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Interim Report on Bericha Activity

Bericha was an organized effort to help Jewish Holocaust survivors, mainly from Eastern Europe, to reach new homes, especially Palestine.

After several months of Bericha work, we must summarize the experience that has accumulated over a lengthy period of this work, and draw the proper conclusions for its next stage.

It can clearly be seen that apart from the problems specific to Poland, there is a problem of transit routes which is similar -- if not identical -- at all points on the “trip”*. So far we have contented ourselves with organizing the spontaneous stream, but from now on we must channel them to immigration departure points; in other words we must channel and sort the human material so that those with some chance of immigration will make it to the coast.

Some months ago we saw that Czechoslovakia is the main transit country because of its geographical location, and also because of the ease of maintaining contact from there with all the different points. It was therefore agreed as early as November that the Bericha secretariat should be set up in Bratislava. However, for various reasons, this has not been done. At the emissaries meeting in Paris we received authority and permission to concentrate all the necessary information, and to channel the flow of “travellers” from here, and Levi and Yitzchak were elected as members of the secretariat there. A week ago Shimon and Ehud visited Prague, we explained all the problems yet again, we heard information from Poland and the Balkan countries, and it was decided to get going with the secretariat work immediately. It was decided to co-opt Elifaz to the Bericha secretariat too.

Concentration of funds:

For some months we have been seeing to the funds for the two stations in Czechoslovakia.

Levina: ...We have not yet received the financial report from the stations, giving details of how much was spent and how on the “trip”. In order to keep our books properly balanced, please demand that every station produce and hand in a report on their expenditure and income every month. Once again we stress that we can only be responsible for operating the “trip” and not for the other areas of work of the rescue committee. The Berichas' accounts should therefore be kept separate from the other rescue work. We held negotiations with the Joint on funding the “trip”, and received their agreement in principle to a certain sum of money, but the Joint too have constantly stressed that they are only prepared to give us the money on the condition that there won't be demands for a separate budget for each station. Therefore we would ask you to refrain from separate negotiations as long as we have some hope of receiving what they promised us.

After the talks in Prague it became clear that the difficulties in getting out of Poland are so great that we will have to search for routes in order to open up a green border between Czechoslovakia and Poland. This is another task that the secretariat is taking upon itself. This week the first comrades are going to the border area, and we are searching for routes to make it easier for our comrades on the other side, to get them into Czechoslovakia.

After hearing Ehud's information, it is clear that from now on we must channel the pioneer material to Gavriel and to Levi Schwartz, since they have a good chance of immigrating from there, and several thousands can be absorbed. After the ships from Benyamin, it was decided to channel pioneers there too, but most of the “travellers” will have to be channelled to Bavaria as before, since we cannot accept the risk that the speculators and unorganized people will spoil the complicated routes to the Balkans or to Benyamin.

The secretariat's address is: Levy, Bratislava, and all the letters and reports should be sent to him. The secretariat members will meet every week, once in Bratislava and once in Prague. We would ask you to avoid the confusion and disorder that result from each station sending letters with their own instructions to Poland, without consulting us first, as has happened in the past, since we want ultimately to control the flow. We ask you to send us your comments on the secretariats' work plan, and to send us the reports we have requested.

From: a document in the Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, File 56/5557 (Hebrew)

* “Trip” was a code term used for the Bericha.

Source: Yad Vashem