Did the Jews try to leave Nazi-occupied lands?

Police attempt to control crowd of Jews who wait outside a branch of the Swiss legation hoping to obtain Schutzbriefe

Photo: Police attempt to control a crowd of Jews who wait outside a branch of the Swiss legation hoping to obtain Schutzbriefe (an official letter issued by the legation to protect young emigrants from being drafted into the Hungarian labor service) which would protect them from deportation.

Photo credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Agnes Lutz Hirschi. 1944, Budapest, Hungary.

When the Nazi Party took over in 1933, many German Jews emigrated to neighboring countries. However, as Nazi Germany expanded their territory, the Jews who emigrated from Germany were once again persecuted. After Kristallnacht in 1938, Jews remaining in Germany and Austria wanted to escape. Nazi policy encouraged Jews to leave, but most other countries had strict policies limiting immigration. Jews first had to obtain an entry visa to a foreign country and only after obtaining that, they could request a departure permit from the Nazi government. Jews waited in long lines at consulate offices trying to get an entry visa into any country. 

The U.S. had very strict quotas in place, limiting only 27,000 Germans to enter the U.S. each year. There were strict immigration policies into South and Central America as well and only 20,000 Jews obtained visas. 30,000 Jews emigrated to Great Britain on visitor visas or as domestic servants. 20,000 Jews were able to immigrate to Shanghai, China. Some Jews were able to get visas into the British Mandate of Palestine.