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Jim Bow
11-29-2014, 12:32 PM
I've always knows about Raoul Wallenberg, and recently read about John Rabe, Chiune Sugihara, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, and other foreign dignitaries who saved tens of thousands of Jews from murder camps by issuing visas from their countries. In the case of Sugihara, he wrote visas on scraps of paper and threw them out train windows.

How did this work? What is a visa? How could possession of a piece of paper save a person's life? Why did the nazi government honor scrawled pieces of paper? Scruples were not their strong suit.

Eva Luna
11-29-2014, 12:55 PM
I've always knows about Raoul Wallenberg, and recently read about John Rabe, Chiune Sugihara, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, and other foreign dignitaries who saved tens of thousands of Jews from murder camps by issuing visas from their countries. In the case of Sugihara, he wrote visas on scraps of paper and threw them out train windows.

How did this work? What is a visa? How could possession of a piece of paper save a person's life? Why did the nazi government honor scrawled pieces of paper? Scruples were not their strong suit.

A visa meant that they could leave Germany (or other Nazi-occupied areas). The visa allowed them to enter another country.

hajario
11-29-2014, 12:56 PM
nm

BrightNShiny
11-29-2014, 01:06 PM
I'm going to WAG here, so someone is going to have to come in and answer in more detail...

So, to start with, you've correctly identified to separate issues (1) whether you have permission to leave a country and (2) whether you have permission to enter another country.

Every country that I'm aware of in the modern era claims the power to stop people from leaving the country (usually it's for accused criminals to prevent them fleeing trial, but it can be for other things as well). The Nazis and the Soviets both did this in varying degrees for various groups of people and for various reasons.

And, of course, every country claims the power to stop people from entering the country. An entry visa is simply a document from the country that says you have been granted permission to enter.

Now, let's get to Sugihara...

From the wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiune_Sugihara) article on him, it appears that he was operating from Soviet-occupied Lithuania, prior to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. So, he was writing entry visas to Japan for people in then-Soviet-occupied Lithuania. The Soviets certainly could have claimed the power to stop him, so why didn't they in this particular case?

My guess, and it's a guess, is that the Soviets didn't want to cause too many waves with the Japanese at this point. They had just gotten done with the 1939 Soviet-Japanese war, and (I think) there were low-level talks going on with the Japanese with what would eventually become the Soviet-Japanese Non-Agression Pact (signed 1941). This was probably a period where they didn't see any point in causing an international ruckus with the Japanese.

Also (and again a guess), letting people leave newly-occupied Lithuania just meant less people for the Soviets to have to deal with for the occupation. Plus, from the wiki article, it looks like the Soviets were able to charge a lot of money for transport, so they probably viewed it as a money-making endeavor.

I think this it's going to be the case for each of the people you mention that we'd have to look at the individual details. Sometimes people were able to leave Nazi territory through bribery or smuggling, and sometimes people were able to leave because the Nazis hadn't gotten around to setting up the necessary checkpoints yet. It's going to be heavily time and place dependent.

Donnerwetter
11-29-2014, 01:07 PM
I don't have a factual answer and it is pure speculation, but I would assume that it has to do with the fact that Nazi Germany and Japan were allies. The Germans were probably hesitant to disregard or to second-guess what they had to assume was an expressed desire of the Japanese government to grant free passage to these individuals.

Donnerwetter
11-29-2014, 01:14 PM
BrightNShiny is right: Sugihara was stationed in Lithuania which at the time (1940, 1941) was under Soviet occupation, so the Germans actually didn't have a say in this.

BrightNShiny
11-29-2014, 01:32 PM
From the wiki article on de Sousa Mendes, it looks like he wrote a good chunk of his visas before the French-German armistice took effect, and the French didn't have any particular reason to stop people from leaving. It also looks like the Portuguese government didn't like what he did one bit, but it looks like they honored most of the visas.

He was recalled to Portugal two days after the armistice was signed, but continued handing out visas on his way back. In the chaos of war and before the Nazi occupation/Vichy government was on firm footing, it seems that he was able to get some more people across the border.

Again, some of this is guesswork based on his wiki article.

Captain Amazing
11-29-2014, 03:17 PM
As for Wallenberg, he and another Swedish diplomat handed out passes indicating that the individual was a Swedish citizen waiting repatriation back to Sweden. They also bought up buildings in Budapest and said they were part of the Swedish embassy, and therefore extraterritorial, which they used to shelter Jews. None of this was exactly legal, but the Swedish government was formally neutral, and sold Germany a lot of iron ore, so neither the Hungarians or the Germans wanted to risk offending them.

Habeed
11-29-2014, 03:22 PM
In War and Remembrance, one of the characters had converted to Catholicism pre-war and had documents from a priest proving it. For plot reasons I don't recall, he was unable to use the papers, but I wondered if proving you had converted to another religion was enough to prove you weren't a Jew?

For that matter, what standard of proof did the Nazis use? Was just a rumor you were a Jew enough? Did they have any method of appeals or did the SS goons just drag off to the camps anyone they thought was a Jew and kill them?

hajario
11-29-2014, 03:25 PM
In War and Remembrance, one of the characters had converted to Catholicism pre-war and had documents from a priest proving it. For plot reasons I don't recall, he was unable to use the papers, but I wondered if proving you had converted to another religion was enough to prove you weren't a Jew?

They didn't care if you converted. They only cared about your ancestry.

ZPG Zealot
11-29-2014, 03:29 PM
In War and Remembrance, one of the characters had converted to Catholicism pre-war and had documents from a priest proving it. For plot reasons I don't recall, he was unable to use the papers, but I wondered if proving you had converted to another religion was enough to prove you weren't a Jew?

For that matter, what standard of proof did the Nazis use? Was just a rumor you were a Jew enough? Did they have any method of appeals or did the SS goons just drag off to the camps anyone they thought was a Jew and kill them?

The Nazis defined anyone who had 3 or more Jewish grandparents as a Jew. Conversion didn't matter (except possibly in Morocco). Edith Stein converted Roman Catholic and became a nun. She was sent to Auschwitz and died in the gas chambers because she had been born a Jew.

Captain Amazing
11-29-2014, 03:30 PM
In Germany itself, the first regulation under the Nuremburg citizenship law defined a Jew as such:

Article 5
1. A Jew is anyone who is descended from at least three grandparents who are racially full Jews. Article 2, para. 2, second sentence will apply.

2. A Jew is also one who is descended from two full Jewish parents, if (a) he belonged to the Jewish religious community at the time this law was issued, or joined the community later, (b) he was married to a Jewish person, at the time the law was issued, or married one subsequently, (c) he is the offspring of a marriage with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, which was contracted after the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor became effective, (d) he is the offspring of an extramarital relationship with a Jew, according to Section I, and will be born out of wedlock after July 31, 1936.

(Article 2, Section 2, defines "mixed race" people...which is to say, people with both Jewish and non-Jewish ancestors)

Habeed
11-29-2014, 03:36 PM
he belonged to the Jewish religious community at the time this law was issued, or joined the community later, (b) he was married to a Jewish person, at the time the law was issued, or married one subsequently, (c) he is the offspring of a marriage with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, which was contracted after the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor became effective, (d) he is the offspring of an extramarital relationship with a Jew, according to Section I, and will be born out of wedlock after July 31, 1936



Yikes. Those Nazis weren't real keen on giving anyone a chance to repent their ways or convert. Essentially, by the time you knew about the law, you're already a criminal for "being a Jew" and it was just a matter of time before they found you and disposed of you. I think ISIS gives people a chance to convert to Islam?

Captain Amazing
11-29-2014, 03:40 PM
The big question with conversion for the Nuremberg laws comes up if somebody has 2 Jewish and 2 non Jewish grandparents, in defining whether they're to be considered Jews or mixed race.

Captain Amazing
11-29-2014, 03:43 PM
Yikes. Those Nazis weren't real keen on giving anyone a chance to repent their ways or convert. Essentially, by the time you knew about the law, you're already a criminal for "being a Jew" and it was just a matter of time before they found you and disposed of you. I think ISIS gives people a chance to convert to Islam?

The difference is that, for the Nazis, Jews were inferior not because of their religious beliefs, but because of their race. Jewish blood was naturally inferior. You couldn't stop being a Jew because you couldn't change your genetic heritage.

Habeed
11-29-2014, 03:47 PM
The difference is that, for the Nazis, Jews were inferior not because of their religious beliefs, but because of their race. Jewish blood was naturally inferior. You couldn't stop being a Jew because you couldn't change your genetic heritage.

That seems kind of..arbitrary. Even if you look like the poster child for the "aryan master race", you're still a Jew, eh. Even in their ignorance the Nazis had a vague idea of inheritance and genetics.

If the Nazis really believed this, did they haul off people for "looking Jewish" even without the grandparents?

BrightNShiny
11-29-2014, 03:54 PM
That seems kind of..arbitrary. Even if you look like the poster child for the "aryan master race", you're still a Jew, eh. Even in their ignorance the Nazis had a vague idea of inheritance and genetics.

The Nazis had a lot of weird ideas about genetics, but lots of people all around the world had all sorts of weird racial/genetic psuedo-scientific theories back then. Heck, a lot of people still do.

alphaboi867
11-29-2014, 06:50 PM
The Nazis defined anyone who had 3 or more Jewish grandparents as a Jew. Conversion didn't matter (except possibly in Morocco). Edith Stein converted Roman Catholic and became a nun. She was sent to Auschwitz and died in the gas chambers because she had been born a Jew.

There's a photo of her being led into the camp in her habit, but I can't find it and in so not in the mood to keep searching Google.

Captain Amazing
11-29-2014, 07:26 PM
That seems kind of..arbitrary. Even if you look like the poster child for the "aryan master race", you're still a Jew, eh. Even in their ignorance the Nazis had a vague idea of inheritance and genetics.

If the Nazis really believed this, did they haul off people for "looking Jewish" even without the grandparents?

Well, surprising as it was, the Nazis were pretty racist.

clairobscur
11-29-2014, 07:40 PM
You can add Paul Gruninger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Gr%C3%BCninger) to your list. Like Sugihara, Sousa Mendes, etc... he was reviled, lost his job, etc... for his actions and was rehabilitated only after his death.

BrightNShiny
11-29-2014, 07:59 PM
Some further research. It looks like the Nazis did require exit visas to leave Germany, but from this article (http://holocaustroad.org/2010-11readings/Heilbronner.pdf), it looks like a Jewish person could get an exit visa for the right amount of money well into 1939 at least. I'm not sure how much longer that lasted.

alphaboi867
11-29-2014, 08:11 PM
Up until the war the Nazis were perfectly willing to allow Jews to emigrate (in fact they "encouraged" it). The hard part was finding a country willing to allow Jewish immigration, a problem exacerbated by the Nazis reluctance to allow Jews take any money or assets with them.

Tim@T-Bonham.net
11-29-2014, 08:40 PM
For that matter, what standard of proof did the Nazis use? Was just a rumor you were a Jew enough? Did they have any method of appeals or did the SS goons just drag off to the camps anyone they thought was a Jew and kill them?Almost immediately after taking power, the Nazi government ordered a detailed census of all German residents, especially including their ancestry & racial heritage. They had big files of all this data (using early IBM punched-card equipment) and so had all the Jews and part-Jews identified beforehand, so that rounding them up when the time came was easy to do. During the war, as soon as each territory had been conquered, a similar census was ordered, to gather the same information on residents of that area. That information followed the victims to the concentration camps, each of which had their own data processing building with punched card machines.

See the book IBM and the Holocaust (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust) by Edwin Black, which has many details of this identification process.

clairobscur
11-30-2014, 04:02 AM
That information followed the victims to the concentration camps, each of which had their own data processing building with punched card machines.


I had absolutely no clue. First time I hear about that. :eek:

vontsira
11-30-2014, 06:06 AM
The difference is that, for the Nazis, Jews were inferior not because of their religious beliefs, but because of their race. Jewish blood was naturally inferior. You couldn't stop being a Jew because you couldn't change your genetic heritage.

That seems kind of..arbitrary. Even if you look like the poster child for the "aryan master race", you're still a Jew, eh. Even in their ignorance the Nazis had a vague idea of inheritance and genetics.

If the Nazis really believed this, did they haul off people for "looking Jewish" even without the grandparents?

A bit off the topic re the bureaucracy of the whole business: but I understand that a certain amount of (as "my bolding" above ) happened during World War II in German-occupied countries, in circumstances where hunting-out of Jews had to be done in a somewhat haphazard fashion. Those carrying out that process were often rather unsophisticated folk, and "mistakes happened". I have read that it was risky for non-Jewish men or boys who had been circumcised for medical reasons: more than a tiny number of those were seized and sent to their deaths, because for the rounders-up, "circumcised = Jew" -- any attempt at showing documentation to the contrary, was disregarded.

Derleth
11-30-2014, 02:21 PM
Even if you look like the poster child for the "aryan master race", you're still a Jew, eh.Well, a Mischling, anyway, which meant the Nazis considered you part-Jewish but still German/Aryan enough to be the literal poster boy for the Aryan Superman. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Goldberg) (Super-duper-superman!) Werner Goldberg also saved his father from the camps by advising him to just... blow off the Gestapo. This worked. His father survived the war. His father was the only other member of Goldberg's family to survive the war.

You could make a movie out of this, but people would claim it was one big plot hole. (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=645923)

smiling bandit
11-30-2014, 05:18 PM
There were early 'legal' methods tried by the Church to move Jews out of Germany, though mostly converts. Some of these groups were able to become underground groups later, but by that time it had gotten too late. They did try, but were hindered by being extremely visible to the Nazis. Precisely because they were an explicit organization, they were easily targeted.

UDS
11-30-2014, 07:20 PM
For that matter, what standard of proof did the Nazis use? Was just a rumor you were a Jew enough? Did they have any method of appeals or did the SS goons just drag off to the camps anyone they thought was a Jew and kill them?
They didn't care if you converted. They only cared about your ancestry.
The Nazis didn't care, but some of their allies in other countries had their own take on antisemitism, and in those countries conversion might give you some protection.

Wallenberg, remember, was operating in Hungary, not Germany. Hungary joined the Axis in 1940, and was happy enough to take territory from Czechosovakia, Poland, etc as these countries were defeated and occupied, but at least at first, they were less enthusiastic about antisemitism. Their anti-Jewish laws were introduced under pressure from the Germans and, at least initially, defined Jewishness by religion, not heredity. The Hungarians generally resisted Nazi pressure to deport Jews. It wasn't until the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944 that Hungarian Jews faced the full horror of the Holocaust, but that period did not last long enough for the Nazis to do the thorough job they did in other countries. Something like 30% of Hungary's prewar Jewish population (of 860,000) survived the war.

Elendil's Heir
10-16-2018, 07:53 AM
Bumped.

A NYT essay on the Japanese diplomat, Sugihara, who has long been a hero of mine: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/15/opinion/sugihara-moral-heroism-refugees.html

Chronos
10-16-2018, 08:33 AM
As far as Nazi inconsistency, remember that the leading figure of the tall, fit, blond "master race" was short, dumpy, and dark-haired.

Elendil's Heir
10-16-2018, 09:09 AM
Old joke: Once the Nazis built their master race, all Germans would be as blond as Hitler, as tall as Goebbels and as thin as Goering.

JB99
10-16-2018, 10:39 AM
Up until the war the Nazis were perfectly willing to allow Jews to emigrate (in fact they "encouraged" it). The hard part was finding a country willing to allow Jewish immigration, a problem exacerbated by the Nazis reluctance to allow Jews take any money or assets with them.

This is something a lot of people forget. The tendency is to think of the Holocaust and immediately refer to places like Auschwitz. The truth is that the progression from deportation to concentration to extermination came in steps, and the extermination camps didn’t open until late 1941. The Germans actively encouraged Jews to emigrate out of Germany. Even high-ranking Nazis like Goering would give permission to Jews to leave the country (at the insistence of his brother Albert).

It is kind of a bizarre thing to modern people, because we are accustomed to a free and increasingly globalized world. Most places we would want to visit have either no visa requirement or visas are a mere formality. The very notion of not being “allowed” to travel or live where we want is often alien to modern Americans. But nonetheless, for most of human history that was very much the case.

Isosleepy
10-16-2018, 12:07 PM
Back to the OP: Wallenberg issued “protective passports”. Which aren’t really passports, but were documents stating the bearer was a Swedish citizen and that Sweden was working on bringing them back to Sweden. They looked official enough to keep many of the bearers from being deported, which was exactly their purpose. They were not necessarily designed to get the bearer out, though no doubt people tried to use them as such.

The visas issued by some of the others technically allowed entry into the issuing country. While early in the Holocaust that was their exact purpose (and having them probably helped getting German exit visa as well), by late ‘42 I suspect their main value was again as deterrent to deportation/murder.

As to why they worked, in part it was the effect of the German official on the spot not wanting to possibly create trouble between the Reich and the issuing ally or neutral, in part because of some respect for “papers” of any kind, and I suspect it made it easier to accept bribes - “I had to let them go, sir, they had papers!”

md2000
10-16-2018, 02:53 PM
Back to the OP: Wallenberg issued “protective passports”. Which aren’t really passports, but were documents stating the bearer was a Swedish citizen and that Sweden was working on bringing them back to Sweden. They looked official enough to keep many of the bearers from being deported, which was exactly their purpose. They were not necessarily designed to get the bearer out, though no doubt people tried to use them as such.

The visas issued by some of the others technically allowed entry into the issuing country. While early in the Holocaust that was their exact purpose (and having them probably helped getting German exit visa as well), by late ‘42 I suspect their main value was again as deterrent to deportation/murder.

As to why they worked, in part it was the effect of the German official on the spot not wanting to possibly create trouble between the Reich and the issuing ally or neutral, in part because of some respect for “papers” of any kind, and I suspect it made it easier to accept bribes - “I had to let them go, sir, they had papers!”

In the days before computers, pre-printed forms (with handwritten or typewritten details filled in, assorted rubber stamps) probably carried a lot more weight. An official paper with the country crest or seal was not trivial to fake. Some of the more skilled participants in "The Great Escape" were the prisoners who could forge official looking documents with the tools at hand, including faking typewritten information by hand.

Sloe Moe
10-16-2018, 10:07 PM
Visas are for locals. For aliens, it's the passport you're holding.

1,200 German Jews were admitted into the US. I'm guessing it was a symbolic move by Roosevelt because he didn't settle them in CONUS. He sent them to the Philippines which was then a US territory. Then the Japanese invaded the Philippines. From nearly all accounts, the German Jews fared a lot better than American or British civilians trapped in the Philippines for one simple reason: They held German passports. :smack:

So let's recapitulate:
The US didn't really allow the German Jews into continental US.
The German Jews don't really owe the Philippines that much. They were dumped onto their laps.
Most of them moved to Israel after the war.
The Japanese were dumb.

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