The Role of the Gestapo in Obstructing and Promoting Jewish Emigration
Initially, the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei) was an inconspicuous arm of the National Socialist Party. Jewish emigration to Palestine remained in the hands of the Palestine Office, whereas emigration to other countries was handled by the Ministries of Interior and Migration. Migrants had to be prepared by learning vocations and the necessary language, and emigration had to be completely legal and benevolent regarding the transfer of property. Consequently, between 1935 and 1938 a great portion of emigrants found a new homeland outside Germany. On the one hand, the Gestapo and Eichmann tried to speed up Jewish emigration, while on the other hand, Goebbels continued to incessantly vilify the Jews so that foreign countries would not accept them. In November 1938, many members of the Hilfsverein were arrested and it was realized that the usual legal roads to emigration were being closed. The Gestapo pressured Jews to emigrate. Consequently, Jews bought, manipulated, and bribed officials, etc., in order to obtain passports to other countries, mainly in South America. Many South American consuls issued visas to Jews, usually enriching themselves personally in the process. Some, however, did it for humanitarian reasons. By 1939, all countries had severely restricted possibilities of emigration.