“As Mr. Schwarz is not Jewish, we are unable to handle this case.” Elements of (Un)Success in Overseas Emigration from Post-war Czechoslovakia


Through the case study of the Schwarz family, this paper illustrates the complex relationship between an individual and institutions as well as the question of mutual trust—and mistrust—in the emigration process. The Schwarz family’s attempt to emigrate from Czechoslovakia with the assistance of intermediary organizations provides a wealth of insight into the (dis)function of a state and its administration after the war and during a time of defining the country’s approach to specific minority groups. This case provides a description of the chain of interlinked events and shifting loyalties which often occurred between the individual, intermediaries, donors or sponsors and the state. It concerns a group of Holocaust survivors who failed to regain Czechoslovak citizenship after World War II based on a specific ethnic definition of eligibility and found themselves “stateless”.