How Did People Escape The Holocaust?
Escaping the Holocaust was an extremely difficult thing for anyone to do once it had already started. However, for most of the Jewish people of Europe, it was difficult to realize precisely how horrible things would become in the near future. Since that was the case, relatively few people fled the Holocaust before it was too late.
In order to leave Germany to escape the Holocaust, a person had to have a great deal of money and the means to move an entire family to a new country. This was extremely difficult for most people. Although the immigration policies of America were welcoming at the time, the language barrier was also an issue. Study of English was not as widespread in Germany at that time as it is today.
Many people left Germany in order to go to adjoining countries such as Austria and Poland. However, this did not result in safety. Countries around Germany gradually began to fall to the Nazi regime, and those who had fled early on in the regime would often suffer reprisal at the hands of the Nazis. Those attempting to escape from oppression were astonished as even France, once thought very safe, became part of the growing Nazi empire.
In order to truly escape from the Holocaust, then, it was usually necessary to go at least as far as the United States. Over time, this became more difficult. As Nazis began to enact laws to identify, track, and restrict the movements of Jewish people, it was harder and harder to get permission to leave the country. Jews especially were expected to apply for special passports to allow them to leave. These passports only applied to one or two individuals at a time, leaving the rest of the family to be punished in the event of defection.
Once the “Final Solution” began and the Nazi death camps were in full operation, Jews and other targets of the Nazi regime could only leave the country with the help of forged passports or other documents. Within Germany itself, this was extremely difficult, and the possession of any such documents would result in summary execution. In other areas, resistance fighters frequently provided forged documents to people who were fleeing.
Forged documents were also provided by foreign intelligence services in the United States and United Kingdom. These would allow targets of the Nazi regime to leave the country and resettle elsewhere, but in so doing, they left behind all they knew.