Red Aid, a Non-Accommodating NGO Challenging the Power of West-European States to Deny Protection to Undeserving Refugees, 1933–1935

Author(s) : Frank Caestecker

Source :


This article outlines how a refugee policy took shape in the liberal countries bordering Nazi Germany during the first half of the 1930s. In Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland, immigration policy had become much more restrictive by 1933 when the refugees from Germany applied for asylum and the necessity for a ‘side entrance’ for asylum seekers to these countries became apparent. The focus here is on the role of the Communist aid organisation, the Red Aid, in this endeavour. In comparison to the social-democratic aid organisations, the Red Aid was deficient, but most importantly it was an outsider to the political regime, while the Social-Democrats were part of the political regime. Still the authorities in all countries conceded by 1935 that German Communist refugees were more deserving than other unwanted immigrants who were expelled without much ado. This article argues that the campaigns of the Red Aid in the rather limited liberalisation of policy towards Communist refugees by 1935 did have some effect since their denouncement of the inhumane treatment of Communist refugees led these liberal polities to restrain themselves in their treatment of these most ‘undeserving’ of refugees.



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