“It is high time that the emigration problem will be solved finally”: Leon Schönker and his Plan for Jewish Emigration from the Katowice District
In October 1939 Leon Schönker, the Head of the Council of Elders of the Jewish Religious Community in the town of Auschwitz (Oświęcim), created the Central Emigration Bureau, acting on Nazi orders. The Bureau was created in order to organize mass emigration of Jews from the Katowice District. At the end of November, a delegation of the Jewish Councils of Elders from the district traveled to Berlin headed by Leon Schönker to discuss the emigration and to present his detailed plans to the highest German authorities. Despite the fact that the mission to Berlin did not succeed, the project was continued. In early February 1940, the Emigration Bureau was relocated from Oświęcim to Sosnowiec to become part of the Central Office of Jewish Councils of Elders of Eastern Upper Silesia headed by Mojżesz Merin. Following its liquidation in late April plans for the emigration of Jews from this region were ultimately abandoned.