Friday, February 15, 2008


Strange Migration: An Unlikely Haven For Refugees By JORDANA HORN (WSJ)
On July 6, 1938, at Evian-les-Bains, a lovely French tourist resort on Lake Geneva, representatives of 32 countries met for a conference to discuss the growing Jewish refugee problem in Europe triggered by the rise of Nazi Germany. One by one, the representatives from each country (including the U.S.) explained why they would not be able to take in the displaced Jews. The German newspaper Völkischer Beobachter encapsulated what Evian meant for the Jews: "Nobody wants them." The conference was later deemed by various historians to have given Hitler the implicit go-ahead for his Final Solution.

Out of all the conference attendees, only one unlikely nation volunteered to take in refugees. The Dominican Republic, led by dictator Rafael Trujillo, made an offer to receive as many as 100,000 people. Because of problems with exit and transit visas, only about 700 Jews actually made it to that country's shores, to the town of Sosúa on the country's northern coast.

The story of this strange migration is being told at New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage. "Sosúa: A Refuge for Jews in the Dominican Republic" (which opens Sunday and runs through July 25) presents the fascinating and little-known tale of the Jews saved from the Holocaust by a genocidal Caribbean dictator.

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