October 23, 1941 – Order Banning Emigration of Jews from the Reich During World War II

One of the reasons for the relatively low number of refugees leaving Europe prior to World War II was the barrier of stringent immigration policies enacted by the prospective host countries. Jewish immigration in particular was limited by countries including the United States, where antisemitism flourished.

Father Charles Coughlin, known as ‘the founder of hate radio,’ was a leading proponent of American anti-Semitism during the 1930s

As Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton explain in “The Nazis and the Jews in Occupied Western Europe, 1940-1944” [The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 54, No. 4 (Dec., 1982), online here], during a short period prior to the outbreak of World War II, the Germans were in favor of Jewish emigration. At that time, there were no operative plans to kill the Jews. The goal was to induce them to leave, if necessary, by the use of force. Indeed, while many German Jews were initially reluctant to emigrate, the majority sought to do so following Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), November 9-10, 1938. Had havens been available, more people would certainly have emigrated.

The policy of Germany changed however at the start of World War II. Why not get rid of Jews once and for all?

Thus, no more Jews were allowed to emigrate; it would be preferable to kill them.

On this day in history, a new order was issued by the Schutzstaffel or SS. This was a paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II.:

Secret
Re: Emigration of Jews
Reference: none

The Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police has decreed that the emigration of Jews is to be prevented, taking effect immediately. (Evacuation Aktionen will remain unaffected.)

I request that the internal German Authorities concerned in the area of service there may be informed of this order.

Permission for the emigration of individual Jews can only be approved in single very special cases; for instance, in the event of a genuine interest on the part of the Reich, and then only after a prior decision has been obtained from the Reich Security Main Office.”

The Holocaust Museum Encyclopedia notes:

The ‘Final Solution’ was the code name for the systematic, deliberate, physical annihilation of the European Jews. At some still undetermined time in 1941, Adolf Hitler authorized this European-wide scheme for mass murder.”

SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the Reich Security Main Office and one of SS Chief Heinrich Himmler’s top deputies, convened the Wannsee Conference in January 1942 for government officials to plan the implementation of the “Final Solution” per Hitler’s instructions.

Mass murders of Jews had in fact already begun by the Einsatzgruppen, particularly in the the German-occupied areas of the Soviet Union and in Serbia. The Einsatzgruppen, special SS and police units, had the task of murdering Jews and political opponents ahead of the arrival of armed forces.

Heydrich indicated that approximately 11,000,000 Jews in Europe would fall under the provisions of the “Final Solution.” In this figure, he included not only Jews residing in Axis-controlled Europe, but also the Jewish populations of the United Kingdom, and the neutral nations (Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, and European Turkey). He anticipated German victories in Europe and wanted to plan accordingly.

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