HomeModule Evian ConferenceStage 2: Role-PlayWorksheet: Journalists

Worksheet: Journalists

To Do

You are a team of journalists from ‘Radio Praha’ at the Evian Conference. Your desk gave you the task to introduce yourselves to the delegations after approx. 15 min. and ask them to briefly name and comment on their major point. In the meantime, take a closer look at the following remarks by Jewish organizations and Nazi Germany as well as the data. Prepare a short radio feature in which you summarize the perspectives and consider how they relate to the examined data. Use direct quotes and mark them as such for the audience. Keep the following questions in mind:

  • Who do the delegates consider to allow into their countries?
  • What is the professional background of the persecuted and therefore desperate to escape?
  • Who is going to pay for it?

Comments on forced migration of Jews

“There exists on the hand an extraordinarily strong pressure to emigrate while on the other hand, the facilities for the admission of immigrants to other countries are strictly limited.”[1]

“Already a large proportion of Jews in Germany (and, it should be remembered, an equally large proportion in Poland and Rumania) depend for their existence on charity, most of which is supplied from abroad. The sources of this charity are not inexhaustible; it would be absurd to suppose that the whole Jewish population of Germany and Austria can in the future be maintained by funds subscribed in foreign lands. (…) As long as Germany keeps its present Government the only hope for any German Jew is to leave this country. (…) Unfortunately there was never in history a time when Governments were less prepared to admit aliens than today. Governments may in the end be melted by a refugee who brings with him a considerable supply of capital, but the refugee without capital is still regarded as a liability, as an unredeemable charge on the national income.”[2]

“If the authorities of the Reich wish to promote a large emigration of German Jews, they must be prepared to release the property which the emigrants possess, and to facilitate such exchange arrangements with other communities as are practicable to that end.”[3]

[1] Evian Memorandum by the Council of German Jewry, July 1938, p. 4, in: Robert Weltsch Collection 1770-1997, LBI NY AR 7185 MF 491 Reels 1-31
[2] The Manchester Guardian, 5th July 1938, p. 10: „The Task at Evian“
[3] Memorandum of certain Jewish Organisations concerned with Refugees from Germany and Austria, p. 6, in: Robert Weltsch Collection 1770-1997, LBI NY AR 7185 MF 491 Reels 1-31


Professions, Emigration Schemes and Training

A Brief History of the Meyers

Ernst Meyer – younger brother of Ilse Marcus – was born in Breslau in 1918. During the November pogroms, nazi gangs broke the window of the family store, and looters carried away the merchandise. The following morning, storm troopers entered the apartment and arrested several male family members. They were released three weeks later after promising to emigrate from Germany. The family hoped to go to the United States, but as they had very high visa application numbers, they decided to book tickets on the St. Louis for Havana where they could wait until they received permission to enter the United States. When the ship arrived in Havana on May 27, 1939, the Cuban government prohibited the passengers from disembarking. After the ship was forced to return to Europe, they disembarked in Belgium and spent the next year as refugees in Brussels. However, after Germany invaded Belgium in May 1940, the Belgians arrested Ernst and other family members as ‘enemy aliens’. After a period of using false papers and hiding, in early January 1944 Ilse and Elfriede’s former neighbors informed authorities of their Jewish identities and whereabouts. Several family members were deported to Auschwitz, were Ernst Meyer, his mother and others were murdered. After one year in Auschwitz, Ilse Marcus was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. She boarded an evacuation train to the Netherlands and then made her way back to Belgium to await any surviving family members. No one returned. She decided to immigrate to the United States to be near her murdered husbands brother, her only surviving relative. She never remarried.

“It was recognized that the young Jewish generation must be prepared for productive manual occupations in the countries to which emigration must be directed; and that, in order that many of those who were forced out of their previous commercial professional callings should have a fresh chance, they should receive a retraining for an occupation for which there was more demand in another country. The central Jewish body in Germany, Die Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland, therefore established centres [sic!] of retraining for persons between the ages of 17 and 30, and centres [sic!] for boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 18.”[1]

[1] Memorandum of certain Jewish Organisations [sic!] concerned with the Refugees from Germany and Austria, p. 6, in: Robert Weltsch Collection 1770-1997, LBI NY AR 7185 MF 491 Reels 1-31

Data regarding Jews willing to ‘emigrate‘, respectively being expelled by the Nazis

When you take a closer look at the data keep in mind that Jews had to adjuste to various professional limitations for centuries which effected the proportional distribution of professions. In order to fullfill the requirements of the potencial host countries Jewish organizations offered training to learn skills for professional retraining. In addition to farming they offered gardening, nursing and even baby training. By the end of May 1938 over 4000 people had received such a retraining, while lots of others were still in the process.

Now, introduce yourselves to the delegations, one after the other, and ask them to briefly name their major point regarding the conditions for immigration. Take notes for your brief radio feature and combine the obtained information with the one given below.

German Perspective (German Foreign Office)

Nazi Germany used the failure of the conference as an instrument to justify their anti-Semitic policy. An example for this exploitation is a memoir of Emil Schumburg, a diplomat and so called “Judenreferent” (desk officer for Jewish affairs) for the German Foreign Ministry.

Source: Emil Schumburg: The Jewish Question as a Factor of Foreign Affairs in 1938, Berlin, 25th January 1939, PAAA 83-26 19/1

p. 1:“Berlin, January 25, 1939
83—26 19/1

Subject: The Jewish Question as a Factor in Foreign Policy in 1938.
1. Germany’s Jewish policy as condition and consequence of foreign policy decisions in 1938.
2. The aim of German Jewish policy: emigration.
3. Means, ways and destinations of Jewish emigration.
4. The Jewish émigré as the best propaganda for Germany’s Jewish policy.“

p. 11: “(…) In North America, in South America, in France, in Holland, Scandinavia and Greece wherever the stream of Jewish migrants has poured in, a clear increase in anti-Semitism has already been recorded. It must be an aim of German foreign policy to strengthen this wave of anti-Semitism.”

p. 14: (…) The poorer the Jewish immigrant is and the greater the burden he constitutes for the country into which he has immigrated, the stronger the reaction will be in the host country, and the more desirable the effect in support of German propaganda. The aim of this German policy is a future international solution of the Jewish question, dictated not by false pity for a ‘Jewish religious minority that has been driven out’ but by the mature realization by all nations of the nature of the danger that Jewry spells for the national character of the nations.“

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