Why German Jewry did not Leave in 1933: Further Reading

“They bind our hands and then complain that we do not make use of them.” –Moses Mendelssohn

Holy Roman Empire

Germany under the Old Regime 1600-1790 by John G. Gagliardo

German History in Modern Times: Four Lives of the Nation by William W. Hagen

The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Paul W. Schroeder

The Course of German Nationalism: From Frederick the Great to Bismarck 1763-1867 by Hagen Schulze

German History, 1770-1866 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by James J. Sheehan

Enlightenment

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 by Jonathan I. Israel

A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy by Jonathan Israel

The Enlightenment (New Approaches to European History) by Dorinda Outram

Jewish Enlightenment/Haskalah

Moses Mendelssohn;: A biographical study by Alexander Altmann

Moses Mendelssohn: Sage of Modernity (Jewish Lives) by Shmuel Feiner

The Jewish Enlightenment (Jewish Culture and Contexts) by Shmuel Feiner

Haskalah and History: The Emergence of a Modern Jewish Historical Consciousness (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization) by Shmuel Feiner

The Origins of Jewish Secularization in Eighteenth-Century Europe (Jewish Culture and Contexts) by Shmuel Feiner

Cultural Revolution in Berlin: Jews in the Age of Enlightenment (Journal of Jewish Studies Supplement Series) by Shmuel Feiner

The Transformation of German Jewry, 1780-1840 by David Sorkin

Napoleonic Wars

The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It by David A. Bell

Austria, Prussia and The Making of Germany: 1806-1871 (Seminar Studies) by John Breuilly

Napoleon and the Struggle for Germany: The Franco-Prussian War of 1813 (Cambridge Military Histories) (Volume 1) by Michael V. Leggiere

Napoleon and the Struggle for Germany: The Franco-Prussian War of 1813 (Cambridge Military Histories) (Volume 2) by Michael V. Leggiere

Germany from Napoleon to Bismarck: 1800-1866 (Princeton Legacy Library) by Thomas Nipperdey

The Napoleonic Wars: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Mike Rapport

The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Paul W. Schroeder

The Course of German Nationalism: From Frederick the Great to Bismarck 1763-1867 by Hagen Schulze

German History, 1770-1866 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by James J. Sheehan

Congress of Vienna

Austria, Prussia and The Making of Germany: 1806-1871 (Seminar Studies) by John Breuilly

Restoration, Revolution, Reaction: Economics and Politics in Germany, 1815-1871 by Theodore S. Hamerow

The Congress of Vienna and its Legacy: War and Great Power Diplomacy after Napoleon (International Library of Historical Studies) by Mark Jarrett

Germany from Napoleon to Bismarck: 1800-1866 (Princeton Legacy Library) by Thomas Nipperdey

The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Paul W. Schroeder

The Course of German Nationalism: From Frederick the Great to Bismarck 1763-1867 by Hagen Schulze

German History, 1770-1866 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by James J. Sheehan

The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics after Napoleon by Brian E. Vick

The Revolutions of 1848

Austria, Prussia and The Making of Germany: 1806-1871 (Seminar Studies) by John Breuilly

The Revolutions in Europe, 1848-1849: From Reform to Reaction edited by RJW Evans and Hartmut Pogge von Strandmann

Restoration, Revolution, Reaction: Economics and Politics in Germany, 1815-1871 by Theodore S. Hamerow

The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 by Eric Hobsbawm

The 1848 Revolutions by Peter Jones

Germany from Napoleon to Bismarck: 1800-1866 (Princeton Legacy Library) by Thomas Nipperdey

1848: Year of Revolution by Mike Rapport

The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Paul W. Schroeder

The Course of German Nationalism: From Frederick the Great to Bismarck 1763-1867 by Hagen Schulze

German History, 1770-1866 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by James J. Sheehan

Rhineland Radicals: The Democratic Movement and the Revolution of 1848-1849 by Jonathan Sperber

The European Revolutions, 1848 – 1851 (New Approaches to European History) by Jonathan Sperber

The Struggle for Mastery in Europe: 1848-1918 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Alan J. P. Taylor

Austro-Prussian War

Austria, Prussia and The Making of Germany: 1806-1871 (Seminar Studies) by John Breuilly

The Wars of German Unification 1864-1871 (Origins Of Modern Wars) by William Carr and Harry Hearder

The Battle of Königgrätz: Prussia’s Victory over Austria, 1866 by Gordon A. Craig

Germany 1866-1945 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Gordon A. Craig

Restoration, Revolution, Reaction: Economics and Politics in Germany, 1815-1871 by Theodore S. Hamerow

Imperial Germany 1867-1918: Politics, Culture, and Society in an Authoritarian State (Hodder Arnold Publication) by Wolfgang J. Mommsen

Germany from Napoleon to Bismarck: 1800-1866 (Princeton Legacy Library) by Thomas Nipperdey

The Course of German Nationalism: From Frederick the Great to Bismarck 1763-1867 by Hagen Schulze

German History, 1770-1866 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by James J. Sheehan

The Wars of German Unification (Modern Wars) by Dennis Showalter

The Struggle for Mastery in Europe: 1848-1918 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Alan J. P. Taylor

The Austro-Prussian War: Austria’s War with Prussia and Italy in 1866 by Geoffrey Wawro

Franco-Prussian War

The Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871 (Essential Histories) by Stephen Badsey

Austria, Prussia and The Making of Germany: 1806-1871 (Seminar Studies) by John Breuilly

The Wars of German Unification 1864-1871 (Origins Of Modern Wars) by William Carr and Harry Hearder

Germany 1866-1945 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Gordon A. Craig

Restoration, Revolution, Reaction: Economics and Politics in Germany, 1815-1871 by Theodore S. Hamerow

The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France 1870-1871 by Michael Howard

Imperial Germany 1867-1918: Politics, Culture, and Society in an Authoritarian State (Hodder Arnold Publication) by Wolfgang J. Mommsen

The Wars of German Unification (Modern Wars) by Dennis Showalter

The Struggle for Mastery in Europe: 1848-1918 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Alan J. P. Taylor

The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871 by Geoffrey Wawro

Imperial Germany

Imperial Germany 1871-1918 by Volker Rolf Berghahn

Austria, Prussia and The Making of Germany: 1806-1871 (Seminar Studies) by John Breuilly

The Wars of German Unification 1864-1871 (Origins Of Modern Wars) by William Carr and Harry Hearder

Germany 1866-1945 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Gordon A. Craig

Bismarck and the German Empire by Erich Eyck

Restoration, Revolution, Reaction: Economics and Politics in Germany, 1815-1871 by Theodore S. Hamerow

The Age of Capital: 1848-1875 by Eric Hobsbawm

The Age of Empire: 1875-1914 by Eric Hobsbawm

Imperial Germany 1867-1918: Politics, Culture, and Society in an Authoritarian State (Hodder Arnold Publication) by Wolfgang J. Mommsen

The Kaiser and his Court: Wilhelm II and the Government of Germany by John C. G. Rohl

The Wars of German Unification (Modern Wars) by Dennis Showalter

The Struggle for Mastery in Europe: 1848-1918 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Alan J. P. Taylor

The German Empire, 1871-1918 by Hans-Ulrich Wehler

The Long Nineteenth Century

History of Germany, 1780-1918: The Long Nineteenth Century (Blackwell Classic Histories of Europe) by David Blackbourn

German History in Modern Times: Four Lives of the Nation by William W. Hagen

Protestants, Catholics and Jews in Germany, 1800-1914 by Helmut Walser Smith

The Continuities of German History: Nation, Religion, and Race Across the Long Nineteenth Century by Helmut Walser Smith

World War I

Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-1918 (New Approaches to European History) by Roger Chickering

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark

Germany 1866-1945 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Gordon A. Craig

German History in Modern Times: Four Lives of the Nation by William W. Hagen

To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 by Ian Kershaw

Facing Total War: German Society, 1914-1918 by Jurgen Kocka

Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century by Mark Mazower

Imperial Germany 1867-1918: Politics, Culture, and Society in an Authoritarian State (Hodder Arnold Publication) by Wolfgang J. Mommsen

The Struggle for Mastery in Europe: 1848-1918 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Alan J. P. Taylor

Weimar Republic

Germany After the First World War by Richard Bessel

Germany 1866-1945 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Gordon A. Craig

To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 by Ian Kershaw

The Weimar Republic by Eberhard Kolb

Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century by Mark Mazower

The Rise and Fall of Weimar Democracy by Hans Mommsen and Elborg Forster

The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity by Detlev J. K. Peukert

Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy by Eric D. Weitz

Hitler and the Nazi Period

The Racial State: Germany 1933-1945 by Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann

Germany 1866-1945 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) by Gordon A. Craig

Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 1: The Years of Persecution 1933-1939 by Saul Friedlander

German History in Modern Times: Four Lives of the Nation by William W. Hagen

To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 by Ian Kershaw

Hitler: Profiles in Power by Ian Kershaw

Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris by Ian Kershaw

Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century by Mark Mazower

The Crisis of German Ideology : Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich by George L. Mosse

Immigration History and Policy

FDR and the Jews by Richard Breitman

Refugees from Nazi Germany and the Liberal European States by Frank Caestecker

Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882 by Roger Daniels

Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life by Roger Daniels

American Immigration: A Very Short Introduction by David A. Gerber

Jewish History in Germany

Cultural Revolution in Berlin: Jews in the Age of Enlightenment (Journal of Jewish Studies Supplement Series) by Shmuel Feiner

Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 1: The Years of Persecution 1933-1939 by Saul Friedlander

Jews and the German State: The Political History of a Minority, 1848-1933 by Peter Pulzer

Protestants, Catholics and Jews in Germany, 1800-1914 by Helmut Walser Smith

The Transformation of German Jewry, 1780-1840 by David Sorkin

WWII Jewish Refugee History

None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933-1948 by Irving Abella and Harold Troper

Gender, Judaism, and Bourgeois Culture in Germany, 1800-1870 (The Modern Jewish Experience) by Benjamin Maria Baader

Flight from the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933-1946 by Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan Van Pelt

The Pity of It All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933 by Amos Elon

The Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust, 1938-1945 by Henry L. Feingold

Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin by Deborah Hertz

The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family, and Identity in Imperial Germany (Studies in Jewish History (Oxford Paperback)) by Marion A. Kaplan

Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany (Studies in Jewish History) by Marion A. Kaplan

Jewish Daily Life in Germany, 1618-1945 edited by Marion A. Kaplan

Out of the Ghetto: The Social Background of Jewish Emancipation, 1770-1870 (Modern Jewish History) by Jacob Katz

The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day by Walter Laqueur

Generation Exodus : The Fate of Young Jewish Refugees from Nazi Germany by Walter Laqueur

Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crisis 1938-1941 by David Wyman

Why German Jewry did not Leave in 1933: Conclusion

“They bind our hands and then complain that we do not make use of them.” –Moses Mendelssohn

In 1933, German Jews were looking not forward, but backwards on their own history. Between 1790 and 1933, German anti-Semitism was constantly growing, and then subsiding; institutional anti-Semitism presented a consistent barrier to Jewish achievement and advancement, yet, they managed to successfully push against it in their quest to create a place of their own in German society. For a wave of anti-Semitism to not only stick around, but to grow more dangerous over time was unforeseen. It had no precedent in the history of German Jewry.

Using history as their guide, German Jewry had no reason flee Germany in 1933. They had no reason to flee in 1935; past waves had lasted more than two years. They only realized that this was something new in 1938.

In the five years between the boycott on Jewish businesses and Kristallnacht, the events of 1780-1933 came together with Nazi legislation and propaganda, non-Jewish attitudes, and global immigration law to form a situation which many German Jews could not, or would not, recognize as lethal until it was too late.

Why German Jewry did not Leave in 1933 Pt. 4: World War I and the End of an Era

“They bind our hands and then complain that we do not make use of them.” –Moses Mendelssohn

When Europe fell into the First World War, German Jews were enthusiastic about the war effort. They were eager to do their part to bring Germany to victory, and excited to prove themselves as Germans. Some elements of German Jewish society went so far as to call World War I a “Jewish war,” as Germany’s primary enemy was Russia, and German Jews opposed Russian treatment of their coreligionists.

It seemed that non-Jewish society was finally ready to respond in kind; even Kaiser Wilhelm declared, “I recognize no parties anymore, but only Germans.” But by 1916, public opinion turned once more against the Jews as the military effort failed to yield German victories. In October 1916, the War Ministry took a count of the number of Jews in the military, implicitly accusing German Jewry of cowardice and national disloyalty.

At the end of World War I, a civil conflict called the November Revolution (November, 1918-August, 1919) resulted in the replacement of Germany’s imperial government with the Weimar Republic. The November Revolution gave rise to the “Dolchstoßlegende,” the “stab-in-the-back-myth.” The stab-in-the-back-myth was the notion, widely held in right-wing Weimar circles, that Germany did not lose World War I, but was undermined and betrayed from within by civilian groups on the home front—such as Communists, Socialists, Jews, and Catholics—with presumed extra-national loyalties.

While the right-wing elements of Weimar society blamed primarily Communists and the Social Democratic Party (the SPD) for the loss of the War, more mainstream elements of Weimar society drew on age-old money-related stereotypes of Jews to scapegoat them for post-war hyperinflation. This said, the Adolf Hitlers of the Weimar political world were the exceptions, not the rule.

And then came 1933.

When the Nazis came to power, they made the stab-in-the-back-myth an integral part of their official history of the Weimar Republic. The blame which right-wing political elements once placed primarily on Communists and the SPD were appropriated by Nazi propagandists in keeping with Hitler’s fanatical anti-Semitism. Thus, the stab-in-the-back-myth was recast; it was now the Jews, with their extra-national loyalties and their international contacts, who had colluded with the Bolsheviks to bring down the German Empire from within.

Armed with recurring German anti-Semitic tropes and the recast stab-in-the-back-myth, between 1933 and 1938 the Nazi government persecuted the Jews, robbing them of their livelihoods, forcing them out of the civil service, public sector work, and cultural production. They instituted a boycott of Jewish businesses in 1933, and barred Jewish men from the workplace in 1938. Nazi legislation made it impossible for Jewish teens to attend high schools, and uncomfortable for Jewish children to attend elementary schools. These are examples from the legal side of the process put in place to transform German Jews from citizens into outcasts; each legal change was aided socially by non-Jewish society.

This transformative process was a long, drawn out one, so drawn out, in fact, that German Jews were not able to see the dangers it posed to them; it took Kristallnacht—a government sponsored, as opposed to popularly incited, pogrom—and the resulting arrests of Jewish men for German Jewry to see the precariousness of their lives in Germany.

The Nazi government rolled out their anti-Jewish legislation with one goal in mind: to make life so unpleasant for German Jewry that they would have no choice but to leave. However, in that policy was the assumption that the rest of the world would be totally down with absorbing those ~half million German Jews. The rest of the world was not, in fact, down with that.

The Nazis came to power in a world stricken by Great Depression. The governments of nations with the ability to receive Jewish refugees feared that the refugees would take away jobs from their citizens and add to the welfare rolls. Even when the worst of the Depression was over, immigration policies remained tight.

At first, many German Jews fled to nearby Western European nations which liberalized their immigration policies out of the belief (shared by the émigrés) that the Nazi regime would soon fall and the refugees would return home. However, they lost hope that such would be the case after the Anschluss. As a result, German Jewry began to look overseas rather than next-door.

The United States government accepted more refugees than other countries: a quarter million between 1933 and 1945. However, the United States had the capacity to accept far greater numbers than it did. The primary reason the United States could not live up to its potential was the quota system, created in 1924. Had the quotas been completely filled between 1938 and 1941, 206,000 German refugees could have entered the United States. The American Congress did not widen the quotas because of popular hostility towards the notion, fueled by Depression-induced nativist sentiments, domestic anti-Semitism, and fears that German Jewish immigrants might be German spies.

Great Britain opened its doors only to those Jews able to enhance Britain’s intellectual, cultural, and business capital. Its restrictive policy was due to a combination of the global economic crisis, domestic xenophobia, and social anti-Semitism. In all, Britain accepted approximately 70,000 refugees, in addition to the 10,000 German Jewish children whom arrived via the Kindertransports. However, Britain did allow a large number of Jews in on visitor’s visas. In 1939 the British government passed the White Paper, which stipulated that Jewish immigration to Palestine was to be limited to 15,000 per year until 1944, letting in approximately 75,000 Jewish refugees.

The British Commonwealth members (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and Newfoundland), more concerned with maintaining their Christian, Anglo-Saxon composition than with saving lives, admitted only a combined total of some 13,000 Jewish refugees.

Latin American Republics, desiring to maintain domestic racial composition, changed their policies to effectively bar Jewish emigration after 1938; Brazil did so by requiring baptismal certificates for all émigrés, and Bolivia simply made anyone of Jewish blood ineligible for entrance into the country. In all, approximately 17,500 Jewish refugees were able to emigrate to Central and South America.

In a 1938 move perceived by Canada as nothing more than an American “exercise in public relations,” President Roosevelt called the Evian Conference—an international conference to be held on July 6, 1938 at the Hotel Royale in Evian-les-Bains, France—to address the refugee problem. He invited twenty-nine European and Latin American nations, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, in addition to thirty-nine private organizations. The Union of South Africa, Poland, and Romania attended as observers, Ireland and Luxembourg weren’t invited (though Ireland did crash), the Soviet Union assumed that the conference was a Trotskyist plot, and Switzerland refused to allow the conference be held within its borders. Germany was not invited. Of all the attendees, only the Dominican Republic committed itself to taking a substantial number of refugees.

The Evian Conference accomplished none of its goals, and its failure confirmed to the Nazi government its view that the Jews were indeed an unwanted people.

Why German Jewry did not Leave in 1933 Pt. 3: Unification, Emancipation, and Assimilation

“They bind our hands and then complain that we do not make use of them.” –Moses Mendelssohn

On July 19, 1870, Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck embarked on a successful scheme.

After the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Prussia annexed 22 independent states in the north of Germany to form the North German Confederation. This act destabilized the European balance of power as it had stood since 1815, drawing opposition from Napoleon III of the Second French Empire. Prussia drew further French ire after expressing its desire to incorporate the southern German states of Baden, Wurttemberg, Bavaria, and Hess-Darmstadt into a unified, Prussian-dominated Germany.

French opposition demonstrated to Bismarck and other Prussian officials that a war with France was both inevitable in the quest for German unification, and necessary to the arousal of enough nationalist sentiment in the southern states to make them amenable to unification. Bismarck later stated that he “did not doubt that a Franco-German war must take place before the construction of a United Germany could be realized.” When war with France was declared, the southern states sided with Prussia.

The Franco-Prussian War (July 1870-May 1871) was a remarkably quick one. After a series of swift German victories, Prussian forces marched on Paris, capturing Napoleon III and an entire French army along the way. On January 19, 1871, German princes and senior military commanders gathered in Versailles to proclaim Prussian King Wilhelm I of the House of Hohenzollern the German Emperor.

With the unification of Germany, German Jews finally won what so many of them fought for in Revolutions of 1848: legal emancipation. Unfortunately, with German unification came a level of anti-Semitism not seen since the immediate post-Napoleonic years. It was in this wave of anti-Semitism that the concept of the Jews as an inherent, racial category began to gain currency.

In 1873, a global financial crisis hit Europe and North America. In Germany, the crisis was a result of post-war inflation, speculative investments, the end of French reparation payments, and rampant industrial speculation. Though the German economy recovered quickly in comparison to other parts of the world, German investors and members of the general public blamed German Jewry for their economic losses, claiming that Jewish speculators were prominent amongst those who benefited from the boom, and among those who contributed to the economic crash. In fact, Jewish industrialists had participated in the industrial speculation which led to the crash, but to take that and use it to blame the Jews for the entire financial crisis is akin to using the actions of Bernie Madoff to blame the Jews for the entire 2008 Recession (which some people did).

A boycott of Jewish businesses followed the crash, as did a revitalized hatred of the assimilated Jewish middle class. The intensity of this wave of anti-Semitism remained high through the 1870s (indeed, it was in 1879 that Wilhelm Marr coined the term “anti-Semitism” to refer to inherent racial characteristics which separated the Jewish nation from the German nation) until it gradually subsided over the course of the 1880s.

When I speak of anti-Semitism subsiding, what I refer to is loud, violent, overt hatred. The quieter, institutional anti-Semitism wasn’t gone; it was never gone. It existed in the most important institutions of the German Empire—in the military, the universities, the civil service, the imperial court, and high society—keeping German Jews from being able to break out of the roles assigned to them by non-Jewish society. For example, institutional anti-Semitism restricted Jews to primarily business-related occupations. In 1895, 56% of German Jews worked in commerce. In 1907 that number was only one percentage point lower.

Jewish concentration in business-oriented occupations allowed non-Jewish Germans to continue to cast Jews as money-grubbers unwilling to partake in “productive” (meaning physical) labor, even as social anti-Semitism barred Jewish occupational mobility. Ultimately, social anti-Semitism affected Jewish lives more immediately and intimately than any political party.

The anti-Semitic bubble burst with the economic recovery. By 1912 anti-Semitic political parties were as good as dead, and the concept of using racial politics as political stance had fallen out of vogue. Institutional and social anti-Semitism remained, but Jewish assimilation continued on. By the final decades of the nineteenth century, even the most observant of rural German Jews had relaxed some of their practices, such as ritual purity. By 1900, only about 15% of all German Jews could be considered Orthodox.

What held true after the Revolution of 1848 remained true after German unification: legal emancipation for the Jews of Germany was only half the battle.

Why German Jewry did not Leave in 1933 Pt. 2: Revolution and Reform

“They bind our hands and then complain that we do not make use of them.” –Moses Mendelssohn

In 1848, a series of revolutions, called the Spring of Nations, swept across Europe. In the German states, support for and participation in the Revolutions of 1848 stemmed from popular discontent with traditional political and social structures, desire for constitutional rights, and aspirations towards German unification.

These goals attracted German Jewry, as they were deeply tied to the cause of Jewish emancipation; extension of constitutional rights to the general population meant that Jews would be entitled to equal treatment under the law, and German unification would make it easier for Jews to agitate for greater legal equality. Non-Jewish German liberals, for their part, advocated for Jewish emancipation out of the belief that discriminatory laws were anachronistic and morally unjust, and out of the old hope that legal emancipation would hasten Jewish assimilation and conversion to Christianity.

Jewish participation in the Revolutions of 1848 was a result of over half a century of reform and assimilation. As Jewish Enlightenment thinkers such as Mendelssohn urged Jews to embrace secular ideas, and as German thinkers argued for Jewish emancipation as a vehicle for assimilation and conversion, German Jewry responded in ways anticipated perhaps by neither Jewish nor non-Jewish thinkers.

German Jews wanted to be accepted as Germans, but not at the cost of their Jewishness; instead of assimilating via conversion, German Jewry instead refashioned German culture on their own terms.

The 1806 abolition of rabbinic courts and the authority of the Jewish community allowed German Jewry to shape their religious expression as they wished. Reform leaders introduced to the synagogue behavioral standards conforming to middle class—meaning Christian middle class—standards of propriety. They removed the prayer for the return to Zion from the liturgy to demonstrate that German Jewry had ceased to view itself as part of a dispersed nation. They introduced to the synagogue German-language sermons, choirs, clerical robes, confirmation ceremonies for boys and girls, and the use of the organ. By 1860, Reformed Jewish congregations had more in common with the church than with Orthodox synagogues, and by 1870, Reform was dominant type of Judaism practiced in Germany.

With daily life no longer operating under rabbinic authority, Jews were free to determine their own standards of behavior and interaction with both their German and Jewish identities. German Jews used the German tradition of Bildung—which links philosophy and educational attainment with the process of personal and cultural maturation—to shape their integration and assimilation. Bildung appealed to German Jews because they did not have to be born with it, but could acquire it through university attendance and participation in the right social groups and organizations. In Bildung, German Jewry saw their chance to achieve social mobility while maintaining their ethnoreligious identities.

The Revolutions of 1848 did not result in the legal emancipation of the Jews. However, they did strengthen the national identities of German Jewry, and increased Jewish and non-Jewish mixing to higher levels than ever before in German history.

In these calm, post-Revolutionary, mid-century years, every German Jew had access to an elementary level education. They could read and write in German, and were over-represented in secondary schools and universities. Through this educational attainment and social interaction, German Jewry came to understand that social and economic integration were just as important to the cause of Jewish emancipation as legislation.

Why German Jewry did not Leave in 1933 Pt. 1: The Enlightenment and Napoleon

“They bind our hands and then complain that we do not make use of them.” –Moses Mendelssohn

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, anti-Semitic violence in the German-speaking lands (there were over 300 at the time) was the exception, not the rule. However, when popular violence did erupt, it stemmed from long-held superstitions (such as blood libel), occupational immobility (money-lending was one of the few occupational niches Jews were allowed to inhabit as the Church forbade Christians from money-lending, leading non-Jewish society to cast Jews as greedy money-grubbers), and foundational Christian myths (“the Jews killed Jesus,” basically). It was not until much later that biological constructions of “Jewishness” as an inherent, racial state would come into play.

In this period, German Jewry existed in self-sustained communities. The German governments did not deal with individual Jews, but with the leaders of the Jewish community: rabbis, rabbinic judges, cantors, and teachers. These communal authorities were responsible for governing the individuals, which included levying taxes, maintaining social order, imposing legal recourse on offenders, and handling all litigation between Jews in accordance with Talmudic law. German Jews did not live in total isolation from Christian populations, often living among and coming into frequent contact with them through business dealings. However, the separation was enough that, when combined with the myths and stereotypes described above, it enabled non-Jewish German society to form deep-seated understandings of the Jew as the mysterious and predatory Other.

By 1780, the Jewish community structure began to lose ground to the allure of the Enlightenment. A series of Jewish reformers, the most prominent of whom was Moses Mendelssohn, began to argue that Judaism must adapt to and become part of German civil society as envisioned by Enlightenment thinkers. At the same time, liberal non-Jewish German thinkers began to argue for the emancipation of (the extension of equal rights to) German Jewry, hoping that it would lead to the dissolution of the Jewish communities, and eventual mass conversions to Christianity.

The first step to the achievement of these goals, on the part of both the Jewish and the non-Jewish thinkers, was to abolish the power of the Jewish communities. And this abolition came in the form of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Napoleonic Wars swept through Europe between 1803 and 1815. In July, 1806, Napoleon began to bring portions of the Rhineland and West Germany under French control. On October 1, 1806, King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, angered by French interference in the Prussian sphere of influence, declared war on Napoleon. In less than two weeks, Napoleon emerged victorious.

During the years of Napoleonic rule in the German states, he and his subsidiary governments abolished the rabbinic courts, revoked the authority of the Jewish community, and emancipated the Jews of the German states, granting them the full rights extended to all inhabitants of French vassal states. He remained in control of the German states until the disastrous 1812 Russia campaign. In 1813, Prussia joined with Austria, Russia, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, and a number of other German states (the “Sixth Coalition”) to fight against Napoleon and French continental hegemony. In the War of the Sixth Coalition (1812-1814), the Coalition defeated France, and Napoleon went into exile.

Prussia regained most of its pre-1806 territory, and the other German states regained their independence after some reorganization. One of the first steps the German states took after winning independence was the repeal of some of the changes made under Napoleonic rule. German Jewish emancipation suffered severe setbacks, with several states annulling their Edicts of Emancipation and expelling their Jewish populations.

With the new spirit of German nationalism which took hold in the immediate post-Napoleonic years came a new type of anti-Jewish hatred, one which seamlessly blended religious hatred with anti-modern, anti-French, and anti-capitalist sentiments. For example, in August, 1819, widespread unrest resulting from unemployment and food shortages came together with the post-Napoleonic breed of anti-Semitism in a swell of violent anti-Jewish riots.

These riots, known as the “Hep! Hep! Riots,” broke out on the Bavarian city of Wurzburg. What began as a university riot quickly spread throughout the city. Mobs ran through the streets looting and demolishing Jewish homes and businesses while shouting “Hep! Hep! Jude verreck,” which translates to “Death to all Jews.” While the origins of “Hep! Hep!” are obscure, historians theorize that it was an acronym of the Crusader chant “Hierosolyma est perdita,” Latin for “Jerusalem is lost.” The riots swept through Bavarian towns and villages to central and southwest Germany.

However, the riots died down as quickly as they began, and relations between Jews and non-Jews calmed. Indeed, Jewish memoirists born in the 1820s compared the more tolerant and accepting atmosphere of their youths to the anti-Semitic atmosphere of the later decades of the nineteenth century.

The Jewish Enlightenment: A Brief Overview

there was a jewish enlightenment?
I would like to hear more about the Jewish Enlightenment

Oh yes there was, and I am beyond willing to do a deep dive!

It’s fairly long complex process, so I’ll give you a general rundown, and then after reading it, you (or any interested party) can tell me what aspects you’d like to hear more about (if any) and I can write more specific posts for you.

So, after the general European Enlightenment, rulers of various German polities were like “Hey, now that we’re Enlightened, maybe we should stop treating the Jews like crap?” and then others were like “Yeah and once they see how great it is to be part of German society they’ll convert to Christianity and this be officially part of The State(tm)! What a great plan!” So over the course of the late eighteenth, early nineteenth centuries, you see the rulers of various German polities emancipating their Jews.

Some Jews were not interested in becoming part of German society, but others, like Moses Mendelssohn, embraced the opportunity, perceiving acculturation as a path out of oppression. Mendelssohn was one of the, if not the, founding thinkers of the Jewish Enlightenment, and his writings and the intellectual circles he founded influenced most post-Emancipation German Jewish thought and behavior in bourgeois circles. The Hebrew term for the Jewish Enlightenment is Haskalah.

While it did result in conversions to Christianity—especially amongst Jewish women—it also led to the German Jewish Reform Movement, created unique patterns of assimilation, and significantly altered Jewish conceptions of gender. German Jewish Enlightenment thinking and action is part of the reason why the actions of the Nazi Party took the Jews so by surprise in the 1930s, and is part of the reason why the German Jews had so much trouble taking Hitler seriously, at least in the early years.

The Haskalah reached Eastern European Jewry in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century—a fictionalization of this process may be seen in Fiddler on the Roof; the daughter who sings “Far From the Home I Love” marries a maskil, or a secular scholar of the haskalah. In Eastern Europe, the haskalah intersected with the embrace of revolutionary and socialist ideals.

As German and Eastern European Jewry immigrated to the United States between 1820 and 1920, their encounters with the haskalah in Europe affected the processes of assimilation they underwent in America.

The Jewish Refugee Community of Shanghai: 1938-1949

January 11, 2019: This post represents a combined version of my previous posts on this subject, and was cross-posted to Beyond Victoriana. Further, I wrote this post before completing my MA thesis on the topic. You may read that here: “An Uncertain Life In Another World”: German and Austrian Jewish Refugee Life in Shanghai, 1938- 1950           

German Jews did not immediately begin to put their emigration papers in order after Hitler came into power, or after the passing of the Nuremberg Laws. As far as they were concerned, they were fully assimilated Goethe reading, WWI fighting German citizens. They could not believe, and would not believe, that the country they loved would turn against them.

Hitler introduced his anti-Jewish legislation slowly over the course of the 1930s, giving German Jewry time to rationalize each new piece; this especially held true for Jewish men, as they tended to work in traditionally Jewish occupations. Jewish women, on the other hand, through their regular contact with gentiles allowed to them through their place in the domestic sphere, became aware of the “social death” being imposed on them by Nazi legislation long before their husbands took notice.

In the wake of the mass arrests of Jewish men during Kristallnacht, it fell to these women to free their husbands, typically from Dachau. Nazi officials would not release men until their families provided proof that they would depart from Germany immediately upon their release. Thus, not only did women have to rescue their husbands, but they also had to navigate the emigration process by themselves. Due to the complex legal frameworks enacted by possible destination countries to keep Jewish refugees out, it was immensely difficult for Jews to secure visas out of Germany, made even more difficult when they were confronted with the massive exit tax forced on emigrating Jews.

There was, however, one destination which had not put up legal roadblocks to fleeing Jews: Shanghai; this had more to do with the decentralized and highly colonized nature of Shanghai than with any sort of altruism.

While the Chinese government had the right to demand to see emigration papers before new arrivals would be allowed to enter Shanghai, this was seldom enforced. Thus, to get to Shanghai, all fleeing families needed were boat tickets. For this reason—in accordance with the necessity to present proof of emigration to Nazi officials before male family members would be released—Shanghai became the only option available to some of the families of incarcerated men.

The journey to Shanghai began by train to an Italian port. From these ports, refugees boarded luxury liners serviced by German and sometimes Japanese crews, sailed across the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal, into the Indian Ocean, and around to the east coast of China. Their ship then made its way down the Whangpoo River until it docked at the Bund, Shanghai’s harbor-side financial district. This route was in use through Italy’s entrance into the war on June 10, 1940—although a few ships full of refugees did depart from Portugal and Marseilles before the Mediterranean was fully closed to passenger traffic. After the Mediterranean route closed, Jewish refugees fled to Shanghai via the trans-Siberian Railroad. This overland route took them across Russia, through Siberia, and into North China, where they boarded a ship for Shanghai. The overland route was in use until December 7, 1941. After that date, all escape routes to Shanghai were closed.

Though I’ve focused on German and Austrian Jews, about 1,800 Polish-Lithuanian Jewish refugees—including a large population of yeshiva students—too found refuge in Shanghai. This population of yeshiva students and their families first fled to Vilna, and then to Kovno, Lithuania after the German invasion of Poland. The Dutch and Japanese consuls in Kovno collaborated to grant the refugees visas to the Dutch Caribbean holding of Curacao; the trip to Curacao involved a stopover in Kobe, Japan. Both consuls were aware of the fact that it was not possible to cross the Atlantic during a time of open warfare, meaning that they illegally granted the refugees admittance into Japan.

This group of refugees remained in Kobe until 1941, at which point the Japanese government sent them to Shanghai. The Dutch consul, Jan Zwartendijk, was later fired in disgrace, while the Japanese consul, Chiune Sugihara was merely asked to step down. Sugihara saved 10,000 Jews total and is listed by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations; it is probable that his actions were merely in line with general Japanese policy towards the Jews, which will be expounded upon below.

Map of Shanghai during this period from "Japanese, Nazis, and Jews: The Jewish Refugee Community of Shanghai 1938-1945" by David Kranzler

The first wave of refugees to arrive at the Bund in 1938 disembarked with little more to their names than the clothes on their backs, a suitcase or two, and the equivalent of about fifteen American dollars; Nazi policy forbade them to take much else out of the country. This poverty could be seen in each subsequent boat full of refugees. The visible poverty of these Jews embarrassed the established Russian and Sephardic Jewish communities of Shanghai; the Sephardic Jewish community was Baghdadi in origin, and had traveled to Shanghai as businessmen under the auspices of the British Empire, while the Russian Jewish community arrived in Shanghai in two main waves: first fleeing from the pogroms of 1905, and then from the violently anti-Semitic White Russian forces during the Russian Civil War.

One year before the refugees began to arrive, hostilities of the Sino-Japanese War were waged in the streets of the Hongkew district of Shanghai, leading to its partial destruction. Because land and property in Hongkew were thus so inexpensive, and because of the destitution of the new arrivals, Jewish relief organizations in Allied and neutral countries along with the Sephardic and Russian communities in Shanghai—the Hardoon and Kadoorie families in particular—collaborated to set up refugee homes based in Hongkew for the refugees. These homes (Heime), though obviously better than nothing, were crowded, unsanitary, and the time spent there was extremely distressing for the formerly upper middle class refugees.

While some refugees received money from relations in Allied or neutral countries, had smuggled money and/or valuables out of Germany, or had been able to quickly find gainful employment and relocate to the French or International Districts of Shanghai,  many were never able to accumulate the funds needed to secure housing outside of Hongkew. Some, so traumatized by Kristallnacht, leaving Germany, arriving with nothing to the Heime, and their loss of identity, became depressed and never left their Heim; this was especially true for those who had held high status professions in Germany.

Shanghai Jewish ghetto

Shanghai, China, 1944, An alley in the Jewish ghetto. Courtesy of the Yad Vashem Photo Archive.

Some refugees were able to establish a fairly normal life in Shanghai, complete with jobs, refugee schools founded by Horace Kadoorie, and synagogue attendance. However, in February 1943, the Japanese rulers of Shanghai announced that all “Stateless Persons” who had arrived in Shanghai after 1937 had to relocate to Hongkew—an area of about one half mile in length already populated by thousands impoverished Chinese refugees—by May 1943. This proclamation was directed at Jewish refugees as an attempt on the part of the Japanese to appease their German allies. The “designated area” to which the refugees were relegated is, and was, colloquially known as the “Shanghai Ghetto.”

Conditions within Hongkew were deplorable, with the available housing insufficient to shield the residents from the extreme temperatures reached in the summer and winter months, lack of access to adequate health care, a contaminated water supply, a barely sufficient sewage system, trash-lined streets, and targeted Allied bombing raids.

The refugees also had to contend with poverty, malnutrition, and health problems associated with a contaminated water supply. This said, refugee children were still able to attend school, adults could secure passes out of Hongkew to go to work, and the refugees were so vigorous in shaping their surroundings that, by 1944, the main thoroughfare of Hongkew looked more like a street in Vienna than a bombed out section of Shanghai. In fact, the refugees created such a rich cultural life in Hongkew that, when some groups of refugees began to stage theatrical productions, other refugees penned editorials in refugee-run periodicals complaining about the quality of said productions.

Shanghai, China, A sports class at the Jewish Youth Association school.  Courtesy of the Yad Vashem Photo Archive. Click for source.

Jewish refugees_cafe

Jewish refugees bar

Men and women at a Shanghai bar. Courtesy of the Yad Vashem Photo Archive.

Despite having forced the Jewish refugee population to relocate to Hongkew, the Japanese took no directly aggressive or violent steps against this population despite the urging of their German allies. There are two reasons for this, both based in Jewish and Japanese isolation from each other throughout most of their respective histories. The first, is that the Japanese formed a positive view of the Jewish people after private Jewish American financier Jacob Schiff funded their efforts in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Though positive, this view characterized the Jews as a wealthy, powerful people. Not long after, Japan fought alongside the White Russians in the Russian Civil War. The White Russians circulated the Protocols of the Elders of Zion among the Japanese troops, and when this document reached the Japanese government, that body saw it as a confirmation of their prior characterization of the Jews. The Japanese then enacted a policy of appeasing these people with such control over the Western governments, thus refraining from abusing the Jewish refugees in their care.

American troops occupied Shanghai in the immediate aftermath of Japan’s 1945 surrender. After a year or so of peace, the refugees once again found themselves in a precarious political position. The economy was failing under the rule of Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek, and every day they received news of the progress made by Mao Zedong’s Communist forces. By 1949, the year in which Mao Zedong established the People’s Republic of China, most of the Jewish residents of Shanghai—Polish, German, Austrian, Russian, and Baghdadi alike—had fled to the United States, Australia, or Israel. By 1956, 171 Jews were left in Shanghai.

A total of about 20,000 Jews (estimates vary) sought refuge in Shanghai. Others—though very few—made it to safety in such locales as the United States, Argentina, and Palestine. Many of the Jews who had fled Germany in the early 1930’s for other European nations ended up trapped in the late 1930’s, early 1940’s as those nations were invaded and occupied by the Nazis. Of the German Jews who escaped from Germany before 1941, only half of them survived the Holocaust.

Some more on the WWII Jewish Refugee Community of Shanghai…

A month or two ago I made a post about the “Shanghai Ghetto,” the probable topic of my Master’s thesis. Since making that post I’ve done a large amount of research and spent about a month writing a research paper about a subset of life for the Jewish refugees in Shanghai. So, in light of that, I want to clear up a few things I got wrong, or over-simplified in my last post on the subject.

-German and Austrian Jews fleeing Germany first took a train from Germany to either Naples or Genoa. There, they would sail through the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal, into the Indian Ocean, and all the way to the coast of China. Their ship would then make its way down the Whangpoo River until it docked at the Bund (Shanghai’s harbor-side financial district).

Jewish refugees flooded into Shanghai via this route from 1938 until it was closed upon Italy’s entrance into the war on June 10, 1940. After this closure, Jewish refugees fled to Shanghai via the trans-Siberian Railroad. This route took them across Russia through to Manchuria, at which point the majority boarded a ship for Shanghai. This route was open until December 7, 1941. After that date, all escape routes to Shanghai were closed to Jews.

And now we can celebrate the return of my mildly inaccurate MS Paint maps (both courtesy of Google Maps)! The first map shows the Italy-Shanghai route in use from 1938-1940, and the second shows the overland train route in use from 1940-1941. Obviously the ships did not sail over India or Japan; that is just me being incapable of drawing accurate lines on MS Paint.

-Also in Shanghai were Sephardic and Russian communities. The Sephardic Jewish community was generally Baghdadi in origin, and traveled to Shanghai as businessmen under the auspices of the British Empire. Members of this community—specifically the Kadoorie and Sassoon families—gave great sums of money to the Jewish refugee community. The Russian Jewish community had fled to Shanghai from Russia in the midst of the Russian Civil War; they were fleeing from the violently anti-Semitic White Russian forces.

When the refugees—many newly destitute as Nazi policy forbade them from taking many valuables or more than about fifteen American dollars out of the country—arrived in Shanghai, their impoverished status embarrassed the pre-existing Jewish communities who feared that the presence of these impoverished (white) Jews would take away from their own status within Shanghai.

-The “Shanghai Ghetto” moniker is a misleading one. The Hongkew District of Shanghai was home to the city’s poorest Chinese inhabitants. It was partially destroyed in 1937 by hostilities in the Sino-Japanese War, and had not been rebuilt when the refugees began to arrive in 1938. Jewish relief organizations in Allied and neutral countries along with the Sephardic and Russian communities in Shanghai set up refugee homes based in Hongkew for the newly arrived refugees, as structures were inexpensive in that location. These homes (Heime), though obviously better than nothing, were crowded, unsanitary, and the time spent there was extremely distressing for the formerly upper middle class refugees*.

Though some refugees received money from relations in Allied or neutral countries, had smuggled money and/or valuables out of Germany, or had been able to quickly find gainful employment and relocate to the French or International Concessions, many were never able to secure enough money to get out of Hongkew. Some, so traumatized by Kristallnacht, leaving Germany, and arriving with nothing to the Heime—so traumatized by their loss of identity—became depressed and never left their Heim.

In February 1943, the Japanese rulers of Shanghai announced that all “Stateless Persons” who had arrived in Shanghai after 1937 had to relocate to Hongkew by May 1943. Though it was not specified in the language of the proclamation, it was taken to be directed at the Jewish refugees, and was directed at them as an attempt on the part of the Japanese to appease their German allies. Thus, it was only a “Ghetto” for the Jews in the last two years of the war.

-Many dates are attributed to the time at which this refugee community was in Shanghai, a popular one being 1938-1945, but I prefer 1938-1949 because it was in 1949 that Mao Zedong established the People’s Republic of China, and it was by 1949 that most of the refugee community had fled to the United States, Australia, or Israel. By 1957, only 100 Jews were left in Shanghai.

*I could tell you more about the conditions within the Heime and Hongkew as a whole which caused these refugees such existential distress, but I am not sure if you want a post about toilets, sewage, sanitation, etc. I personally find history relating to sewage and sanitation to be really interesting (if not gross) but I don’t know if you want to read about such things. Let me know if you do.

The Shanghai Ghetto

Welcome to one of those posts that is secretly derived from my thesis research. Contains mention of the Holocaust.

My research is still in its early stages, so this breakdown of its background may contain some vaguaries, and some theories which have not yet been thoroughly researched. These will be clearly marked.

My inquiry starts in the early years of the Third Reich. It’s easy to look at these years and wonder why German Jews didn’t start to get their emigration papers in order when Hitler implemented the 1933 boycott of Jewish businesses, but in asking this, we are ignoring the fact that these German Jews saw themselves as 100% German. They fought for Germany in WWI, read and valued and prized German art and literature and philosophy; the idea that their country would turn against them was inconceivable.

Because Hitler introduced his anti-Jewish legislation slowly over the course of the 1930’s, he gave German Jewry time to rationalize and get used to each new piece; with every new law they would think to themselves “Well this must be it; it can’t get any worse than this; what more can they do to us?”

German Jews did emigrate out of Germany over the course of the 1930’s (often, as previously discussed, at the urging of women) as they lost the ability to rationalize the legislation to themselves, but some were not able to see that it was going to keep getting worse until after Kristallnacht. By then, it was too late for many of them to secure the documentation and funds they would need to emigrate (in addition to the sheer amount of time it took to get emigration papers, and the fact that prospective countries had strict emigration quotas, the Nazis charged emigrating Jews a massive exit tax).

There was, however, one place that would accept these Jews without any papers or visa requirements: Shanghai. A sizable number of German and Austrian Jews fled to Shanghai in the late 1930’s and stayed there through the course of the war as Stateless Persons. While most of the Jews who had fled to Shanghai were German or Austrian, there was also the entire student population of the famed Mirrer Yeshiva in Poland whom had been rescued by a Dutch official in Lithuania*. Also present in Shanghai, specifically in the International Concession, was a community of very wealthy Sephardic Jews, many of Iraqi descent.

When the Japanese occupied Shanghai after declaring war on the United States (and thus the Allied Powers) in 1941, they forced the Stateless Persons to move into a very small area of crowded, low standard housing in the Hongkew district of Shanghai—this area became known as the Shanghai Ghetto. Though it was officially only the Stateless Persons who were forced to move into this area, the relocation was aimed at the Jewish refugees (as they made up the majority of the Stateless Persons). This was an attempt of the Japanese to appease their German allies.

While the living conditions within Hongkew were terrible, the Japanese took no further steps against the Jews, focusing more of their direct aggression and violence towards the Chinese population of Shanghai. There are two possible reasons for this. One is that in the Japanese government was given financial assistance against the Russian tsarist government in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) by American Jewish financier Jacob Schiff. This gave the Japanese—who hadn’t had much interaction with Jews—a positive view of the Jewish people, and may have influenced their decision not to persecute the Jews in their territory.

The second possible reason is that the Japanese—in their non-experience with Jews—had been exposed to anti-Jewish propaganda of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion variety by the White Russian troops they fought alongside against the Communists in 1919 and took it seriously. They feared that if they treated the Jews poorly, the powerful Jewish financiers behind Western governments would exact revenge on Japan. It also may have been a combination of the two.

Though General Ghoya—the often violent and unpredictable Japanese officer and self-styled “King of the Jews” who had been put in charge of issuing papers allowing people in and out of the Hongkew District—made no attempt to murder these Jews, poverty, malnutrition, lack of access to health care, unclean drinking water, disease carrying insects, Allied bombing raids, and exposure to unfamiliar climates were all effective killers.

After Japan surrendered in 1945, Shanghai was occupied by American troops. Some Jews stayed around for a few years, working for the American military and saving money for an eventual emigration to New York—most of the Jews who had fled to Shanghai did aspire to live out the remainder of their lives in the United States. Some returned to Germany to register with the new government and attempt to get government restitution for their property which had been seized by the Nazi government; this was often a traumatic and unsuccessful venture. Fewer still made their way to Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Palestine/Israel (depending on what part of the 1940’s we’re talking about). The few Jews who had remained in Shanghai through the 1940’s left as the Communist regime made its way to Shanghai, and by the Cultural Revolution, none were left.

And just a note about German Jewish émigrés, not all went to Shanghai or Palestine or New York or Australia or Argentina or England. Many traveled and settled in other Eastern and Western European nations, believing that Hitler would not invade those countries, and/or underestimating Hitler’s devotion to lebensraum. Many were trapped and murdered in these countries as they were overtaken by the Third Reich. Ultimately, of the Jews who escaped from Germany, only half of them survived the Holocaust. That figure of 50% does not take into account those who died or committed suicide after arriving in their émigré countries.

*After the invasion of Poland, the student population of the Mirrer Yeshiva fled to Lithuania. Knowing that Lithuania would probably be the next to fall to Germany, one student visited the Dutch consul in Kovno, and got the official to write in his passport that no visa was needed to travel to the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao. The Japanese official in Kovno—Chiune Sugihara—gave the student a transit visa to cross Japan on his way to Curacao. This student’s Yeshiva colleagues were all given this allowance. Both officials knew that there was no way for these Jews to reach the Caribbean, meaning that they were implicitly and illegally smuggling these people out of soon to be conquered Lithuania into Shanghai through misuse of consular power. These students would later say that they had been saved by an angel. Both officials were later penalized by their respective governments for their actions.