DORSA album

dorsa005

This photograph is part of a special album recently acquired for the Judaica Suite. The album was assembled in 1941 to commemorate the first anniversary of the founding of the Dominican Republic Settlement Association (DORSA), and the establishment of a colony in Sousa for Jewish refugees. Three years earlier, President Roosevelt had convened a 32 nation conference at Evian to discuss the resettlement of German Jews. It was a difficult task as most nations refused to receive more than a few thousand people. One exception was the Dominican Republic, which offered to take as many as 100,000 Jews provided they agreed to work in agriculture. The uptake was slow, initially only 50 Jews made it across the Atlantic, arriving in May 1940. They were given eighty acres of land and ten cows and received instruction in farming from kibbutzim in Palestine. The population peaked in October 1941 at about 500 before the Third Reich suspended Jewish emigration. The album contains 66 photographs, newspaper clippings and printed ephemera including a menu, concert program and letters. It probably belonged to James N. Rosenberg, president of DORSA as it contains letters addressed to him from President Rafael Trujillo, and a presentation inscription which reads: “To the ‘Chief’ with deepest affection faithfully Alfred Wagg 3rd April 17th 1941.” Alfred Wagg served as the Secretary to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees.

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