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Refugees from Nazi Germany and the Liberal European States

Refugees from Nazi Germany and the Liberal European States

Frank Caestecker
Bob Moore
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 358
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  • Book Info
    Refugees from Nazi Germany and the Liberal European States
    Book Description:

    The exodus of refugees from Nazi Germany in the 1930s has received far more attention from historians, social scientists, and demographers than many other migrations and persecutions in Europe. However, as a result of the overwhelming attention that has been given to the Holocaust within the historiography of Europe and the Second World War, the issues surrounding the flight of people from Nazi Germany prior to 1939 have been seen asVorgeschichte(pre-history), implicating the Western European democracies and the United States as bystanders only in the impending tragedy. Based on a comparative analysis of national case studies, this volume deals with the challenges that the pre-1939 movement of refugees from Germany and Austria posed to the immigration controls in the countries of interwar Europe. Although Europe takes center-stage, this volume also looks beyond, to the Middle East, Asia and America. This global perspective outlines the constraints under which European policy makers (and the refugees) had to make decisions. By also considering the social implications of policies that became increasingly protectionist and nationalistic, and bringing into focus the similarities and differences between European liberal states in admitting the refugees, it offers an important contribution to the wider field of research on political and administrative practices.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-799-0
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Frank Caestecker and Bob Moore

    Europe in the twentieth century has been subject to a series of mass migrations; from the Jews fleeing tsarist persecution at its beginning, through the upheavals of two world wars to the more recent refugees from the conflicts in Africa and the Balkans and extensive attempted migration into and within the expanded borders of the European Union. All have had their commentators and analysts, but it is the refugees from Nazi Germany in the 1930s that have received by far the greatest attention from historians, social scientists and demographers. The reasons for this are not difficult to ascertain. The idea...

  8. Part I: National and International Analyses of Policies towards the Refugees from Nazi Germany

    • Chapter I.1 International Refugee Policy and Jewish Immigration under the Shadow of National Socialism
      (pp. 17-47)
      Susanne Heim

      Most of the about 500,000 Jews who lived in Germany when the Nazi takeover took place in 1933 did not initially consider emigration because they did not expect the regime to last. Within a few years however, this attitude changed. Although not particularly large in numerical terms compared to other refugee movements, the emigration from Nazi Germany caused major changes in the juridical systems and in the public policy of the main countries of refuge. This not only affected their migration management policies but also had an impact on their residentsʹ access to the labour market as well as on...

    • Chapter I.2 The Danish Immigration Authorities and the Issue of Rassenschande
      (pp. 48-56)
      Lone Rünitz

      The German Jew Alfred L fled to Denmark in April 1937 because of the ongoing persecution in Germany and the fact that he was engaged to an ʹAryanʹ woman whom he wanted to marry.¹ They had been employed by the same firm and their relationship had lasted since the summer of 1935. On account of the Nuremberg Laws they officially broke off the engagement, but nevertheless secretly continued the relationship. This was brought to the attention of Gestapo and they lost their jobs. When a friend told Alfred L that he was about to be arrested, he decided to leave...

    • Chapter I.3 Unwilling Refuge: France and the Dilemma of Illegal Immigration, 1933–1939
      (pp. 57-81)
      Vicki Caron

      From 1933 until 1939 Franceʹs Central European refugee policy experienced a complete turnaround. In the first months after Hitlerʹs seizure of power on 30 January 1933, French refugee policy was extraordinarily liberal. In sharp contrast to other Western European nations, France welcomed the refugees from Germany. Camille Chautemps, Minister of Interior, together with his counterpart at the Quai dʹOrsay, Joseph Paul-Boncour, issued directives to the French embassy and consulates in Germany to waive visa requirements for those fleeing. Border police were instructed to allow refugees to enter freely, and it was proclaimed that the German émigrés would be granted a...

    • Chapter I.4 Dwindling Options: Seeking Asylum in Switzerland 1933–1939
      (pp. 82-102)
      Regula Ludi

      In the past, research on Swiss refugee policy has concentrated on the period of the Second World War and paid less attention to the prewar era. The reasons for this were obvious: Switzerland was one of the few countries to remain unoccupied after most of Europe had fallen under Axis control in June of 1940. Given its strategically exposed position, it was the ʹlast chanceʹ for refugees, for many the only safe haven within reach.¹ This situation became even more dramatic when the Nazi regime began to implement its extermination programme, first with a ban on Jewish emigration in late...

    • Chapter I.5 The 1930s: The End of the Latin American Open-door Policy
      (pp. 103-108)
      Patrick von zur Mühlen

      Political and Jewish refugees from Germany only considered Latin American states as possible countries of refuge and settlement in the later years of the 1930s. In 1933, most people fleeing the Nazis chose to stay nearby in the countries of Western Europe, primarily because they hoped that conditions would improve or that the Hitler regime would collapse, thus allowing them to return. However, the continuance of an increasingly brutal political system and its increasingly aggressive foreign policy after 1935 caused restrictions for immigration and asylum in the adjoining countries and diminishing international readiness to tolerate the growing immigration of émigrés....

    • Chapter I.6 Shanghai: A Last Resort for Desperate Jews
      (pp. 109-121)
      Steve Hochstadt

      Shanghai occupies a unique place in the sad history of Jewish escape from Nazi Germany.² It was both the last resort of desperate Jews seeking refuge from constantly escalating persecution and the easiest place for a foreigner to enter. It lay across the world from central Europe, yet allowed penniless refugees to step off the boat without a visa. The strongest power in Shanghai was the Japanese military, allies of the Nazis, who allowed Jews to settle in Shanghai and remain there without physical attack for the entire war. This wide open door to physical safety was finally closed in...

    • Chapter I.7 Palestine as a Destination for Jewish Immigrants and Refugees from Nazi Germany
      (pp. 122-150)
      Aviva Halamish

      Palestine was one of the main destinations for Jews fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Though compared to the magnitude of the refugee crisis, the number of immigrants and refugees from Nazi-ruled countries who settled there between 1933 and 1940 was small, nonetheless, with about 60,000 immigrants, it was second only to the United States as a country of refuge.¹ The number of Jewish immigrants and refugees from Nazi Germany who found asylum in Palestine was principally determined by the policy and attitudes of Britain – the Mandatory power that ruled the country – and to a much lesser extent...

    • Chapter I.8 American Refugee Policy in the 1930s
      (pp. 151-168)
      Bat-Ami Zucker

      This chapter aims to expose the contrast between Americaʹs long accepted image as a haven for the oppressed, and its apathetic attitude towards refugees from Germany, and especially Jews, desperately seeking refuge in the 1930s. For the United States the plight of many thousands of innocent refugees constituted a serious moral dilemma, as well as a test of its basic beliefs. Moreover, its restrictive refugee policy in the 1930s challenged the countryʹs professed commitment to freedom and democracy. In fact, by denying this commitment America was effectively compromising its own raison dʹetre. Thus the United Statesʹ attitude towards German refugees...

    • Chapter I.9 Were Unaccompanied Child Refugees a Privileged Class of Refugees in the Liberal States of Europe?
      (pp. 169-190)
      Claudia Curio

      The decline in the number of Jews in Germany between 1933 and 1939 was primarily the result of emigration, but there were some important differences between generations – most notably in relation to children and adolescents. During these years the number of Jews in Germany over the age of 60 declined by only 27 per cent, while the generation between the ages of 25 and 39 declined by 80 per cent.¹ However, the largest reduction in Jewish population – 83 per cent – occurred in the age group between 16 and 24, closely followed by the group under the age...

  9. Part II: A Comparative Analysis of Immigration Policies of Liberal States in Western Europe and the Flight from Nazi Germany

    • Chapter II.1 The Legal Construction of Policy towards Aliens prior to 1933
      (pp. 193-206)

      Liberalism was the dominant ideology of the nineteenth century. It decreed that from the middle of the century to the beginning of the First World War, the movement of people across national frontiers in Western Europe was relatively unfettered. Moreover, the liberal political culture also dictated that the coercive powers of the state had to be restricted to prevent the violation of individual liberties. Laws existed that executive action against any individual person, even one of foreign nationality, could always be challenged in a court of law. Judicial power was thus employed to check the executive in those countries where...

    • Chapter II.2 Refugees from Nazi Germany and the Development of Refugee Policies, 1933–1937
      (pp. 207-243)

      Immediately after Hitler had been appointed chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933 the flight of Jews and left-wing political opponents of Nazism began. The number of potential victims of the new regime was substantial. The SPD (about 1 million members) and KPD (360,000 members) were themselves very large organisations with many full-time employees and the Jewish population of Germany at the June 1933 census was 499,682.¹ Of the Jews in Germany, 80.2 per cent were German nationals and the remaining 19.2 per cent or 98,747 were either citizens of other countries, mostly Poles (56,480) or de facto stateless. The...

    • Chapter II.3 The Deepening Crisis: March 1938–October 1938
      (pp. 244-275)

      The year 1938 is always seen as a watershed in the persecution of the ʹJewsʹ¹ as it was the year when geopolitical changes brought more ʹJewsʹ under German rule and when antisemitic policies were substantially radicalised. Yet even before theAnschluss, the Nazis were becoming increasingly worried about the slow pace of Jewish emigration. Their own policies, combined with immigration restrictions elsewhere, had served to limit the numbers able to leave. At the same time, Nazi strategy itself was contradictory, with ʹJewsʹ being pressed to leave while simultaneously being stripped of the assets that would have made them acceptable immigrants...

    • Chapter II.4 From Kristallnacht to War, November 1938–August 1939
      (pp. 276-312)

      While the economic and administrative pressure on ʹJewsʹ in Germany was already intense by the autumn of 1938, it was about to be made indescribably worse by the events of theKristallnacht. An orgy of violence and destruction swept over Germany. Officially, 91 people were killed on the night of broken glass, but many hundreds more died of their wounds or in concentration camps in the following days and weeks. Approximately 30,000 male ʹJewsʹ were arrested and taken to concentration camps.¹ Whatever funds or assets most ʹJewsʹ had still possessed in November 1938 had been looted or destroyed in the...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 313-324)

    All the European countries surveyed here had alien policies based on slightly differing precepts that derived from their respective domestic social, economic, and political circumstances. The predominance of Liberalism in the nineteenth century and its strictures on the relationship between the individual and the state had an impact on alien legislation in all countries considered. Resident aliens were considered de facto members of the nation and therefore protected against abuses of state power. All other immigrants were granted some protection (equality before the law, basic rights), based on the provisions within each stateʹs constitution, but this could go even further...

  11. Appendix
    (pp. 325-326)
  12. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 327-330)
  13. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 331-336)
  14. Index
    (pp. 337-346)