Home Contact Us
Index Purchase Info
About Site About Us
Appendices Credits
Further Reading Links
Special Features
By Keyword:

Page Number:
Click on an image to see a larger, more detailed picture.
1938: The End of Illusions
 pg. 122 
  During the spring of 1938, Eichmann started an assembly-line process of forced emigration for the Austrian Jews. Intimidated by a severe reign of terror, these Jews were eager to leave. Recalling Eichmann's system, a Jewish leader named Franz Mayer described emigration as follows: "You put in a Jew at one end, with property, a shop, a bank account, and legal rights. He passed through the building and came out at the other end without property, without privileges, without rights, with nothing except a passport and order to leave the country within a fortnight; otherwise, he would find himself inside a concentration camp." In six months Eichmann expelled nearly 45,000 Jews from Austria. By May 1939 some 100,000 Jews--more than 50 percent of Austria's Jewish population--had left.

The Anschluss and Eichmann's program of forced emigration in Austria escalated an international refugee problem. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for an international conference to address the issue. From July 6 to 15, 1938, the delegates of 32 nations and the representatives of 39 private relief agencies (21 of them Jewish) met at the French resort of Evian-les-Bains on Lake Geneva, near the Swiss border. Nazi Germany did not attend but permitted representation from the German and Austrian Jewish communities. Although the delegates expressed sympathy for the Jewish refugees, they also made excuses: The doors of their countries could not be opened.

The most important result of the Evian Conference was that it undermined the illusion that forced emigration could really solve the Nazis' "Jewish problem." Later in the year, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop would succinctly sum up the situation for Hitler by recalling a conversation with Georges Bonnet, Ribbentrop's French counterpart. Bonnet had insisted that France did not want to receive any more Jews from Germany, and in fact wanted to ship 10,000 Jews elsewhere. Ribbentrop told Hitler that he had replied to Bonnet "that we all wanted to get rid of our Jews but that the difficulties lay in the fact that no country wished to receive them."

Poland was one of the countries that fitted Ribbentrop's description. On March 31, 1938, just a few weeks after the Anschluss, the Polish Parliament passed legislation that made it possible to revoke citizenship for Poles who lived abroad. Both before and after that date, the Polish government took related steps, all of them aimed at preventing the return of thousands of Polish Jews who lived in Germany. Many of those Jews would lose their Polish citizenship on November 1, 1938. In late October the Nazis made a preemptive decision and tried to deport the Polish Jews to Poland. The Polish authorities refused them entry.

Sorry, an error has occurred retrieving this image.

Pro-Nazi propaganda on the streets of Vienna urged citizen support of the Anschluss.
Photo: Wide World Photos

1938: The End of Illusions
 pg. 122 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.