Hannah Arendt organizes a Kindertransport from Czechoslovakia
The Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), the largest international charitable women’s organization in the world, in cooperation with other organizations and under the leadership of the German-Jewish activist Recha Freier (1892-1984), founded the organization “Children and Youth Aliyah” on May 30, 1933, which arranged the emigration of thousands of Jewish youth to Palestine to escape Nazi persecution. Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) worked for the organization in her Parisian exile and is a co-signatory of the 1939 memorandum, which provides information about the plan to transfer about fifty Jewish children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia to France in order to prepare them for emigration to Palestine.
1) La WIZO-ALIAH désirerait faire entrer en France une cinquantaine d’enfants Juifs de Tchéco-Slovaquie, d’environ 13 ans.
2) Chaque dossier comprends:
a) une autorisation paternelle légalisée devant notaire
b) un questionnaire
c) un certificat médical avec radioscopie, signé par le médicin accrédité suprès du Consulat Français à Prague.
d) une photo.
3) L’entretien de ces enfants est assuré
a) par une somme de 160.000 francs mise à notre disposition par l’Union Libérale de Paris (Président M. Andre Baur).
b) par une somme de Mille Livres, garantie par notre organisation de Londres, “Youth Aliyah”, 2 Southampton Place.
c) Chaque enfant est garanti et sera placé dans une famille française qui se charge pendant un an des frais d’entretien et de scolarité etc. … sous le contrôle du Comité Central des Réfugies et sous la surveillance de la Wizo-Aliah.
4) Le choix des enfants a été fait par la “Pomocny Vybor pro Zidovskou Mlades” (Aliah de la Jeunesse), de Prague. Tous ces enfants sont destinés des leur inscription, à devenir des ouvriers agricoles spécialises. Les fonds recueillis par la WIZO-ALIAH (Voir paragraphs 3, a et b) serviront à assurer à ces enfants un apprentissage de deux ans dans les écoles professionelles françaises.
5) Avant d’entrer dans ces écoles, chaque enfant fréquentera l’école communale et devra se présenter aux épreuves du Certificat d’Études.
6) Ces enfants se trouvent directement menacés du fait de l’occupation si rapide de la Tchéco-Slovaquie.
1) WIZO-ALIAH would like to bring to France about 50 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia, about 13 years old.
2) Each file includes:
a) a paternal authorization legalized before a notary public
b) a questionnaire
c) a medical certificate with radioscopy, signed by the doctor accredited by the French Consulate in Prague.
d) a photo.
3) The maintenance of these children is assured
a) by a sum of 160,000 francs made available to us by the Union Libérale de Paris (President Mr. Andre Baur).
b) by a sum of one thousand pounds, guaranteed by our organization in London, “Youth Aliyah”, 2 Southampton Place.
c) Each child is guaranteed and will be placed with a French family who will take care of the maintenance and school fees etc. for one year under the control of the Central Refugee Committee and under the supervision of Wizo-Aliah.
4) The choice of the children was made by the “Pomocny Vybor pro Zidovskou Mlades” (Aliah of Youth), from Prague. All these children are destined to become specialized agricultural workers as soon as they are enrolled. The funds raised by WIZO-ALIAH (see paragraphs 3, a and b) will be used to provide these children with a two-year apprenticeship in French vocational schools.
5) Before entering these schools, each child will attend the communal school and must take the Certificate of Studies exams.
6) These children are directly threatened by the rapid occupation of Czechoslovakia.
Immediately after the Zionist Congress in The Hague in 1907, a group of German Zionist women formed the “Jewish Women’s Association for Cultural Work in Palestine” to improve the social and economic conditions of Jewish women in Palestine. The Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) in turn was founded in 1920 by Lady Rebecca Sieff in London. The German “Kulturverein” joined it, but continued its work independently. In 1923, another Zionist women’s organization was founded in Dresden, the “Bund Zionistischer Frauen”, which was intent on independence. In 1929 both organizations merged and joined WIZO.
Recha Freier, who had been living in Berlin since 1926, the former president of WIZO Bulgaria and member of the WIZO executive board, recognized the imminent danger for the Jewish population in Germany right at the beginning of the Nazi era and, despite immense difficulties and great resistance, developed the “Children and Youth Aliyah” program in order to bring as many children as possible from Germany to Palestine, to give them professional training there and to create a new home for them with adoptive parents in kibbutzim. The first group of children left Germany in 1932, even before the organization was officially founded on January 30, 1933, the day Hitler seized power. The organization was based in Berlin-Charlottenburg. In Jerusalem, Henrietta Szold (1860-1945) was the head of the local office and received the arriving children and young people. A further office was opened in London. There was also a branch in Paris, for which Hannah Stern, later Arendt, worked. In 1939, even before the beginning of the Second World War, the work was concentrated from Paris on German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Thousands of Jewish girls and boys were saved from the Nazis through the “Children and Youth Aliyah” program.
Mémorial de la Shoah Archives, Fond MD 16, Aliah de la Jeunesse + WIZO Section française
With special thanks to Édouard Sill, who supported We Refugees Archive with his research work in Paris.