German Jewish Immigrants
The German Jews in America - A Minority Among a Minority
is the subject of my next
and 23rd book. This book contains two chapters concerning the German
Jews who came to this country in the 19th century and founded Reform
Judaism as well as the great investment banks and department stores.
The major part of this forthcoming
book is devoted to the German Jews who came here because of the Nazi horrors
between January 1933, when Hitler was appointed German chancellor, and December
1941, when the U.S. entered the Second World War.
There were then about 580,000 Jews in
Germany among a population of 62 million (82 million now). At once the Nazi
government seized all Jewish bank accounts, fired all Jews from their jobs,
prohibited Jews from doing business, and deprived Jews of any license to
practice any profession. This made the German Jews destitute and therefore
unable to pay the travel expenses of those few fortunate enough to receive a
visa from the American consuls in Germany. Moreover, the Roosevelt
administration deliberately reduced the quota allowed by Congress for German
born applicants to one fifth so as to keep Jews from coming here.
Meanwhile the American Jewish
community, in love with Roosevelt, agreed with him that German Jews should be
kept from coming here and did next to nothing to help their Jewish brethren in
danger of mass murder. Therefore only 130,000 of the German Jews were allowed to
come here, mainly because they had relatives willing to pay for their passage
and file an “Affidavit of Support” with the I.N.S.
Once in this country, the rejection of
the German refugees continued. Indeed, some rallies led to the accumulation of
money for the relief of the refugees. That money was, however, spent in the main
on salaries for “executive directors” of charitable organizations as well as
associate directors, assistant directors, travel funds, and kosher dinners.
Hardly anything went to the new arrivals who were, in fact, left on their own.
One exception to this development were
some one hundred famous scholars who were funded by the Rockefeller Foundation
and constituted the “University in Exile” housed within “The New School of
Social Research” in New York. Other scholars were attached to a number of
black colleges in the South.
In view of the disdain shown the
German Jewish refugees, they had to promote their own “salvation” and did so
magnificently. According to a Harvard University study, a considerable majority
of the Nazi era Jewish refugees achieved great success in business and the
professions. Their assimilation and acculturation proceeded far faster than that
of any group of refugees before or after them.
Unfortunately, the majority of the
German Jews of the 1930’s and 1940’s abandoned the Jewish community after
having been told that they were all arrogant and unwelcome. American Jews at
that time claimed that their parents and grandparents had been mistreated when
they traveled though Germany on their way from the Russian Empire to America and
that therefore the time had come for revenge.
Today, the number of German born Jews
and their descendants is dwindling quickly. Their story is not found in the
histories of the American Jewish Community. Therefore I have written this book
so that those who suffered so much because they were Jews not be forgotten.