840.48 Refugees/1381: Telegram (part air)

The Chargé in Germany ( Gilbert ) to the Secretary of State

89. There follow the texts of (1) Rublee’s letter transmitting the memorandum which resulted from his conversations with Schacht and Wohlthat and, (2) Wohlthat’s reply thereto. Rublee wishes you to have these texts immediately for your confidential information. The official communication will be made to you by Winterton. Upon his return to London Rublee will telegraph his observations30 on these documents which are intended for the confidential information of the governments and not for publication.

“Dear Mr. Wohlthat: I have had the honor of holding conversations with Dr. Schacht and yourself. In order that I may not fail to make a correct report of the conversations I should be greatly obliged if you would have the goodness to confirm whether the following strictly confidential memorandum is correct:

Memorandum: The Emigration of Jews From Germany

It has been ascertained that Germany is disposed to adopt a policy which will in every way facilitate and encourage the organized emigration [Page 78] of Jews. A program along the lines hereinafter outlined will be put into effect when Germany is satisfied that countries of immigration are disposed to receive currently Jews from Germany in conformity with this program. If the program is put into effect and its implementation will be greatly facilitated by an improvement in the international atmosphere—the emigration will take place in a uniform and orderly manner.

(1) Organization of emigration.

This program relates exclusively to Jews of German nationality or stateless Jews in Germany. The term ‘Jew’ where used in this memorandum as provided by the Nuremberg laws means the following: (1) a Jew is a person who has three or four Jewish grandparents. A grandparent is deemed to be a Jew if he or she embraced the Jewish faith; (2) a person is also deemed to be Jew who has two full Jewish grandparents and who on September 16, 1935 was of the Jewish faith or thereafter embraced the Jewish faith, or who has two Jewish grandparents and on September 16, 1935 was married to a Jew or thereafter married a Jew.
There are approximately six hundred thousand Jews remaining in Germany, including Austria and the Sudetenland, at the present time. Of this number, one hundred and fifty thousand are classed as wage-earners; approximately two hundred fifty thousand are regarded as the dependents of the wage-earners; the remainder are primarily the old and infirm who for that reason are not included in this program of emigration.
The wage-earner category shall consist of all men and single women between the ages of 15 and 45 who are individually capable of earning a living and are otherwise fit for emigration.
The dependent category shall consist of the immediate families of the wage-earners, excluding the old (persons over 45 years of age) and the unfit.
The wage-earner category shall emigrate first, in annual contingents over a period of 3 years not to exceed a maximum of 5 years.
All persons from the wage-earner category as defined above shall be admitted by the receiving governments in accordance with their established immigration laws and practices.
The practical work of organizing emigration shall be carried out with the participation of bureaus representing the Jewish organizations of Germany under the control of a commissioner designated by the German Government.
The bureaus organizing the work of emigration may be assisted by foreign experts representing outside private organizations concerned with immigration and enjoying the confidence of receiving [Page 79] governments, on condition that these experts are agreeable to the German Government.
Passports shall be furnished to persons emigrating from Germany under these arrangements. Stateless persons in Germany shall be furnished suitable papers for emigration.
Conditions which have led to the retention of Jews, other than persons detained for reasons of public safety, in camps should automatically disappear if a program of organized emigration is put into effect.
Facilities shall be granted for the retraining of wage-earners for emigration, notably in agricultural re-training centers but also in artisan schools. Re-training shall be encouraged.
Emigration of persons in the dependent category shall take place when the wage-earners are established and able to receive them.

(2) Position of persons remaining permanently in Germany and of those awaiting emigration.

A definite method has not as yet been found for caring for old persons and persons unfit for emigration, who are not included in this program and who will be allowed to finish their days in Germany. It is the intention on Germany’s part to assure that these persons and persons awaiting emigration may live tranquilly, unless some extraordinary circumstance should occur. There is no intention to segregate the Jews. They may circulate freely. Persons fit for work shall be given the opportunity of employment so as to earn their living; Jews employed in the same establishments as Aryans will, however, be separated from Aryan workers. Generally, in order to provide for adequate administration of the program, centralization of control over Jewish affairs is contemplated.
The support and maintenance of the persons referred to in paragraph 13 above who are not able to earn their own living will be financed in the first instance from Jewish property in Germany apart from that portion thereof to be set aside in the trust fund hereinafter described and from the income from the trust fund. If the above resources do not suffice there will be provided for these persons decent conditions of existence from the material standpoint in accordance with prevailing practices relating to the public relief of destitute persons generally. There will be no recourse to sources outside Germany for the support and maintenance of these persons.

(3) Financing of emigration.

In order of [to?] finance the emigration contemplated by the program, a trust fund shall be established in a specified amount to be ascertained but at all events in an amount not less than 25 percent of the existing Jewish wealth in Germany, which, if transfer possibilities [Page 80] are found, will represent a material increase over the present rates of transfer. At the present time the remaining Jewish wealth in Germany is in the hands of its individual owners; it has not yet been decided how the requisite amount thereof will be set aside in the trust fund.
The trust properties shall be held by a corporation administered by three trustees. Two of the trustees shall be of German nationality. The third trustee shall be of foreign nationality and recognized standing.
The principal of the trust fund may be used to purchase equipment for emigrants of the wage-earner category and (subject to cartel agreements) capital goods for the development of settlement projects and for travelling and freight expenses of the emigrants in Germany and on German boats, all in connection with this program of emigration. It is contemplated that an outside purchasing agency will be established to effect all purchases out of the fund, to maintain contact with the German authorities and generally to handle all problems arising outside of Germany in connection with the transfer of the fund. The types of goods which may be purchased by the purchasing agency may be restricted to those which in accordance with prevailing practice in Germany, are computed to contain no imported raw material or a relatively small percentage thereof, or, alternatively, no restrictions will be imposed if arrangements can be made to pay to Germany in foreign exchange a portion of the aggregate price of goods purchased which represents the computed value (on an over-all percentage basis to be agreed upon) of the imported raw material content of such goods. Arrangements shall be made to secure the exemption of goods purchased out of the fund from the scope clearing, compensation and payments in force between Germany and the respective countries into which such goods are imported. Assurances shall be required of the purchasing agency that the goods purchased will not be disposed of otherwise than for the purpose of equipment emigrants or for the development of settlement projects. It is the intention on the German side to facilitate the purchase out of the fund of such goods of the requisite types and in adequate volume to meet the current emigration needs the price to be paid shall not be in excess of inland prices for goods or services of a similar character and quality.
The Haavarah method of transfers shall be permitted to operate within its traditional sphere. The Haavarah purchases are to be paid for out of the trust fund.
The principal of the trust fund, except to the extent that it is used for the purposes above referred to, shall be eligible for transfer whenever a change in conditions may render transfer possible or [Page 81] whenever arrangements to that end can be made, whether by way of agreed schemes for additional exports or otherwise.
Goods purchased out of the trust fund may be exported free of all taxes or other payments, and emigrants may take with them free of all taxes, levies, contributions or similar exactions, their personal effects (with the exception of jewelry, precious metals, objets d’art and goods of special value recently acquired with a view to emigration), household goods, tools and equipment for use in their trades or professions, owned or which may be acquired by them in a reasonable amount for personal use.
No flight tax or exaction of a similar nature shall be levied against Jews emigrating in accordance with this program.

My Dear Mr. Rublee: In reply to your communication of February 1, 1939, I have the honor to confirm that the strictly confidential memorandum, a copy of which was transmitted to me, correctly renders the subject matter of the conversations you began with Dr. Schacht and concluded with me in Berlin.

With the expression of my highest esteem. Very truly yours, (signed) Helmuth Wohlthat.”

  1. See telegram No. 169, February 6, 6 p.m., from the Chargé in the United Kingdom, p. 82.