Authors

Object ID

2022.1.55

Object Name

Passport

Date

1938

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Description

"Light brown booklet with lions and shield on cover. Includes photograph on page 2 of 32 pages, no marks on pages 13-31, back cover torn.

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:

Betty Sass accompanied the first Kindertransport from Danzig May 5, 1939 to Great Britain via the Netherlands. The Free City of Danzig was one of the cities from which almost 10,000 Jewish children were rescued by the Kindertransport program, the British humanitarian mission that ran between November 1938 and September 1939, ending just prior to the outbreak of World War II. Almost 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children under the age of 17 were rescued from Nazi occupied Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Danzig and placed with foster families, or on farms, schools, and hostels throughout Britain. Most would never see their parents again.

Betty Sass (nee Neile) was a 42-year-old widow from the resort town of Sopot near Danzig. Renowned diplomat Thomas Brimelow- at this time in his stellar career the Acting British Vice–Consul in Danzig- signed her visa for the United Kingdom February 5, 1939, after recording the purpose of Betty’s journey on the visa itself: “accompanying a contingent of 75 children from Danzig to London.” Her passport-unique to Danzig-shows the stamped permit to land in Harwich on May 5, 1939. After arriving in Harwich, Betty escorted the children in her charge to London’s Liverpool Street Station where they would meet their sponsors and prepare for the next phase of their journey.

Betty then returned to Danzig by way of Vienna and Holland. It seems puzzling that she would obtain a visa in Vienna to go to Paraguay when she decided instead to return to Danzig. However, during this period after Kristallnacht many Jews were attempting to emigrate to South America and for a time Paraguay was being accommodative. Aware of what was happening to the Jews in the Nazi orbit, and fearing for her own life, she was perhaps thinking for a time of South America as a viable alternative to returning to Danzig to live under Nazi rule, since Danzig had already been annexed into the Greater Reich after the invasion of Poland in September 1939, and Jews would be expunged. Or perhaps it was a feint to leave Vienna, where for the immediate future emigration would still be encouraged for Jews to countries that would have them.

In any case, Betty clearly felt the need to transport herself to safety and took this window of opportunity to escape. She arranged to leave for Palestine with other Jews from Danzig. However, as a refugee without citizenship, Betty was considered an “illegal immigrant” by the British who controlled Mandatory Palestine, and like so many stateless immigrants fleeing Nazi controlled Europe for Palestine, Betty Sass was removed by British naval authorities who boarded her ship. She was interned around November 1940 on the island of Mauritius, a British colony in the Indian Ocean. Internment of Jewish refugees was part of the British effort to deter immigration and manage the alleged concern about the infiltration of enemy aliens.

Betty Sass would remain on the isle of Mauritius from 1940-1945. At the end of World War II, she was finally able to enter the harbor town of Haifa with a Palestine Department of Immigration permit and remain permanently as an immigrant.

Dimensions

6 1/4 x 4"

Keywords

Betty Sass, Kindertransport, Danzig, Thomas Brimelow, Mauritius

Subcollection

Kindertransport

Free City of Danzig Reise-Pass for Betty Sass, Accompanies First Kindertransport

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