Society, 1991).

Shaw, Stanford J. Turkey and the Holocaust: Turkey's Role in Rescuing Turkish and European Jewry from Nazi Persecution, 1933-1945.

Ward, Seth. "The Holocaust in North Africa," May 10, 1999.

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Created: February 7, 2002
Last updated: 6:22 AM 3/27/2021