Photo from Manfred Ehlbaum’s passport, which he used when seeking refuge. © Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Sign. 5339/27
Photo from Manfred Ehlbaum’s passport, which he used when seeking refuge. © Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Sign. 5339/27
In 1939 Manfred Ehlbaum lived with his mother and sister in Frankfurt’s Ostend. His father was a stateless Pole, who was already imprisoned in a concentration camp. After helping out with the harvest in autumn 1939 Manfred, who was 16 years old at the time, decided to complete a Hachschara apprenticeship, an agricultural training program on the Neuendorf farm in Fürstenwalde in order to emigrate thereafter to Palestine. His mother contacted the Quaker center in May 1940 and requested that they look for a guarantor in the USA for him. He had already applied for a visa with the US consulate in August 1938, but the guarantee had expired in the meanwhile.

In January 1941 the Frankfurt Quakers requested the American Friends Service Committee in the USA to look again for a guarantor. Manfred Ehlbaum had already decided to pursue another way at that time. It is not known if the mother knew of her son’s plans. However, Manfred had already ended his Hachschara apprenticeship in October 1940 with the explanation that he planned to emigrate. He crossed illegally into Yugoslavia at the end of 1940 with other teenagers.

Recha Freier, the founder of Youth Aliya in Berlin, had organized this illegal journey. She had taken 100 entry certificates for Palestine without asking, when she herself had escaped in the summer of 1940. Using tricks and lies from her location in Zagreb she put pressure on her office in Berlin and managed to get 120 youths out of Nazi Germany including several Frankfurt teenagers.

One of those who managed to come to her in Zagreb via this smuggler route was Manfred Ehlbaum. Without papers, with enormous fear of the Yugoslavian police and housed in a tent in the middle of the winter he eventually managed to reach Palestine in April 1941 after many months of travel via Greece, Turkey and Syria. He lived on a kibbutz during his first few years there. Only at the end of the war did he find out that his father Leiser Jitzchak Ehlbaum had been murdered in Bernberg a.d. Saale on 2 March 1942, after being imprisoned in numerous concentration camps. His mother Perla and sister Hanni were deported from Frankfurt to Sobibor on 11 June 1942.

See: Karl Kleinberger, i.e. Kalman Givon belonged to this 
group of refugees. He was one of 16 children, who in the 
winter of 1940/41 got out of Frankfurt and was rescued 
via Recha Freier’s initiative. His report about his experience 
can be found: 
www.schoah.org/zeitungen/givon.htm
Regarding Recha Freier: 
www.norden.de/media/custom/512_4969_1.PDF?1396342302
See Internet links: Hachschara and Youth Aliya

 

[german version]

One thought on “Escape to Palestine via the Balkan Route

  1. Über den Balkan nach Palästina geflohen – rettungs.widerstand

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