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Is This a Photograph of European Jews Protesting

Deportation from the U.S. to Nazi


A photograph commonly used to illustrate the plight of asylum seekers shows a
Jewish German man, along with his wife, wearing placards protesting the man’s
deportation from the U.S. back to Nazi Germany, arguing his torturous death
would be inevitable if forced to return:

According to the stock photograph repository Alamy, the picture was taken on 12
June 1936 and credited to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and
featured a man named Otto Richter and his wife protesting at Ellis Island. A 24
December 1937 report in Seattle’s The Jewish Transcript provides a full
accounting of Richter’s remarkable story, which ended with his deportation to
Belgium (as opposed to Nazi Germany) after significant pressure from U.S. based-
advocacy groups:
In November, 1933, a young German seaman jumped ship In the harbor of
Seattle. He was in the truest sense of the word a political refugee, seeking the
right of asylum from a regime of tyranny and dictatorship. This young man’s name
was Otto Richter; born in Bremen, Germany, he was a worker and an active anti-
Nazi. On the night of the burning of the Reichstag, storm troopers apprehended
him and, though he had not the slightest connection with that event, beat and
tortured him. The next four and a half months he spent hiding from Hitler’s secret
police. [He] managed to enlist as a seaman and sail on German boat which was to
call at ports in the United States. During the voyage his identity became known
and officers of the ship, after abusing him, threatened to turn him over to the
police on their return to Nazi Germany. These were the circumstances underlying
Richter’s attempted escape from Nazi tyranny to American freedom.
What has happened since? In July, 1934, during the San Francisco general strike, a
vigilante raid was made on the Workers Center, and there Otto Richter was found
engaged in what the Department of Labor evidently regarded as the heinous
offense of helping to feed striking marine workers. He was seized and ordered
deported to Nazi Germany on the technical charge that he had remained in the
United States illegally. Since that time a long legal battle has been fought by the
American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born to save him from
deportation. And only the tremendous counterpressure of mass sentiment has
secured for Otto Richter the dubious privilege of being deported to a country of
his choice -— Belgium -— instead of to Hitler’s sadistocracy.

Sources
 Alamy.com. Otto Richter, A German Jew, And His Wife Protest Against His
Deportation To Germany by the US Immigration Authorities – Image ID:
CPKT6J.” 12 June 1936.
 Waterman, James Wise. “We Need Aliens!” The Jewish Transcript. 24
December 1937.