Volume 3  –  document 233

The Reich Association of Jews in Germany produces a summary of the emigration of Jews from the Old Reich between 1933 and 19411BArch, R 8150/31, fols. 141–145. This document has been translated from German.

Statistics produced by the Reich Association of Jews in Germany

Emigration of Jews from the Old Reich
1933 to 1941


Since 1933, a total of 352,294 Jews have emigrated from the Old Reich. Emigration concerned the following main destination countries:

Africa                             14,760
      North America      57,189
      Central America     9,728
      South America      53,472
Asia                                 16,374
Australia                         4,015
Europe                          143,326
Palestine                       53,430




The following organizations were active in supporting emigration from 1933: the Palestine Office of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, for emigration to Palestine; the Relief Association of Jews in Germany, for all other emigration; the Main Office for the Welfare of Jewish Migrants, for repatriation. The work of the three organizations was initially led by the Reich Representation of Jews in Germany; after the foundation of the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, it was merged with the latter’s emigration department. Its main task consisted of identifying existing opportunities for emigration and creating new opportunities, as well as emigration counselling and the support of emigrants in need of assistance.


The financing of emigration in Reichsmarks was for the most part covered by the emigrants themselves. Insofar as they did not have the necessary means at their disposal, emigration was financed by the Reich Association.

The funds used by the Reich Representation or Reich Association to support those requiring financial assistance to emigrate (89,032) since 1933 amount to RM 20,494,864.67, with an annual total of:


1933                                                RM      980,956.64
1934                                                RM      675,953.91
1935                                                RM      583,367.64
1936                                                RM    1,657,566.82
1937                                                RM    1,800,040.98
1938                                                RM    3,547,836.58
1939                                                RM    6,618,501.36
1940                                               RM    3,281,516.99
1 Jan. 1941 to 31 Oct. 1941           RM    1,347,123.75

                                                        RM   20,492,864.67


Alongside the amounts in Reichsmarks, since the outbreak of war foreign currency has been required to provide evidence of funds and landing fees for passage by ship. These sums have mainly been provided by relatives or friends of the emigrants abroad via the Reich Association’s emigration department. Where this was not possible, Jewish relief organizations abroad, in particular the American Joint Distribution Committee in New York, provided the required sums in foreign currency. Since 1 September 1939, the JDC has made a total of $2,193,810.28 available for the booking of passages.

The procurement of evidence of funds for emigration to Palestine took place largely by means of a transfer procedure, developed with the authorization of the Reich Economics Minister,2Walther Funk. between the Palestine Trust Agency, Berlin, and Masvara Ltd., Tel Aviv, in collaboration with German and Palestinian banks, whereby German goods were exported to Palestine. Within the framework of the Palestine transfer, a total of RM 104,623,707.01 with a corresponding value of £5,4403The reference is presumably to Palestinian pounds. (approximately) was transferred between 1933 and 1939.

In addition, procurement of evidence of funds and landing fees took place mainly via the Altreu transfer procedure, which has been carried out with the authorization of the Reich Economics Minister since 1937. Up to 1 September 1939, a total of 3,008 emigrants took part in this procedure and received a sum of foreign currency to the value of RM 5,131,000. This enabled the emigration of a further 2,845 persons without means within the framework of the Altreu funding procedure. Through overpayments in Reichsmarks based on a table staggered according to wealth classes and the number of persons emigrating together, the latter could be supplied with foreign currency to an exchange value of RM 1,234,000.

After this procedure was suspended (1 September 1939) the Altreu passage procedure was devised, under which foreign currencies from the Joint [JDC] were made available for the booking of passages in exchange for Reichsmarks, the sums calculated according to a table which was initially arranged in categories from RM 10 to 20, and later from RM 10 to 55, classified according to wealth and the number of persons emigrating together. From April 1940 until the end of October 1941, 987 persons took part in this procedure; their passage was procured for the equivalent sum of $154,233.29, for which a corresponding value of RM 3,698,569.43 was received by the Reich Association.


The technical implementation of emigration can be broken down into the following phases:

From 1933 to the end of 1938:
Predominately emigration without financial support, primarily to Europe as a transit migration country; procurement of overseas passages in Reichsmarks; departure from German ports; return migration (repatriation) of Jews of foreign nationality; acquisition of labourer certificates for immigration into Palestine on the basis of professional training and occupational restructuring in agriculture, skilled crafts, and household management; from 1936, immigration ban in South Africa, previously the chartering of the Nord-Lloyd steamship Stuttgart carrying 540 emigrants to South Africa; from 1937, restrictions on immigration to South America, particularly to Brazil; in 1938, to Argentina and Colombia, and in contrast greater emigration to Bolivia and Chile; conference in Evian (July 1938);4See Doc. 107, fn. 13. settlements in the JCA5Jewish Colonization Association. colonies in Argentina; group settlement projects for Brazil; further immigration restrictions.

From 1939 to 1 September 1939:
Setting up of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Berlin, standardization of emigration formalities (tax clearance certificates from the tax offices and municipal tax offices as a prerequisite for the issue of an emigrant passport, approval from the Foreign Exchange Office to take personal and household effects on the journey, closure of the employment records, introduction of the emigrant fee certificate), central monitoring, and guidance of emigration; regulation of the scale of emigration via instructions to the Central Office; increase in overseas emigration; restrictions on immigration to Palestine, special transports to Palestine;6See Doc. 120. increase in child emigration; setting up of the camp in Richborough for transit migrants;7In 1938 a refugee camp (the ‘Kitchener camp’) was set up in Richborough outside Sandwich in Kent, Britain. It housed Jews and political refugees from the German Reich. from March 1939, average emigration of 9,000 persons per month; increase in emigration to the Far East (Shanghai), partly already on the condition of payment of passage in foreign currency; transit migration to European countries of persons awaiting visas for the USA; immigration ban in Cuba, previously departure of the Hapag steamer St. Louis carrying 900 passengers to Cuba who, because landing was not possible, were taken in by European countries.8The cruise ship St. Louis had left Hamburg on 13 May 1939 bound for Cuba, carrying almost 1,000 Jewish passengers. The head of the Cuban immigration authorities had issued them entry permits without having been authorized to do so. The ship was then denied permission to dock in Havana at the end of May. The St. Louis headed back to Europe, with Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Britain finally taking in 250 passengers each: see PMJ 2/290, 292, 297, and 316.

From September 1939 to April 1940:
Decline in emigration to European countries; passage bookings now only on foreign ships in foreign currency; departure predominantly from Italian ports; restrictions on immigration to Bolivia and Chile; further emigration to the Far East; predominantly emigration to the USA.

From May 1940 to October 1940:
Decline in departures from Italian ports as a result of the ban on the issuing of Italian transit visas; use of overland routes to the Far East as well as departure to the USA from Japanese ports using the Trans-Siberian Railway; introduction of a transit depot for Manchukuo at the end of August; introduction of a Japanese transit depot in October 1940; attempts at departure from Petsamo by Finnish shipping lines; administrative restrictions on the issuing of American visas.

November 1940 to October 1941:
Creation of the possibility of departure from Portuguese and Spanish ports, particularly from Lisbon; attempts to reach Greece overland and from there via the Mediterranean to Lisbon, as well as overland through Switzerland, and from there by bus through France to Barcelona; setting up of emigrant mass transport, simultaneously for emigrants from the Ostmark and the Protectorate, through France to the ports of departure; booking of passages on American, Spanish, and Portuguese shipping lines; completion of 25 mass transports in special carriages for 5,945 emigrants, 4,808 of whom were from the Old Reich; predominance of emigration to the USA, since the issuing of visas was resumed in January 1941, until the issuing of visas was stopped (June 1941), and from then on greater emigration to Cuba and Ecuador; procurement of a relatively large number (around 800) of Cuban visa permits, of which the majority have yet to be used up.

Preparation for emigration

A total of 42 vocational or educational institutions for agriculture and forestry, 168 institutions for skilled crafts, 27 institutions for household management, and 12 institutions for the caring professions provided preparations for emigration. From 1933 to October 1941 a total of 66,546 persons were prepared for emigration in the course of vocational training and occupational restructuring; 33,751 received training in agriculture, 26,100 in skilled crafts professions, 4,350 in household management, and 2,337 in infant and child care.

Numbers remaining

Taking into account emigration and the tax surplus since 1933, as well as the resettlement transports in October 1941, there are currently around 151,000 Jews still present in the Old Reich, of whom 11 per cent are aged 18 years and under, 23.7 per cent are between 19 and 45 years old, 29.6 per cent are between 46 and 60 years old, and 35.7 per cent are over 60 years old.

This document is part of:
German Reich and Protectorate September 1939–September 1941 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2020)