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Description

In 1940, with World War II already underway, the Dominican government signed an agreement with the Dominican Republic Settlement Association (Dorsa) to carry out a program of the American Jewish Committee for Joint Distribution with the objective of bringing refugees from the Holocaust to settle in Dominican lands.
Trujillo promised to welcome 100,000 Jews

On May 10, the first ship arrived, in which 47 refugees disembarked. Representatives of the Dorsa received them in Ciudad Trujillo, now Santo Domingo, and took them to their new destination: Sosúa.

The settlers were instructed by experts in the cultivation of subtropical fruits and received 33 hectares of land and at least ten cows. One more if they had a wife, and two extra for each child. In addition, Dorsa lent them US$10,000, which, once they began to be paid for their work as farmers and ranchers, they had to repay.

Many of the refugees had to leave their trades behind and learn farming.
From the early 20th century until 1916, the United Fruit Company had a banana plantation there, which prospered and made the region flourish. But the drop in exports brought the closure of the banana operations and of several fields.

In the early 1940s there was an outbreak of malaria on the north coast of the Dominican Republic that immediately affected the refugees, so Dorsa built a hospital on the outskirts of Sosúa to treat the sick. The lack of pipes and the absence of electricity did not make things any easier either, as the new inhabitants had to carry buckets of water, cook with firewood and clean precariously. But little by little they made improvements and over time made the settlement a more pleasant place, with the opening of a small library, a dining room and a synagogue in which to meet.

Although Trujillo promised to give asylum to 100,000 European Jews, due to problems with their transfer, political tensions and some uncertainty about their location, 757 ended up settling.

By 1947 in Sosúa there were only 386 refugees left. And when Trujillo died, in 1961, there were 155. Later, 38 years after the settlement was established, there were more buried in the Jewish cemetery than survivors. According to the reports of the time, there were a total of 23 families. But it was still a close-knit community and they formed a cooperative.

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