Jews escaping from Nazi Europe
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There were essentially three ways in which Jews could escape Nazi Europe:
This in itself was a two staged task. Firstly, the British Parliament needed to give permission for 10,000 Jewish children, aged 6 to 17 years old, to enter the country. Secondly, there was the practical aspect of getting the children onto Kindertransport trains.
In order to get permission for the 10,000 children to enter Britain a Quaker Social Worker pressurised a Quaker MP - Philip Noel-Baker to persuade the Home Secretary (also a Quaker at that time) Sir Samuel Hoare to push a bill through Parliament. This was successfully done on 21 November 1938.
Getting the children onto the trains was not a straightforward task. The Nazis decided that Jews were not allowed to use trams or go onto railway stations. Whilst there were no barriers erected it did create a problem for parents putting their children on kindertransport trains. Again the Quakers played a major role in the solution. They were outside stations to receive children. The Quakers then had people travel on most of the trains to the Hook of Holland, ensuring the children got their connection to London, and then more Quakers were at Liverpool Street Station in London to ensure there was someone to receive and care for each child. There is a statue at the station to commemorate these events.
The Government created a scheme whereby a Guarantor bought a Guarantee for £50 (equivalent to $6000 today) to ensure the person for whom the guarantee was given would not become a financial burden for the British Government. Each Guarantee was for one person whatever their age. Once issued with a guarantee, Jews could leave Nazi Europe provided they had a passport and a Visa. Whilst many Jews escaped in this way, Quakers saved an estimated 6,000 Jews with guarantees.
There were certain categories of employment where there existed a known shortage of workers such as nursing, domestic help and butlers. If someone was willing to undertake such work, visas and passports could be obtained and this proved a lifeline to many Jews. The major problem was communication between Jews in Nazi Europe prepared to take any job to get out and those in England who knew vacancies existed. The Quakers had a committee of 70 volunteers who worked on many issues including this. Minutes of the Manchester Refugee Committee on 17/02/39 and 14/03/39 show 33 people had been found employment in that period alone. It will never be known how many Jews were saved by finding employment but it is thought to run into several thousand.
- Darton, L. (1954), An Account of the Work of the Friend Committee for Refugees and Aliens, Friends Committee for Refugee and Aliens
- Carter, R. (2006), A Testimony, Friends House' London
- Darton L (1954), An Account of the Work of the Friend Committee for Refugees and Aliens, Friends Committee for Refugee and Aliens
Carter R (2006), A Testimony, Friends House' London