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The Nazis’ early anti-Jewish policies focused on exclusion, persecution and expulsion. As they lost their livelihoods and were ostracized from societies in which they had lived and contributed to for centuries, German and Austrian Jews searched for means of escape and countries of refuge. Few options were available.

Before the outbreak of war, 315,000 German and 126,000 Austrian Jews succeeded in emigrating, many without their possessions, to Britain, the United States, Palestine and China. Some found sanctuary in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other European countries, only to perish later in the Holocaust.

The British public was outraged by the events of Kristallnacht and urged the government to admit more than 10,000 Austrian, German, Czech, and Polish children (including 7,500 Jews), who were rescued by refugee aid organizations. British regulations only allowed entry to children under the age of 17 who came on Kindertransports (Children’s Transports). Private citizens or organizations had to guarantee to pay for each child’s care, education and eventual emigration.

About 85,000 Jews reached the United States before the outbreak of war and others were allowed into Britain to await their U.S. visas. By September 1939, there were more than 80,000 Jewish refugees living in England.

A dossier of images sbout emigration to Britain. Dossier

A collection of images relating to emigration to Britain.

“We Had to Leave”
in the classroom


Leaving Europe
Students learn about the rise of Nazism in Germany and Austria by engaging with the prewar photographs of former internees, and with internee video testimony about how life changed after the Nazis’ rise to power in 1933.


The Life That Was


Dossier: The Life That Was


Nazism in Germany & Austria

Complete Teachers’ Guide to Enemy Aliens
PDF 7.8 MB

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