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The Fate of Jews Who Emigrated from Germany

…After hundreds of emigrants filled out these forms, the information department of the Aid Association (Hilfsverein) is now in possession of a collection that can serve far beyond its original aim, as a basis for counseling for emigrants. The collection has become a great document on the human situation…

There is, for example, young Werner Abraham, born 1915, who originally worked in the shoe business and then took vocational training with the aim of changing his vocation. In June 1934 he became a painter. He emigrated to Buenos Aires in 1937. Five days after his arrival in his new country, the Jewish committee there managed to get him a job with an English construction company. He is now employed in painting buildings from the inside and the outside every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a one-hour break for lunch. He earns 80 centavos per hour. “These are good wages, one can live with them comfortably”, he writes. Was there anything wrong we did, he is asked in the questionnaire. His answer is: For now I can think of nothing. I must have been lucky.

Walter Engel, an elderly emigrant—now 45 years old—was not as lucky. He was unable to find employment as a baker—the profession for which he had trained [before emigrating]. In the fall of 1936 he left for South Africa with his wife and children on board the Stuttgart, chartered by the Aid Association. In South Africa he got a job as a waiter. He now works in the biggest hotel in a town in one of the country's regions. His wages are not high, but sufficient, since I also get tips. In answer to one question he states: the hard part is the hours. During high season, I have to work 14-16 hours a day. To the question: what kind of mistakes do you feel people should be warned to avoid? he answered: No one should undertake emigration if he is not able to make a 100% change in his life and if he does not have minimal knowledge of the language.

Another questionnaire came back from Assuncion in Paraguay. Hans Raabe is now 47 years old and has been living in Paraguay since May 1936. He had 1,000 Marks at his disposal for his relocation. With this capital, the former architect opened a painting business. His 19 year old son works with him. The business is going well. Herr Raabe writes: I can provide jobs for emigrants from Germany. This is proven correct by the questionnaire of Hans Zell, born 1909, a former big store business manager, now an unskilled laborer with Raabe. At the beginning, Herr Raabe suffered from the climate, but he now declares himself to be 100% healthy.

Former law student Guenther Rosenblatt, born 1910, single, has been living in Western Australia since January 1937. He is employed as a farmer by Australian relatives. Working hours: one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Accommodations: a tin hut, common in the west of Australia. The questionnaire asked him What kind of difficulties do you encounter in your social life? There is no social life in west Australia, especially not in the rural areas is the answer.

A series of questionnaires tells about the fate of women who emigrated on their own. Meta Becker, born 1902, was a journalist in Germany and a reporter for English speaking newspapers. She is now a secretary with an American firm in Japan. Her friends arranged this job for her. She too does not have a contract guaranteeing her employment. Miss Becker writes: I could be laid off any time. However, if one makes efforts to adapt oneself, if one maintains a quiet and modest appearance and if ones accomplishments are satisfactory, there is hope for a permanent position—if such a position is available. Her problem, of course, is the Japanese language with its 5,000 letters. In the beginning she suffered greatly from the climate…

Another girl who emigrated on her own, Hilde Bergmann, aged 30, was a nanny in Germany and is presently employed as a maid and a nanny with an Argentinian family in Buenos Aires. She arrived in Argentina with 60 Marks. She found her position through a advertisement in the paper. Her job does not provide her with a secure existence. I can be thrown out into the street any time. Nevertheless, her prospects are not bad, as emigrant women from Germany are in demand as maids.

Source: "Juedisches Gemeindeblatt," Berlin, 3 July 1938.

Yad Vashem