Skip to content

Refugee, Part 1

July 15, 2018

Displaced persons and refugees in Hamburg, Germany (1945), Author Sgt. J. Mapham, 5th Army, Film & Photographic Unit, Source Imperial War Museum, WWII Collection (PD as work of UK govt.)


Noun – A condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger or trouble.


Noun – The protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee.

From 1933 to 1941, the Nazi Regime pursued a policy of forced emigration against Jews, though Jews had lived in Germany for over 1000 years [1A][2].

More than 340,000 Jews fled Germany and Austria during this time.  Tragically, 100,000 of these refugees ultimately became victims of the Holocaust, having fled to European nations the Nazis shortly conquered.

Voyage of the St. Louis

Between March 1938 and September 1939, around 85,000 Jewish refugees managed to reach the United States.  They were not welcomed with open arms.

In one infamous incident, the United States refused entry to some 900 Jewish passengers on the St. Louis, a ship out of Hamburg, Germany.  With no other option, the St. Louis returned to Europe.  Some 40% of the St. Louis’ passengers later died in concentrations camps.

Due to national security concerns, the United States placed further restrictions on immigration in 1941.

The “Final Solution”

Then, in November 1942, American papers published news of the Nazis’ so called “Final Solution”.

As a result, the United States, Great Britain, and 10 other nations jointly issued a Declaration of Atrocities on December 17, 1942 [3A].  While this Declaration threatened punishment for Nazi horrors, it made no provision for refugees.

Representatives from the United States and Great Britain met in 1943 at the Bermuda Conference to discuss aiding Europe’s Jews, but no plan was forthcoming.

War Refugee Board

Finally, in 1944 the War Refugee Board (WRB) was created [3B].  This agency was charged with the rescue and relief of Nazi victims.  The WRB funded secret operations that saved tens of thousands of lives.  The agency released information about Auschwitz to the public, and sent 300,000 disguised food packages into concentration camps in the final weeks of WWII.

Displaced Persons

Following the war, over 2 million men, women, and children were made refugees, including 250,000 Jews.  Displaced persons camps administered by the Allies were established to provide food and shelter.

On December 22, 1945, the Truman Directive was issued, instructing that priority be given to displaced persons, within existing immigration quotas [3C].  The United States allowed 16,000 displaced Jews entry, in this way [1B].

In 1948, the Displaced Persons Act authorized entry of 200,000 displaced persons to the United States, again with no special provision made for Jews [3D].  Some 80,000 Holocaust survivors emigrated to the United States under the terms of the Act.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

That same year the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which formally acknowledged the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution [4].

[1A and 1B]  US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Encyclopedia, Refugees,

[2]  Wikipedia, “History of the Jews in Germany”,

[3A, 3B, 3C and 3D]  US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Encyclopedia, The United States and the Holocaust 1942-1945,

[4]  Wikipedia, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”,

This series will continue next week.


From → Immigration, Justice, Law

  1. We haven’t done well, have we…

  2. Great post Anna!
    I have read what seem to be predictions of the Holocaust in scripture..
    To survive the Holocaust and then endure as a refugee.. Their strength must have come from God..
    Genesis 12:3

    • I agree, Mary. Yet God used the Holocaust to establish the state of Israel, as He used the Jewish diaspora to spread faith in Him.

      • Good point Anna,
        I heard that many Jewish people settled in India.. and some have made Aliyah.

  3. Reblogged this on Anchor Thy Soul and commented:
    Refuge- By Anna Waldherr of A Lawyers Prayers

  4. This is a great post, too. I’m sure I need to visit your site for references. 🙂

  5. A powerful post Anna. Thank you for opening our eyes.

  6. Great post, my Dear Anna. Peace, Love and Joy to You and Yours. Yesudas.

  7. We just don’t seem to get it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: