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"Fifty Thousand Pesos Already Collected for the War Victims"

Fifty thousand pesos already collected for the war victims, Di shtime/La Voz Israelita de Mexico, newspaper article 1940
Di shtime / La Voz Israelita de Mexico no. 240, Mexico City, January 13, 1940

As the global conflagration of World War II cut the lines of international communication, Jewish communities across the world mostly lost contact with Jews in the zone directly controlled by Nazi Germany and its allies. This affected the reporting of Jewish newspapers about the war and, even more importantly, about the persecution and murder of European Jews. These topics presented the editors of Jewish publications with an urgency rarely encountered before; but the need to report accurately and timely about the events in Europe could not be met by the usual networks of news agencies, correspondents, bureau chiefs, and other infrastructure of journalism. Instead, news about terrible persecution and horrific developments were intermittent and scarce, hard to believe, usually impossible to confirm, and often sounded like outlandish and gruesome rumors.

Nevertheless, all Jewish newspapers—of all political persuasions and in all geographical locales outside the German-dominated zone—reported and commented on what we retrospectively call the Holocaust. This is true for newspapers as differently positioned politically and facing as diverse challenges and restrictions as the official Soviet Jewish journal, Jewish newspapers in democratic countries such as the United States or Britain, or Jewish newspapers on the periphery of Jewish life, in Latin America or Palestine. In their reports and comments, each journal reflected, less or more openly, the dominant ideological position(s) of its editors or the organizations which published them. From Zionists to assimilationists, journals critical or supportive of the governments of the countries in which they were published, and even newspapers established specifically, like Eynikayt in the Soviet Union, for the purpose of rallying international Jewish communities behind the Soviet war effort, the spectrum of Jewish newspapers outside Hitler's orbit reflects the diversity of Jewish thinking and perceptions about the ongoing persecution and genocide in Europe.1

Over the years, Jewish communities around the world had read about the "legal" removal of Jews from the public sphere and the German social fabric, the marginalization and impoverishment of the community, the crucible of emigration and exile, and the frightening descent into war, which could surely bring no good. Many communities, like the Jews in Mexico, organized humanitarian actions on behalf of the battered European Jews. In the first months of the war—in the lull between the German victory in Poland, and the invasion, in the summer of 1940, of France and Benelux—the Mexican Jewish community embarked on a nation-wide campaign to help "war victims in Europe." If mass emigration was not an option, the least the community could do was to send financial aid through the premier international Jewish humanitarian organization, the Joint.

Di shtime (The Voice), or, in Spanish, La voz israelita de México (The Jewish Voice of Mexico) was one of the leading Mexican Yiddish-language newspapers. It reported on the community's effort to collect financial aid on behalf of the Jews in Europe.2

For an overview of the press coverage of the historical period we now refer to as the Holocaust, see Robert Moses Shapiro, ed., Why didn't the Press Shout? American & International Journalism during the Holocaust (Jersey City, NJ: Yeshiva University Press in association with KTAV, 2003). See also Laurel Leff, Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

For an introduction to the history of Jews in Mexico, see Adina Cimet, Ashkenazi Jews in Mexico: Ideologies in the Structuring of a Community (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), and Daniela Gleizer, Unwelcome Exiles: Mexico and the Jewish Refugees from Nazism, 1933-1945 (Leiden: Brill, 2014).

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the New York-based Jewish relief agency.

The largest (Ashkenazic) synagogue in Mexico, which also served as an educational institution, publishing house, and aid society. Like other communities in Eastern Europe and around the world, it took its name from the from the Biblical promise, re-articulated in Isaiah 11:12 to gather the "dispersed of Israel." In the case of Jewish life in Mexico, it would also have been a clear reference to the work of Rabbi Israel Meir HaKohen (the "Chofetz Chaim," 1839-1933), whose 1893 scholarly book "Nidkhe Yisroel" guided immigrants in maintaining their faith.

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50 Thousand Pesos Already Collected for War Victims

Mexican Jews Respond Warmly with Help for Victims in Europe

The committee that is conducting the campaign for Jewish war victims is working very actively, despite the fact that the entire workload fell on only some of the members. Over the course of this week, another 10 thousand pesos were collected, and this was from around thirty people.

Up to fifty thousand pesos have already been gathered—and hundreds and hundreds of Jews who have not yet been approached have yet to contribute.

The committee will do all that is possible to ensure that no Jew is left out of the campaign—but it is also necessary for the members of the committee who are "behind the times" to become actively involved, and community leaders wishing to collaborate should also step forward. All who are willing are requested to come to the planning meeting on Monday evening and volunteer to take on some of the work because the campaign must be completed in the next couple of weeks.

As was already announced, 5,000 dollars were sent off to "Joint"1 (check No. 2476 of the Manufacturers' Trust Co.) and the executive has been authorized to send off another check in the coming days from the money that has already been collected. In this way, the contributions of Mexican Jews will reach the place where all of our hearts already lie.

The campaign in the provinces

In Monterrey, thanks to the cooperation of Mr. Maizel and the local community leaders, around 4,000 pesos have been collected, and this money should reach the Committee in the next couple of days. The Jews in Torreón have collected over 3,000 pesos, as was communicated in a letter to the Committee.

Avrom Gerzon, a prominent community leader and board member of Nidkhe Yisroel,2 is currently in Veracruz and will oversee the campaign there. Tomorrow, Sunday, the Messrs. A. Nones, Finance Secretary, and M. Rubenstein, the editor of Di Shtime, will visit Puebla with the same goal.

All Jews from both the city and provinces are called upon to fulfill their obligation with respect to our tormented, suffering brothers, during this great catastrophe of our people, and hurry with assistance. Mexican Jews will fulfill their duty!


Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
Di shtime / La Voz Israelita de Mexico no. 240, Mexico City, January 13, 1940
Date Created
January 13, 1940
Page(s) 1
Di shtime / La Voz Israelita
Mexico City, Mexico
Reference Location
Torreón, Mexico
Veracruz, Mexico
Puebla, Mexico
Document Type Newspaper Article
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