2017 Japanese Internment Camps

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jewish Migration and Diaspora

Jewish Migration

by Tobias Brinkmann Original in Germandisplayed in English 
Were (and are) Jewish migrations predominantly the result of persecution and discrimination or were economic motives their main cause? This survey of the complex history of Jewish migrations in the last five hundred years pursues this question using the most important migrant flows as examples, starting with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain late in the fifteenth century to the mass migration from Eastern Europe after 1880 and the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948. Migrations were closely related to the decline and rise of the centres of the Jewish Diaspora. As members of a transterritorial diaspora population, Jews played an important role as intercultural mediators in European history.
  1. Migration and Diaspora
  2. 1492–1789: Expulsion from Spain and the rise of the Eastern European Diaspora
  3. 1789–1914: Mass migration from Eastern Europe and "Metropolisation"
  4. 1914–1948: Expulsion, Shoah and the foundation of Israel
  5. Appendix
    1. Sources
    2. Bibliography
    3. Notes

Migration and Diaspora

Migration is a constitutive element in the history of diaspora populations (diaspora: Greek for scattering) and is closely linked to the continuous exchange of ideas and goods between different centres and subcentres, often over great distances and between different cultural regions. Already in the pre-Christian period, the Jewish Diaspora developed independent subcentres in regions far removed from each other. The historian Jonathan Israel coined the term "diasporas within a diaspora" for the continuous formation of new centres. He was referring to the communities that Jews expelled from Spain founded on both sides of the Atlantic in the sixteenth century. The Atlantic communities were widely dispersed and extremely varied but only represented a small part of the Sephardic Diaspora, which primarily spread in the Maghreb and the Ottoman empire. Therefore, the more correct term for this subgroup would be "diasporas within the (Sephardic) Diaspora within the (general Jewish) Diaspora".1

The Jewish Diaspora is only one of several "historical diasporas", such as the Chinese or the Armenian Diasporas, whose roots can be traced back at least into the first millennium. No historical diaspora shows a greater degree of cultural diversity and dynamics than the Jewish. The encounters of Jews from differently constituted subcentres of the Diaspora, almost always the consequence of migration processes, is one of the most fascinating aspects of Jewish history. Usually, new emigrants met with relatively established Jewish communities – a pattern that can also be discerned for other diaspora populations. However, conflicts over social inclusion between "the Established and the Outsiders" are only superficially explained by cultural differences. At the heart lay the redistribution of social power in an expanding community.2

Traditionally, members of transterritorial diaspora populations play an important role as intercultural mediators, often in association with members of other diasporas. In their respective host societies, they usually form a small and exposed minority, whose well-being depends on the interaction with other groups, legal security, political stability and a favourable economic context. They predominantly occupy economic niches in an urban context, possess intercultural skills and often have a high degree of mobility. Maintaining a cultural difference is the precondition for the integrity of the diaspora community and its function as a mediator between different cultures. Strict, religiously defined commandments such as dietary rules or the prohibition of mixed marriages ensure the preservation of the community over several generations.3

In the five hundred years between 1450 and 1950, huge population shifts occurred in all ofEurope that reached a completely new quality and dimension particularly in the first half of the twentieth century. Although Jews only constituted a very small minority of Europe's population, they lived in different parts of the continent and participated already in the sixteenth century in overseas trade  and the colonisation  of the New World. Therefore, the study of Jewish migration history opens a comprehensive perspective on the complex European (and global) migration events after 1500.

Whether Jewish migrations were "normal" or extraordinary processes is hotly debated to the present day. The thesis that anti-Jewish persecutions and expulsions are the actual cause of Jewish migrations after (and also before) 1492 remains both influential and suggestive.4 Critics counter that migration, including violent expulsions, is a normal occurrence in human history and that Jewish history cannot be interpreted dissociated from its respective context. The Jewish social historian Salo Baron (1895–1989) distanced himself explicitly in 1928 from the "lachrymose" view of Jewish history before 1800 that emphasised discrimination and persecution and reduced Jews to the passive role of victims: "It is, then, not surprising and certainly no evidence of discrimination that the Jews did not have 'equal rights' – no one had them."5 The Russian-Jewish demographer and migration researcher Eugene Kulischer (1881–1956)  explicitly warned against interpreting migration as a specific Jewish habitus. Such an attribution could promote widespread anti-Jewish prejudices, last but not least due to the idea of the eternally migrating, damned "Wandering Jew" ("Ewige Jude" or "Juif Errant") that is deeply rooted in Christian tradition.6

The normalisation thesis has gained influence since the 1960s – among representatives of general Jewish history as well as among those who study recent Jewish history. The migrations of Jews and their Christian and Muslim neighbours were in fact often closely intertwined and economic factors were usually decisive in Jewish migrations.7 However, this only holds true until the first half of the 20th century. The expulsions during and after the First World War in Eastern Europe and especially the systematic "resettlement" andannihilation policies of the Nazis were specifically directed against Jews, economic motives were secondary at most.  Nevertheless it is true to say that the discussion on the motives of Jewish migrants, regardless of the respective historiographic viewpoint, has effected a more nuanced assessment of Jewish migration processes and a better consideration of the respective context.

Jewish migrations between 1450 and 1950 can be divided into three sequential periods that are determined by the central data of general history:
1492–1789: Expulsion from Spain and the rise of the Eastern European Diaspora
1789–1914: Mass migration from Eastern Europe and "Metropolisation"
1914–1948: Expulsion, Shoah and the foundation of Israel

1492–1789: Expulsion from Spain and the rise of the Eastern European Diaspora

About 1450 three independent and culturally very different "diasporas within a diaspora" had established themselves. A lively exchange occurred within these Jewish subcentres. The most significant centre was located in the Iberian peninsula. A flourishing Jewish culture (Sephardim) had developed there in the Middle Ages under Muslim rule. Markedly fewer Jews lived in Central Europe (Ashkenazim) , the second centre – partly they had been living there since the first century but were widely scattered over a large region. After brutal persecutions during the Crusades and the expulsion from most territories in the west of the continent during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the violent excesses and expulsions increased about 1450 in many parts of the Holy Roman Empire. The third and oldest centre was located in the Muslim metropolises and port towns of the Middle Eastand Persia. Smaller, relatively isolated communities existed in the south of the Arabian peninsula, in Central Asia, and even on the west coast of the Indian subcontinent.8

Growing persecution and economic hardship explain why the Ashkenazi centre gradually shifted from Central Europe to Poland-Lithuania and to territories under Ottoman rule inSoutheastern Europe. In Poland-Lithuania, Jews were protected by the Crown and found comparatively favourable conditions for life and work.  Jewish migrants settled in small and large towns in the territories of the modern countries of LatviaLithuaniaBelarusPoland,MoldavaRomania and the western part of Ukraine. Within a few decades, the largest and most influential focus of the Jewish Diaspora developed there. Small groups of Ashkenazi Jews also migrated to Southeastern Europe in regions of modern Romania and Bulgaria, which were incorporated into the Ottoman Empire during the fifteenth century. Muslim rulers usually granted Jews (and Christians) a special status (dhimmi). This entailed an increased tax burden but, in turn, they also had the right to exercise their religion and were granted legal security and commercial privileges.9

The rise of Eastern Europe as the new main centre of the Diaspora coincided with the dramatic decline of the Spanish centre. By the middle of the fifteenth century, most Spanish Jews had lived for several centuries under Christian rule. Unlike Muslims, Jews were initially tolerated unbelievers, but small groups already migrated in this period to North Africa. However, increasing numbers of Jews were forced to become Christians while others converted voluntarily since the late fourteenth century. A considerable number of these conversos practiced Judaism in secret. With the rise of the Inquisition after 1478, anti-Jewish violence reached a new quality. The conquest of Granada in 1492, the last Spanish city under Muslim rule, signified the completion of the Reconquista. In the same year, the ruling couple Isabella I (1451–1504)  and Ferdinand II (1452–1526) ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Spain. The Spanish expulsion edict also extended toSouthern Italy and Sicily. The only alternative to flight was conversion to Christianity.10

Portugal, literally the closest refuge, issued a similar decree in 1497 under Spanish pressure but initially did not enforce it very strictly. The majority of Sephardic Jews fled to North Africa. Most settled around the Mediterranean from Morocco in the west to the coast of Asia MinorGreeceBosnia and Bulgaria in the East during a migration process that lasted several generations. Sephardic Jews founded numerous prospering communities. In the Mediterranean region, Sephardic merchants assumed a lucrative intermediary role in the South Asian spice and cloth trades between Muslim- and Christian-ruled territories. In some towns such as Salonica (Thessaloniki), they represented a significant part of the population.11

In the eastern Mediterranean, in Southeastern Europe and Northern Italy, Sephardic Jews encountered members of the Oriental and Ashkenazi Diasporas. Even though they were often perceived and treated as a unit from the outside, the members of the respective groups often found it difficult to bridge religious and cultural differences. Members of all three groups met in the prospering maritime Republic of Venice. The establishment of the Venice Ghetto in 1516 illustrates the formal recognition of Jews as independent actors in the trans-Mediterranean trade network of Venice. The Ghetto was for a long time interpreted as the symbol of the separation and formal discrimination against Jews. However, recent research has revealed a more nuanced image. After the arbitrary persecutions and expulsions of the late Middle Ages, the Ghetto was rather a legally chartered concession to the Jewish communities. Jews were formally accepted as a part of the municipal economy but were pointedly separated from the city's society. The Ghetto also guaranteed Jews a high degree of cultural autonomy – in a clearly demarcated space but within the city walls.12

While most Sephardic refugees and their descendants found a new home in the Maghreb and the eastern Mediterranean, two further centres arose in Northwestern Europe and the New World. Both owed their rise to the obligingness of Protestant rulers and attractive economic conditions. A Sephardic community that soon became influential established itself during the late sixteenth century in Amsterdam. Its members were mostly conversosfrom Portugal. Thanks to their many contacts, Sephardic Jews opened the gates to the lucrative trade with the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in South America for the Amsterdam merchant class. Smaller communities linked to Amsterdam also arose inBordeauxAltona (near Hamburg), London and also on the western side of the Atlantic.13

Widely spread Sephardic family networks  successfully participated in opening up the New World. Contrary to widespread prejudices, only few Jews were involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. After the conquest of the Dutch colony of Recife (Brazil) by Portuguese troops, 23 Jews made the journey to New Amsterdam (after 1664 New York) in 1654, where they successfully established their right to settle and founded the first Jewish community in North America. In the seventeenth century, the first Ashkenazi Jews migrated to Amsterdam and then to the New World. While individual migrants to New York and Philadelphia were accepted rather quickly into the existing Sephardic communities, they met with clear rejection in the Amsterdam community (also because of their greater number) and formed a separate group for a long time.14

Looking back, the date of 1492 is imbued with great symbolic significance especially for American Jews. At the same time as the catastrophe of the expulsion, a new perspective of freedom opened with the discovery of America. However, the expulsion from the cultural home and further spread of the sub-Diaspora resulted in the long-term loss of the cultural and religious distinctiveness of the Sephardim.

The denser Ashkenazi centre in Eastern Europe experienced a flowering in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and replaced Spain as the most populous and culturally dominating centre of the Diaspora. However, the number of Ashkenazi Jews exceeded the number of Sephardic and Oriental Jews only in the middle of the eighteenth century. In Poland-Lithuania, Jews enjoyed a comparably high measure of autonomy, which was expressed in the Council of Four Lands. The most important communities sent delegates to this regularly convening protoparliament of the Polish Jewry.15

The Westphalian Peace of 1648 rang in a period of (relative) political stability in Central andWestern Europe, but the same year brought the start of a long-lasting crisis in Eastern European history. The Cossack rising of 1648 led by Bohdan Chmielnicki (1595–1657) against the Polish Crown severely shook the Jewish sub-Diaspora and triggered a massive refugee wave within Eastern Europe. The unrest weakened the power of the Crown and exposed Jewish communities to growing danger. Against the background of the political and economic crisis, the attraction of a Shabtai Zvi (1626–1676)  , who as the "Messiah" brought tens of thousands of followers under his spell in the middle of the seventeenth century and literally drew them with him, becomes understandable. The rise ofHasidism  in the middle of the eighteenth century in the territory of modern West Ukraine was a reaction to this legitimisation crisis of traditional Judaism. In the last third of the eighteenth century, Poland lost its political independence and was divided amongPrussiaAustria and Russia .16

An east to west migration that primarily had economic causes already began during the seventeenth century. Before the nineteenth century, this migration only involved several hundred individuals annually. Apart from a few very wealthy Jewish merchants from Poland, who regularly attended the Leipzig Fair, poor Jews hoped for better opportunities in the West. However, settlement restrictions, the adverse attitude of established communities such as in Amsterdam as well as the costs and dangers associated with the long journey explain why only few Jews found their way to Central and Western Europe or even the New World. At the same time, young men from Central Europe still travelled until the nineteenth century to Eastern European yeshivot (Talmud schools) to study the Talmud with highly respected rabbis.17

Retrospectively, the year 1789 constitutes a decisive turning point. The ideals of theFrench Revolution  were quite ambivalent for most Jews in Europe. The vision of freedom and equality opened undreamt possibilities to Jews (and Christians) as individuals. However, the project of emancipation  put the Jewish community (kehillah), the core of Jewish solidarity and the Diaspora, in doubt. The erosion of autonomy threatened the cultural distinction of Jewish Diaspora communities.18

1789–1914: Mass migration from Eastern Europe and "Metropolisation"

The long nineteenth century was a century of movement. Millions of Europeans and Asians left their homes and moved to nearby towns and far-away continents. Globalising markets and technical innovations made safe journeys possible for more and more people over ever greater distances in ever shorter time periods. Migration restrictions soon lost their force after 1800 or were simply ignored. Countries of destination such as the United States were trying to attract more European settlers. Between 1850 and 1900, the average travel time from a village in Central Europe to any place in North America that was connected to the railway network shrank from several months to less than three weeks. The great ocean liners, who went on their maiden voyages soon after 1880, crossed the Atlantic in barely a week. Suddenly "America" was literally at the front door and the journey became affordable even for simple people. The anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire in 1881 were the final trigger for some Jews to leave their homes but economic factors were the underlying cause. However, it was the rapidly eastward-expanding railway network that finally made Jewish mass migration from Eastern Europe possible.19

The population of Europe had been strongly increasing since the second half of the eighteenth century.  By 1870, the number of Jews in various regions of the Russian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in Southeastern Europe had grown to four million; most lived in small towns, the shtetlach. They represented more than two thirds of the Jewish world population. Germany, the largest community outside Eastern Europe, was home to 450,000 Jews. Jewish communities had been able to survive since the Middle Ages in a few towns such as Frankfurt am Main and Fürth and in rural regions such asFranconia. The relatively high number was a consequence of natural growth and the Prussian annexation of Polish territories such as the Grand Duchy of Poznan in the late eighteenth century. The communities in Western Europe, the Mediterranean region, theOrient and the United States, which were partially still dominated by Sephardic Jews, were markedly smaller.20

In Western Europe, most Jews were emancipated in the first half of the nineteenth century. In Germany, emancipation was only completed with the unification in 1871. In the United States, Jewish men enjoyed, like all white Americans, full civil rights at the federal level at the latest with the ratification of the Constitution in 1790. Therefore, Jews as well as Christian rural inhabitants, who had previously been subject to feudal restrictions, took their emancipation into their own hands by moving to America. The words of a young Jew, who complained about the very restrictive laws in his native Bavaria, are representative for many migrants to America. During a short stay in Mainz in 1845, he answered the question of whether he could imagine a return to his homeland with the words: "I will only return when North America has become Bavarian!"21

As new citizens, Jews identified with their respective home countries. New divisions formed, especially among the Ashkenazim. While Jews had been exempt from military service in Christian- (and Muslim-) ruled territories during the Early Modern Period, they now encountered each other on the battle fields of the nineteenth century. Loyalty to the respective nation state counted for more than identification with the Diaspora. Apart from nationality, Jews in Europe were divided by a continuously expanding spectrum of differing perceptions of Jewish identity in modern society. The Jewish reform movement, which originated in Germany during the Enlightenment and was especially developed in the United States, distanced itself from traditional Judaism and promulgated its own concept for Judaism in modern society. In Eastern Europe, secular and ethnic concepts of Jewish identity had great appeal in the second half of the nineteenth century. Zionism  was an answer to the growing Antisemitism  and the nationalistic currents in Eastern Europe, which already excluded Jews very early from its ranks. But Zionism only grew into a mass movement  after the First World War. The number of Zionist settlers in Palestine was relatively small before 1914.22

Compared to the Eastern European Jewish mass migration, the Jewish migration from Central Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century was only a marginal phenomenon in the mighty trans-Atlantic movement. It was closely linked to a strong migration fromSouthwestern GermanyBohemia and Poznan to America that primarily had economic causes. However, the migrants represented a significant part of the Jewish population. In 1816, 260,000 Jews (1.09% of the total population) lived in the territory of the later German empire. In 1871, this number had almost doubled due to natural growth (470,000/1.2%). In the same period, about 100,000 Jews left the German states (and Alsace-Lorraine), especially in the direction of North America.23

While the Jews of the Habsburg monarchy were completely emancipated in 1867, but lived in great poverty in large parts of the empire, especially in Galicia, the situation of the Jewish population in Russia and Romania worsened during the course of the nineteenth century. Apart from the miserable economic situation, enormous population growth, limited resources and political tensions, Jews were confronted with numerous restrictions and increasing violence. The Jewish migration from Eastern Europe, which began in the final third of the nineteenth century, completely redefined the system of centres of the Jewish Diaspora that had become established since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Almost three million Jews left Eastern Europe between 1870 and the early 1920s. More than two million moved to the United States,  which, due to this migration, had in 1900 already become the most important centre of Jewish life outside Eastern Europe. The Jewish migration from Eastern Europe was a global movement, it resulted in the foundation of numerous new communities. In many older centres of the Diaspora, within a few years, new immigrants constituted the majority, including in the United States, the United KingdomSouth AfricaArgentina and Palestine. The return migration was relatively low but not insignificant.24

The strong population growth in East and Central Europe as well as the United States marginalised the non-Ashkenazi Jews: By 1900, the Jewish population had grown to ten million worldwide – of these, nine million were Ashkenazim. The migration from the Russian empire, the Habsburg monarchy and Romania not only shifted the balance between the centres of the Jewish Diaspora inside and outside Europe, but it also was the driving force behind the "Metropolisation" of Jews. The Zionist and sociologist Arthur Ruppin (1876–1943) used this term not to describe the strong country-to-town migration of Jews after 1800 but to describe the preference of Jewish migrants for a handful of European and American metropolises: New York, WarsawChicago, Philadelphia, BudapestŁódź,Odessa, London, Vienna and Berlin. One metropolis outshone all others: In 1880, about 60,000 Jews lived in New York and Brooklyn, in 1925 it was more than a million – almost two million even if the Greater New York Area is included. That was more than ten percent of the Jewish world population. Several metropolises were located in Eastern and Central Europe, an indicator of the strong Jewish internal migration in these countries.25

The global mass migration also encountered resistance. Already in the 1880s, the United States de facto excluded the Chinese from immigration and began to expel undesirable immigrants. Jews early on came into the sights of the opponents of immigration, who made use of anti-Semitic stereotypes particularly in Britain, France and Germany. Between 1885 and 1914, Germany deported thousands of undesirable Ostjuden (Eastern Jews) to Russia. Transnationally acting and closely cooperating Jewish aid organisations such as the Parisian Alliance Israélite Universelle, the New York HIAS (Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society) and the Berlin Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden  successfully advocated in public for Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe and set up an efficient care network along the main transit routes.26

1914–1948: Expulsion, Shoah and the foundation of Israel

The First World War had a huge, worldwide impact on the history of Jewish migrations. The war hit the great Jewish settlement centre in Eastern Europe directly and hard. In 1915 and 1916, Russian military authorities drove tens of thousands of Jews and German-speaking Protestants as potential collaborators into the interior of the country, German occupation troops conscripted thousands of Jews and Poles as forced labourers, and in the Habsburg monarchy, a refugee wave to Vienna and Budapest began after massive destruction in Galicia. Although the war ended in the West in 1918, a series of armed conflicts began after the collapse of the multiethnic empires in Eastern Europe that would last into the early 1920s. According to a conservative estimate, at least 60,000 Jews became victims of pogroms in the western territories of modern Ukraine in 1918/1919 alone. Millions of Eastern Europeans lost their homes, among them several hundred thousand Jews. Large groups succeeded in fleeing to the West, but there most stood before closed doors.27

Fear of the spread of Bolshevism as well as explicit racist and anti-Semitic prejudices were behind the American restrictions on immigration of 1921 that were primarily aimed at East and South Europeans as well as Asians. Other traditional immigration countries such asCanada and Argentina also put up obstacles; Britain didn't even bother to lift the mobility restrictions introduced during the war. After 1917/1918, it was only possible to cross international borders with valid passports. Many countries required visas and transit visas that often could only be acquired with great difficulties. This proved particularly fateful for many citizens of the former Russian and Ottoman empires as well as the perished Habsburg monarchy. The governments of the successor states often refused to issue passports to members of undesirable minorities. Without papers, stateless individuals had lost their right to freedom of movement. Tens of thousands of Jews from Eastern Europe as well as Armenians and opponents of the Bolsheviks were in a state that is best described as permanent transit. Jewish refugees became stranded in refugee camps and inner city slums all over Europe. After 1939, many of these people fell into the clutches of the Nazi persecution machinery because they did not have valid identity documents.28

Few countries were open to migrants from Eastern Europe after 1918. Apart from the Weimar Republic, which pursued a relatively liberal policy toward refugees, there was essentially France. France had not been able to demobilise its army and urgently required workers for its industries and for reconstruction in the North. Palestine gained considerable significance in the 1920s. However, the difficult conditions of life in the British mandate territory explain why in the second half of the 1920s the number of returnees was almost as high as the number of arrivals. In the Soviet Union, a strong Jewish country-to-town migration began. Many Jews were resettled in the East during the course of the Stalinist forced collectivisation of the 1920s. Jewish aid organisations were desperately looking for a new home for thousands of Jewish refugees long before the persecutions by the Nazis. Destinations like Shanghai, Brazil and Mexico already gained in importance in the 1920s. No one described the hopelessness of Jewish refugees and migrants in the interwar period more vividly than the Galician Jewish journalist and writer Joseph Roth (1894–1939) , especially in his essay Juden auf Wanderschaft (The Wandering Jews, 1927). But even in this crisis, Jews and other refugees were not only passive victims of state policies. Jews and other Eastern Europeans were significant contributors to the cultural boom in Berlin during the Twenties. For a few years, Berlin was an important crossroads of the Yiddish- and Hebrew-speaking Diaspora between Eastern Europe and North America.29

The Great Depression deprived numerous people of the financial means necessary for migration. Many countries, especially the United States, tightened their immigration restrictions further. This put great obstacles in the way of German-Jewish emigrants and refugees after 1933. In 1939, the size of the Jewish world population had grown to seventeen million – around fourteen million Jews were Ashkenazim. With more than eight million Jews, Eastern Europe was still the most important centre by far, followed by the United States (about 4.8 million). Germany (about 200,000) had clearly dropped in this ranking. About 250,000 Jews managed to emigrate after the Nazi's seizure of power, often after losing their property, after months and years of waiting, and by complicated routes. The Conference of Évian in June 1938, which was called by the American presidentFranklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945)  to discuss possibilities of facilitating the emigration of German and Austrian Jews, marked a low point. Despite the brutal anti-Semitic excesses in Vienna only a few months earlier, none of the 32 participating nations was willing to receive more than a few Jewish refugees. The threatening situation for Jews in Eastern Europe was not even a topic of the negotiations. Many Eastern European states, especially Poland, pursued anti-Semitic policies in the mid-1930s and treated their Jewish citizens as de facto stateless.30

The situation worsened with the outbreak of war. Only a few boltholes remained, such as Shanghai which had long become unreachable for most. In October 1941, Reichsführer of the SS, Heinrich Himmler (1900–1945) , prohibited Jewish emigration from territories controlled by German troops. At this time, mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) – with the help of the army and allied troops such as those of Romania – had already murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews in the West of the Soviet Union. Shortly afterwards, the decision to implement the "Final Solution" was made. The deportation of millions of Jews from all Europe into extermination camps according to a refined schedule constitutes the most extreme form of forced migration. The Shoah completely extinguished the most important centre of the Jewish Diaspora in Eastern Europe in only four years. Sephardim, especially in Greece, Yugoslavia and Tunisia, were also among the victims of the Shoah. More than two million Jews in the Soviet Union were not reached by the German terror, some only because they had been deported into the Gulag after the Soviet invasion of East Poland in 1939. A minority of the Jewish population in Southeastern Europe, such as the Jews of Bulgaria, were spared deportation.31

After the Liberation, Jewish refugees and survivors were caught in a permanent transit similar to that after the First World War, but under the explicit protection of the US army. Only few countries were prepared to accept Jewish "displaced persons" – the term was coined by Kulischer in 1943. In the United States, opponents of immigration, such as the powerful anti-Semitic senator Patrick McCarran (1876–1954) , scuttled attempts to let Jewish survivors enter the country in larger numbers than determined by the immigration quotas. In Palestine, the British attempted to prevent immigration. The foundation of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948 changed this situation. However, most countries of the Middle East declared Jews an undesirable minority, partially already during the Israeli War of Independence. As a result, the centuries-old settlement centres in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean disappeared from the map within a few months. Jewish communities in DamascusBagdad and Yemen, which were now subject to rapid and sometimes violent dissolution, could even be traced back to the pre-Christian era.32

After the Shoah, the United States were the largest, (though after the foundation of the State of Israel, not the most important) centre of the Jewish Diaspora. The population of Israel only exceeded that of the Greater New York Area by the middle of the 1960s. The territorial nation state solved the problem of millions of stateless Jewish refugees and Jewish minorities who were treated as de facto stateless, who after 1914 had largely been deprived of the right of mobility, and had predominantly fallen victim to the Shoah. It remains an irony of history that the experience of Palestinian refugees, despite all differences, exhibits parallels in regard to their statelessness after 1948 to that of Jewish refuges in the three decades before 1948. In the 1970s, a migration of Jews from the Soviet Union began. Initially, small numbers of politically motivated emigrations occurred, but economic motives have been centre stage after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Up to 2010, about one-and-a-half million Jews have migrated to Israel, the United States and Germany.33

Tobias Brinkmann, University Park (Pennsylvania)



Jewish Publication Society (ed.): American Jewish Year Book 44 (1942/1943), online:http://www.ajcarchives.org/main.php?GroupingId=10077 [29/06/2010].
Roth, Joseph: Juden auf Wanderschaft, Berlin 1927.


Adler-Rudel, Solomon: The Evian Conference on the Refugee Question, in: Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 13 (1968), pp. 235–276.
Arendt, Hannah: The Minority Question, in: Jerome Kohn et al. (eds.): Hannah Arendt: The Jewish Writings, New York 2007, pp. 125–132.
idem: The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York 1951.
Aschheim, Steven: Brothers and Strangers: The Eastern European Jew in German and German Jewish Consciousness 1800–1923, Madison (WI) 1982.
Baron, Salo: Ghetto and Emancipation, in: The Menorah Journal 14 (1928), pp. 515–526.
Bartal, Israel: The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772–1881, Philadelphia 2005.
Bechtel, Delphine: La Renaissance culturelle juive: Europe centrale et orientale 1897–1930, Paris 2001.
Belkin, Dmitrji et al. (eds.): Ausgerechnet Deutschland! Jüdisch-russische Einwanderung in die Bundesrepublik, Berlin 2010.
Benbassa, Esther / Rodrigue, Aron: Sephardi Jewry: A History of the Judeo-Spanish Community, 14th–20th Centuries, Berkeley 2000.
Bernardini, Paolo et al. (eds.): The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West 1450–1800, New York 2001.
Bodian, Miriam: Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation: Conversos and Community in Early Modern Amsterdam, Bloomington (IN) 1997.
Bon Tempo, Carl J.: Americans at the Gate: The United States and Refugees during the Cold War, Princeton (NJ) 2008.
Brinkmann, Tobias: Von der Gemeinde zur 'Community': Jüdische Einwanderer in Chicago 1840–1900, Osnabrück 2002.
idem: From Hinterberlin to Berlin: Jewish Migrants from Eastern Europe in Berlin before and after 1918, in: Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 7 (2008), pp. 339–355.
idem: Traveling with Ballin: The Impact of American Immigration Policies on Jewish Transmigration within Central Europe, 1880–1914, in: International Review of Social History 53 (2008), pp. 459–484.
Brown, Kate: A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland, Cambridge (MA) 2004.
Elias, Nelly: Coming Home: Media and Returning Diaspora in Israel and Germany, Albany (NY) 2008.
Elias, Norbert / Scotson, John L.: The Established and the Outsiders: A Sociological Enquiry into Community Problems, London 1965.
Freitag, Gabriele: Nächstes Jahr in Moskau! Die Zuwanderung von Juden in die sowjetische Metropole 1917–1932, Göttingen 2004.
Friedländer, Saul: Nazi Germany and the Jews, New York 1997.
idem: The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945, New York 2007.
Gartner, Lloyd: The Jewish Immigrant in England 1870–1914, London 1960.
Gatrell, Peter: A Whole Empire Walking: Refugees in Russia during World War I, Bloomington (IN) 1999.
Gerber, Jane: The Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardi Experience, New York 1992.
Green, Nancy: Ready-to-Wear and Ready-to-Work: A Century of Industry and Immigrants in the Women's Garment Trade in Paris and New York, Durham (NC) 1997.
Higham, John: Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism 1860–1925, New Brunswick 1955.
Hoerder, Dirk: Cultures in Contact: World Migrations in the Second Millennium, Durham (NC) 2002.
Howe, Irving: Immigrant Jews of New York: 1881 to Present, New York 1976.
idem: World of our Fathers, New York 1976.
Israel, Jonathan I.: Diasporas within a Diaspora: Jews, Crypto-Jews, and the World of Maritime Empires (1540–1740), Boston 2002.
Katz, Jacob: Out of the Ghetto: The Social Background of Jewish Emancipation, 1770–1870, Cambridge (MA) 1973.
Katznelson, Ira: Between Separation and Disappearance: American Jews on the Margins of American Liberalism, in: Pierre Birnbaum et al. (eds.): Paths of Emancipation: Jews, States, and Citizenship, Princeton 1995, pp. 157–205.
Klier, John D.: Emigration Mania in Late-Imperial Russia: Legend and Reality, in: Aubrey Newman et al. (eds.), Patterns of Emigration, 1850–1914, London 1996, pp. 21–30.
Kulischer, Eugene M: The Displacement of Population in Europe, Montreal 1943.
idem: Europe on the Move: War and Population Changes 1917–47, New York 1948.
idem: Jewish Migrations: Past Experiences and Post-War Prospects, New York 1943.
Kuznets, Simon: Immigration of Russian Jews to the United States: Background and Structure, in: Perspectives in American History 9 (1975), pp. 35–124.
Lederhendler, Eli: New York Jews and the Decline of Urban Ethnicity, 1950–1970, Syracuse (NY) 2001.
Marrus, Michael R.: The Unwanted: European Refugees in the Twentieth Century, Oxford 1985.
Mazower, Mark: Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims, and Jews, 1430–1950, New York 2006.
Meyer, Michael: Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism, Oxford 1988.
Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme (ed.): Le Juif Errant, Un Témoin Du Temps, Paris 2001.
Nathans, Benjamin: Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial Russia, Berkeley 2002.
Penslar, Derek: Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe, Berkeley 2001.
Ravid, Benjamin et al. (eds.): The Jews of Early Modern Venice, Baltimore 2001.
Rechter, David: The Jews of Vienna and the First World War, London 2001.
Reynders Ristaino, Marcia: Port of Last Resort: The Diaspora Communities of Shanghai, Stanford 2001.
Rischin, Moses: The Promised City: New York's Jews 1870–1914, Cambridge (MA) 1962.
Rosenberg, Clifford: Policing Paris: The Origins of Modern Immigration Control Between the Wars, Ithaca 2006.
Ruppin, Arthur: Soziologie der Juden, Berlin 1930.
Sarna, Jonathan: The Myth of No Return: The History of Jewish Return Migration to Eastern Europe 1881–1914, in: American Jewish History 71 (1981), pp. 256–268.
Schorsch, Jonathan: Jews and Blacks in the Early Modern World, Cambridge (UK) 2004.
Sheffer, Gabriel: Diaspora Politics: At Home Abroad, Cambridge (UK) 2003.
Simpson, John Hope: The Refugee Question, London 1939.
Sowell, Thomas: Migrations and Cultures: A World View, New York 1996.
Swetschinski, Daniel M.: Reluctant Cosmopolitans: The Portuguese Jews of Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam, London 2000.
Torpey, John: The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship and the State, Cambridge (UK) 2000.
Vital, David: A People Apart: The Jews in Europe 1789–1939, Oxford 1999.
Wertheimer, Jack: Unwelcome Strangers: Eastern European Jews in Imperial Germany, New York, Oxford 1987.
Wirth, Louis: The Ghetto, Chicago 1928.
Wischnitzer, Mark: To Dwell in Safety: The Story of Jewish Migration since 1800, Philadelphia 1948.
Wiznitzer, Arnold: The Exodus from Brazil and Arrival in New Amsterdam of the Jewish Pilgrim Fathers, 1654, in: Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 44 (1954), pp. 80–97.
Zipperstein, Steven J.: The Jews of Odessa: A Cultural History, 1794–1881, Stanford 1986.
Zolberg, Aristide R.: The Great Wall Against China: Responses to the First Immigration Crisis, 1885–1925, in: Jan Lucassen et al. (eds.): Migration, Migration History, History, Bern 1997, pp. 291–315.