An affidavit is a declaration of surety with which citizens and organizations in a destination country, for example the USA, could help in obtaining entry permits for persecuted persons in Nazi Germany and the territories occupied by it. Often an affidavit was necessary to obtain a visa for the United States.

Agudat Israel

Agudat Israel is a political movement within orthodox Jewry, founded in Kattowitz (now Katowice), Poland, in May 1912. Branches in Western and Eastern Europe, the United Sates and Palestine gradually developed. Agudat Israel reached the peak of its political aspiratons and institutional development in interwar Eastern Europe, especially in Poland and Lithuania. While Agudat Israel opposed secular zionism and therefore the establishment of a Jewish state in the British Mandate of Palestine, it didn’t object to a Jewish settlement in Israel. Affiliated youth movements were very active in the preparation of young Orthodox Jews for the emigration to the land of Israel.

American Guild for German Cultural Freedom

On the initiative of Prinz zu Löwenstein (1906-1984), the American Guild for German Cultural Freedom was founded in the USA in 1935 as an aid organization for exiled German intellectuals and artists. Through the financial, moral and practical support of the American Guild, these exiles were to be enabled to continue their work in exile and thus to keep alive the “true German culture” suppressed by the Nazis. The American Guild awarded work scholarships, which it financed primarily through donations. In addition, the Guild helped to find publishers and translators to distribute the works of the supported artists. In addition to Prince Löwenstein, who himself was exiled, Thomas Mann (1875-1955), as president of the literary section, and Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), as president of the scientific section, took leading roles in the American Guild. Beginning in 1940, the American Guild was forced to cease its support activities due to lack of funding and internal disputes. Today, the archives of the American Guild are housed in the German Exile Archive (Deutsches Ecilarchiv)1933-1945 of the German National Library in Frankfurt am Main.

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (known as JDC or Joint) is the largest, most important American Jewish nonpolitical help organization with its headquarters in New York City since 1914.


The “Anschluss” (Annexation) of Austria refers to the processes by which Austrian and German National Socialists integrated Austria into the National Socialist German Reich in March 1938 under the name “Ostmark.” Acclaimed by a large part of the Austrian population, Austria merged into the German Reich with the “Anschluss.” Many Austrians took an active part in the National Socialist crimes or even encouraged them. For social democrats, communists, and especially for Austrian Jews, the “Anschluss” meant deprivation of rights, expropriation, and terror. Often the only way to save themselves was to flee, which many did not succeed in doing due to the macabre exit and restrictive entry regulations. In April 1945, Vienna and its surroundings were liberated by the Red Army. With the declaration of independence on April 27, 1945, the “Anschluss” was declared “null and void.” In many other parts of Austria, such as Tyrol, the Nazi regime did not end until the end of the Second World War in May 1945.


Ashkenazim are Jews who trace their origins back to the Jewish communities and cultures that developed in Central and Eastern Europe since the Middle Ages, and today make up a majority of all Jews worldwide. The term “Ashkenazim” is of biblical origin and originally refers to Jewish settlers who founded communities on the Rhine in what is now the German Rhineland and northern France. Due to religious persecution, there was a steady migration eastward, so that the aristocratic Republic of Poland-Lithuania and its successor states, which existed from 1569 to 1795, became the main settlement site of Ashkenazi communities. Ashkenazim developed a large corpus of religious legal texts. Ashkenazi culture is characterized by its own religious customs, liturgies and dialect. Yiddish is a hybrid language of Hebrew, Germanic and Slavic elements, with countless dialects. The Holocaust hit the Ashkenazi communities hardest: not only were the majority of the Holocaust victims Ashkenazim, but the Holocaust also meant the end of the rich Ashkenazi culture in Central and Eastern Europe.



Der Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeter Bund in Lite, Poyln, un Rusland (The General Union of Jewish Workers in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia), known simply as Bund and its members as Bundists, was founded in Vilnius in October 1897 by a small group of Jewish intelligentsia influenced by Marxism. At the beginning of the 20th century, it had 34,000 members in 274 branches and was the largest and best-organized Jewish party in Eastern Europe with an inherently anti-Zionist agenda. Originally, its aim was to win over Eastern European Jews, especially the emerging, disenfranchised Eastern European Jewish working class, to the burgeoning Russian revolutionary movement and the struggle for economic, civil and political rights through politicisation. Later, it added the ideological goal of Jewish national-cultural autonomy and began to present itself as the guardian of secular Yiddish Jewish culture in the diaspora. The party was liquidated in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, but Poland had already become the main centre of the party during the First World War. Under German occupation during the Second World War, the Bund built up a complex underground network to both continue educational activities in the ghettos and disseminate information about the Holocaust in Poland to the Polish government in exile and political leaders in the West. In 1941 New York City became the main centre of the Federation. With the adoption of the Stalinist line in post-war socialist Poland, the party ceased to exist after 50 years of activity in Eastern Europe.


Central American Street Gangs: Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13)

Due to the lack of social support structures, young Central American immigrants in particular have been forming gangs in Los Angeles and other large cities since the 1980s. Instead of tackling the root of the migration problem, large numbers of immigrants from Central America were deported to their home countries under the pretext of fighting crime, where they became part of the violent regional milieu and caused renewed flight movements to North America.

Criminal street gangs operate in the urban centers of the Central American states of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador – the “northern triangle”. The hostile Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (also known as MS 13 or just Mara for short) are among the largest groups, with tens of thousands of members. Although they are represented in all the countries of the northern triangle, the individual associations operate largely independently. Since the 2000s, the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have pursued a “hard hand” (mano dura) policy against the street gangs, putting numerous members behind bars over the past decades. However, this has not diminished their criminal activities. The overcrowded prisons have developed into veritable headquarters from which, among other things, the extortion of bus and cab operators, street vendors, shopkeepers and private individuals is commissioned and controlled.


Cities safe havens

In the summer of 2019, 13 cities founded the municipal alliance “Cities of Safe Havens” on the initiative of the international movement Seebrücke. Among the cities which joined the alliance were Berlin, Flensburg, Freiburg, Kiel, Marburg and Potsdam.

The cities agree to take in more people than the distribution quotas for refugees allocate to them. And they are fighting for the right to finally be able to decide for themselves on the admission of refugees – something they are not allowed to do under the current legal situation. Currently, cities (in Germany) need the permission of the national government to enforce their decisions on the additional admission of people rescued from the sea.




Conditional Protection and Subsidiary Protection in Turkey

Turkey has signed the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, but with the geographical reservation that it only applies to refugees from Europe and only they can be granted “refugee” status in Turkey. Since all refugees from other countries needed to have another legal basis for their asylum claims and procedures, the Turkish Parliament passed a new Law on Foreigners and International Protection in 2013, thus creating a new asylum system. Refugees who meet the refugee characteristics of the Geneva Refugee Convention but do not come from Europe can be granted a conditional refugee status and thus a residence permit. Those who cannot obtain this status but are at risk of arbitrary violence, death penalty, torture, or other treatment that violates human rights in their country of origin may be granted subsidiary protection status. The third international protection status created by the 2013 law is temporary protection status.


A smuggler that helps migrants cross the U.S. border. Prices currently range from $6,000 to $10,000 per person. In recent years, it has become nearly impossible to cross the border without a smuggler because Los Zetas, a Mexican drug smuggling organization, requires payments for passage and only accepts them from smugglers. It is estimated that the coyotes transport up to one million migrants per year, generating revenues of up to $7 billion per year.


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

provides temporary relief from deportation (deferred action) and eligibility for work authorization to certain young undocumented immigrants. DACA was created on June 15, 2012, by then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (Obama administration). Unlike federal legislation, DACA must be renewed every two years. US President Trump tried to stop the DACA program in 2017, he wanted to have the so-called Dreamers (people who entered the US illegally as children) deported. However, he suffered an outright defeat in the U.S. Supreme Court. This court confirmed the protection from deportation for about 700,000 immigrants who had come to the USA illegally as children. Under President Biden, DACA was again to be implemented by executive order; this time, however, the federal court ruled against reinstatement. Thus, the future of DACA remains uncertain; currently, the program is only a protection for those already in it.


Discrimination comes from the Latin discriminare and means to separate, to differentiate. Discrimination is an instrument for distinguishing and dividing people into groups, for drawing differences and constructing the “other”, for establishing, justifying and justifying unequal treatment.

“The term discrimination refers to extremely heterogeneous facts – to social gender relations, to the social exclusion of minorities, to nationalism and racism, and so on – which are embedded in respective historical and social contexts and have specific manifestations in them. Discrimination can therefore not be understood sufficiently as a consequence of individual attitudes or collective mentalities alone. Rather, it is a complex system of social relations in which discriminatory distinctions emerge and become effective”. [1 Scherr, Albert, 2016: Discrimination/Anti-discrimination – Terms and Principles, APuZ 9/2016, p. 3].
Intersectional or multidimensional discrimination occurs when people are (differently) marginalised, excluded, disadvantaged and/or degraded on the basis of several attributed personality traits – e.g. gender, sexual orientation, origin, class, age, etc. The extent of disadvantage and vulnerability is often increased by an accumulation of several categories of discrimination. The concept of intersectionality was coined in 1989 by the American black feminist lawyer Kimberlé Crenshaw. In her work, she shows intersections, i.e. overlaps of racism and sexism.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell-Policy

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) refers to the practice used by some US cities not to ask illegalised migrants, but also citizens of cities in general, about their residence papers when they come into contact with municipal authorities and not to pass on any information to superordinated authorities and institutions. This practice is based on the expectation that illegalised people do not run the risk of being deported and are therefore more likely to contact the police, for example in the case of crimes they experience, thus making the cities safer. Another advantage is that it enables illegalised people to deal with authorities under easier circumstances, without having to have the above described fears. 11Darling, Jonathan and Harald Bauder. 2019. Sanctuary Cities and Urban Struggles: Rescaling Migration, Citizenship, and Rights / Edited by Jonathan Darling and Harald Bauder. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. URL: last checked 24 Jun 2022



  • 1Darling, Jonathan and Harald Bauder. 2019. Sanctuary Cities and Urban Struggles: Rescaling Migration, Citizenship, and Rights / Edited by Jonathan Darling and Harald Bauder. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. URL: last checked 24 Jun 2022

Dublin Regulation

The Dublin Regulation determines which European state (EU states, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland) is responsible for conducting an asylum procedure. The “Dublin Convention” adopted in 1990 was replaced by the Dublin II Regulation in 2003 and by the Dublin III Regulation in 2013. In principle, the European state is responsible for examining an asylum application in which an asylum seeker has first entered the territory of the EU. If a person lodges an asylum application in a state which, after examination of the application, is found not to be responsible under the Dublin Regulation, a request for taking charge is made to the State responsible and, if necessary, the person is returned there. However, a state also has the “right of self-defense” which allows it to assume responsibility for an asylum application, even if it is not responsible under the Dublin Regulation.


Economic refugees – economic migrants

are often derogatory terms in media discourse used for refugees who allegedly immigrate for purely economic reasons. Using these terms, opponents of immigration accuse refugees living of abusing the asylum law under the pretext of political persecution in order to improve their economic situation. This connotation disregards two important aspects: on the one hand, causes of flight are complex and the transitions between the individual reasons that lead people to flee are fluid and inseparable. On the other hand the accusation ignores global-historical connections that are responsible for the economic disparity between countries of the global North and countries of the global South, including in particular (neo-)colonial structures.

Emergency Rescue Committee

The Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC) was founded at the end of June 1940 in New York by German and American intellectuals and scientists. The goal of the aid organization was the rescue of persecuted artists and politicians from France to the USA. The immediate cause was the armistice agreement concluded between Germany and France on June 22, 1940, in which France undertook to extradite German fugitives. The journalist Varian Fry was sent to France on behalf of the organization to organize help for the refugees on the spot. Equipped with lists of names, Fry began setting up the Centre Américain de Secours (CAS) in Marseille in August 1940. The ERC/CAS organized financial aid for refugees, helped gather papers for further flight, and worked closely with other aid organizations. Under the guise of this activity, the CAS also worked with illegal methods: Refugees were provided with forged papers, for example, or were led on foot across the Pyrenees to Spain. This illegal work of the ERC/CAS was not unknown to the French police, and after a brief detention, Varian Fry was expelled from France in September 1941. Severely limited by financial and personnel difficulties, the CAS continued to operate until it was closed by the French authorities in 1942. It is impossible to say exactly how many people the ERC/CAS helped escape – by legal or illegal means. Today, it is estimated that there were 1,800 cases. The aid organization still exists today as the International Rescue Committee. 11N.N.: The Emergency Rescue Committee, in: Arts in Exile,


  • 1N.N.: The Emergency Rescue Committee, in: Arts in Exile,

Emergency Society for German Scholars in Exile

The Notgemeinschaft deutscher Wissenschaftler im Ausland (Emergency Society for German Scholars in Exile) was a self-help organisation founded by Philipp Schwartz in Switzerland (Zurich) in 1933 to find new jobs abroad for scientists persecuted in Nazi Germany.
Those who were placed undertook to pay a monthly salary – in instalments – to the Notgemeinschaft, so that their financial situation improved visibly. One of their main principles was that successfully placed emigrants would explore possibilities in their new sphere of activity to pave the way for other endangered or dismissed persons, not only professors, but also assistants, medical staff or doctoral students, to emigrate. This was largely realised in Istanbul.

After the head of the Notgemeinschaft, Philipp Schwartz, himself received a call to Istanbul in 1933, Fritz Demuth was elected as his successor. He continued to run the organisation, which moved to London in 1936, until 1946.

Enemy Aliens

is the Anglo-American legal term for citizens of a state with which the state they reside in is at war. During the First and Second World Wars, in Great Britain and the USA, but also in France and Germany, people were classified and interned as “enemy aliens”: In the USA, for example, this categorization was the basis for the internment of Japanese citizens during the Second World War. People who had fled Germany and become stateless persons through the withdrawal of their citizenship were also affected by the restrictions and internment. During the German occupation of France in the summer of 1940, many refugees from countries such as Germany and Italy, who had already been classified as “enemy aliens” or “indésirables”, were interned in detention camps. These political measures were accompanied not only in France by a social and media discourse of defense against refugees and immigrants, which brought with it social resentment and exclusion.


The EU-Turkey Declaration, adopted by the European Council on March 18, 2016 and effective as of March 20, 2016, is an agreement by which fewer people should reach the European Union through irregular routes via Turkey, mostly across the Mediterranean Sea. Under the agreement, any person deemed ineligible for asylum after an assessment by Greek authorities would be deported back to Turkey. In return, the same number of asylum-seekers from Syria were to be relocated to the EU. Turkey received a total of six billion euros for basic services, health care and education for the refugees.
While the agreement has resulted in significantly fewer people reaching the EU via Turkey, it is also seen as evidence of the EU’s isolationist policies and its failed human rights and asylum policies. The agreement is criticized, among other things, because it has left many people stuck in precarious living situations both in Turkey and on the Greek Aegean islands, with no prospect of a proper asylum procedure: Because getting out of Turkey has become almost impossible since the agreement, and anyone who has reached the Greek islands after March 2016 is not allowed to continue to the mainland. In both countries, the asylum systems are too overloaded to implement the agreement as planned. In addition, the deportations to Turkey, which are often carried out without prior checks on asylum eligibility, violate European asylum law. Also, the reception of refugees from Turkey, as provided for in the agreement, very rarely works.
The agreement and Turkey’s ability to make its borders with the EU passable again for refugees are seen as political leverage on the EU, for example to obtain visa facilitation and a new customs agreement. In March 2020, the Turkish government opened the borders in the west and declared that it was no longer preventing refugees from continuing their journey.

Évian Conference

From July 6-15, 1938, a conference of representatives of 32 states and 24 international aid organizations was held in Évian-les-Bains, France, to negotiate the possible admission of Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria. All but one of the participating states refused to accept more refugees: Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina sought to make his country’s population whiter, and to that end offered to take in refugees from Europe. The online exhibition “Closed Borders – The International Refugee Conference of Évianz 1938” sheds light on the conference and its background.


Geneva Refugee Convention

The Geneva Refugee Convention (actually “Convention relating to the Status of Refugees”) is the foundation of international refugee law. It was adopted in 1951 and was initially limited to protecting mainly European refugees directly after the Second World War. In order to do justice to the changed conditions of refugees worldwide, the scope of the Convention was extended both temporally and geographically by the 1967 Protocol. A total of 148 states have so far acceded to the Geneva Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol.

Today, it provides legal recognition worldwide for people who are forced to leave their country to seek refuge in another because of “race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” (Article 1, Refugee Convention). This definition includes only those refugees who are outside their country of origin, thus excluding internally displaced persons.

It clearly defines who is a refugee, regulates who is recognised as a refugee and who is excluded from refugee protection (e.g. war criminals) and lays down minimum standards for the treatment of persons who fulfil the requirements for refugee status. At the heart of the agreement is the non-refoulment principle, which prohibits expulsion and refoulement to a country where the life or freedom of the refugee is threatened.

Calls for the inclusion of further provisions in the Geneva Convention on Refugees are becoming ever louder. It is a question of granting protection and support to all those people who are now increasingly threatened and leaving their country of origin for reasons such as extreme poverty, environmental changes or disasters or the consequences of large-scale development projects.

German Church Asylum

German church asylum is not clearly regulated by law. In principle, members of the church can apply for church asylum, citing the churches’ tradition of granting asylum. In practice, people who are threatened with acute deportation can be protected for a certain period of time. During this time, the asylum procedure is usually reopened, which sometimes results in a positive decision. Churches or properties owned by churches, however, do not enjoy any legal protection that officially prevents authorities from carrying out deportations.
In Germany, there are currently 594 people in active church asylums (as of 22.04.2022).

Further information can be found here.



was founded in 1927 as an alliance of three emigration aid organizations for Jews: 1. HIAS, an American organization based in New York; 2. the Jewish Colonisation Association based in Paris; and 3. Emigdirect based in Berlin. During the Holocaust, HICEM was able to connect dozens of local Jewish committees around the world and bring thousands of Jewish refugees to safe havens in the United States, South and Central America, the Far East, and Australia.

Holocaust – Shoah – Khurbn

all denote the Nazi genocide of European Jews.

The word Holocaust is the most commonly used international term. It derives from the Greek holókaustus (completely burned), which was introduced in the Greek translation of the Tanach (Septuagint) as the equivalent of the Hebrew olah (burnt offering). Already during the Second World War, the term appeared in international press coverage both for the general devastation of the war and successively for the persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany. After the war, Holocaust first established itself in the Anglo-Saxon-speaking world and now functions both as a general term for the systematic extermination of population groups and as a specific term for the extermination of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its helpers. Due to its etymology and theological connotation of sacrifice, however, the term is highly controversial.

Since the Israeli declaration of independence in 1948, the genocide of European Jews has also been known as Shoah. Ha-Shoah means “destruction” or “catastrophe” in Hebrew. Unlike the term Holocaust, the term Shoah thus comes from the very language, which the Israeli state has elevated to the national language of the Jewish people, and is therefore often preferred as a term, not least because of its connotations as “natural disaster,” which is deemed less problematic.

Khurbn is the Yiddish term for destruction and was the instinctive term for the persecutions under German occupation used by the largest Jewish victim group in real-time: Yiddish-speaking Jews. Khurbn, too, has biblical origins and denotes the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem. The destruction of Jewish life and cultural worlds by Nazi Germany was thus set in continuity with the biblical catastrophes and often further specified as the driter khurbn (third destruction). Due to the hegemonic role of Hebrew in the post-war period, however, the Yiddish lexicon of destruction was largely marginalized and has only recently found its way back into primarily academic discourses.


Immigration and Customs Enforcemente (ICE)

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a federal agency subordinate to the United States Department of Homeland Security. It was established in 2003 in response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and is assigned the task of monitoring immigration and deporting illegalised people if public safety is said to be at risk.

In the first weeks of the Trump presidency, arrests of immigrants increased by over 30 percent. While the Obama administration directed ICE to arrest only immigrants with criminal records, arrest of immigrants with no criminal records have more than doubled since Trump´s election.

Integration courses

Integration courses for immigrants were introduced nationwide in Germany with the 2005 Immigration Act (Zuwanderungsgesetz). They consist of a multi-level language course and a so-called orientation course, in which knowledge of German law, history and culture is taught. The integration course is concluded with an examination. Access to the integration course depends on the residence status and the prospects to remain in Germany: While persons with a residence permit or a good prospect to remain – the latter even during the asylum procedure – have access to integration courses or can be obliged to do so, most asylum seekers during the asylum procedure and persons from so-called “safe countries of origin” are denied access.



Jewish Quota Refugees in Germany

From 1991 to 2005, Jews and their relatives as well as people with Jewish ancestors from the former Soviet Union were able to immigrate to Germany under the “Kontingentflüchtlingsgesetz” (Quota Refugee Law) of 9 January 1991. Thus, there was no official “Jewish migration” to Germany, but a legal framework for the symbolic migration of Jews was created. The immigrants came to West Berlin as well as to East Berlin on tourist visas. Since national affiliation in the USSR was paternal for (Non-)Jews, but many Jewish communities in Germany followed chalachic religious law (according to which Jewishness is passed on by one’s mother), many arrivees faced closed doors. Only about 85,000 of the nearly 220,000 immigrants found their way into the Jewish communities of the Federal Republic. These people de facto saved institutionalized Jewish life in Germany: if immigration had not taken place, there would no longer be any Jewish communities outside German metropoles today. In January 2005, the new Immigration Act was enacted, under which Jews can immigrate to Germany according to a point system.



Komitet tsu zamlen materialn vegn yidishn khurbn in Poyln 1939 (Committee to Collect Material about the Destruction of Polish Jewry 1939) was founded in November 1939 in Vilnius by a Polish Jewish collective of refugees in order to document Nazi crimes against the Jewish population of German-occupied Poland on the basis of refugee testimonies. It is known as one of the earliest historical Jewish commissions that offered resistance in documentary form in the shadow of the incipient Holocaust.


La Bestia

Spanish for “the Beast”. A colloquial term referring to the cargo trains in Mexico on which migrants travel to the United States.

La Migra

– a spanish slang term for a migration agent, officer, or agency.

Law on the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service

Two months after the National Socialist takeover, the Reich government passed the “Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” on April 7, 1933. The law served as a means of bringing the civil service into line and dismissing opponents of the Nazi regime. This also affected all civil servants and employees of Jewish origin. The “Aryan Paragraph” (Paragraph 3), which was formulated in this law for the first time, prohibited the employment of “non-Aryans” in the civil service, who were to be immediately retired.


Migrant house

Migrant house or casa del migrante in Spanish refers to the migrant shelters throughout Mexico that provide services including food, temporary boarding, and clothing. The humanitarian support provides to migrants includes medical and psychological care for those who need it, as well as legal assistance helping individuals with the migratory process and in deportation cases. Each year, hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants from Central America, in particular from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, travel through Mexico en route to the border with the United States. The first Casa del Migrante was created in 2002 in Saltillo after a wave of exploitation, violence and assassinations of Central American migrants.

Migration Regime

The term Migration Regime reflects the relationship between migration, its actors and migration policy, i.e. the regulation of migration relations, and includes questions of the agency of migration and migrants in the negotiation process. The term enjoys great popularity, although there is still no widely shared understanding of the use and interpretation of the term within migration research.

Mixed Migration

The growing diversity of the reasons for migration as well as the increasing number of mixed forms of forced and voluntary migration make it increasingly difficult to clearly distinguish the motives and paths of refugees and migrants. This is all the more problematic because the causes of flight have changed since the adoption of the Geneva Convention on Refugees in 1951: From a primarily individual or group-specific persecution to a flight from general or gender-specific violence or a threat caused by the destruction of the economic and ecological foundations of life. In addition, refugees and migrants led by people smugglers increasingly use the same (irregular) migration routes. Many migrants try to settle in destination countries by applying for asylum, because most industrialized and emerging countries do not offer sufficient legal migration opportunities to refugees and migrants. Existing concepts and terminologies of migration research do not yet do justice to this complexity of forms of mobility.

Munich Agreement

The “Agreement between Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, concluded in Munich on September 29, 1938,” or Munich Agreement for short, is considered the culmination of the British-French appeasement policy toward Hitler and determined that Czechoslovakia had to cede the Sudetenland to the German Reich and vacate it within ten days. With the exclusion of Czechoslovak and Soviet representatives, it was signed in the night of September 29 to 30, 1938, by the heads of government Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Édouard Daladier and Benito Mussolini in order to end the “Sudeten crisis” and thus prevent, for the time being, the war that Hitler wanted to provoke by an international conflict over the autonomy of the Sudeten Germans. Even Czechoslovakia accepted the dictate of the agreement in the hope of avoiding war. The Wehrmacht invasion began on October 1, 1938, and Poland occupied the Teschen area as a result of the agreement on October 2, 1938. In the First Vienna Arbitration Award on November 2, 1938, Hungary was also granted territories in southern Slovakia and Carpatou Ukraine. In breach of the Munich Agreement, Hitler also occupied the so-called “rest of Czechoslovakia” on March 15-16, 1939.


New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

On September 19, 2016, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The New York Declaration reaffirms the importance of the international refugee regime and contains a wide range of commitments by member states to strengthen and enhance mechanisms to protect people on the move. It has paved the way for the adoption of two new global compacts in 2018: a global compact on refugees and a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

Night of Pogroms

The Night of Pogroms is the name given to the violent actions initiated, organized and directed by the National Socialist regime during the night of November 9-10, 1938, against Jews in Germany (including the “annexed” Austria). Between November 7 and 13, roughly 1,000 Jews were murdered and, from November 10 onward, about 30,000 Jews were imprisoned in concentration camps, where at least another 400 were murdered or died from the consequences of imprisonment. In addition, thousands of synagogues, prayer rooms and other meeting rooms, as well as stores and apartments of Jewish owners and Jewish cemeteries were destroyed. The pogroms marked a decisive point of escalation in the Matrix Holocaust.



Obshchestvo Remeslennago i Zemledelecheskago Truda Sredi Evreev v Rossii (The Society for Handicraft and Agricultural Work among the Jews of Russia). Since 1880 ORT funded craft education to encourage Jews to become artisans and agriculturalists. The organization was also active in refugee-related matters early on. Often in conjunction with other philanthropic organizations such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, it remained active in the Soviet Union until 1938 and also moved to Poland and other newly independent Eastern European states as major locations for ORT programs. Even under Nazi occupation, it continued activities in the ghettos clandestinely. After the war, ORT resumed its activities in Poland (intermittently), in Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. After 1991, the organization returned to post-Socialist Russia and Ukraine and resumed setting up schools.


is a term that describes the process of excluding individuals or groups, usually minorities, by attributing (mostly negative) characteristics that mark them as “different” than or opposite of the group excluding them. Othering usually takes place in a setting of power dynamics in which the individuals or groups are structurally discriminated against.


Obshchestvo okhraneniia zdorov’ia evreiskogo naseleniia, later Obschestvo zdravookhraneniia evreev (Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jewish Population): Founded in 1912 in Saint Petersburg, OZE was an organization devoted to the promotion of health, hygiene, and childcare among Russian Jews. During World War I, the organization had to divert attention away from its long-term mission and focused on providing large-scale emergency medical relief to Jewish refugees and displaced persons. OZE’s activities in Russia folded in 1921. In the same year, OZE was established in Lithuania with the financial help of the Joint. Also in 1921, the Polish branch of OZE became the national organization Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia Ludności Źidowskiej (Society for Safeguarding the Health of the Jewish Populace). With the rise of Nazi power in 1933, the OZE-Union relocated to Paris (later, from 1940 to 1945, to New York City), where it is still based today under the heading OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) World Union.


Prospects to remain

“Prospects to remain” (German: Bleibeperspektive) is a term in German asylum system that measures the chances of asylum seekers to be granted asylum or another legal protection status that leads to residence permit. The prospects to remain are calculated on the basis of the average recognition or protection rate (Anerkennungsquote/Schutzquote) for asylum applications from the country of origin of the asylum seeker. In Germany, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) determines every six months which countries of origin are considered to have “good prospects to remain”. The recognition rate for asylum applications from these countries is over 50 percent. In 2015 and 2016, Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran and later Somalia were considered countries of origin that promised good prospects of remain. Since August 2020, only Syria and Eritrea have been included. The prospects to remain influence access to integration courses, for example, because asylum seekers with “good prospects of remain” can already attend these courses during their asylum procedure.



Die Bleibeperspektive für Asylbewerber*innen wird aus der durchschnittlichen Anerkennungsquote bzw. Schutzquote bei Asylanträgen aus ihrem Herkunftsland berechnet. In Deutschland legt das BAMF halbjährig fest, welchen Herkunftsländern eine “gute Bleibeperspektive” zu gesprochen wird. Die Anerkennungsquote bei Asylanträgen von Personen aus diesen Ländern liegt über 50 Prozent. 2015 und 2016 galten Syrien, Eritrea, Irak, Iran und später Somalia als Herkunftsländer, die eine hohe Bleibeperspektive versprachen. Seit August 2020 zählen dazu nur noch Syrien und Eritrea. Die Bleibeperspektive beeinflusst den Zugang zum Beispiel zu Integrationskursen, da Asylbewerber*innen mit “guter Bleibeperspektive” die Kurse schon während ihres Asylverfahrens besuchen können.

People who come from countries of origin with a protection rate that is higher than 50 percent have good prospects to remain. In 2019 this applies to the countries of origin Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Somalia. It is defined semi-annually which countries of origin meet the criterion of a protection rate (>/= 50 %).
The criterion of having good prospects to remain only applies to individuals who have permission to reside in accordance with section 55 subs. 1 of the Asylum Act (AsylG).



Protection rate

The protection rate (Schutzquote) or total protection rate (Gesamtschutzquote) describes the proportion of asylum recognitions among all asylum decisions made by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in a certain period of time for a specific country of origin. Asylum recognitions include the forms of protection of asylum recognition (Asylanerkennung), refugee status (Flüchtlingsstatus), subsidiary protection (subsidiärer Schutz) and ban on deportation (Abschiebeverbot). The adjusted protection rate (bereinigte Schutzquote) does not include so-called ‘formal decisions’ (formelle Entscheidungen) – for example, the transfer of the asylum procedure to other states due to the Dublin regulation – and is thus higher than the overall protection rate.


Racial Profiling

Racial profiling refers to the racist practice of police control and other measures taken as a result of suspicion based solely on the racial and ethnic characteristics of people, mostly based on their skin colour or supposed religion. Incidental police checks are a violation of the basic right and international anti-discrimination conventions, but they are made possible by a number of police laws. Racial profiling can be experienced as physical and psychological violence and can have serious consequences for those affected, as the control in public places means humiliation and pressure.


Racism is a social hierarchical phenomenon of order. In today’s society it is only on the surface about migration, it is rather about social participation and equal opportunities. As a phenomenon of social order, it adapts to the respective historical context and continues to develop, which means that different forms of racism can exist for years – but also simultaneously. Today, the term “culture” rather than “race” is used to create differences and to establish a ranking with the dominant culture at the top.

Racism can be interpreted as an intersection at the interface between discrimination (as action) and social inequality (as consequence). Just as discrimination is about unequal treatment, racism is about the analysis of discourses, historical continuities or stocks of knowledge within hierarchizing and power-maintaining system functions. 11Naika Foroutan on 27 November 2020 in Migazin:

Homophobia, classism and sexism as well as racism reinforce social inequalities. In this respect, the categories race, class and gender, which have been developed in Anglo-Saxon research on discrimination and racism, are analytically inseparable as markers of difference and as system carriers.


  • 1Naika Foroutan on 27 November 2020 in Migazin:

Refugee – Forced Migrant

The term “refugee” has become increasingly controversial in recent years. Some refer to the legal definition established by the Geneva Refugee Convention and the associated protection status of a “refugee” in clear distinction from other migrants. Accordingly, the term “refugee” only covers persons who can prove that they are persecuted in their country of origin or are fleeing violent conflicts.

Others see this term primarily as a category of (national) state order, which thus excludes many persons seeking protection who cannot expect protection status within the meaning of the Geneva Convention on Refugees or national asylum law regulations. However, negative migration reasons such as environmental and climate change, as well as poverty, are not regarded as reasons for granting refugee status. In order to make it clear that flight is not always clearly separable from other forms of migration, the term “mixed migration” is also used today.

The term “forced/coerced migrant” became increasingly established as an alternative term in the 1980s and refers to all possible forms of forced migration, including deportation. Since there are hardly any legal channels of immigration to the countries of the Global North, both migrants and forced migrants often have to rely on smugglers, do not receive international protection and are therefore dependent on the decisions of the host country.

The We Refugees Archive collects stories of fugitives who see themselves as such, without giving a definition that fails due to the complexity of migration reasons.


The concept refugeedom was coined by Peter Gatrell and encompasses not only the legal realities behind the concept of flight, but also the experiences of refugees and how these are represented in the media and society. This emphasizes the interdependent relationship between refugees, society and the state. Refugeedom shows that categories around the term refugee are historically grown and changeable: The meanings of the category refugee are shaped by states as well as by international aid organisations and refugees themselves.


Reich Flight Tax, Jewish Property Tax, expatriation and expropriation

In 1931, the Weimar Republic introduced the “Reich Flight Tax” to prevent the outflow of capital. This law was used by the Reich Ministry of Finance of National Socialist Germany to fiscally exploit Jews living in the Reich.

When the National Socialists came to power, the Reich Flight Tax was also levied on people who fled the German Reich. If a person left Germany without paying this tax, his or her assets were confiscated and a so-called “Steuerersteckbrief” (tax warrant) was issued – a newly created instrument which the tax offices made extensive use of. Such a tax warrant was published in the Reichsanzeiger and in the Reich Tax Gazette and contained the request that if the taxpayer was found in Germany, he should be provisionally arrested and immediately brought before the magistrate.

Often the tax could not be paid for reasons beyond the control of the person concerned: for example, because bank transfers could no longer be made (usually the Gestapo blocked the account in the event of illegal departure), or because it was not possible to sell real property at short notice.

As early as 1934, a law amending the Reich Flight Tax gave the tax authorities the additional option of issuing a security notice in the exact amount of the Reich Flight Tax (25 per cent of the total assets) if they suspected emigration intentions were suspected – this meant that this special tax could practically be levied as an advance payment. Initially, criteria such as the application for a passport were used as a basis, but since 1938/39 the Berlin tax offices have issued a security notice to most Jewish people who are subject to property tax. The reason for this is regularly found in the tax files handed down, with reference to the taxpayer’s Jewish origin.

The expropriation was the material plundering of Jews who had been expatriated by the German Reich since 1933.

Following the November pogrom of 1938, a special payment of 1 billion Reichsmark was imposed on German Jews in their entirety on November 12, 1938, and Hermann Göring’s tax administration was commissioned to carry out the practical implementation. The so-called “Judenvermögensabgabe” (Jewish property tax) amounted to 20 percent of the total assets of each German Jew and was payable in four installments to the responsible tax offices. The tax was payable on assets of at least 5,000 Reichsmark. When it was foreseeable that the prescribed billion would not be achieved in this way, a further instalment of 5 per cent was agreed upon, so that in the end the “Judenvermögensabgabe” amounted to 25 per cent.

Thus the flight tax is an example of the crimes of the “perfectly normal” tax offices, which were considered apolitical and which, in addition to special departments set up specifically for the expropriation of German Jews, were involved in the economic destruction of the Jewish population.

Relocation Program

The Relocation Program provides for the resettlement of persons in need of protection from one European Union (EU) state to another, with the aim of relieving the burden on individual member states.
The selection of persons in need of protection in the current relocation programme is based on proposals made by government agencies in Italy and Greece with the support of EASO staff. The EASO (European Asylum Support Office) exists since 2011 and is the European Union’s asylum support agency.


Residence obligation

Residence obligation (German: Residenzpflicht) is a legal measurement in Germany that obliges asylum seekers to stay in a specific district during their asylum proceedings. Their permission to reside is usually restricted to the district in which the responsible authority for foreigners (Ausländerbehörde) and reception center is located. In general, the residence obligation expires after three months or after leaving the federal state reception center. However, the obligation remains in force for people from so-called “safe countries of origin“, for example.

Residence Permit on Humanitarian Grounds (Italy)

The Humanitarian Protection (Permesso di soggiorno per motivi umanitari) is a residence permit for two years. It does not equal internation protection, but is solely a form of national (Italian) protection for serious humanitarian reasons. Persons protected by this status do not have the same rights as e.g. persons who are recognized as refugees or persons under subsidiary protection.As a result of the so-called “Security Decree” from 4 October 2018, the Residence Permit on Humanitarian Grounds was not issued any longer. In the years preceding the “Security Decree”, ca. 20-25% of asylum requests have been transformed into such a protection status.



Safe countries of origin

Some European states have anchored the principle of “safe countries of origin” (German: Sichere Herkunftsstaaten) in their asylum laws. This attribute is given to certain countries, from which many people come as asylum seekers, but from which the so-called “default presumption” (Regelvermutung) applies due to the general political situation. This means “that no state persecution is to be feared there as a rule, and that the State in question can provide protection against non-state persecution as a matter of principle” (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees). Asylum seekers from these countries must refute this presumption in order not to be rejected as “manifestly unfounded” (offensichtlich unbegründet). Classification as a safe country of origin is intended to shorten the asylum procedures for persons coming from there, for example by shortening the appeal deadlines. People from so-called safe countries of origin also have fewer rights, for example to a work permit, participation in integration courses and decentralized housing. In Germany, the parliament (Bundestag and Bundesrat) decides on the classification of countries as “safe countries of origin”. Currently (as of August 2020), in addition to the EU member states, these are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ghana, Kosovo, Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro, Senegal and Serbia.


Security Decree (Italy)

The so-called “Security Decree” or, officially, Legislative Decree No. 113 of October 4, 2018, passed on December 1, 2018, as Law No. 132, has introduced many changes in the regulation of international protection and immigration, leading to drastic cuts in the Italian asylum legislation and protection system and thus to radical restrictions on the (legal) possibilities of people to build a life in Italy.

For example, humanitarian residency permits are no longer issued, bearing in mind that around 20-25% of asylum applications have been converted into such a permit in recent years. Thanks to humanitarian permissions, many migrants received papers, giving them the opportunity to integrate into Italian society. The abolition of residence permits for humanitarian reasons is illegalizing thousands of migrants on Italian territory.

The reception system in Italy was also drastically limited. The well-functioning Italian protection system for asylum seekers and refugees (SPRAR) only provides for the admission of migrants granted recognized refugee status or subsidiary protection (except for unaccompanied minors).


Sephardim are Jews who trace their cultural background back to the Jewish communities of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), where they lived and flourished until their expulsion in 1492 and 1513. After their flight, Sephardim settled for the most part in the territories of the Ottoman Empire and in Northwest Africa. A small part also settled in Northern Europe, the United States and the global south. Sephardic cultures differ from the Ashkenazic culture of Central and Eastern Europe in their distinct religious rites, liturgy and customs. Sephardim and their descendants developed their own dialects, variants of Spanish or Portuguese, of which Ladino is the best known.

Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)

Because of their service to the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan, certain Iraqis and Afghans abroad are granted special immigration status (SIV) by the U.S. Department of State and are approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Stateless persons

According to Article 1 of the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons from 1954 “a ‘stateless person’ means a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law.” Nationality/Citizenship settles the legal relationship between a state (and its laws) and its citizens.

Hannah Arendt, when writing about stateless persons, did not only refer to those who lost their legal citizenship, but also to those whose citizenship did not guarantee them any rights. This includes most of the refugees who still belong to a state on paper.


Subsidiary protection and prohibition of deportation

If recognition as a person entitled to asylum and as a refugee according to the Geneva Refugee Convention is refused, it is possible to be recognised as a person entitled to subsidiary protection.

In this case, there is a ban on deportation. This decision of the BAMF must be accepted by the foreigners authority. You will receive a residence permit in accordance with § 25 Para. 2 S. 1, 2nd Alt AufenthG initially for one year, but this will be extended if the situation has not changed.


Temporary Protection Status in Turkey

Turkey has signed the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, but with the geographical reservation that it only applies to refugees from Europe and only they can be granted “refugee” status in Turkey. Since all refugees from other countries needed to have another legal basis for their asylum claims and procedures, the Turkish Parliament passed a new Law on Foreigners and International Protection in 2013, thus creating a new asylum system. Part of this law was the establishment of the temporary protection status as from 2014. The temporary protection was created for people who had to leave their country of origin in masses and cannot return there. This is especially true for refugees who fled the war in Syria to Turkey and are granted temporary protection status. People under temporary protection are allowed to pursue employment with a work permit, and in agriculture they are also allowed to work without a work permit. In addition to temporary protection, conditional protection status and subsidiary protection status have been created for non-European refugees.

Temporary suspension of deportation (Duldung)

A temporary suspension of deportation (section 60a (1) sentence 1 of the Residence Act) is primarily granted to those who are obliged to leave the country but cannot be deported because this is impossible for legal or factual reasons. This means that only the deportation is temporarily suspended.

This is the case, for example, if no passport is available or deportation is not permitted because of certain family ties. However, if the obstacle to deportation ceases to exist, there is an acute risk of deportation. A temporary suspension of deportation (Duldung)  can also be granted on a discretionary basis if urgent humanitarian or personal reasons or a substantial public interest stand in the way of deportation


Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia Ludności Żydowskiej (Society for Safeguarding the Health of the Jewish Population): Initially the Polish branch of the Saint Petersburg–based Obshchestvo Zdravookhraneniia Evreev (Society for the Protection of Jewish Health), TOZ was established in Warsaw in 1921 when this branch united in a national organization. TOZ’s objective was to care for the welfare and well-being of Jewish citizens in independent Poland and to safeguarding their health through the promotion of hygiene and the provision of adequate nutrition. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, TOZ kept operating for a while in conjunction with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. At first, Nazi authorities did not prevent or interfere with this activity so that the organization was active in several ghettos probably until 1942.


US Refugee and Asylum Status

Both refugee and asylum status are forms of humanitarian protection offered by the United States. Refugees are individuals who seek sanctuary outside the United States. They are processed through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Asylum seekers are already in the United States. As of 2021, over 1.1 million asylum seekers are already awaiting decisions on their applications. Asylum seekers are not eligible for assistance through USRAP, but are eligible for certain other forms of assistance and services from government, private, and nonprofit agencies, and may apply for employment authorization under certain conditions.

The legal basis for humanitarian admission of refugees and asylum seekers in the United States began with the Refugee Act of 1980, which defined the term “refugee” and established the Reception and Placement (R&P) program for initial resettlement under the responsibility of the U.S. Department of State and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human. The President of the United States, in consultation with Congress, determines the number of refugees each year.

In the U.S., the difference between refugees and asylum seekers is where the person seeks protection. Asylum seekers apply for protection upon arrival in the U.S., as opposed to refugees, who are granted protection status outside the host country and can enter the U.S. with it. In Germany, these fall under the category of “resettelment refugees.”

US-Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration in Central America 2021

The Biden administration has announced in 2020 a change in strategy (Biden Plan). Cornerstones of the July 2021 “U.S. Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration in Central America” are addressing economic insecurity and inequality; fighting corruption; strengthening democratic governance and the rule of law; promoting human and labor rights and a free press; and preventing and deterring violence, extortion, and other crimes, including sexual, gender, and domestic violence.


War Refugee Board (WRB)

The War Refugee Board (WRB) was created in response to social pressure in January 1944 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt as an interdepartmental U.S. government agency to help victims of the Nazi dictatorship, especially Jewish refugees worldwide. Beginning in early 1943, criticism grew in light of the lack of rescue efforts for Jews threatened with murder and the realization that U.S. efforts to rescue Jews were inadequate.
The Board received very little funding commitment from the President, so all WRB projects depended almost entirely on private funding from Jewish organizations. The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee contributed the most, more than 15 million.

Ira Hirschmann arrived in Turkey in February 1944 as a representative of the WRB. His project to organize an escape route through the Balkans to Palestine had little success because of the resistance of the Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish authorities. In the spring and summer of 1944, with the support of the WRB and financed by the Joint, the Jewish Agency was able to bring 2,700 refugees from Romania across the Black Sea to Turkey before the Germans stopped further such actions with warships.



The YIVO – Institute for Jewish Research (Yidisher visnshaftlekher institut) was founded in 1925 by Eastern European Jewish scholars in Berlin but moved its headquarters to Wilno (Vilnius), then Poland, in order to document and study Eastern European Jewish life in all its aspects. It had additional branches in Warsaw, Berlin, and Paris but moved its headquarters to New York in 1940 in the wake of the Second World War. The Vilnius branch was operative until the German occupation in the summer of 1941.