Return of the Exiles

Germany

Before Hitler came to power in 1933, German Jews had been living a very comfortable life in Germany. The last substantial anti-semitic violence had been the brutal Crusader pogroms approximately 850 years before.

Historically, German Jews were more likely to migrate west to France or east into Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and Lithuanian than to risk their lives to travel to Israel.

After Hitler came to power the whole picture changed.

Beginning in 1933, when Hitler came to power, 60,000 German Jews, including intellectuals, artists, architects, scientists, and business owners, made Aliyah. Many settled in Tel Aviv, where they laid the foundations for Israeli academia, arts, science, and business. While adjusting to Israel was a social and financial struggle, the move to Israel ultimately saved these Jews from near certain death in the Holocaust.

After the war, a wave of Holocaust survivors arrived in Israel, many of whom had to be smuggled across the border due to the British government’s excessive restrictions on Jewish immigration. Many Holocaust survivors fought and died during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

The influence of German Jews is still seen and felt in Israel, mostly in the architecture of Tel Aviv and the German Jewish communities in Jerusalem.