Tuesday May 10, 2022
The immigration of Jewish refugees to Bolivia is a lesser-known chapter in Holocaust studies. Approximately 20,000 refugees fleeing Nazi Europe arrived in Bolivia between 1937 and 1941, at a time when other Latin American countries ended their open-door policies. Bolivia’s immigration policies centered around development and agricultural settlement. The exceptional involvement of a Jewish entrepreneur and the second wealthiest man in Bolivia, Maurice Hochschild, made this possible contrary to all assumptions that this South American country would not be capable of absorbing migration. How did so many refugees find safe haven in a remote and little-known country even before the envisioned agricultural project started? Which channels were used by refugees and immigrants in the “panic migration” years 1938 -1939, as described by the Joint? Using memoirs, and JDC archival material, the lecture will highlight stories of refugees, who were denied refugee status in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere in Europe but found help from JDC and other organizations on their way to Bolivia.
Dr. Sandra Gruner-Domić, is a sociocultural anthropologist and independent researcher. She worked recently at the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation and taught at USC as well as at California State University Long Beach. Some of her recent publications are “Interweaving Memories and Identities of Displacement: Jewish Refugees in Bolivia,” in Patterns of Prejudice Special Issue: Holocaust Refugees in the Colonial World: Historical and Cultural Approaches 2022 (forthcoming). “Guatemala: Del conflicto armado al genocidio,” Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica (19) 3:75-80. Dr. Gruner-Domić’s ongoing research projects are narratives of Guatemalan genocide survivors and Holocaust survivor’s migration to Bolivia. She is the recipient of the 2021 Bernard and Mollie Steuer / JDC Archives Fellowship.