Answer: Various organizations attempted to facilitate the emigration of the Jews (and non-Jews persecuted as Jews) from Germany. Among the most active were the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, HICEM, the Central British Fund for German Jewry, the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (Reich Representation of German Jews), which represented German Jewry, and other non-Jewish groups such as the League of Nations High Commission for Refugees (Jewish and other) coming from Germany, and the American Friends Service Committee. Among the programs launched were the “Transfer Agreement” between the Jewish Agency and the German government whereby immigrants to Palestine were allowed to transfer their funds to that country in conjunction with the import of German goods to Palestine. Other efforts focused on retraining prospective emigrants in order to increase the number of those eligible for visas, since some countries barred the entry of members of certain professions. Other groups attempted to help in various phases of refugee work: selection of candidates for emigration, transportation of refugees, aid in immigrant absorption, etc. Some groups attempted to facilitate increased emigration by enlisting the aid of governments and international organizations in seeking refugee havens. The League of Nations established an agency to aid refugees but its success was extremely limited due to a lack of political power and adequate funding.
The United States and Great Britain convened a conference in July 1938 at Evian, France, seeking a solution to the refugee problem but the nations assembled refused to change their stringent immigration regulations, which were instrumental in preventing large-scale immigration.
In 1939, the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, which had been established at the Evian Conference, initiated negotiations with leading German officials in an attempt to arrange for the relocation of a significant portion of German Jewry. However, these talks failed. Efforts were made for the illegal entry of Jewish immigrants to Palestine as early as July 1934, but were later halted until July 1938. Large-scale efforts were resumed under the Mosad le-Aliya Bet, Revisionist Zionists, and private parties. Attempts were also made, with some success, to facilitate the illegal entry of refugees to various countries in Latin America.27. Why were so few refugees able to flee Europe prior to the outbreak of World War II?
Answer: The key reason for the relatively low number of refugees leaving Europe prior to World War II was the stringent immigration policies adopted by the prospective host countries. In the United States, for example, the number of immigrants was limited to 153,744 per year, divided by country of origin. Moreover, the entry requirements were so stringent that available quotas were often not filled. Schemes to facilitate immigration outside the quotas never materialized as the majority of the American public consistently opposed the entry of additional refugees. Other countries, particularly those in Latin America, adopted immigration policies that were similar or even more restrictive, thus closing the doors to prospective immigrants from the Third Reich.
Great Britain, while somewhat more liberal than the United States on the entry of immigrants, took measures to severely limit Jewish immigration to Palestine. In May 1939, the British issued a “White Paper” stipulating that only 75,000 Jewish immigrants would be allowed to enter Palestine over the course of the next five years (10,000 a year, plus an additional 25,000). This decision prevented hundreds of thousands of Jews from escaping Europe.
The countries most able to accept large numbers of refugees consistently refused to open their gates. Although a solution to the refugee problem was the agenda of the Evian Conference, only the Dominican Republic was willing to consider large-scale immigration, but their ideas were unworkable. The United States and Great Britain proposed resettlement havens in distant, under-developed areas (e.g. Guyana, formerly British Guiana, and the Philippines), but these were not suitable alternatives either.
Two important factors should be noted. During the period prior to the outbreak of World War II, when the Germans were in favor of Jewish emigration, there were no operative plans to kill the Jews. The goal was to induce them to leave, if necessary, by the use of force. It is also important to recognize the attitude of German Jewry. While many were initially reluctant to emigrate, the majority sought to do so following Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), November 9-10, 1938. Had havens been available to them, more people would certainly have emigrated and been saved.28. What was Hitler’s ultimate goal in launching World War II?
Answer: Hitler’s ultimate goal in launching World War II was the establishment of an Aryan empire from Germany to the Urals. He considered Lebensraum (living space) in this area to be the natural territory of the German people and an area to which they were entitled by right. Hitler maintained that these areas were needed for and by the Aryan race to preserve itself and assure its dominance.
There is no question that Hitler knew that, by launching the war in the East, the Nazis would be forced to deal with serious racial problems in view of the composition of the population in the Eastern areas. Thus, the Nazis had detailed plans for the subjugation of the Slavs, who would be reduced to serfdom status and whose primary function would be to serve as a source of cheap labor for the Reich. Those elements of the local population, who were of higher racial stock, would be taken to Germany where they would be raised as Aryans.
In Hitler’s mind, the solution of the Jewish problem was also linked to the conquest of the eastern territories. These areas had large Jewish populations and they would have to be dealt with accordingly. Prior to 1941, there was still no operative plan for mass annihilation, but it was clear to Hitler that some sort of comprehensive solution would have to be found. There was talk of establishing a Jewish reservation either in Madagascar or near Lublin, Poland. When he made the decisive decision to invade the Soviet Union, Hitler also gave instructions to embark upon the “Final Solution,” the systematic murder of European Jewry.
Answer: Throughout the course of the Third Reich, there were different groups who opposed the Nazi regime and certain Nazi policies. They engaged in resistance at different times and with various methods, aims, and scope.
From the beginning, leftist political groups and a number of disappointed conservatives were in opposition; at a later date, church groups, government officials, students and businessmen also joined. After the tide of the war was reversed, elements within the military played an active role in opposing Hitler. At no point, however, was there a unified, effective resistance movement within Germany.30. Did the Jews try to fight against the Nazis? To what extent were such efforts successful?
Answer: Despite the difficult conditions to which Jews were subjected in Nazi-occupied Europe, many engaged in unarmed and armed resistance against the Nazis. The unarmed resistance (smuggling food, organizing welfare, underground schools, secret prayer groups, etc., was focused on helping Jews live when the victims still had hope that that was possible. Armed resistance was a reaction to the realization that all was lost and the Jews were doomed to be killed. Armed activities took place in ghetto revolts, resistance in concentration and death camps, and partisan warfare in the forests.
The Warsaw Ghetto revolt, which lasted for about five weeks beginning on April 19, 1943, is probably the best-known example of armed Jewish resistance, but there were many ghetto revolts in which Jews fought against the Nazis.
Despite the terrible conditions in the death, concentration, and labor camps, Jewish inmates fought against the Nazis at various sites, including Treblinka (August 2, 1943); Babi Yar (September 29, 1943); Sobibór (October 14, 1943); Janówska (November 19, 1943); and Auschwitz (October 7, 1944).
Jewish partisan units were active in many areas, such as Baranovichi, Minsk, Naliboki forest, and Vilna. While the sum total of armed resistance efforts by Jews was not militarily overwhelming and did not play a significant role in the defeat of Nazi Germany, these acts of resistance did lead to the rescue of an undetermined number of Jews, Nazi casualties, and untold damage to German property and self-esteem. They also served to inspire and uplift the hearts of many Jews at the time, and future generations to come.