Oral History

Johanna Gerechter Neumann describes how her family obtained visas to emigrate to Albania

Amid intensifying anti-Jewish measures and the 1938 Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogrom, Johanna's family decided to leave Germany. They obtained visas for Albania, crossed into Italy, and sailed in 1939. They remained in Albania under the Italian occupation and, after Italy surrendered in 1943, under German occupation. The family was liberated after a battle between the Germans and Albanian partisans in December 1944.


It was a search for an asylum no matter where. And, uh, the possibilities were very very slim. They thought of England. Well England required quite a substantial amount of money as a security deposit for every one that, uh, entered England. I'm not sure what the amount was and I don't think that my parents could have afforded that, and neither apparently could the...uh...Meyer family, so that we had to find other ways out. Uh my father I believe had uh--no, not I believe, I know--had cousins in Argentina. It was very difficult to get into Argentina. You had to prove that you were somehow or other rel...uh connected professionally to agriculture, and of course that he couldn't prove. He was a businessman, through and through. So that was out. So somehow, and I'm not quite a hundred percent sure how this Albania uh possibility surfaced, but what I had heard always was my mother had met the Albanian attache to Germany at a bridge party, and uh during the conversation it turned out that he was about to get married and wanted to go on a honey...his honeymoon to Switzerland. And uh my parents and the Meyer family lent him some money. He got us in return, perhaps not in return--I don't want to make it sound that this was a bribery. I think that he really and honestly was able to officially give them visas to go to Albania.


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