1939 – Massmigration till Sovjetiska Polen.

Desperate Plight of 500,000 Refugees in Soviet Poland Described by Relief Agent


The desperate situation of the more than 500,000 Jewish refugees from Nazi Poland who escaped to the Soviet area was described today by a staff member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee who has just completed a tour of the Soviet zone in a telegram from Wilno to Morris C. Troper, European director of the J.D.C.

The half million homeless Jews include 300,000 massed in Lwow, 120,000 in the Galician provinces, 60,000 in Bialystok, 60,000 in Rovno and 40,000 in Lutzk and Kowel. They comprise 80 per cent of all refugees from Nazi Poland.


Thousands Pour over Soviet Border

Polish sources here reported today that the frontier between German and Soviet Poland has been temporarily reopened to permit Jews who wish to do so to enter the Russian area to escape Nazi persecution.

The report said thousands of Jews were massing at three points on the border–Przemysl, Sieniawie-Jaroslaw and Lubaszow-Belz–for entry into Soviet Poland, despite the fact that most of them did not enjoy living under the Soviet regime.

Most crowded of the border points was Przemysl, where the bridge over the San River appears to mark the Soviet-German border. The numbers passing over this bridge are so large that one must stand in line from six to eight hours, the report said, adding that at the other two points the concentration was less heavy.

The report said Nazi frontier guards were maltreating the Jews while they stood in line on the German side and cases were reported where Jewish men were detained while their wives and children were permitted to proceed. Among those crossing the border were not only Polish Jews, but many from Bohemia-Moravia and Austria, the report said.

It was estimated that the Soviet side of Przemysl was crowded with 40,000 to 50,000 Jews as a result of the mass migration.

All of them were said to be in pitiful condition. Refugee relief committees were permitted to operate among them, but a Soviet commissar was attached to each committee.

The refugees were selling all their possessions in order to maintain themselves, it was said. Younger Jewish refugees were offering to work in the coal mines in Donbass, which is in the Donetz basin, and thus to receive the privileged status of laborers.

They were proceeding in large transports to the interior of Russia.

At the same time a Polish newspaper in Paris carried a report, otherwise unconfirmed, that a disagreement had arisen between the Soviet and German authorit- ies over an exchange whereby 150,000 Germans in Soviet-occupied Galicia would be repatriated and 83,000 Jews in Nazi Poland who are natives of the Soviet-occupied area would go to the Sovie


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Ship with 1,800 Refugees Held by Japanese

JTA, January 15, 1941

A ship carrying 1,800 Jewish refugees has arrived at a Japanese port and placed under strict control by the Japanese authorities, German dispatches reported today. Most of the refugees were intending to proceed to North and South America, the report said.

3 Die on Overcrowded Steamer Taking Internees to Australia

JTA, January 30, 1941

There were three deaths, including one suicide, among the 2,547 internees sent to Australia on the S.S. Dunera, which was fitted to carry only 2,066 passengers

Soviet Extends Period for Emigration from Lithuania

JTA, February 6, 1941

The Soviet authorities in Lithuania, have agreed to extend the permission for Polish Jews to leave Soviet territory until Feb. 10, it was learned here today.

The original permit was valid until Jan. 26. It provided that holders of Polish passports stranded in Wilno, Kaunas and other Lithuanian centers would be allowed to emigrate from Lithuania through Soviet Russia to Palestine, the United States, and any other overseas countries which would accept them.

Report 1,000 Jewish Families to Be Settled in Biro-bidjan This Year

JTA, February 3, 1941

Soviet newspapers reported today that 1,000 more Jewish families will be settled on cooperative farms in the Biro-Bidjan area of Soviet Siberia during the current year. Four new settlements will be established in the same period, the papers said.