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Escaping Hitler

A Jewish Haven in Chile

Eva Goldschmidt Wyman

Publication Year: 2013

Escaping Hitler is the personal story of Eva Wyman and her family’s escape from Nazi Germany to Chile in the sociohistorical context of 1930s and 1940s, a time when the Chilean Nazi party had an active presence in the country’s major institutions.
Based primarily oninterviewswith German Jewish refugees and family correspondence, Eva Goldschmidt Wyman provides an intimateaccount of Jews in Germany in the 1930s as Nazi controls tightened and family members were taken to Riga concentration camp. Wyman recounts Kristallnacht in Stuttgart, where her father was principal of the Jewish school, his imprisonment in Dachau, and his release and immigration to Great Britain. Escaping Hitler details the family’s escape from Germany and subsequent life in Chile, providing an intimate look at daily life on the steam ship Conte Grande during the voyage from Italy to Chile in 1939, Nazi espionage and anti-Semitic activity in Chile, and the Nazi influence in South America in general.
Recounted in an intimate and personal style, Escaping Hitler immerses the reader in an extraordinary chapter of contemporary Jewish history both inside Germany and South America.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Series: Judaic Studies Series


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

...My motivation for writing this book is to thank Chile for saving my life, those of my family members, and the lives of so many more. At the same time, I wish to tell about my family’s journey and those of other families from Nazi Germany to Chile, a country that offered so many of us a haven and the possibility of starting our lives anew. Emigration has always existed and will continue to exist far into the future. Each catastrophe...

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1. The Germany We Left

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pp. 1-21

...We received my grandparents’ last letter from Burgsteinfurt, Germany, on November 9, 1941. They were then sixty and sixty-five years old. My mother and I had arrived in Chile on November 13, 1939, fleeing the Nazi inferno. The Second World War had already started. We never heard from my grandparents again. At the end of the war we learned through German government records that they had been killed in Riga, Latvia...

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2. Kristallnacht Ignites a Desperation to Flee

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pp. 22-41

...The first sign that something horrible was about to happen in Burgsteinfurt came when some forty to fifty—some say eighty—Nazi storm troopers and their followers suddenly appeared and began parading through the small city’s downtown area. They shouted, “Revenge for Paris!” and the man at the head of the procession carried a sledge hammer. That was the night of November 9, 1938. It soon...

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3. The Ethnic Germans in Chile

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pp. 42-64

...Germans were so admired in Chile and Chileans, especially those in the military, were so fond of them that when President Hindenburg of Germany’s Weimar Republic died on August 2, 1934, a Chilean teacher at the military school in Santiago asked the students to get up “and keep a minute of silence.” He talked about all that the Germans had done for Chile and “proclaimed them as a brilliant example for all nations...

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4. Crossing Dangerous Seas: The Last Trip of the Copiapó

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pp. 65-72

...Valparaíso, Chile, on September 29, 1939, just after the start of the war, bringing refugees to a haven and numerous Chileans back from Europe. The families of the latter in Chile had suffered a scare due to a false alarm that the ship had been bombarded and sunk, but soon it was clear that the report was erroneous. It was the last ship to get out of the port of Hamburg before the war began...

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5. Chile’s Political and Economic Systems under Stress: A “Naci” Party and the Jewish Immigration

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pp. 73-86

...natural disaster immediately challenged the new president in January 1939. Pedro Aguirre Cerda had barely been sworn in when the Chillán earthquake hit. In that city alone more than ten thousand died, only two or three houses were left standing, roads and railroad tracks had cracks five meters deep, and there was no food, electricity, or water. Chillán was reduced to rubble. In Concepción there were hundreds dead—it was impossible to calculate the exact number—and there...

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6. “No Visas” Signs on Embassy Doors: The German Jewish Emigration to Chile

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pp. 87-113

...The difficulties and frustrations that Emanuel Keller endured in trying to leave Germany were hardly unusual. They were almost typical for many German Jews in the late 1930s as the grip of Nazi policies continued to tighten. When Keller tried to flee in September of 1938, he realized that even once he got out of Germany, there was hardly any country that would accept Jewish immigrants. On September 11 he obtained a number...

Image Plates

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pp. 114-124

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7. A Second Emigration: From Chile to Israel

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pp. 125-135

...Efrati’s second emigration was not a rare event among young German Jews who had fled to Chile and other Latin American countries. She and her parents had arrived from Germany in 1936, but by the late 1940s she knew she had no desire to stay in Chile and raise a family there but instead wanted to live in Palestine. During the time that she was in the Hajshara (a place in the countryside where members ...

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8. Chilean Responses to the German Jewish Immigration

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pp. 136-151

...Even with all the controversy over Jews immigrating to Chile, interviewees told me and Brigitte Altmann many wonderful, heartwarming stories of the kindness and help that Jews received from non-Jewish Chileans. A fter immigrating to Chile, Dr. Ebel Stark opened an illegal medical practice in Santiago. His Chilean colleagues knew about...

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9. German Jewish Immigrants Tell Their Stories

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pp. 152-189

...English, German, Latin, Greek, and French. She was called by the principal of Saint Peter’s School, who believed everything she said without asking for any documents. He had two positions to offer her, one at a boys’ and one at a girls’ school. She decided on the boys’ school, which was located in Villa Alemana. She taught Latin, French, and math...

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pp. 190-192

...Seventy years after my grandparents and other victims of the Nazi regime were killed, and their children and grandchildren saved from the Holocaust by the haven given them by Chile and other countries, there is a reversal in Germany. Another era has opened—an era in which Germans want to remember and honor the victims...


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pp. 193-208


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pp. 209-214


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pp. 215-219

E-ISBN-13: 9780817386788
E-ISBN-10: 0817386785
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817318000
Print-ISBN-10: 0817318003

Page Count: 231
Illustrations: 12 illustrations
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Judaic Studies Series
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 854520860
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Escaping Hitler

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Subject Headings

  • Jews, German -- Chile -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jewish refugees -- Chile -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jewish refugees -- Chile -- Biography.
  • Jews -- Persecutions -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
  • Goldschmidt Wyman, Eva.
  • Chile -- Emigration and immigration -- Histoy -- 20th century.
  • Chile -- Ethnic relations.
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