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  • We Hope to Find a Way Out from Our Unpleasant Situation:Polish-Jewish Refugees and the Escape from Nazi Europe to Latin America

On September 26, 1940 Zygmunt Turkow, a Yiddish-speaking Polish actor and theater director, arrived in Argentina, escaping the war in Europe. Upon his arrival, Turkow tried his luck at establishing a new life for himself in Buenos Aires, which he knew because his theatre work had brought him there previously. But it was hard for him to focus on the arts. Local Jews worried about the situation in their "old countries," meaning that they barely had the time to think about producing and attending theater performances.2 Turkow soon left for Brazil, living there for twelve years. In Recife, Turkow and his wife spent sleepless nights listening to BBC news reports filled with words such as "ghettos," "camps," and "crematoriums." The war in Europe had a tremendous effect on Turkow's psyche: he had nightmares, and his days were filled with pain and "thoughts of German cannibalism."3 The actor feared that Brazil might not be a safe refuge and that the Nazis could reach him from across the ocean. These fears were not unfounded. During the war, German submarines sank numerous Brazilian merchant ships, and thwarted Brazilian ship navigations systems.4 When invited to perform in Rio de Janeiro, Turkow had to travel by boat. Although the Brazilian navy provided an escort, the sense of danger remained ever-present.5 [End Page 25]

While Turkow's experiences may have been unusual—following the outbreak of World War II most Jews had no choice but to remain in Poland—they are nonetheless representative of a small group of relatively privileged Jews who had sufficient personal connections and financial means to arrange their escape. This article examines the fate of Jews who sought to enter Latin America during and shortly after World War II. I concentrate on the periods 1939–1941 and 1945–1948, and on Argentina as well as Brazil. The case studies I illuminate inform several broader themes including Argentine and Brazilian nationalism, antisemitism in Latin America, and the postwar refugee crisis. Attitudes towards Jewish refugees reveal that anti-Jewish policies hardly changed, even in the face of genocide in Europe. I focus on the dramatic experiences of those Jews who docked in Latin American ports, but were barred from disembarking. I analyze the experience of those who were smuggled illegally into Argentina.6 I examine how they took their fate into their own hands, thereby uncovering Jewish agency and lived experience during desperate time.

Jewish Refugees and Latin American Politics

Polish Jews' attempts to escape to Latin America between 1939 and 1941 followed a long history of Jewish migration to Latin America. Since the 1890s, impoverished and persecuted Eastern European Jews immigrated to Latin America, and for many it seemed to be a reasonable option with the Nazi threat looming on the horizon.7 Many Polish Jews had family members in Latin America who had the potential to assist them upon their arrival. Indeed, following the Nazi's rise to power in 1933, thousands of German Jews sought and found refuge in Argentina and Chile.8 When the war broke out in 1939, Latin America seemed to be sufficiently far away from Europe to provide safety for those seeking [End Page 26] refuge. Argentina maintained its official neutrality for almost the entirety of the war, declaring war against Germany only in March 1945.9 Brazil had declared war against Nazi Germany three years earlier, in August 1942.

Yet in the first two years of the war the likelihood of finding refuge in Latin America appeared slim.10 In Argentina, quotas introduced in 1930, in the wake of a right-wing takeover, severely curtailed Jewish immigration. After 1938, new immigration laws, which were racially based, made it virtually impossible for Jews to enter as immigrants.11 In Brazil, president Getúlio Vargas and minister of foreign affairs Osvaldo Aranha introduced a policy in 1937 that effectively banned Jewish immigration. Circular 1,127 prohibited people of "Semitic origin" from obtaining visas. The result was a seventy-five percent drop in Jewish immigration during the following year.12 In September 1940 Brazil announced additional barriers for those who could not prove their Aryan ancestry—a policy that effectively excluded even baptized Jews. The so-called Jewish quota was reduced to 2,000.13 In 1941, even already issued visas were cancelled.14

These legal barriers worked in concert with other factors. The war affected transport networks and constricted freedom of movement. Many smaller countries in the region, such as Costa Rica and Guatemala, simply refused to accommodate refugees from Poland, while Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela offered haven to only a small number of richer refugees.15 In both Argentina and Brazil, moreover, antisemitic rhetoric infected everyday life and each country remained largely sealed off to Jewish refugees during the war.16 The influential fascist Brazilian [End Page 27] Integralist Action party spread antisemitic prejudice within the society and influenced the country's political leaders. Though some Brazilians saw value in Jewish immigration, antisemitism was omnipresent in Brazilian public life, including within the Catholic Church and the press.17 These tendencies were at play both before and during World War II despite Brazil's alliance with the Allies.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Argentina too witnessed numerous antisemitic incidents.18 In 1938, thirty percent of the employees of the publishing company Guillermo Kraft were dismissed due to the antisemitic views of its owners. Individuals as well as institutions such as synagogues and sporting clubs were the targets of a string of violent attacks.19 In 1943, the public use of Yiddish was temporarily forbidden.20 Santiago Peralta Ramos, head of the Dirección de Migraciones (Office of Immigration), spread anti-Jewish propaganda.21

When Juan Domingo Perón rose to power in Argentina in 1946, not much changed in terms of the nation's anti-Jewish immigration policy. Perón quickly declared that Argentina would welcome only "healthy elements familiar with our culture."22 The Delegation of Argentine-Jewish Associations (DAIA), a Jewish umbrella organization established in 1935, intervened with the authorities on numerous occasions about antisemitic violence and hate speech, and also spoke in favor of Jewish immigration. A conciliatory tone, however, dominated the organization's relationship with the new regime. On numerous occasions, Perón condemned antisemitism and worked to secure Jewish support for his regime. That he was bound by his nationalist supporters made it difficult for him to publicly oppose the Alianza Libertadora Nacionalista and other fascist groups.23 DAIA leaders and Jewish media remained hopeful concerning Perón's plans and tried to create a political atmosphere in which new Jewish immigration could occur. Yiddish and Spanish dailies [End Page 28] also attempted to do their part to project an attitude of optimism towards the new regime, running pieces that highlighted Jews' contributions to Argentina's economy and the loyalty they felt towards their new homeland.24 These efforts were partially successful when, in 1948 and 1949, Jews who had previously immigrated illegally to Argentina were granted amnesty.25

Individual Agency, Testimony and Refugees' Perspective

Despite the obstacles imposed by Argentina and Brazil, a number of Jews still managed to reach Latin America during the war. Successful immigration depended on perseverance, connections and, in many cases, social and financial status.26 The chances of escape depended also on how the refugees managed to enlist allies and helpers such as Polish diplomats and officials at international Jewish institutions. Emigration against the odds presents yet another example of Jewish agency and active resistance during the Holocaust. Their efforts to escape should not overshadowed by the debate about whether Latin American immigration and foreign policy were based on real or presumed antisemitism. The current scholarship rarely looks beyond high-ranking Argentine and Brazilian authorities and local Jewish leaders. My aim here then is not to focus on political actors but on the lived experiences of Jewish refugees. Although there is a substantial body of research concerning the plight of German-Jewish refugees escaping Germany between 1933 and 1939, we know much less about the fate of Polish Jews who tried to enter to Latin America between 1939–1941.27 The latter are the subject of this article. [End Page 29]

In the first section of this article, I analyze Polish Jews' attempts to seek refuge in Latin America between 1939 and 1941. I do so by evaluating the correspondence between Polish diplomatic missions in Latin America, Jewish refugees escaping from Europe, and the Latin American (primarily Argentine) authorities. Wartime archival material produced by Polish diplomats in Buenos Aires enables us to better understand how Polish Jews sought the assistance of their home country. This material also allows us to track the attitudes of the diplomats towards Jews who sought their assistance. By recovering the barely-known efforts of Polish diplomats to assist Jewish refugees in Latin America, I suggest a link between social status and chances of receiving diplomatic aid.

In the second section, I describe postwar immigration stories of a number of Polish Jews. I focus on narratives relating to illegal immigration to Argentina after 1945 in the oral testimony of Holocaust survivors. For decades, Holocaust testimonies have been used productively "to access, reconstruct, and represent the past."28 They have been little used, however, to determine the complexities of Holocaust-related refugee migration to Latin America. Instead, these stories of illegal immigration have been marginalized both by interviewers and the interviewees [in the Holocaust testimonies], as well as in the memoirs and other written accounts. Diana Wang, for example, pays little attention to immigration stories in her book on Jewish child survivors who made it to Argentina after the war.29 Whereas several studies show how Argentine and Brazilian authorities and foreign diplomats responded to the refugee crisis, this study provides the refugees' perspectives.30 These testimonies reveal individual memories of escape, hardly traceable via the official channels and other narratives. The individual narratives of Jewish refuge to Latin America can be understood as an extension of Latin American tradition of testimonio, which both as a practice and literary form helped diverse groups work through ethnicized traumatic experiences.31

The experiences of Jewish refugees are well represented also in postwar correspondence between the Warsaw and Buenos Aires offices of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (the Joint). This [End Page 30] correspondence provides us with countless details about the emigration process, its patterns, and obstacles. I suggest that the end of World War II did not substantively alter Argentina and Brazil's anti-Jewish immigration policies. In Argentina, Jewish survivors trying to reunite with their families faced significant difficulties—many were arrested and deported. I explore how survivors and their families attempted to overcome Argentina's immigration regulations, including by people smuggling and passing as Christian.

In so doing, I provide a human perspective on the study of policies towards Jewish refugees in Latin America during both the pre and postwar years. These policies are commonly approached from a topdown perspective, which ultimately ignores refugees' individual voices. This article, therefore, serves as a corrective, underlining the importance of testimonial accounts and demonstrating the agency of Jews as they searched for refuge.

Polish Diplomats and Jewish Refugees

An unknown number of Jews escaped Poland to Portugal via Romania and France in 1939. The League of Nations estimated that of the 50,000 Jewish refugees that entered Portugal (and later continued to Latin America) between mid-1940 and mid-1941 approximately one-third were refugees from outside of Germany. Around ninety percent of these non-German refugees were Jewish.32 We can therefore assume that several thousand Polish Jews escaped to France and Portugal, and that a significant portion later sought refuge in Latin America. The plight of these refugees is described in detail in the correspondence between Polish diplomats in Europe and Latin America. In July 1940, the Polish consulate in Buenos Aires promised to try to expedite the immigration of 100 Polish refugees waiting in Portugal, but emphasized that a final decision would rest on the authority of the local Argentine consul.33 A report from October 1940, which was sent to Europe by the Polish envoy Zdzisław (Kazimierz) Kurnikowski, confirmed this.34 Kurnikowski report noted that, in special cases, the Polish diplomatic mission could try to influence Argentina's Dirección de Migraciónes, yet underscored [End Page 31] that the chances were slim, as the Argentine consuls were reluctant in issuing immigration permits to Europeans. The correspondence reveals that Catholic refugees, too, faced immense obstacles when trying to immigrate. In May 1941, Mieczysław Chałupczyński, Poland's chargé d'affaires in Buenos Aires, was informed that Argentina had been sealed off to immigrants and that immigration permits were now given out only in exceptional cases. To complicate an already complex situation, those still residing in occupied Poland were supposed to apply to the Argentine consulate in Berlin to be considered for entry to the country.35 A 1941 report from Poland's diplomatic mission in Chile noted that the Chilean government was reluctant to receive any migrants, and that some officials were openly antisemitic.36 Those working in liberal professions were regarded as particularly undesirable.37

Brazil was a little different. The fascist-leaning Estado Novo administration clearly articulated a range of anti-Jewish views. As historian Maria Luisa Tucci Carneiro points out, by the mid-1930s, government officials marked Jews as "unbearable parasites" that posed a danger to a homogenous Brazilian nation—the brasilidade.38 This sentiment was especially visible among the Brazilian diplomatic corps. Partly influenced by tense relations between Brazil and Poland before the outbreak of World War II, Polish Jews were often portrayed as a "high risk group."39 In 1940, the Polish envoy in Brazil was certain that only "Aryans" could count on receiving Brazilian visas. Yet, in some cases, Jews did manage to enter the country. Although the Brazilian quota for urban Polish immigrants eventually stabilized at 600 persons [per year], 1,256 Polish citizens were admitted between September 1, 1939 and September 1, 1940. Roughly eighty percent were Jews.40 However, around 450 of these were only [End Page 32] granted six-month tourist visas. The Polish consulate in Rio de Janeiro applied to the Immigration and Colonization Council to increase the immigration limit for Poland and tried to help (without much success) the refugees to upgrade their tourist visas to more permanent ones. In this period, despite all obstacles, Brazil was much more welcoming to refugees than Argentina.

In 1940, Brazil admitted several ships carrying groups of Jewish refugees from Portugal. In August 1940, the Angola arrived in Rio de Janeiro with a number of Polish-Jewish refugees, including the poet Julian Tuwim and his wife Stefania Tuwimowa. Some months later, the Cuyaba, traveling from Lisbon, brought a Jewish lawyer from Kraków named Tadeusz Loria along with his family, as well as Alfred Reichstein, a friend of Tuwim's from Łódź, and a number of other upper-middle class Jews.41 Other ships transported notables such as Lucjan Korngold, a well-known architect, and Henryk Spitzman-Jordan, a petrol magnate. A letter sent by August Zaleski, the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, informed the consuls in Chile, Argentina, and Mexico that at "least a half of the refugees who were in Portugal had means of subsistence for a long time" and that many others could count on help from Latin American Jewish institutions.42 The report from Poland's Brazilian consulate underscored that most of the Jewish refugees there had enough money, while some had assets worth several thousand dollars.43 The Polish consul estimated that around 3,000 Polish Jews and non-Jews arrived in Brazil by the beginning of 1941.44 Yet Brazil's relatively moderate approach toward Jewish refugees changed in April 1941, when Decree 3175 made it impossible for Jews from Europe to enter the country.45 Altogether, in 1940 and 1941 Brazil received 3,916 Jews—a figure that translated to roughly fifteen percent of the total number of immigrants during this period. In 1942, that figure was reduced to 108, and then to eleven in 1943, and finally to six in 1944.46 [End Page 33]

During the first two years of the war, Polish diplomats working in Argentina and Brazil assisted many Polish Jews attempting to leave Europe. Zdzisław Kurnikowski (or Kurnikowski-Jacobi), Poland's envoy in Buenos Aires, who had previously served for a year as Polish consul in Jerusalem, was probably half-Jewish and was sensitive to the plight of Jewish refugees. In 1940, using Poland's diplomatic networks, Kurnikowski tried to bring Cywia Neuhaus and her children Sura and Abram to Buenos Aires. Isaac Neuhaus, her husband and a rabbi in Buenos Aires, managed to secure Argentine immigration permits for them, and, as a Polish citizen, turned to the embassy to facilitate the passage of his family across Europe. Kurnikowski contacted his counterparts in Bern, Madrid, and Lisbon to secure local transit visas. Afraid of the possible difficulties, Neuhaus asked the envoy not to reveal to the Austrian authorities that he was a rabbi.47

The same cross-border coordination between Polish diplomats in Stockholm and Buenos Aires was conducted to help lawyer Raphael Lemkin escape Europe. Following the German invasion of Poland, Lemkin fled to eastern Poland. After securing asylum in Sweden, he ventured to Stockholm in February 1940.48 Feeling unsafe in Sweden, Lemkin began to explore the option of Argentina with the help of local Polish consular officials. The Argentine authorities refused to let him in, describing him as competition for local Argentine lawyers.49 In another case, diplomats in Argentina cooperated with counterparts in South Africa. A Polish couple, Israel and Syma Oberman, were fortunate enough to secure a Japanese visa issued by Chiune Sughihara, the consul in Lithuania. The Obermans made their way to Japan in February 1941, but decided or were forced to continue further. They took a ship to Cape Town, but were refused entry. Despite not possessing Argentine visas, they ultimately proceeded to Buenos Aires. Jan Majewski, Polish consul in South Africa, telegrammed his colleague in Argentina to ask for urgent assistance in facilitating their immigration. Mieczysław Chałupczyński from the Polish embassy in Buenos Aires wrote immediately to Andrés Máspero Castro, Argentina's Dirección de Migraciones, underlining the exceptional situation of the Obermans and the humanitarian character of his request.50 On July 9, 1941 the couple safely arrived in the port Buenos Aires, yet it is unclear whether or not they were permitted to stay. [End Page 34]

When leaving war-torn Europe, industrialists and others with significant financial resources could rely on the quick and efficient efforts of Polish diplomatic missions around the world. The prospect that they would invest their funds and their professional status was often used as an argument to ease the immigration hurdles imposed by Latin American governments. In June 1941, the Polish embassy in Bern, Switzerland notified its counterpart in Buenos Aires that the Argentine visas of a businessman, Oskar Kon, and his wife, Maria, had been cancelled—even though the couple were already on their way to Latin America.51 A few days later the Polish embassy in Buenos Aires wrote a diplomatic note to the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs.52 The note underlined that Kon was an important textile and fur tycoon (he owned the textile giant Wi-Ma, Widzewska Manufaktura) and had, before 1939, been among the most important importers of Argentine cotton in Poland. The letter stressed that the Kons were an elderly couple without a clear political stance and with sufficient financial resources to permit them to live comfortably in Argentina. After arriving in Latin America, the Kons successfully continued to run their businesses.53 The Kons' case was not a one-time initiative: it is well documented that Polish officials in Switzerland, headed by Mieczysław Ładoś, coordinated a broad range of assistance efforts on behalf of Jewish refugees.54

The Surawicz family's saga was similar to the Kons' case. The Surawiczs, who originated from the Polish city of Białystok, managed to escape to Japan, but wanted to relocate to Latin America. Mordko Surawicz, like Oskar Kon, was a textile king and planned to invest several thousand dollars in the Paraguayan textile industry. Trying to move the case forward, Karol Staniszewski of Poland's Tokyo mission urged his Argentine colleagues in 1941 to secure immigration permits for the Surawiczs.55 The Polish embassy in Buenos Aires turned to the Argentine authorities to obtain a disembarkation permit.56 The same [End Page 35] year, Staniszewski provided assistance to Leonid Epelbaum and Rachel Solc.57 In a letter to his colleagues in Argentina, he underlined that Solc belonged to a higher social strata, had 2,000 US dollars in cash, and had previously worked in a British consulate in Poland. Epelbaum was described as a man of significant financial means with connections in the fur industry in Latin America, Europe, and the US, and whose family was willing to help him invest in Argentina. In another case, a wealthy Polish-Jewish man named Adam Zaidman, who arrived in Uruguay via Morocco in 1941, quickly managed to convince a local Polish consul to write a letter of recommendation for him in support of his move to Argentina. The Uruguayan press highlighted Zaidman's wealth and hoped that he would establish a local branch of Hughes Guerlain, the cosmetics company.58 In the same year, Władysław Mazurkiewicz, then a Polish ambassador in Chile, secured Argentine and Chilean transit visas and Ecuadorian immigration permits for Adam and Jolanta Eugenia Berenbaum. Before the outbreak of the war, Berenbaum had owned Wełpol, one of the biggest wool companies in Poland. He supposedly still held 23,000 pounds in savings in the United Kingdom and planned to re-establish his business in Australia.59

In addition to wealthy industrialists, renowned scientists and artists could also rely on assistance from the Polish diplomatic service in Argentina. For example, Polish diplomats presented David Rozental, a Polish-Jewish chemist and metallurgical specialist at the University of Brussels, as of potential benefit to Argentine industry.60 It is unclear, however, whether or not they ultimately managed to secure a visa on his behalf. In 1942, Polish diplomats in Buenos Aires intervened on behalf of painter Aleksander Gartenberg, his wife Stefanie (also a painter), and daughter. Gartenberg was described as an artist, an important figure in the petrol industry, and as a person who could invest up to 50,000 pesos into the Argentine economy.61 The Polish ministry of Foreign Affairs also intervened in the case of Arnold Friedman, a specialist in oil production [End Page 36] who was trapped in Nazi-occupied France and sought refuge outside of Europe.62 In addition, a group of Polish-Jewish chess players, who arrived in Argentina for the 8th Chess Olympic Games, could count on Argentina legalizing their stay due to the outbreak of war in Europe. This cohort included Mieczysław (later Miguel) Najdorf, Paulin Frydman, and a number of Polish Jews representing Palestine.63

When Brazil refused entry to a number of Polish Jews who possessed valid visas in 1941, various Polish diplomatic missions in Latin America sprang into action. Many Polish and Czechoslovak Jews were on board the Cabo de Buena Esperanza when it left Morocco for Brazil in the fall of 1941. As the ship set sail, Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas cancelled all visas, including those already issued, as part of a broad anti-refugee measure. The passengers of Cabo de Buena Esperanza had earlier traveled on the Alsina, an infamous ship that had been detained in Morocco for several months after disembarking from Marseilles shortly after the fall of France in June 1940. The situation in North Africa was tragic; the Jewish refugees were supposed to be interned in French concentration camps.64 Some of them managed to secure Brazilian visas and boarded the Cabo de Buena Esperanza. Yet it remained unclear whether or not they would be allowed to enter Brazil. The visas issued by Louis Martins de Souza Dantes, Brazil's consul in France, were contested by Brazilian authorities who accused de Souza Dantes of being "too pro-Jewish."65 The group on Cabo de Buenos Esperanza included twelve Polish citizens with clearly Jewish last names (Rosenberg, Chazan, Ferbler, Eiger).

Already in July 1941, Polish diplomats in Rio de Janeiro knew that the passengers on Cabo de Buena Esperanza would have problems with their visas. They immediately began to search for other options in Latin America.66 Tadeusz Skowroński, the Polish envoy in Brazil alerted his colleagues in Buenos Aires that "Brazil categorically refused the entry of ex-Alsina passengers travelling on the Cabo de Buena Esperanza. The only hope is to try obtain Bolivian, Paraguayan, or other visas." In August 1941, the Polish envoy in Buenos Aires attempted to interest Argentine authorities in the fate of this group of refugees. His letter to the Argentine [End Page 37] Minister of Foreign Affairs underlined their precarious condition and invoked the rhetoric of humanitarianism.67 Wiktor Podoski, a member of the Polish mission in Ottawa, wrote to Buenos Aires that Canadian authorities refused to admit the refugees. Polish diplomats in Argentina and Brazil were forced to search for other options. They pushed the Uruguayan ambassador in Argentina to press his government to allow the group of Polish Jews to disembark in Montevideo. These efforts were fruitless.68 Twelve Jewish-Polish passengers on the Cabo de Buena Esperanza were allowed to stay in Buenos Aires for ninety days, but they were forced to remain under house arrest in the Hotel de Inmigrantes.69 While there they attempted to establish direct contact with Argentina's vice president and secure visas from other Latin American countries.70

Three weeks after the Cabo de Buena Esperanza arrived in Buenos Aires on October 1, 1941, a similar issue arose with Cabo de Hornos. On October 20, Tadeusz Skowroński, who was in Rio de Janeiro, alerted Poland's embassy in Buenos Aires that seven Polish citizens had been refused entry to Brazil and that their visas had been cancelled. Brazil seemed indifferent to pressure from diplomats from the United States and Spain, the American Joint Distribution Committee, and the Catholic Church.71 One of the passengers, Lustig Chazan, telegrammed John Simmons of the local American embassy with a tragic plea for help: "Don't abandon us! Please continue intervention to prevent return Europe…Save us!"72 Shortly after this incident, the ninety-day-stay given to the Cabo de Buena Esperanza passengers was cancelled, and everyone was forced to board the Cabo de Hornos.73 On November 4, 1941, accompanied by "a shocking screaming" the ship, along with its Jewish refugees, departed for Europe. Again, Polish diplomats attempted to secure Paraguayan and Venezuelan visas for the group of Polish citizens, but they had no success.74 Luckily, the Dutch colony of Curaçao admitted the refugees, who safely arrived there in mid-November. [End Page 38]

The fate of six Polish Jews who managed to escape to Turkey via Romania in 1939 was similar. By late 1941, fears of a German invasion caused them to turn hopefully toward Brazil. These refugees most likely belonged to the upper social strata. They could afford to pay first class fare, and as an employee of the Polish embassy in December 1941 noted, "[they] spoke excellent Polish and made a pleasant impression."75 This group of Jews travelled to Brazil via Iraq, India, and South Africa, from where they were sent to England.76 Having spent three months at sea, and another three months waiting in England, they secured Brazilian visas, which were supposed to allow them to immigrate. They reached Rio de Janeiro on the Andalucia Star, but the validity of their visas was questioned and the passengers were not allowed to leave the ship. They debated the possibility of temporarily staying in Uruguay, Argentina, or in the British West Indies. After two years of travel they felt "physically and psychologically devastated."77

The passengers of Andalucia Star turned to Tadeusz Skowronski, the Polish ambassador in Rio de Janeiro, to negotiate on their behalf with the Brazilian authorities. With the aid of his counterpart in Buenos Aires he successfully secured temporary Argentine permits for the group.78 When their ship finally reached Buenos Aires, Polish diplomats met the six Polish Jews as they disembarked, helped them apply to the Dirección de Migraciones, and offered to sponsor their applications. Polish diplomats seemed pessimistic, however. As the story of Cabo de Hornos and Cabo de Buena Esperanza shows, Jews were routinely refused long-term Argentine immigration permits. Polish officials underlined that their situation was not dire. They pointed out that if the passengers of Andalucia Star would have been sent back to United Kingdom, "there was no danger of imprisonment or concentration camp."79 Thanks to the intervention of "democratic parliamentarians," and to diplomatic pressure from Poland, the Czech Republic, and Belgium, Argentine president Castillo issued a special permit so that they could leave the ship for up to ninety days. Soon afterwards, following accusation of bribery, the Argentine visas of [End Page 39] the Jewish passengers were cancelled, transit to Paraguay was refused, and they were forced to return back to Europe.80

It is not always possible to track whether those who sought the assistance of Polish diplomatic missions in Latin America were granted entry. In many cases we do not know if the efforts of the refugees and diplomats were successful. But there are several testimonies describing the fate of those who were unsuccessful in their efforts to reach Latin America. In 1940, a group of Jewish and non-Jewish Polish refugees turned to the Polish consul in Mexico to help them find asylum there. They included Maurycy Izrael Poznański, who owned Republika, one of the biggest publishing houses in Poland, and was also a well-known industrial tycoon in Łódź.81 Poznański, together with his co-publishers Marian Nussbaum-Ołtaszewski and Władysław Polak, initially sought refuge in Vilna, from where they contacted the consulate in Mexico. Mieczysław Marchlewski, the envoy there, told them that there was no chance of gaining entry to the country. He wanted to help the refugees, however, and reached out to his colleagues in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.82 These efforts were in vain. Poznański was murdered in Vilna in 1940; Nussbaum-Ołtaszewski died in a labour-camp in Skarżysko-Kamienna in 1943.

Correspondence between Polish diplomatic missions in Latin America, the refugees, and the Latin American authorities reveal the powerful agency that some Jewish refugees possessed. In desperate circumstances, they marshalled arguments to enlist the aid of sympathetic Polish diplomatic staff and win over the reluctant Latin American authorities. The archival record from Polish diplomatic missions in Brazil and Argentina do not include any cases when assistance was refused for any reason. At worst, the diplomats expressed unease when they were not able to assist the refugees. Their action on behalf of refugees may have been influenced by the policies of the Polish government in exile. One of the government in exile's circulars underlined that embassy officials were not only be friendly, but also "help our citizens by all means," and to do so with "a full kindness that co-citizens deserve during difficult situations."83 Although the circular did not refer to Jews specifically, the [End Page 40] decision to employ the word "citizen" rather than "Poles" suggests that the full spectrum of citizens were deserving of help.

The correspondence also reveals an emotional and compassionate component to the personal contacts between Jewish refugees and Polish diplomats. Mieczysław Chałupczyński, a chargé d'affaires in Buenos Aires, wrote about Polish Jewish refugees sympathetically. In numerous reports, he described them as "miserable," "persecuted," or as "victims of racial hatred." Chałupczyński complained about "a National-Socialist infiltration of the neutral world," and referred to a general unwillingness on the part of the Argentine government to accommodate the Jewish refugees. He described Latin American countries that refused to accept the Jews, as lands of "dominant egoism and materialism."84 With clear sadness, he noted that a number of Argentine and Brazilian media channels, as well as local diplomats, welcomed the fact that the United States and Great Britain remained indifferent toward the tragic fate of Polish Jews. Władysław Mazurkiewicz, then Polish envoy to Chile, also exhibited a clear degree of sympathy toward Jewish-Polish refugees. In May 1941, with a sense of helplessness, he informed his superiors in London that Chile did not want to accommodate any new Jewish refugees. Mazurkiewicz described Carlos Errázuriz Ovalle, director of a consular department in the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as a "clear antisemite." He wrote that he "was forced" to tell Polish consuls in other countries that Chile was no longer admitting Jews and used racial criteria to determine Jewishness. Even if someone had been baptized, this was not enough to cross into Chile.85

Arrivals in Argentina after 1945

The attempts by Jews to reach Latin America largely stopped during the last three years of World War II. Aktion Reinhardt and the Final Solution made emigration all but impossible. The situation changed once Germany capitulated in May 1945. Survivors, particularly those [End Page 41] from Poland, began to look for ways to leave Europe. Their reasons were diverse. Many, such as Israel Kleinman, did not want to return to Poland, as they blamed Poles, in part, for the Holocaust.86 Gisela Gleis, who survived hidden by a Pole, did not want "to hear anything about Europe" and quickly decided to start the emigration process to Latin America.87 Others wanted to reunite with family who lived in Latin America.

This was no easier after 1945 than it was between 1939 and 1941. During the immediate postwar years Brazil and Argentina were still reluctant to issue immigration permits for survivors. According to historian Leonardo Senkman, between 1946 and 1951 Brazil admitted 2,223 Jews. Argentina accepted 2,221, yet an additional 8,270 entered the country illegally.88 Since most were unable to obtain an Argentine visa they travelled to Paraguay and crossed the border illegally from Paraguay.89 The increasing stream of immigrants was so great that in December 1946 the Joint opened branches in Paraguay and Uruguay as satellites of its main office in Argentina.90 Yet obtaining Paraguayan "farmer" permits—farmers were often the only group allowed to immigrate—was not easy either. Isidoro (Izydor) Teichmann, of Brody, managed to survive the war in the Soviet Union and tried to find a way to Buenos Aires where his aunt Mania lived. Initially the Paraguayan consul refused his application saying that only real farmers could immigrate on "farmer" permits. This prompted Isidoro to lie to officials, telling them that he studied agronomy. This led to a new obstacle: he now needed to provide an invitation letter from a Paraguayan citizen. Teichmann turned to his Argentine family, who incidentally knew a Paraguayan woman who generously asked her relatives in Asunción to issue the invitation.91 After some time in Paraguay, Teichmann crossed [End Page 42] to Argentina. Only in late 1948 did Perón legalize the stay of Jews who had crossed the border illegally.92

The end of the war prompted Jews in Argentina as well as survivors in Europe to seek to re-establish contact with their families. Already in 1945 Jewish-Argentine institutions investigated the possibility of sending aid packages to Europe.93 Individual survivors in Poland sought the assistance of Jewish institutions to re-establish the contact with their families in Latin America. Thousands of Jews in Argentina wanted to know the fate of their families in Poland, and some wanted to learn of the status of their property. Many survivors expected that family in Argentina would make an effort to bring them to Latin America. News about relatives who had survived prompted family members in Argentina to find ways to re-establish contact with them. When Argentine Jacobo Lazaro Fried discovered in 1946 that his brother Mozes had survived, but was seriously ill in Bytom, Poland, he rushed to the Joint office and promised to cover all medical costs. The Warsaw Joint wrote that they would immediately contact Mozes and inform him about the steps his brother had taken.94 Despite having two siblings and an uncle in Argentina, Benjamin Rosenberg was not able to come directly to Argentina. Instead he contemplated going to the United States where his extended family lived. His family persuaded him to come to Argentina, arguing that the three siblings should be together.95

Some Jews of Polish origin travelled to Poland from Latin America in order to search for their relatives. This was the case for Josel Liberman who has been living in Uruguay since 1932. He could not find any living family members in Poland in 1947. The costs of this trip was so prohibitive that Lieberman was obliged to seek the aid of his sister and of the [End Page 43] Joint in order to return to Uruguay.96 Others returned to Poland from the DPs camps in Germany before securing passage to Latin America. Kiwa Kozuchowicz, who had been incarcerated at the Buchenwald and Spaichingen concentration camps, travelled to Pacanów, Poland in order to search for his family. He met some childhood friends who had managed to survive, but none of his close relatives.97

Familial reunification was an extremely arduous task that required a certain knack for fulfilling the requirements of multiple agencies. Most of the testimonies reveal that the Joint played a key role in establishing contact between survivors and families in Argentina and in facilitating emigration from Europe. In many cases, the Joint required that the family in Argentina pay a deposit to cover travel costs. Sometimes there was a delay because deposits were not paid on time, and survivors in Europe began to grow impatient. Survivor Michał Paluch wanted to reunite with his mother Tauba and sister Sonia in Argentina. The Joint in Warsaw advised Tauba and Sonia that they needed to provide Michał with an entry visa to Argentina, as well as to deposit funds to help him to buy a ship ticket.98 In the case of Mendel Zelcer, the Joint paid for his passage and for six-months of accommodation in a hotel in Paris, and supplied advice on how to make his way to Argentina via Germany, France, and Brazil.99 Yankel Sawicki, a survivor from Bytom in Poland, was informed that his son David from Buenos Aires agreed to cover all of the costs associated with his immigration. He also took care of all of his father's legal arrangements. David coordinated with the Joint to help get his father from Poland to Belgium from where he was supposed to depart for Argentina.100 Isidoro Teichmann was one of the few immigrants who had a large family network in Argentina: his aunts Klara, Ernestyna and [End Page 44] Maria and uncles Nikodem and Zygmunt were all there. His Argentine family paid for his ship passage by sending money to the Joint's Argentine branch.101 Some survivors, such as Sabina Kulawicz, arranged their immigration to Argentine independently.102 In a number of cases, families in Latin America felt helpless in their attempts to secure immigration permits for their survivor relatives. In Guatemala, Benjamin Tenenbaum could not provide Cywia Kramarska, his niece, with a Guatemalan visa. Instead sought to facilitate her emigration to Cuba.103

In countless cases, survivors needed to cross the Paraguayan-Argentine border illegally, or were forced to use falsified documents that hid their Jewish identities. Kiwa Kozuchowicz's cousin Adela lived in Buenos Aires, but he decided to stay in Brazil following his emigration from Poland. In early 1949, the Joint informed him that it would be difficult to obtain an Argentine visa, and advised Kozuchowicz to use falsified papers indicating Christian origins. When he arrived in Rio de Janeiro in February 1949, he met a diverse group of friends from his hometown Pacanów. They helped him secure a job as a watch salesman and introduced him to life in the heavily Jewish Bom Retiro district of São Paulo. This convinced Kozuchowicz that he did not want to risk illegally immigrating to Argentina.104 Another postwar immigrant, Tadeo Kastner, changed his name from the Jewish-sounding "Daniel" to more Slavic sounding "Tadeusz" (Tadeo) in order to conceal his Jewish identity. For Kastner, it was the second time his identity had been changed, immediately reminding him of his experiences in the Holocaust. An uncle in Buenos Aires managed to provide both him and his mother with false documents which described them as Catholic. This allowed them to immigrate with relative ease to Argentina late in 1945.105

Illegally crossing the Argentine-Paraguayan border was extremely dangerous and depended on local smugglers with whom the refugees could not communicate. Refugees remember a constant fear of being detained. Only a few were as fortunate as Mendel Zelcer of Kielce, who, after he arrived in Rio de Janeiro was supplied with a plane ticket to Montevideo by the Joint. There his brother waited for him; the two [End Page 45] then travelled by bus to Buenos Aires without being stopped on the border. In cases such as this, having Argentine family members eased the border crossing as they were able to pay and communicate with the smugglers, or personally escorted the survivors.106 Isadoro Teichmann, another refugee, was met by his uncle Zygmunt in Montevideo. Yet, the situation changed quickly when a few days after his arrival Isidoro's hotel was raided by the Uruguayan police who were searching for passengers who had recently arrived from Europe on the Formosa. Isidoro and Zygmunt were both arrested. The policemen laughed at them and treated them badly. While in custody, he was interrogated for many hours, repeating the only phrase in Spanish he knew "I'm going to Paraguay. I don't know anything." The next day, he was released and needed to figure out how to illegally sneak into Argentine territory. Another uncle hired a smuggler who took him on a boat from Uruguayan Carmelo to the Argentinian-side of the Parana delta. The clandestine passage was successful: they spent a night in a village and, taking advantage of crowds spending the weekends in the area, managed to reach Buenos Aires.107 Julio Pitluk of Białystok also needed to cross Argentina's border using a help of a smuggler. His wife's family, who lived in Argentina, paid 1,200 pesos to smuggle him, his wife, and her brother.108 Abraham Kleinburd, who had an uncle in Argentina, managed to illegally cross via the Argentine-Uruguayan border.109

Many would-be immigrants lived in postwar Poland for a short time before heading to France, Italy, or Germany where they waited to receive their travel permits. Mendel Zelcer, for example, lived in Germany for almost two years and in Paris for six months trying to establish a contact with his brother who had immigrated to Argentina in 1938.110 José Frankowski spent four months in Roma, waiting for the Joint to purchase his ticket to Argentina.111 Mordcha Lin's family survived in Russia, returned to Poland in 1945, but left for Austria following the Kielce pogrom in July 1946. They lived there for more than two years in an UNRRA refugee camp.112 Mordcha learned Hebrew and prepared to emigrate to Israel. After waiting for six months in Paris [End Page 46] for a Paraguayan visa, they finally managed to reconnect with family members in Argentina who agreed to pay for their passage.113 Benjamin Rosenberg, who survived Buchenwald, spent eighteen months in Sweden before deciding to travel to Argentina.114 Stopping on the way in Rio de Janeiro, he could count on the help of landsmen from Szydłowiec in Poland. In Paraguay he met his brother after a twenty year separation. In Encarnación he crossed the border with a group of survivors, arriving safely in Posadas in Argentina. Tadeo Kaster lived for eight months in Uruguay before finally securing immigration papers that described him as Catholic, enabling his immigration to Argentina.115 Abraham Salomon lived in Paraguay for two months supported by the Joint, which demanded payment from his aunts in Buenos Aires.116

For some Jews leaving Europe was a painful decision, especially when they still maintained hope that at least some of their relatives had survived. Jorge (Israel, Srulek) Kleinman, who survived Płaszów, Mauthausen, Melk, and Ebensee and lived temporarily in Italy after the war, was unsure whether or not he should leave for Argentina. Born in Kielce in 1928, Kleinman had not previously met Elena, his mother's Argentina-based sister. He knew of her only through stories. Thanks to the UNRRA bulletins that published search requests, Kleinman established contact with Elena and wrote to her that "you have a nephew who survived." Elena presumably expressed readiness to help him to get to Argentina. Kleinman, however, decided to stay in Europe while he searched for his siblings with whom he lost contact during the war. Elena pressed him to quickly depart for Latin America, but the young men rejected her entreaties. Only after realizing that his brother had died in 1946 did he finally depart Genoa for Rio de Janeiro. While on the ship, he received word that his sister Debora had died in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Kleinman blamed himself for being the only survivor; he did not understand why only he was allowed to live while his parents and siblings perished in the Shoah.117

After the war, some Latin American Jews also sought to inquire about fate of real estate they had left behind in Poland. In 1947, Ruwen Kaniucki turned to the Joint office in Argentina to help him determine if his house in Białystok still stood. Józef Gitler-Barski, from the Warsaw [End Page 47] office, informed him that the entire street, including his house, was rubble.118 A similar message was relayed to Zelko Schwarzbart, who inquired about his family's estate and factory in Zambrów. Their home survived the war, but their brick factory lay in ruins. Schwartzbart was advised to contact lawyers in Warsaw if he wanted to claim the property.119 Eugenia Lamstein, living in Montevideo in 1947, turned to the Joint in Poland to help determine the status of her deceased parents' estate in the spa-town Świder, near Warsaw. Lamstein's cousin allegedly falsified documents and sold the property. From Uruguay, she was able to find a lawyer in Warsaw willing to raise the property claim on the family's behalf. More problems were afoot, however. When her cousin finally agreed to reimburse her 2,000,000 zloty, the Joint's Warsaw office informed her that that amount of money could not be transferred outside of Poland.120

Like the refugees who arrived between 1939 and 1941, those who immigrated to Argentina after the war displayed immense perseverance and agency. They needed to navigate new lives without a home to go back to in Europe. Their choices were to either approach family they had not seen in years for help or contact international Jewish institutions. Immigration was difficult, not least because of the legal barriers in their way. They needed to find allies and supporters—either a family member in Latin America or a sympathetic clerk at the office of Joint. The war that broke out in November 1947 in Palestine, and rumor that a Jewish state might soon be established there, added to survivors' dilemma. In the immediate postwar years Jews immigrated to Latin America for a variety of reasons. The one constant was that their choices were complicated and difficult.

In their testimonies, survivors who immigrated to Argentina between 1945 and 1948 reveal that they did not perceive Argentina's policies prohibiting Jewish immigration to be immoral or even surprising. Many commented on the issue, but did not explicitly criticize Argentina: "Perón did not let Jews in," "It was impossible to immigrate to Argentina," and "the Jews could not enter." In comparison to the physical assaults, forced labor, and extermination that Jews experienced in Europe, Argentina's policy seemed, as some put it, an "innocent obstacle." The subsequent [End Page 48] 1948 amnesty that legalized the stay of those who illegally crossed from Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil into Argentina further softened memories of the latter's unwillingness to provide haven for Holocaust survivors.


Jews hoping to enter Argentina or Brazil at the beginning of World War II and during the immediate postwar years confronted major legal and logistical challenges that demanded unusual effort to overcome. For many Jews in Poland, distant Latin America, which had a sizable Jewish immigrant community, beckoned as a possible safe haven from the horrors of war. Although most of the Jews in occupied Poland had little hope of leaving, a small part of Poland's Jewish elite used its fortune and connections to organize escape. Analogous efforts after 1945 by devastated and poor survivors persuaded some to seek sanctuary in Argentina and Brazil.

In both cases, the desire to enter "forbidden" Argentina and Brazil challenged refugees and their helpers to try to overcome considerable legal, financial, and physical obstacles. The study of attempts to enter Latin America reveals how fear, desperation, and need pushed people to embark on a dangerous journey, demonstrates their determination, initiative, and resilience, and hints at the psychological burdens they ultimately bore once resettled in a new land. A variety of factors, including access to a network of helpers and the sense of obligation felt by diplomats toward Jews played crucial roles. The trajectories of refugees during the years 1939 to 1941 highlight how cultural capital and high social status helped refugees to successfully convince Polish diplomats to help them. Postwar Holocaust survivors did not use these channels. In such cases, they could only count on the help of Jewish institutions, the benevolence of their Latin American families, and their own perseverance. What remained constant in both periods, however, was the general unwillingness of Argentina and Brazil to accommodate Jewish refugees. [End Page 49]

Mariusz Kałczewiak

Mariusz Kałczewiak is a cultural historian focusing on Jewish History, Eastern European Studies, and modern Latin America. Kałczewiak is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Potsdam, and, beginning fall 2018, will be a Posen Fellow at the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Kałczewiak holds PhD degree from Tel Aviv University (2017) and an MA degree from University of Warsaw (2011). His dissertation "Jewish polacos, Argentina and the Yiddishland: Negotiating Transnational Identities, 1914-1939" won the 2017 Best Dissertation Award of the Latin American Jewish Studies Association.


1. The title quote comes from a statement by Lustig Chazan, a Jewish refugee passenger of Cabo de Buena Esperanza, October 13, 1941, file 293, unit 250 Wjazdy i pobyt obywateli polskich za granicą [Podania, informacje, korespondencja, telegramy, 2 zdjęcia legitymacyjne] 1941 (Entry and Residence of Polish Citizens Abroad: applications, information, correspondence, telegrams, 2 photos, 1941), collection 2/2210/0 Poselstwo RP w Buenos Aires (Poland's Legation in Buenos Aires), Archiwum Akt Nowych w Warszawie, (Archive of Modern Records in Warsaw, henceforth AAN). Writing of this article was made possible by a GEOP grant from the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

2. Zygmunt Turkow, Di ibergerisene tkufe. Fragmenten fun mayn lebn (The Interrupted Era. Fragments from my life) (Buenos Aires: Tsentral-farband fun poylishe yidn in argentine, 1961), 375–378.

3. Ibid., 362.

4. In 1941, Brazil ceased its neutrality policy and engaged with the Allied Powers, formally entering the war in 1942. Joseph Smith, "Brazil: Benefits of Cooperation," in Latin America During World War II, ed. Thomas M. Leonard and John F. Bratzel (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007), 144–161.

5. Turkow, Di ibergerisene tkufe, 365–366.

6. Elvira Rissech estimated that, between 1939 and 1942, 476 Jewish passengers were denied entry to Argentina, compared to 143 in Brazil and 234 in Uruguay. Polish Jews made up ten percent of this total, while German Jews accounted for sixty-two percent. Elvira Riessech, "Inmigración judía a la Argentina 1938–1942: entre la aceptación y el rechazo," Rumbos 15 (1986): 91–113.

7. South and Central America received around 330,000 Jews between 1900 and 1939. Jacob Leststschinski, Di lage fun di yidn in latayn-amerikaner lender (New York, 1948), 3. In 1930, Argentina's Jewish population reached 230,000. Victor A. Mirelman, En busquda de una identidad. Inmigrantes judíos en Buenos Aires, 1890–1930 (Buenos Aires: Milá, 1988), 5. The American Jewish Yearbook estimated that in 1946 350,000 Jews lived in Argentina, while 110,000 were in Brazil. American Jewish Yearbook, 1946–1947, Statistics of Jews, 600.

8. Eva Goldschmidt Wyman, Escaping Hitler. A Jewish Haven in Chile (Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, 2013); Graciela Ben-Dror, The Catholic Church and the Jews: Argentina, 1933–1945 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008).

9. Argentine opposition did not perceive the stand of the government to be "neutral", but rather pro-Axis-leaning. Daniel Feierstein, Miguel Galante, "Argentina and the Holocaust," Yad Vashem Studies, volume XXV (1999): 166.

10. Leonardo Senkman, "La Argentina neutral de 1940 ante los refugiados españoles y judíos," Ciclos: en la historia, la economía y la sociedad 5, no. 9 (1995): 53–76.

11. Haim Avni, Argentina y las migraciones judías. De la Inquisición al Holocausto y después (Buenos Aires: Milá, 2005), 329–330.

12. Jeffrey Lesser, Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and theJewish Question (Oakland: University of California Press, 1995), 88–95.

13. Tadeusz Skowroński (envoy in Rio de Janeiro) to Ministry of Foreign Affairs MSZ) in London, September 26,1940, file 48, unit 248 Wjazdy i pobyt obywateli polskich za granicą [informacje o polityce imigracyjnej Meksyku. Raporty Poselstwa RP w Buenos Aires, informacje, korespondencja, telegramy.] 1940 (Entry and Residence of Polish Citizens Abroad), collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

14. Lesser, Welcoming the Undesirables, 138.

15. Polish legacy in Mexico to MSZ in exile in London, Polish consuls in Madrid, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro, September 11, 1940, file 51, unit 248, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

16. For Brazilian case see Jeffrey Lesser, "Images of Jews and Refugee Admissions in Brazil, 1939–42," Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 20, nos. 39/40 (1995): 65–90 and his larger study, Welcoming the Undesirables.

17. Graciela Ben Dror, "The Catholic Elites in Brazil and Their Attitude Toward the Jews, 1933–1939," Yad Vashem Studies XXX (2002): 229–231. Jeffrey Lesser, "Images of Jews and Refugee Admissions."

18. Mundo Israelita, July 27,1946, 3.9.1946, both page 3.

19. Mundo Israelita, December 28,1946, 6.

20. Lawrence D. Bell, "The Jews and Perón: Communal Politics and National Identity in Perónist Argentina, 1946–1955" (PhD diss., The Ohio State University 2002), 49–50.

21. Avni, Argentina y las migraciones judías, 390–395. See Peralta's book La Acción del Peublo Judío en la Argentina (Buenos Aires: unknown publisher, 1943).

22. Avni, Argentina y las migraciones judías, 398.

23. Raanan, Rein, Argentina, Israel, and the Jews: Peron, the Eichmann Capture and After (Bethseda: University of Maryland Press, 2003), 40. See David Rock, La Argentina Autoritaria. Los Nacionalistas, su Historia y su Influencia en la Vida Pública (Buenos Aires: Ariel, 1983).

24. Bell, The Jews and Perón, 120–130.

25. Bell, The Jews and Perón, 167–168.

26. See Israel Gutman, "Reflections on Jewish Resistance Under the Nazi Occupation," Studies in Contemporary Jewry: Volume XVIII: Jews and Violence: Images. Ideologies, Realities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003): 155–179; Evgeny Finkel, Ordinary Jews: Choice and Survival during the Holocaust (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2017); Benjamin Ginsberg, How the Jews Defeated Hitler: Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013); Nechama Tec, Resistance: Jews and Christians Who Defied the Nazi Terror (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Emil Kerenji, Jewish Responses to Persecution: 1942–1943 (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014).

27. Eva Goldschmidt, "Inmigración judía a Chile desde la Alemania Nazi," Cuadernos Judaicos, 2016, no. 33: 116–147; Marlen Eckl and Reinhard Andress, eds., "... auf brasilianischem Boden fand ich eine neue Heimat": autobiographische Texte deutscher Flüchtlinge des Nationalsozialismus 1933–1945 (Ramscheid: Gardez! Verlag, 2005); Irene Flunser Pimentel and Christa Heinrich Pimentel, Judeus em Portugal durante a II Guerra Mundial: em fuga de Hitler e do Holocausto (Lisbon: A Esfera dos Livrso, 2006); Leonardo Senkman, Argentina, la segunda Guerra mundial y los refugiados indeseables, 1933–1945 (Buenos Aires: Grupo Editorial Latinoamericano, 1991).

28. Aleida Assman, "History, Memory, and the Genre of Testimony," Poetics Today 27, no. 2 (2006): 262.

29. Diana Wang, Los niños escondidos. Del Holocausto a Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires: Marea Editorial, 2004).

30. Lesser, Welcoming the Undesirebles; Senkman, Argentina, la segunda Guerra Mundial.

31. Marío T. García, "Identity and Gender in Mexican-American Testimonio. The Life and Narrative of Frances Esquivel Tywoniak," in Rina Benmayor, Andor Skotnes, eds. Migration and Identity (London: Routledge, 2017), 151–152.

32. Patrick von zur Mühlen, Fluchtweg Spanien-Portugal. Die deutsche Emigration und der Exodus aus Europe 1933–1945 (Bonn: Forschungsinstitut der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung und Dietz Verlag, 1988), 151–152.

33. Zdzisław Kurnikowski (envoy in Buenos Aires) to Polish consul in Lisbon, July 18, 1940, file 173, unit 248, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

34. Zdzisław Kurnikowski to the Polish consul in Belgrade, October 22,1940, file 91, unit 248, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

35. Mieczysław Chałupczyński (chargé d'affaires Buenos Aires legacy) to MSZ, May 14, 1941, file 5, unit 252, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

36. Polish envoy to Chile (unsigned Władysław Mazurkiewicz) to MSZ, May 25, 1941, file 16, unit 252 Uchodźcy wojenni z ZSRR. Możliwość wjazdu do, Argentyny, Brazylii, Chile, Kanady i Urugwaju. Raporty, okólniki, korespondencja.] 1941–1945 (Polish refugees form the USRR. Possibilities of entry to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada and Uruguay. Reports, circulars, correspondence 1941–1945), collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

37. Mieczysław Chałupczyński to MSZ, May 14, 1941, file 5, unit 230, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

38. Maria Luiza Tucci Carneiro, Weltbürger. Brasilien und die jüdische Fluchtlinge 1933–1948 (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2014), 226–239.

39. Through the 1930s, Brazil was worried about Poland's "colonization by migration" plans and acted against Polish nationalist propaganda among the Polish colony in Brazil. Tucci Carneiro, Weltbürger. Brasilien und, 199–216.

40. Tadeusz Skowroński to MSZ, September 26, 1940, file 48, unit 248, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

41. Julian Tuwim's letter to his sister Irena Tuwim-Stawińska, October 27,1940, Listy Juliana Tuwima do Ireny i Juliana Stawińskich, letters-manuscripts, microfilms 58205 and 58206, National Library in Warsaw.

42. August Zaleski, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs to consuls in Mexico, Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile, October 11,1940, files 48–50, unit 248, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

43. Tadeusz Skowroński, Polish envoy in Rio de Janeiro to MSZ, September 26,1940, file 48, unit 248, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

44. Tadeusz Skowroński, Wojna polsko-niemiecka widziana z Brazylii 1939–1940 (The Polish-German War As Seen From Brazil) (London: Polska Fundacja Kulturalna, 1980), 150–151.

45. Neill Lochery, Brazil: the Fortunes of War (New York: Basic Books, 2014), 156–157.

46. Lesser, Welcoming the Undesirables, 136.

47. Consul in Buenos Aires to consul in Bern, Madrid, Lisbon, August 25, 1940, file 126, unit 248, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

48. Samantha Power, "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2002), 26.

49. Zdzisław Kurnikowski to the Polish legacy in Stockholm, September 10, 1940, file 149, unit 248, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

50. Mieczysław Chałupczyński to Argentine Dirección de Migraciones, July 7, 1941, file 171, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

51. Polish legacy in Bern to legacy in Buenos Aires, June 1941, file 114, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

52. Polish legacy in Buenos Aires to Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 10, 1941, files 115, 116, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

53. Oskar Kon owned also a bank (Łódź Deposit Bank). He was supposed to have bribed German officers who let him run away to Switzerland. Leszek Skrzydło, Rody Fabrykanckie (Łódź: Oficyna Bibliofilów, 1999), 19–20. See Bolesław Lesman, Recepta na miliony: z dziejów rodu Konów (Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza, 1967).

54. Agnieszka Haska, "'Proszę Pana Ministra o energiczną interwencję': Aleksander Ładoś (1891–1963) i ratowanie żydów przez Poselstwo RP w Bernie," Zagłada żydów. Studia i Materiały 11 (2015): 299–309.

55. Polish legacy in Tokyo to Buenos Aires legacy, August 9, 1941, file 235, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

56. Polish legacy in Buenos Aires to Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, undated, 1941, file 236, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

57. Karol Staniszewski (Polish envoy in Tokyo) to the Polish legacy in Buenos Aires, April 21, 1941, files 7–8, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

58. Newspaper clipping, file 395, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

59. Władysław Mazurkiewicz to Mieczysław Chałupczyński, file 320, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

60. Polish legacy in Buenos Aires to Andrés Máspero Castro, Director of Argentine Direción de Migraciones, November 3,1945, file 376, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

61. Polish legacy in Argentina to Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, February 5, 1942, file 418, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN. On the Gartenberg family, see Julien Hirszhaut, Yidishe naft-magnatn (Buenos Aires: Tsentral-farband fun poylishe yidn in argentine, 1954).

62. MSZ to the Polish legacy in Buenos Aires, undated, probably 1940, file 111, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

63. See Tadeusz Wolsza, Najdorf. Z Warszawy do Buenos Aires (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Penelopa, 2010); Liliana Najdorf, Najdorf o Najdorfie (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Penelopa, 2014).

64. "Special Concentration Camp for Jews Established in Morocco; Thousands Interned," Jewish Telegraphic Agency, September 29, 1942.

65. Lesser, Welcoming the Undesirables, 138.

66. Tadeusz Skowroński to the Polish legacy in Buenos Aires, July 9, 1941, file 309, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

67. Polish legacy in Buenos Aires to Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, August 11, 1941, file 308, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

68. Mieczysław Chałupczyński to MSZ, December 5, 1941, file 22, unit 252, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

69. Hotel de Inmigrantes (Immigrants' Hotel) was a public facility used to temporarily house immigrants before they found permanent housing in Buenos Aires.

70. A report by A. Marczyński, Polish legacy in Buenos Aires, October 10, 1941, unknown file number, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN. Altogether Argentine authorities denied entry to 43 refugees. Leonardo Senkman, "Argentina's Immigration Policy (1938–1945)", Yad Vashem Studies XXI (1991): 167.

71. Lesser, Welcoming the Undesirables, 140–141

72. Ibid., 141.

73. Lista de los refugiados ciudadanos polacos que permanecen en el Puerto de Buenos Aires, file 277, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

74. Mieczysław Chałupczyński to MSZ, December 5,1941, files 221–224, unit 252, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

75. A report from the visit on Andalucia Star, Polish legacy in Buenos Aires, December 5, 1941, file 330, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

76. A group of Polish Jews, passengers of Andalucia Star to the British consul in Buenos Aires, via the Polish legacy in Buenos Aires, November 27, 1941, file 375, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

77. A group of Polish Jews, passengers of Andalucia Star to the Polish legacy in Buenos Aires, undated, file 348, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

78. Tadeusz Skowroński, to the Polish legacy in Buenos Aires, October 22, 1940, unknown file number, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

79. A report, Polish legacy in Buenos Aires, December 5, 1941, file 330, unit 250, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN

80. They were admitted again to England, which they left earlier. One of the passengers, Józef Ausderweil, was naturalized in Britain in 1950 (document no. HO 334/335/10063, British National Archives). The fates of other passengers are unknown.

81. In 1938, Republika published thirteen weekly magazines, which sold thousands of copies every day.

82. Mieczysław Marchlewski (envoy in Mexico) to Polish legacy in Argentina, September 24, 1940, file 189, unit 248, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

83. Władysław Raczyński, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs to embassies around the world, April 28, 1943, file 27, unit 252, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN. This letter was written during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which the government in London officially supported, yet did not engage in any massive form of assistance to the Jewish fighters. See Joshua D. Zimmerman, The Polish Underground and the Jews, 1939–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 210–238.

84. Mieczysław Chałupczyński to MSZ, December 5, 1941, files 20–24, unit 252, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN.

85. Władysław Mazurkiewicz to MSZ, May 23, 1941, file 16, unit 252, collection Poselstwo w Buenos Aires, AAN. See Moshe Nes-El, "La actitud de Chile frente a la inmigración judía durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial (1933–1943)" in Discriminación y racismo en América Latina: [Seminario Internacional realizado en la Universidad de Buenos Aires a fines de 1994], ed. Ignacio Klich and Mario Rapoport (Buenos Aires: n.p., 1997), 297–310.

86. Jorge Israel Kleinman, Septimo milagro. La increible historia de un sobreviviente (Buenos Aires: Editorial Piscoteca, 1998), 144.

87. Roberto Rashella, Mariano Fiszman, La historia que nunca les conté. El libro de Gisela, Polonia 1943–1944 (Buenos Aires: Normal, 2006), 119–126.

88. Leonardo Senkman, "Los sobrevivientes de la Shoa en Argentina: su imagen y memoria en la sociedad general y judía: 1945–1950," Arquivo Maaravi: Revista Digital de Estudos Judaicos da UFMG 1 (2007): 72.

89. The Jews were not allowed to immigrate despite the fact that Argentina itself worked to bring in enormous contingents of immigrants to boost its economy. Between 1947 and 1951 around 600,000 people, including 410,000 Italians and 140,000 Spaniards were permitted to immigrate to Argentina. Avni, Argentina y las migraciones judías, 400.

90. Circular letters no. E-59 and E-62, both B. F. Pol collection 350 American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (further as 350 AJDC) (1945–1949), Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw (further as ZIH). In Uruguay Junta Israelita de Socorro cooperated with the Joint.

91. Isidoro Teichmann, El privilegio de Vivir. Memorias de un sobreviviente de la Segunda Guerra Mundial (Buenos Aires: Lumiere, 2007), 270–271.

92. Leonardo Senkman, "Etnicidad e inmigración durante el primer Perónismo," EIAL Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y del Caribe 3, no. 2 (1992), unpaginated.

93. Comite Central pro-Socorro, file 6, box 48. Sekretariat. Sprawy organizacyjne AJDC w Polsce. Materiały dotyczące działalności AJDC w Polsce w okresie 1945–1946 (The organizational matters of the AJDC in Poland. Materials concerning AJDC activities in Poland between 1945 and 1946), collection 350 AJDC ŻIH., collection 350 American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (further as 350 AJDC) (1945–1949), Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw (further as ŻIH); telegram of Junta de Ayuda Judía Argentina to Joint in Warsaw, January 10, 1946, object 24–25, box 226 Sekretariat. Korespondencja ogólna (wychodząca i przychodząca) z AJDC w Buenos Aires (1945–1948) (Secretarial Office. General correspondence (incoming and outgoing) from the AJDC in Buenos Aires [1945 and 1948]), collection 350, AJDC ŻIH.

94. William Bein (Warsaw Joint) to the Joint in Buenos Aires, August 6, 1946[?], box 226, collection 350, AJDC ŻIH.

95. Benjamin Rosenberg, interview by David Zolotow, April 22, 1996, USC Shoah Foundation, interview 13783, segments 61–64.

96. William Bein to the Junta Israelita de Socorro in Montevideo, September 23,1948 and William Bein to United Service for New Americans in New York, September 23, 1948, box 1548, Wydział Emigracyjny. Akta personalne. Korespondencja (wychodząca) w sprawie emigracji do Ameryki Środkowej i Południowej (Argentyna, Chile, Kostaryka, Dominikana, Ekwador, Kolumbia, Kuba, Meksyk, Peru, San Domingo, Urugwaj, Wenezuela) (Emigration Department. Personal files. Outgoing correspondence concerning emigration to Central and South America [Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Equador, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Haiti, Uruguay, Venezuela]), collection 350, AJDC ŻIH.

97. Rosana Kozuchowicz Meiches, Nos campos de memória. A história de Kiwa Kozuchowicz, Prisioneiro B513–Sebreviviente de Holocausto (São Paulo, LEER 2012), 269–270.

98. William Bein to the Joint in Buenos Aires, July 19, 1946[?], box 226, collection 350, AJDC ŻIH.

99. Mendel Zelcer, interview by Alberto Sznaiderberg, September 15, 1996, USC Shoah Foundation, interview 20109, segment 136.

100. David Guzik (Warsaw Joint) to the Joint office in Buenos Aires, February 23, 1946, object 70, box 226/350, AJDC ŻIH.

101. Teichmann, El privilegio de Vivir, 59, 271.

102. Józef Gitler-Barski (Warsaw Joint) to Asociación Filantropica Israelita Buenos Aires, 7.7.1948, box 1548, collection 350, AJDC ŻIH. The Associación united German Jews but in late 1945 cooperated with the Joint.

103. Joint office in Warsaw to Cywia Kramarska and Abram Kolski, July 26, 1948, box 1548, collection 350, AJDC ŻIH.

104. Kozuchowicz Meiches, Nos campos de memória, 269–271.

105. Tadeo Daniel Kastner, interview by Claudia Shocron de Lichtmann, September 15, 1996, USC Shoah Foundation, interview 34139, segments 88–99.

106. Zelcer, interview, segments 175–179.

107. Teichmann, El privilegio de Vivir, 275–282

108. Julio Pitluk, interview by Alberto Sznaiderberg, July 14, 1996, USC Shoah Foundation, interview 17397, segments 226–227.

109. Abraham Kleinburd, interview by Mirta Hecht de Yanco, November 20, 1997, USC Shoah Foundation, interview 38201, segment 36.

110. Zelcer, interview, segments 168–179.

111. José Frankowski, interview by Diego Rosemberg, September 29, 1996, USC Shoah Foundation, interview 20274, segments 62–66.

112. United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

113. Mordcha Lin, interview by Diego Rosemberg, August 3, 1996, USC Shoah Foundation, interview 18381, segment 128–131.

114. Rosenberg, interview, segment 82.

115. Kastner, interview, segment 95.

116. Abraham Salomon, interview by Mónica Salomón, August 4, 1996, USC Shoah Foundation, interview 18179, segments 57–58.

117. Kleinman, Septimo milagro, 144–204.

118. Józef Gitler-Barski to Joint in Buenos Aires, December 1,1947, object 31, box 226, collection 350, AJDC ŻIH.

119. William Bein to Joint in Buenos Aires, May 29,1947, box 226/350, AJDC ŻIH.

120. B. F. Pollack from the Joint in Buenos Aires to the Warsaw Joint office, November 17, 1947, object 12, box 226, collection 350, AJDC ŻIH; Józef Gitler-Barski to Joint in Buenos Aires, January 8, 1948, object 11, box 226, collection 350, AJDC ŻIH.

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