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United States Holocaust Museum Activity 2: Mortiz Schoenberger Essay

Born in Sarver Hungary in 1887, the trail of Moritz Schoenberger’s flight picks up when he arrives in France via Belgium as a refugee. Imprisoned at the camp de Gurs camp in 1939, Mr. Schoenberger applied for a visa from the American consulate. After 2 years of waiting, a conditional visa was approved by the American consulate in Marseilles. The granting of the visa depended on Mr. Schoenberger securing an exit visa from France and providing proof of the date of departure to the U. S.

He was successful in doing both and left France for the U. S. via Spain and Portugal in September 1942. On November 2, 1942, the ship he was traveling on SS Calvalho Araujo arrived in Baltimore, Maryland. According to the researchers, Mr. Schoenberger arrived in France as a refugee where he was he was sent to an internment camp after Germany invaded Belgium in 1940. According to the researchers Camp de Gurs was not the only camp where he was imprisoned; in 1941 he was transferred to the camp/emigration center Les Milles.

Located close to the American Consulate in Marseilles, the researchers explain that the easy access to the consulates helped some of these refugees, Mr. Schoenberger included, obtaining a legal visa to the U. S in 1941. The reason for the almost 12 month delay between the approval of his visa and his actual departure is likely due to him being classified as an “enemy alien” because of his status as a German citizen. In June of 1942 the Justice Department of the U. S. approved re-registration of those classified as “enemy aliens. Schoenberger was approved for this and received his visa within months. He was issued a safe conduct document by France.

Going first from France to Spain and then to Portugal, Schoenberger departed for the U. S. on November 2, 1942. He arrived in Baltimore, Maryland where he was met by his wife and daughter who had emigrated to the U. S. in 1939. The experience of using the activity on the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was interesting and unique because it let me concentrate on just one person and look at the hardship he encountered.

Many of the movies or documentaries about the Holocaust tend to look at it in a broader light because so many people were affected by the tragedy. However, this activity let me concentrate on the journey of one man and even though Moritz Schoenberger was one of the lucky few who were able to emigrate to the U. S. , the long drawn out process of trying to get the correct papers and assistance must have been frightening. The researchers note that even though Mr. Schoenberger was moved around to different camps, he was able to escape deportation to Auschwitz when so many others were not able to.

He’d fled from Austria to Belgium and then was driven out of Belgium into France. There must have been awareness for him that the chance of being forced by fate or the threat of imprisonment could arise again before he was approved for his visa. The red-tape and time that it took Schoenberger to get a U. S. visa seems ridiculous to me. Not only was Schoenberger working for years to get the proper paperwork, but his wife and daughter who were already in the U. S. had been making efforts to do so since 1939.

The classification of him and other Jews from Austria, Austro-Hungary and Korea as “enemy aliens” is equally hard to believe; his status as a Jewish refugee should have automatically trumped any issue of nationality that came from the U. S. being at war with Germany. I have to wonder, how many other Jews from Austria and Austro-Hungary were shipped off to death and work camps before the U. S. Justice Department changed that policy. I don’t know that the Holocaust could ever occur on the same scale as what happened in the 1930s and 1940s; the global relationships are much different than they once were due to technology.

However, I don’t doubt that there is still that capability for human beings to commit these kinds of actions against their fellow people. Genocide on a smaller scale has happened in Rwanda, Bosnia, and in other countries because of ethnic and religious conflicts. There is still that potential for the violence and for refusing to see what is happening until it is too late. That ignorance, I think, is far worse and harder to combat than the violence because it involves an awareness that is lacking even in this informative age.

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