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Could you give more details on the 300 rabbis who could have been saved by going to Mauritius?

May 28, 2008

Dear Rabbi,

i read a very interesting phrase in the holocaust chapter:

"The British government granted visas to 300 rabbis and their families to the Colony of Mauritius, with passage for the evacuees through Turkey. The "Jewish Agency" leaders sabotaged this plan with the observation that the plan was disloyal to Palestine, and the 300 rabbis and their families should be gassed. "

Would you give us more detailled information about this even?

and are there any relationship this dramatic massacre with the famous Struma ship in 1941?

Thanks in advance

Dear Ibrahim,

The following is from the Wikipedia article on Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld, who initiated the plan to bring the Jews to Mauritius.

One of the most remarkable Jewish rescuers was Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld who personally rescued thousands of Jews. He was a very charismatic, dedicated, innovative and dynamic young man. His rescue efforts were inspired by Rabbi Weissmandl which explains, in part, some of his daring and innovative rescue style. His rescue activities were under auspices of the Chief Rabbis Religious Emergency Council, which he created with approval of Chief Rabbi Joseph P. Hertz, his future father-in-law. He saved large numbers of Jews with South American protection papers. He single-handedly brought over to England several thousand youngsters, rabbis, teachers, ritual slaughterers and other religious functionaries. Rabbi Schonfeld provided his "charges" not only with safety, but also with kosher homes, Jewish education and jobs. He also initiated two very important rescue initiatives. In late summer 1942 he convinced the Colonial Office to allow Jews to find safe haven in Mauritius. In December 1942 he discussed his ideas about rescue with a number of highly positioned church men and members of Parliament, and organized Parliament-wide support for a motion which asked the government to make a declaration along the following lines: "That in view of the massacres and starvation of Jews and others in enemy and enemy-occupied countries, this House asks H. M. Government, following the United Nations Declaration read to both Houses of Parliament on 17th, December, 1942, and in consultation with the Dominion Governments and the Government of India, to declare its readiness to find temporary refuge in its own territories or in territories under its control for endangered persons who are able to leave those countries; to appeal to the Governments of countries bordering on enemy and enemy-occupied countries to allow temporary asylum and transit facilities for such persons; to offer to those Governments, so far as practicable, such help as may be needed to facilitate their co-operation; and to invite the other Allied Governments to consider similar action." Within ten days, two Archbishops, eight Peers, four Bishops, the Episcopate of England and Wales and 48 members of all parties signed the notice of meeting to consider the Motion. Eventually the number of members of Parliament in support of the motion rose to 177. The above two 1942 initiatives could possibly have saved large numbers of Jews, but regretfully obstruction destroyed these important opportunities. The main reasons for obstruction were petty jealousy and tragic inability to appropriately prioritize the immediate cause of rescue and important but longer-term initiatives which could have waited until after the war. (The Parliamentary motion omitted Palestine as a possible temporary haven and was therefore opposed by a vocal faction.) Rabbi Schonfeld considered as one his failures his unsuccessful request to the British government to heed Rabbi Weissmandls plea to bomb Auschwitz. After the war he rushed to the liberated continent to serve the spiritual and physical needs of survivors. The above is based on Dr. David Kranzlers book "Holocaust Hero: Solomon Schonfeld".

Of course, "petty jealousy and tragic inability to appropriately prioritize the immediate cause of rescue and important but longer-term initiatives which could have waited until after the war" is a barely veiled reference to Zionism.

The story can be found in more detail in Rabbi Schonfeld's own words in the book The Holocaust Victims Accuse, p. 60-61; there the Zionists are mentioned explicitly as obstructing the rescue. The book is in pdf format on our site:

I cannot clip and paste it for you because the scanned book is an image, not text. But I encourage you to take a look there.

There is no similarity between this and the Struma tragedy as far as I know. The Struma passengers did not have legal visas to any country, let alone Palestine. When the British refused to let them into Palestine, the Turks towed them into the Black Sea and let them drift there until they were torpedoed by the Soviets.