United States

Historical Background

Deportation of the Jews from the Marseilles area Deportation of the Jews from the Marseilles area

As Nazi Germany intensified its anti-Jewish policy, more and more Jews were driven to flee and to seek ways to emigrate. Many German Jews had gone to France in the 1930’s, and after the German invasion they fled to the South of the country. The United States and other countries were faced with increasing numbers of refugees, queuing in front of consulates in search of visas. The situation was exacerbated by strong public opposition in the United States to immigration at a time of economic depression, by anti-Jewish attitudes, fear from the infiltration of German spies, as well as antisemitism among key officials in the State Department. Consequently, American consuls were ordered to strictly adhere to existing visa restrictions, and refugees fleeing to southern France and other places were faced with almost insurmountable bureaucratic barriers. In addition, the French authorities shared applications for exit visas with the Gestapo. As far as the refugees imprisoned in French internment camps were concerned, obtaining visas and exit permits was practically impossible.