Authors

Object ID

2021.1.20

Object Name

Postcard

Date

3-15-1942

Files

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Description

Postcard written in blue ink. Writing on front and back and multiple stamps on front.

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:

Bad Schauenburg was the site of a labor camp for Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. The nae of the postcard’s sender is illegible, but at the time of his mailing this postcard he had been interned in Camp de Gurs located in Southwestern France at the foot of the Pyrenes: the largest camp in the Vichy Unoccupied Zone. While initially holding Spanish Civil War refugees, Jewish enemy aliens mostly from Germany and Austria were interned here. Conditions were deplorable: inadequate food, shelter and water. Malnutrition and exposure contributed to epidemics of typhoid fever and dysentery which took many lives. Jews escaping from Nazi persecution as well as thousands of German Jews expelled from Baden and the Palatinate were interned here before being transported to the Drancy transit camp: a way station on the way to certain deportation to Auschwitz. The fate of the author of this postcard is unknown.

Many thousands of Jews made their way to neutral Switzerland fleeing Nazi persecution. The swiss government attempted to place limits on the number of Jewish refugees they permitted, ultimately to place limits on the number of Jewish refugees they permitted, ultimately collaborating with the Germans by getting them to affix the letter “J” on their passports. This measure, initiated by Dr. Heinrich Rothmond of the Swiss ministry of Justice, would create the need for illegal means of entry.

Placing Jews in labor camps was perhaps an attempt by the “neutral” Swiss government to appease Germany on whose economy and good will they were dependent. Thousands of Jewish refugees admitted to Switzerland were placed in labor camps with unheated barracks and straw beds and required to work in factories making equipment to be sold to the German army. Women cleaned the homes of Swiss officials: all in an apparent effort to discourage “non-Aryans” from entering Switzerland. To be sure, one cannot compare the inconveniences and indignities suffered by Jewish emigrants in Switzerland to the experience of Jews in German-run labor camps, or for that matter , in the French internment camp de Gurs. Yet the question might be asked: how should refugees who had lost everything but their lives -through no fault of their own -be treated? At the least, Jewish refugees confined to these camps could be released if they could arrange for refugee status in other countries like neutral Portugal or South America. And there are numerous reports of ordinary Swiss citizens helping ease Jewish suffering and assisting immigrants. The record shows, however, that while Switzerland absorbed up to 30,000 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi wrath, at leas that many were turned back at the borders.

Dimensions

6 x 4"

Keywords

Bad-Schauenburg, Walter Simons

Subcollection

Labor

Postcard from Camp de Gurs to Jewish Intern in Bad-Schauenburg

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