Philippine visas-for-Jews from the perspective of 1939 unanswered letters to president Quezon

Ber Kotlerman


More than twenty letters of European Jews to the President of the Philippines Manuel Quezon, sent to apply for entry visas for over four dozen people, were recently found in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department of the National Library of the Philippines in Manila. The letters written in English, German, and Spanish are dated Spring-Summer 1939, when escape from Europe was still possible. Though several hundreds of Jewish refugees came to Manila via various ways during 1937–1941, the letters in question remained unanswered. All of them provide the exact time of the short-lived Mindanao plan, which proposed to establish an agricultural colony of European Jews in the Philippines, but got stuck in the very beginning. The databases of the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington reveal the tragedy, which many Jews anticipated: all of the Philippine visa-seekers, except for one person, found their death in various concentration camps, ghettos, and labour battalions. The article is dedicated to the memory of Jewish refugees, who were seeking in vain an asylum from the Nazis and their collaborators in the Philippines and other parts of the world.


Holocaust; Yad Vashem; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; European Jewry; Migration; Colonization; Refugees; President Manuel Quezon; Paul McNutt; Mindanao island; WW2; Kaunas Ninth Fort; Japanese internment camps

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ISSN 1392-0588 (Print)

ISSN 2335-8769 (Online)