The Crucial Year 1938
1938 was the year during which Jews finally realized that emigration was the only alternative to annihilation, and the year the Germans became convinced that the Jewish question could not be solved by emigration alone. Hitler’s annexation of Austria was the beginning of his march to dominate Europe and to ultimately engulf the totality of Jews in Europe. It was the year of total exclusion of Jews from the German economy. It was the year of the fiasco of international diplomacy and a show of inability of Jewish relief organizations to deal with situations of this kind. 100,000 Jews emigrated from Germany and Austria during 1938. All in all, 380,000 Jews left Germany, Austria, and the Bohemian–Moravian Protectorate between 1933 and 1939. Goering confiscated seven billion marks from Jewish property owners in order to foot the bill for rearmament and appointed Heydrich, who threatened annihilation or else, in return for money, emigration. Later, Eichmann was put in charge of the various central emigration offices. By 1938 many German Jews were crossing into Switzerland using German passports. The alarmed Swiss authorities came to a bilateral agreement with the Germans that passports for Jews would be marked as such and would require special visas. Oswald Pirow, the South African Minister of Defense, Economics, and Industry, visited Hitler a week after Kristalnacht. He attempted to convince Hitler to exchange South West Africa for another former colony to which Jews could be transported. Simultaneously, Britain’s Chamberlain and Halifax met France’s Daladier and Bonnet and the Jewish question was discussed without any positive results. Bonnet then complained to Ribbentrop that France was being flooded with Jewish refugees. The Fischbock–Rublee–Schacht Plan tried (and failed) to organize a deal whereby German Jews would be released in exchange for huge amounts of money and the purchase of German goods.