During the Holocaust, countless Jewish organizations and individuals worldwide did what they could to save their brethren. While these rescue efforts were initiated by Jews, most would have had little success without the assistance of numerous sympathetic non-Jews. Many goyim were prepared to risk their own life when they felt sympathy with those who were hated by many and got persecuted by the Nazis.
As soon as it started to look becoming dangerous to stay in Europe, under the auspices of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem “The Youth Aliyah” [Hebrew ʿaliya (“going up”)] was founded as a movement for the transfer of Jewish children from Germany to Palestine and managed to bring more than 14,000 unaccompanied children to Palestine and Britain between 1933 and 1945. It was a female American Jewish leader, who had founded Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Henrietta Szold of a German-speaking Hungarian immigrant family, who in 1933 became director of that Youth Aliyah in the hope to rescue Jewish children from Nazi Germany and bring them to Palestine.
In Great Britain, an umbrella group known as the Movement for the Care of Children organized the travel and shelter of over 10,000 central European Jewish refugee children between December 1938 and September 1939. Since these children travelled without their parents, the operation became known as the Kindertransport.
By that transport several kids were taken away from their parents to find a new (strange) family speaking an other language (English) who did not speak Hebrew and did not have Jewish services, or even had Jesus as their god. Though about 250 youngsters were taken up by Christadelphians who shared the faith in the same God as the Jews, though believed that the Messiah had already come to earth, by the son of man Jesus Christ (Jeshua of the tribe of King David).
Those God loving people did not want to impose their religion onto those kids and respected their previous religious upbringing in the Jewish faith. As for these children placed in such homes it was perhaps less difficult to find a Jewish community after the war again, than for those kids who were placed in trinitarian families who had taken those kids for so many years to their churches and Sunday schools.
In the South of Europe, in France, three Jewish organizations made organized attempts to rescue children. The best known was Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (Children’s Aid Society; OSE). This French Jewish humanitarian organization saved and aided many hundreds of mainly Jewish refugee children, both from France and from other Western European countries.
From the Netherlands and Belgium children were smuggled out of the country, concealed at the bottom of boats or concealed in hidden parts of a van. Many of the OSE children had originally fled from the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Northern occupied France, and finally had arrived in Vichy France, the French State (État français) headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II.
The Éclaireuses et Eclaireurs Israelites de France (EEIF, Jewish Guides and Scouts of France) which publicly supported cultural Zionism, was cooperating with Zionist scout groups, and was open to all Jews including free-thinkers and Zionists. As a compromise the EIF agreed not to mention Zionism among the goals of the movement, but the Scout camps continued to teach Hebrew, practice Jewish ritual, learn about Jewish culture and practice the Zionist ideal of combining manual labour and intellectual activity.
The national interreligious and coeducational Scouting and Guiding association in France, Éclaireurs de France rejected the EIF as an affiliate because they were too sectarian. Their emphasis on Jewish identity did not seem compatible with French national identity.
The other active group, the Mouvement des Jeunesses Sionistes (M.J.S.) which changed its name in Armée Juive or Jewish Army, and later evolved into the Organisation Juive de Combat (O.J.C.) also had as intention to protect threatened Jews and to take their fighting skills back to Israel to defend the creation of a Jewish State there. At its height, it had over 2,000 members and was primarily concerned with helping Jews escape to Spain via the Pyrenees.
After Germany invaded Belgium in 1940, the Jewish group Solidarité (“Solidarity”) bolstered the efforts of the Independent Front, the broader resistance movement in that country. Jews were especially active in the underground press, distributing leaflets calling for rebellion and resistance.
Because the Vichy regime did not exert as extensive a control over the population as the Nazis did, it was easier for partisan groups to form and spread in the south, providing hiding places for Jewish children, especially for more vulnerable foreign refugees. Many Jewish families from the north had fled south on the eve of the German takeover, and there they became active in the resistance. Especially effective were the partisans of the Armée Juive (“Jewish Army”), many of whom fought alongside members of the general French Resistance. Jewish partisans also joined bands of maquis guerrilla fighters, who played a significant role in the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944 by blowing up railway lines, attacking garrison trains, and generally hindering Germany’s ability to mount a quick defence.
Operating nationwide, members of these groups also arranged the release of children from internment camps, and then smuggled them to safety in Switzerland or Spain. On a local level in France, similar activities were carried out by the Comite rue Amelot, the Jewish Communist “Solidarite” organization in Paris, the Service Andres group in Marseille, and the Groupe Maurice Cachoud in Nice, which specialized in secretly transporting children to refuge in Switzerland. Thanks to these efforts, as many as 12,000–15,000 Jewish children were saved from deportation and almost certain death.
Zionist leader Zorah Warhaftig provided an escape via East Asia and arranged transit visas from Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul in Kovno, as well as from sympathetic Dutch diplomats.
In late 1940 and early 1941, just months before the Germans began to implement the mass killings of Jews, one group of about 2,100 Polish Jews found a safe haven. Few of these refugees could have reached safety without the tireless efforts of many individuals. Several Jewish organizations and Jewish communities along the way provided funds and other help.
The most critical assistance came from unexpected sources: representatives of the Dutch government-in-exile and of Nazi Germany’s Axis ally, Japan. Their humanitarian activity in 1940 was the pivotal act of rescue for hundreds of Polish Jewish refugees temporarily residing in Lithuania.
A British White Paper issued on May 17, 1939, limited the number of Jews allowed to enter the British-controlled Mandate of Palestine, the geopolitical entity under British administration, carved out of Ottoman Syria after World War I from all countries to 15,000 annually.
Like always at war or repression the children were especially vulnerable to Nazi persecution. Some were targeted on supposed racial grounds, such as Jewish youngsters, others for biological reasons, such as patients with physical or mental disabilities, or because of their alleged resistance or political activities. As many as 1.5 million children, about 1 million of them Jewish, were killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. Along with elderly people, children had the lowest rate of survival in concentration camps and killing centres. People over fifty years of age, pregnant women, and young children were immediately sent to the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other seclusion camps.
There were children who managed to escape from the ghetto with the help of for example a former employee of their father. Many children escaped with parents or other relatives—and sometimes on their own — to family camps run by Jewish partisans. In France, almost the entire Protestant population of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, as well as many Catholic priests, nuns, and lay Catholics, hid Jewish children in the town from 1942 to 1944. In Italy and Belgium, many children survived in hiding.
Though we may not forget all those children aided by people they did not know, often did not have it so easy either. With identities disguised, and often physically concealed from the outside world, many youngsters faced constant fear, dilemmas, and danger. Theirs was a life in shadows, where a careless remark, a denunciation, or the murmurings of inquisitive neighbours could lead to discovery and death. Even in countries where hatred for the German occupiers ran deep, anti-Nazism did not necessarily generate aid for Jews. The Nazis portrayed the Jews as carriers of contagion, as criminals, or as “Bolshevik” agents anxious to subvert European society. The Nazis further discouraged rescue by threatening severe penalties for those caught helping Jews. On several occasions they showed villages what would happen to them as they did like those who were caught hiding and/or helping Jews.
Those children brought in safety could escape the horror as well as starvation, exposure, and a lack of adequate clothing and shelter. But for them their youth was taken away and many lost the opportunity to have a good religious Jewish upbringing.
Hidden in a barn, under the floorboards or in an attic or specially constructed hiding space many children missed out on continuous education and got no opportunity to worship god in a Jewish manner. Some children, like those brought to England had to go with their foster family to mass and some of them even had to follow Sunday School or were guided to Christendom.
Several of those children not brought up in Judaic tradition and looking back at the horror what had happened lost also interest in their God or found a new faith in Christendom or just became atheists. But their children and grand children felt they missed some things and want to go back to their roots. Therefore in the after war generations there were people who came from a mixed family (Catholic and Jewish) who wanted to have more insight in their Jewish background. For those who had learned about the Messiah Jesus more and more Messianic groups came in existence and offered them a place where they could find rest.
After the war many children could be found having no parents any more and had to be placed in orphanages or in families, of which most of them were not Jews. this made once more those children left out of their parental religion finding a new or other faith imposed on them.
Though many youngsters are still trying to figure out where they can stand in the religious field and want to know what their real identity is. They wonder if they have to become a Jew, like their forefathers were, or should they go for a faith in One God or to a faith-group who believes in a Trinity and goes in against all basic Jewish rules (like only worshipping one God, not having pictures of The God or any other gods, keeping to the Feasts given by the Elohim, etc.)
It is for such people, who are looking for their true identity and who want to come back to a God loving community that Jeshuaists and Christadelphians or Brothers in Christ, can offer a shelter for them who feel “religious homeless”. Jeshuaists offer a harbourage for those who love to keep that Jewishness and restore again the Judaic tradition but at the same time not want to loose the connection with the person they too, feel is their way to God, the given one from heaven, who now is the mediator between God and man.
These days it looks more and more we are going to relive the 1930ies again. Too many people, religious and non-religious are not raising their voice in time to the bad development of our world having a tendency again to lean over to the extreme right and having more anti-racist anti-Jewish and anti-Islamic movements and actions taking place. Too many people at the moment keep silent though they should see how Jews are again in the negative picture and are threatened again. It are not the Jews who are a threat for our society, nor Muslims, but it are those fundamentalists who impose their will unto our society and attack innocent people.
It is wrong of those who keep waiting until they would feel more confident, more qualified, more ready. It might well be true that many wait because they are afraid that not everyone will like what they have to say or write. The excuse many bring forward that other people would be able to say and write these things better than we ever will does not go up.
We may not forget that by the waiting, the insights, observations, wisdom, lived experience, as well as the questions, and ideas all shall stay in the heads, not protecting those who need protection, and worse endangering our society again for falling back into a horrible period some of us have witnessed already in the previous century.
It is getting high time in Europe but also in North America people come to see how anti-Semitism is creeping in, this time also with anti-Islamism, bringing more people fearing each other but also getting them willing to fight each other.
Today even the Messianic community in Belgium has become so afraid many prefer to be in anonymity, hiding for the outside world, some of them feeling like they are not understood nor accepted by the Jewish community, nor by the Christian community and also misunderstood by the Muslim community.
For all of them this site and some ‘brother sites’ should shed some light on the different communities and how they should not be afraid of each other, but can enrich each other.
In “The way of looking at the Scriptures and the people in this world” you may find some answers on how we look at certain matters and which Scriptures or Bible translations you may find on this site and on Immanuel Verbondskind’s site. Those studies on the Scriptures over-here have to make certain ideas clear and have to show how we all are creatures of the One Most High Divine Creator, and should come to live together as brothers and sisters, united in a peaceful world.
From whatever denomination you might be, we are thankful to find you here and do hope you shall be willing to take some time to read more than one article. It would be very much appreciated if we could find you returning to these pages, by which we do hope also to shed some light on Biblical interpretation and Biblical Truth.
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- Christadelphians, the Kindertransport, and Rescue from the Holocaust
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- “How My Mother, Sis. Hana Holman, Learnt the Truth”, by Sis. Susan Waite, Canterbury Ecclesia, Victoria, Australia
- Bro. Gerhardt (Jim) Rosenthal, Melbourne Ecclesia, Victoria, Australia
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- Refugees Between the Nazi rise to power in 1933 and Nazi Germany’s surrender in 1945, more than 340,000 Jews emigrated from Germany and Austria. Tragically, nearly 100,000 of them found refuge in countries subsequently conquered by Germany. German authorities would deport and kill the vast majority of them. The search for refuge frames both the years before the Holocaust and its aftermath.
- German Jewish Refugees, 1933–1939
- Children during the Holocaust
- Jewish Aid and Rescue
- Seeking Refuge: Fleeing from the Holocaust – An Educational Website
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- Notes from Berlin
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- Kindertransport, 1938–1940
- Part of the Family – Christadelphians, the Kindertransport, and Rescue from the Holocaust video’s by Bibletruth and prophecy
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- History: Sir Nicholas Winton, a true hero, organiser of the Kindertransport
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