Friday, November 9, 2018

John Malveaux: Dominican Republic took in Jewish refugees...31 nations looked away

The Dominican Republic took in Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany in exchange for a promise to develop the land. Franz Blumenstein rides a donkey in Sosúa, Dominican Republic, 1940.
Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

John Malveaux of 

Dominican Republic accepted German Jew refugees after United States and Canada said NO

PRI's The World

Jason Margolis

November 9, 2018

“We were just doing our usual talking about baseball and all that. And he happened to mention, 'You might be interested to know that there's this Jewish community that's up on the north coast of the island, which originated from some conference or something like that,'” recalls Baver. “It was very vague, but it was enough that it stayed in my mind  — very, very much still stuck in my mind.” 

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.” 

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