The Dominican Republic: Haven for Jewish Refugees
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: What conditions were imposed by the government of the Dominican Republic on the Jewish refugees that they took in during World War II?
The Dominican Republic was one of the very few countries willing to accept mass Jewish immigration during World War II. At the Évian Conference in 1938, it offered to accept up to 100,000 Jewish refugees. The DORSA, or Dominican Republic Settlement Association, was formed with the assistance of the Joint Distribution Committee, and helped settle Jews in the town of Sosúa, on the northern coast. About 700 European Jews of Ashkenazi descent reached the settlement where each family received 82 acres of land, 10 cows, a mule and a horse, and a $10,000 loan, equivalent to about $163,000 dollars today, at 1% interest.
Emilio Ramos-Sabas is a lawyer who received a Masters degree in Refugee Law from the University of London with a specialization in Human Rights practice from the London School of Economics. He recently gave a presentation at Centro Sefarad-Israel about Jewish refugees in the Dominican Republic, and later spoke with us about this little-known chapter in Holocaust history.