Christopher Blackwell
Took Jewish refugees While 31 nations look away
Fri Nov 9, 2018 5:03pm

The Dominican Republic took in Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler while 31 nations looked away
PRI's The World

PRI's The World

November 09, 2018 · 2:30 PM EST
By Jason Margolis
So, Baver, who’s Jewish, started doing some research. He learned about the Évian Conference convened in France by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 1938, a meeting of 32 nations in France where only one country — the Dominican Republic — agreed to help settle German Jewish refugees.

Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo offered Jews safety for a promise to develop the jungle — hard work on poor soil. Historians also say Trujillo wanted to whiten up his country.

“They agreed to take up to 100,000 Jews and do that on very liberal terms — giving them 26,000 acres, a mule, a cow. To me, it was kind of like 'Gilligan's Island' — my favorite show growing up — so, to me, it's kind of like dropping in these people who don't know how to farm onto an island.”
Three years ago, Baver made his way to France and the five-star resort on Lake Geneva where the nine-day conference was held back in 1938.
“There wasn't one person in the entire hotel who had any idea that the conference even ever took place there. They had nothing and nothing in any of their information. [...] The hotel staff had no idea of it.”

Baver was astonished. After all, this was the spot where 31 nations turned their backs on Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler.

Four months after the Évian Conference — and 80 years ago, Friday — Kristallnacht occurred: a two-day assault on Jews throughout Nazi Germany. The name, Kristallnacht, which translates to "Crystal Night," comes from the shards of broken glass after the windows of Jewish-owned stores and synagogues littered the German streets. Perhaps 100 Jews were killed and 30,000 arrested.

The doomed Évian Conference is viewed as a beginning act of the Holocaust. In 1938, Adolf Hitler said that if other nations would take in Germany’s Jews, he would help them leave, “even on luxury ships.”

“Very shortly after that conference ended, Hitler got up on a stage and said, ‘Well, obviously, if no one cares about the Jews why should I?’ You know, it's known as Hitler's green light to genocide and the most fateful conference of all times for the Jews, but yet, nobody knows this. Not nobody — very, very, very few people,” says Baver.

A shame that our country did not care back then. Perhaps the Holocaust might have been prevented. We didn't like refugees back then either.

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