Seeking asylum : German Jewish refugees in South Africa, 1933-1948 / Lotta M. Stone.
The history of Jewish refugees from Germany is a central aspect of the history of the Holocaust, opening windows on Europe during the Nazi era as it follows the experiences of those who fled to other locations. Between 1933 and 1941, nearly 6,000 German Jews found refuge in South Africa. Relatively few in number, these asylum seekers raise significant questions about refugees and racist antisemitism.This study provides a multi-layered perspective on German Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe to South Africa. Three strands of inquiry emerge as crucial. South Africa was politically divided, and this division influenced public policy. The concern over the influx of Jewish immigrants was reflected in the debates over immigration policies and the treatment of “enemy aliens.” The demographics and experiences of these asylum seekers from Nazi Germany tells the story of who these people were, why they left Germany, and their process of adjustment to an alien land. Immigration involves the host as well as the newcomer and the reception of the group by the existing South African Jewish and non-Jewish communities played a vital role in the refugee experience. Central to the study is the issue of racism. How “white” are Jews? Racism forced the Jews to flee Europe. Racism colored their reception. And racism shaped South African society.The immigration, assimilation, and acculturation of German Jewish asylum seekers in South Africa during the 1930s and 1940s was determined by many factors and raises key questions. This study opens a fresh perspective on what it means to be a refugee, the responsibility of organizational leadership, the relationship between immigrants and the nation's economy, the duty of the individual to assist the outsider, the racist structure of South Africa and the position of Jews in such a hierarchical society, the role of gender in the re-rooting process, and the bonds of family as civil society disintegrates. This study provides new insight into these questions as it follows the asylum seekers and the country that received them.
Record last modified: 2018-05-18 16:20:00
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