|In 1933, after the initial wave of Nazi antisemitic violence, a panic swept the German-Jewish community and 37,000 people fled Germany. This emigration slowed, however, after the initial rush. Initially, the Nazis encouraged and, in some cases, forced emigration, especially of poor, unemployed or criminal Jews, hoping thereby to spread antisemitic feelings throughout Europe. Wealthier Jews could also flee Germany, but they paid a large portion of their assets for the opportunity to escape.
Refugee child guarding the family's suitcases, 1935. CL:Leni Sonnenfeld.
|The chief obstacle to Jewish emigration was the unwillingness of other nations to accept Jews. Traditional antisemitism and fear of swamping labor markets combined to close off most escape routes.
Jewish emigrants praying on board ship for Palestine, 1938. CL:Leni Sonnenfeld
By 1939, more than 50 percent of Germany's Jews had fled; however, with the rapid Nazi conquest of Europe after 1939, most of these emigres found themselves back under Nazi control. After the outbreak of war, Nazi policy shifted from forced emigration to extermination.
A Jewish girl evacuated from Vienna to England with the children's transports, Dec. 1938. CL:NARA