Haven in Africa
Buried deep in untouched historical archives and classified government files, lies the unknown story of Northern Rhodesia and Jewish immigration. In the years leading up to World War II, when the West had closed its doors to the Jews, sealing the fate of European Jewry, Northern Rhodesia became a possible option for Jewish refugees. Haven in Africa, explores how this unique country allowed a haven of safety to exist on the one hand, and on the other, failed to fulfil its saving potential.
In the 1930s, Northern Rhodesia, a country deep within central southern Africa, permitted entry to Jews, unlike so many other nations. Author Frank Shapiro was the first researcher to open the fifty-year-old files of the Foreign Office and Colonial Office, on Jewish emigration and Northern Rhodesia – files that until then had been classified and confidential. Shapiro’s quest was to answer the question: why were these particular files so confidential that their contents were barred from prying researchers for half a century?
This comprehensive historical volume includes a well-rounded exploration of the political, cultural and practical circumstances surrounding Jewish immigration to Northern Rhodesia. From the Mwinilunga Plan of 1938, which sought to settle Jewish refugees in the Mwinilunga region, to its failure; from Northern Rhodesian politics, to an exploration of anti-semitic sentiment in the region; from the New Mass Settlement Plan, to the outbreak of the war, and an analysis of the financial question, fear of publicity on the issue and missed opportunities, Haven in Africa provides an important contribution to Jewish history, the history of the Holocaust, and the politics of the era, which played into the hands of the Nazi regime, trapping European Jewry in a hellish nightmare.
Placed in the context of the political machinations of the time, including the denial of the implementation of Zionism in Palestine, Haven in Africa is another crucial piece in the complex puzzle that constitutes Jewish history.