Hachshara in Havelberg
Introduction by Peter Landé
Early in the 20th century there were a number of European Zionist organizations urging Jews to emigrate to Palestine. This movement, called Hachshara in Germany, took on greater urgency after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. Hachshara established training centers aimed at providing skills which might assist prospective emigrants to obtain visas from British authorities in Palestine. In the case of Germany and Austria there may have been as many as 29 such training centers with perhaps as many as 1,500 "students" (I have never see a complete list), most of which focused on providing young urban Jews with agricultural skills which might prove useful in Palestine. Training sometimes took as little as several months, while in other cases it ran for more than a year. The training centers were registered with the local police, which raised no objections until 1941 since the goal was to facilitate emigration, a Nazi objective at that time.
One of these training centers was located in Havelberg, in rural Sachsen Anhalt in East Germany. The trainees were mostly German but included some stateless persons as well as Polish citizens, all of whom resided in Germany. Using the 1939 census, I was able to identify 123 men and women, and then, to try to determine what happened to them. For this purpose, I utilized a variety of non-public sources, including the International Tracing Service and the German Government’s Residentenliste.
I found to my pleasure and surprise — considering that this was 1939 and legal emigration was cut off with the beginning of the war—that only 16 of the young men and women are known to have perished in the Holocaust, five were deported but survived, while nearly 50 successfully emigrated, primarily to Palestine. I was unable to determine the fate of the remainder, but, given the relatively complete nature of German deportation records, there is a fairly good chance that the absence of such records means that many of them escaped/survived.
Further research indicates that most of the persons who reached Palestine never received British visas (the original goal) but rather entered illegally, and in some cases, there are even ship manifests disclosing when they arrived.
I assume that few, if any, of them are still alive—they would have to be in their 90s—and individual records in Palestine/Israel would be difficult to locate due to illegal entry and frequent name changes. However, if by chance someone recognizes the name of a family member, I would be happy to try to locate any additional information on that individual and his/her family.
This database currently includes 124 members of Hachshara in Havelberg. The fields for this database are as follows:
This collection was compiled from a number of sources, as described in the Background section above. Peter Landé compiled the list.
In addition, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible. Special thanks to Avraham Groll and Warren Blatt for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy. Particular thanks to Nolan Altman, Vice President of Data Acquisition and Coordinator of JewishGen’s Holocaust Database files.
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Last Update: April 24, 2019 by AG