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Menachem Krycer – the resettler of Jewish immigrants {cont.}

[Page 521]

If in Eretz-Yisrael he was tortured by the problem of a shortage of food after such hard work, a Jewish environment and spiritual food was lacking for him in Canada. Here he found an atmosphere of business and materialism. The Jewish communal and cultural life pulsed too weakly.

He was provided for economically, but no man can live without a spiritual environment, and, in particular not someone like Menachem, who from his earliest youth was connected to the Jewish folk life and with Yiddish culture. He walked around unsatisfied and embittered. He then wrote about his spiritual situation:

“…It is still good that I have sadness nurtured in my heart; I have someone with whom to walk the streets, among exciting people who have lost their hearts. I extract the melody of lost nights with a plume of sadness and paint the morning with rose color under the impenetrable, among wild, strange people collecting alms, looks of young girls and no one says good morning and I hear from no one.”
Fate, which led him to his future wife, interfered. Naturally this brought a radical change in his life. Deciding to create a family life probably had an effect; his age, the many disappointments, among them probably a disappointment in love and at last, it appears, he found the young woman who matched him in character. This all inspired Menachem to build his own home. Beginning in 1928, Menachem worked as the representative of a ship company that was involved with immigration from Poland to Canada and also with the sending of money from immigrants to their families in Poland. Certainly Menachem worked for the money, but it is not improbable to say that he also took on this position (even if subconsciously) because the work among immigrants had an element of bringing aid to the suffering and he looked at the end product and not at the intermediate steps.

In 1938 Menachem went to work at the Jewish Immigrant Aid Committee for Canada. He found himself again here with the daily work of bringing aid to the Jewish poor. He excelled in his work with devotion and diligence and with conscientiousness and he quickly rose to management in his work. Therefore, it is no wonder that immediately after the end of the Second World War, when the Jewish aid organizations, such as HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] and the Joint [Joint Distribution Committee], looked for appropriate candidates to carry on e aid work in Europe, Menachem was one of the first. In 1945 Menachem was lent to the American HIAS, which sent him to Europe to lead the aid work for and among the survivors of European Jewry in the UNRRA [United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration] camps in Germany, Austria and France. First, he traveled to America and from there to London in order to take care of the necessary formalities to enable his work on behalf of the military occupying powers in Germany and in Austria.

In December 1945, Menachem arrived in Europe dressed in a military uniform with the rank of colonel. There, Menachem first showed his greatness.

Among the remnants of the six million European Jews, the largest number were found in the former concentration and death camps, who, it is true, were liberated from the Nazi murderers, but were physically ill and broken spiritually – as if sentenced to death and just been taken down from the gallows; still in shock, or as if awakened from a lethargic sleep. They lived only for today and they could not think about the future for the most part. They could not build their future supported by the past because their earlier world was a ruin, torn out by the roots by the Nazi bandits – for every one there only remained trying to build their home from the beginning; creating or entering a new world.

[Page 522]

dab522.jpg [39 KB] - Menachem Krycer brings immigrants to Israel in the name of HIAS
Menachem Krycer brings immigrants to Israel in the name of HIAS
[Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society]

Again they did not have enough spiritual strength and strong will.

They were like the dry bones that live in Ezekiel's vision which needed unnatural strength that would bring them back to a recovery. With luck, the strength was found in the form of the troops of the Jewish Brigade.

The appearance of the Jewish Brigade with its equipment on which was painted the Magen-David [Star of David], the same Magen-David that was first only the sign of the deprivation of rights and of censure, suddenly appeared as the symbol of strength that fought along with others and conquered the Nazi animal. Their manifestation had the effect of an elixir of life for the resigned and desperate, on the dry bones of Ezekiel's vision, which were given skin and bones. They carried with them and brought to the survivors the news of a new and free life in the old-new home in the land of Eretz-Yisrael where there already existed the kernel of an independent Jewish life without the complexes of exile.

At the same time, Menachem also began his activity: organizing all of those who wanted to emigrate to America or Canada in a group and he arranged all of the necessary formalities and the means of transportation to the ship and so on. Menachem could have really carried out his work sitting in Paris in the HIAS Central Office for Europe and from there carry out his work with the help of paid clerks. However, Menachem wanted to come in contact personally with the survivors. It was a matter of feeling and when he visited all of the camps in Germany, with the Jewish masses who were so close to him, he threw himself into the work with his entire being.

[Page 523]

He took to the entire scope of his task; he also organized transports to America, but this was for him a personal thing and masked his aid work. Menachem put himself in the service of Aliyah Bet [illegal immigration to Palestine], which was then organized with the help of the Jewish Brigade. Menachem placed all of his contacts with the military occupation regime at the disposition of Aliyah Bet and even his transportation possibilities. He even placed his entire office work in danger, but this did not stop him from fulfilling his task.

Menachem's actions recall the legend about a Hasid whose wife once left him alone in the store and when a customer entered and asked if there was, for example, salt available, answered that there was salt at Moshe, his neighbor, and also at Jakob, the other neighbor, and there is also salt here. Menachem was the same way. He had first principally worked for the emigration to Eretz-Yisrael, and then for the emigration to Canada. It is therefore no wonder that after three years of work in Germany, according to an official report from HIAS, only 14,000 Jews emigrated to Canada. This does not mean that he neglected emigration to Canada; the opposite – where it was necessary, he devoted all of his strength to it. As an example, once, when he learned that a ship, the “Marine Flasher” that was located in the port of Bremen, had more room to take 29 emigrants and that it was leaving at 10 o'clock in the morning, he left Frankfurt in a car during a heavy rain and drove at a speed of 120 kilometers an hour in order to obtain and give all of the affidavits that he could, in order for another 29 refugees to be able to emigrate.

In 1949 Menachem ended his mission for HIAS and returned to Toronto as director of the Jewish Emigrant Aid Society, but it appears that he already was thinking about Israel then.

In 1951 Menachem, his wife and children emigrated to Israel after the rise of the Jewish state. He immediately became a vice president in the Association of Former Residents of the United States and Canada in Israel. Menachem also ran the aid work of HIAS, principally among new immigrants. In apportioning loans to productive purposes, HIAS built up and supported various philanthropic institutions, such as old age homes, immigrant housing and also cultural institutions. Thus HIAS supported a residence and a convalescence home for immigrants in Ramallah. It bought a house as a students home in Jerusalem and the crowning work – the building of a HIAS house in Beersheba. The HIAS house serves, as planned, as a home for the educated and scientists, who can work quietly there and also serve as teachers for students in a scientific institute, which will serve the development of the Negev and its construction and, in the future, build a university for the young in the south.

In November 1964, Menachem Krycer died at the age of 63. And it can be said peacefully, having performed many good deeds. His good, devoted wife, Sara and his son, who works at the Weitzmann Institute and a married daughter and two grandchildren, remain orphaned.

In 1965 the town of Beersheba named a street for Menachem, in recognition of his achievements.

Honor his memory.

dab523.jpg [25 KB] - A street in Beersheba was named after Menachem Krycer
A street in Beersheba was named after Menachem Krycer

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