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Before The Deluge: Kenya-Uganda (British East Africa)

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The stories in this column are translations by Mr. Nollet from Die Juden In Der Welt (The Jews in the World) by Mark Wischnitzer, a long out-of-print book published more than seven decades ago in Germany. The book examines Jewish communities, one country at a time, as they existed in 1935 – a time before the Nazis began their extermination campaign against the Jews and before there was a state of Israel.

Kenya-Uganda (British East Africa)

In 1903, the English colonial minister offered a district for a Jewish settlement in Uganda to the Zionist leadership, whereby the English government brought to realization its efforts “to bring to pass the improvement of the Jewish race.” The 6th Zionist Congress (August 23-8, 1903) concerned itself with the English offer and decided to send an investigative commission to Uganda, but because of strong resistance inside the Zionist organization, the project was not followed up.

Later, individual Jews went to the two largest regions of the British East Africa zone, namely Kenya and Uganda. In Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, there is today, in 1935, a Jewish community of over 100 souls. Likewise there are Jews in the port city of Mombassa who are owners of great export companies. Since 1933 there has been an immigration of Jews from Germany to Kenya/Uganda. They have been warmly accepted as much in Nairobi and Mombassa as in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and have been brought into various commercial enterprises.

Kenya is a land with rich soil, though with a tropical climate. In the districts, which at one time were offered to the Jews, the English have built huge farms, coffee plantations, which deliver a fine harvest. Coffee agriculture of course requires hefty investment. Wheat, barley, maize (corn), and hemp are also grown.

Belgian Congo

The Belgian Congo, which covers an area of about 2,382,000 sq. kilometers [Translator’s Note:  roughly 850,000 sq. miles] offers great economic advantages. It is rich in wood, India rubber, copper, and other minerals. It was originally an independent state, but has belonged since 1908 to Belgium. According to a census from 1923, 177 Jews live in the Belgian Congo. There is a Jewish community in Elisabethville.

Angola And South-West Africa (Namibia)

[For our purposes, the only thing worth mentioning about Angola is Wischnitzer’s report that something called “the Angola Project” surfaced early in the 20th century. The Jewish Territorial Organization was created after the Zionist Congress of 1903 and met with the Portuguese government, which sponsored an expedition to Angola in order to ascertain the possibilities of creating settlements. The expedition brought back so few results that the Portuguese Senate first cut their budget; then WWI broke out, and that ended the project.

[Concerning South-West Africa, only Wischnitzer’s first paragraph would interest us:] South-West Africa, a German colony since 1884, was taken over by the Union of South Africa as a mandate after the Versailles Peace Treaty [of 1919]. It consists of a Jewish community of recently vintage in the capital city of Windhook, with its own rabbinate. Jews also live singly, scattered throughout the land. The possibilities of Jewish immigration have been recently considered.

Rhodesia

The British Crown colonies of North and South Rhodesia lie between the Union of South Africa and the Belgian Congo and Tanganyika, and have Jewish settlements of recent vintage.

After Cecil Rhodes, from whom the colonies derive their name, a Jew from Hamburg named Alfred Breit traveled there, in order to open up economic possibilities. In 1931, out of a population of under 49,910 Whites, there lived 2,011 Jews, mainly in Bulawayo, in the capital of Salisbury, and in Gwelo. Individual Jewish pioneers had already been there previously. Some 426 Jews live in North Rhodesia. [Rhodesia is today’s Zimbabwe.] There is a Jewish community in Livingstone, the seat of the colonial administration.

South Rhodesia exports asbestos, chromium, gold, and corn; North Rhodesia, tobacco, copper, and wheat.

At the moment, economic prospects are restricted. According to reports, the outlook is that opportunities beckon for immigrants who are interested in operating factories that produce chemicals, drugs, food products, etc.

Immigration of Jews from Germany is on a slow track.

Union Of South Africa

Since 1910 the Union of South Africa has been a dominion in the British Empire, and consists of four provinces: the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, the Orange Free State, and Transvaal. On a surface of about 1,234,000 sq. kilometers [about 450,000 sq. miles] lives a population of about 8,251,000 souls, 2 million of whom are White.

About the Author: Ezra James Nollet is a retired U.S. government chemist living in Poland where he is officer of the local synagogue in Legnica. Before the Deluge appears the last week of each month.


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The Joint Distribution Committee cared for the refugees, directed the care of children, renewed educational facilities, undertook the rebuilding of destroyed houses, etc. Through the year 1930 the Joint Committee distributed over $80 million to the different branches of its relief work, and even distributed aid via affiliated charities to Jewish agricultural settlements in the USSR.

book-Die-Juden-in-der-Velt

The Federation of Jewish Labor by the end of the 1920s consisted of some 125,000 members, of whom 60 percent were employed in the confections industry. After 1929 there was a further rise in the level of Jewish participation in workers’ unions. There were 134,020 Jewish members of the fifty largest trade unions, 34.1 percent of the total number of organized workers, which roughly reflected the level of the Jews in the population of greater New York. In the remaining centers of the garment industry, in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Rochester, almost all the owners were Jews and the workers they employed were mainly Jewish.

The outward orderliness of the new circumstances of life was not without inner quakings of a spiritual crisis. Mixed marriages were extremely frequent in the southern and western states, where Jews were sprinkled in among the Christian populations. They came to about a third of the marriages Jews entered. But after 1881 the picture changed, with the flood of Jewish immigrants into New York. From 1908-1912, only 1.17 percent of marriages involving Jews were mixed.

The (European) press began to busy itself with the problems of emigration. The Austrian Central Body of Jews, which arose in 1848, dedicated itself to this situation. In May of 1848 a Committee for the Promotion of Emigration was started.

On August 22 1654, the Sephardic Jew Jacob Bar-Simson landed in New Amsterdam. It appears he came from Holland. In the beginning of September of the same year, twenty-three Jews set sail for New Amsterdam, refugees from Pernambuco [Translator’s Note: Dutch South America). The ship Saint Charles, which functioned as the Jewish equivalent of the Mayflower for the first Jewish immigration to North America, brought them to the city today known as New York.

Before the beginning of the Common Era, Jews were known to have lived in Sparta, Sikyon, Delphi, Athens, Patras, Mantineja, Laconia, Corinth, Thessalalonika, Philippi, and Beroa. Due to baptism forced on Jews by some Byzantine emperors, a number of Jews emigrated o southern Italy. Otherwise, there was a line of Jewish communities in the 12th century. By itself Thebes housed 2,000 families, Salonika 500 families, and middle-sized settlements arose in Halmyros, Corinth, Drama, Krisa, Naupactos, Ravnica, Arta, and Lamia.

Under the influence of the Age of Enlightenment, the cultural union “Toalet” was formed, which published a number of works of by Hebraic scientists and works of fiction. In recent times, the Jewish-scientific movement has found its stride with the “Union of Jewish Science,” which was founded by S. Seeligmann, a historian and a bibliophile. In its university library, Amsterdam possesses a most valuable Jewish section, the so-called “Rosenthaliana,” which was named after the philanthropist Leiser Rosenthal, who was the father of the Baron von Rosenthal.

The present kingdom of Persia, which recently officially took the name “Iran,” encompasses a region of over 1,640,000 square kilometers with about 15 million inhabitants. The most important cities are the capital Tehran as well Tabris, Mesched, and Isfahan (the former capital).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/feautures-on-jewish-world/before-the-deluge-kenya-uganda-british-east-africa/2012/07/25/

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