SEEKING REFUGE OVERSEAS
Those who were lucky enough to stay one step ahead of the Germans, and had the money to keep on the move, may have left a trail of visa applications and immigration records across Europe. Checking the national and local archives of countries and cities that you believe your ancestors travelled through is worthwhile, as well as any surviving immigration records for the places where they settled.
If migrants found themselves in Nazioccupied territory, the only means of getting out were illegal. Swiss soldiers intercepted Jane’s great aunt Michaela and uncle Aron at the border with France, and an internment card was found in the International Committee of the Red Cross Archive in Geneva ( icrc.org/eng/ resources/icrc-archives). These index cards were created for all civilians interned in neutral Switzerland, so that the Red Cross could answer requests for information from relatives.
Many Jewish people fled to the United States and the YIVO Institute in New York holds millions of letters, manuscripts and early published works, not only recording the experiences of immigrants who made it out of Nazi- occupied territory, but also about pre-war Jewish culture and records from the Warsaw, Lodz and Vilna ghettos (see yivoinstitute.org).
Even after peace was declared, Jews emerging from bomb-damaged hideouts in Poland tried to join relatives who had made it overseas. Jadwiga Temerson’s application for a passport in 1946 is among papers of the Emigration Department of the Central Committee of Jews in Poland, in the Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw.
The Wiener Library in London has thousands of refugee family papers donated by immigrants to the UK. An interactive map of these collections is online at wienerlibrary.co.uk/ interactivemap. The International Tracing Service established by the Red Cross in 1943 has an archive at Bad Arolsen in Germany and a digital copy is searchable at the Wiener Library. To initiate a search for records concerning displaced people, go to wienerlibrary.co.uk/ International-Tracing-Service.