The beginning of the end of German Jewry


< 3 NOVEMBER 1933
8 NOVEMBER 1933 >

6 November 1933

Affidavit for Alwine Kornstein

Of the 37,000 Jews who fled German in 1933 as a result of the Nazi government‘s anti-Jewish and anti-democratic policies, only 1,400 at most immigrated to the United States. The main reason for this small number is that the majority of Jews chose to settle in neighboring countries in the hope and belief that the Nazi regime would be short-lived and they would soon be able to return to Germany. The second largest group went to Palestine. But another explanation is that the US government was unwilling to let in a large number of immigrants because the country was still feeling the effects of the international economic crisis. In fact, it was not until 1939 that the US government began meeting the quota it had set for immigrants from Germany and Austria and admitting 27,000 per year.

In order to immigrate to the United States these refugees required an affidavit of support. With it an American citizen personally pledged to look after an immigrant so that he or she would not become a burden to the state. The affidavit shown here was submitted by Manuel and Ilse Schwartz on 6 November 1933 on behalf of Ilse‘s mother, Alwine Kornstein, who lived in Breslau. In it Manuel Schwartz provided information about his work, income and savings. The couple, who lived in Brooklyn, also swore under oath that they were willing and able to support Alwine Kornstein at all times and guaranteed that she would not become a public charge to any city or municipality in the United States.

Manuel and Ilse Schwartz had only recently become American citizens themselves. Manuel, who had immigrated to the US as a child in 1909, was naturalized in 1928. Ilse did not take on American citizenship until September 1933, after becoming eligible due to her marriage the previous year.

Alwine Kornstein‘s application was accepted and in April 1934 she immigrated to the United States together with her son, the doctor Adolf Kornstein, and his wife, Suse. We do not know whether Manuel and Ilse Schwartz also signed affidavits for them, but it is documented that Adolf Kornstein brought with him the considerable sum of 5,000 dollars.

Seven years later, thanks to the efforts of their daughter and son-in-law, Suse Kornstein‘s parents, Julian and Margarete Rosenthal, also left Germany. Escaping imminent disaster at the last minute, they arrived in New York in mid-September 1941.

Alwine Kornstein became an American citizen in April 1945. She never returned to Germany.

Aubrey Pomerance

Categorie(s): Breslau | emigration
Affidavit for Alwine Kornstein signed by Ilse and Manuel Schwartz, New York, 6 November 1933
Leo Baeck Institute, Kornstein-Rosenthal Family Collection, AR 6280