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Choices made by Jewish parents

It is hard to imagine the pressure felt by Jewish parents in Berlin during the aftermath of Kristallnacht. Parents’ instincts are to stay with and protect their young. Yet, how could they offer any safety for their loved ones with such volatility and unrest?




Necessity of emigration

The November Pogrom marks the turning point towards emigration. Many diary entries show that this is the point when most gave up any hope to be able to endure the circumstances with any guarantee of safety and wait for better times.

To find rescue and refuge from terror drove the desperate attempts to leave Germany at any cost. Favourite destinations were Western Europe, the US and Palestine, but also South and Middle America.

Harry Bibring recollects the moment his family reunited after the arrests following the November Pogrom and their decision to emigrate.
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum

No one will take Jewish refugees

It may have become a necessity to emigrate, but visas were almost impossible to get. Most countries were unwilling to take Jewish immigrants. Under the repercussions of the World Economic Crisis, most countries were afraid to add further job-seekers to an already tight labour market. In addition, antisemitism played a role.

Where to go? Ruth David speaks about the trials of her parents in search of a safe haven in the States. The systematic plunder of Jewish financial assets made them undesirable candidates. Visa procedures took years as Roosevelt tried to remedy the ravages of the Great Depression with his “New Deal”.
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum


Applying for work to emigrate was equally hopeless

Many countries demanded proof that immigrants could support themselves.  They did not want immigrants competing with their domestic labour force. Often, that meant taking on unqualified work as a domestic servant or farmhand.


How to overcome immigration quotas and become eligible for immigration? If relatives or friends could not provide an affidavit –guaranteeing the up-keep of an emigrant -the only small chance left, was to apply for a work visa for professions in demand. Max Otto Schnabel, a qualified lawyer from Vienna and much-loved father, is forced to make unusual professional choices.
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum

Who was the group under most immediate threat?

They were the thousands of Jewish men in concentration camps. Their only hope of release was immediate emigration. Some Jewish men could receive temporary shelter in transit camps like the Kitchener camp in England. But they were expected to leave as soon as possible to find asylum outside the UK.

Leopold Kuh had run the retraining college attended by Bernard Grunberg in Berlin. A man of determination and skill, he had saved Jewish children in his charge by finding them places on the Kindertransport. Learn about the new mission that brought him to England to save more lives.
© National Holocaust Centre and Museum