Recha Rivka Freier

Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel

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Recha Rivka Freier's Geni Profile

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Recha Rivka Freier (Schweitzer)

Birthdate: (91)
Birthplace: Norden, Deutschland
Death: April 2, 1984 (91)
Jerusalem, Israel
Place of Burial: Jerusalem
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Manashe Menachem Schweitzer and Bertha Schweitzer
Wife of Rabbi Moritz Moshe Yissachar Freier
Mother of Shalhevet Freier; Dr. Ammud Freier; Zerem Freier-Dror and Private User
Sister of Wilhelm (Wili) Benjamin Schweitzer; Arthur Aharon Schweitzer; Eddy Schweitzer; Dr. Eddie Yehudit Schweitzer and אדי שוייצר

Occupation: founded the Youth Aliyah organization in 1933, הקמת עליית הנוער
Managed by: Nurit Miller
Last Updated:

About Recha Rivka Freier

Recha Freier was born on October 29, 1892 in Norden, Ostfriesland and died on April 2, 1984 in Jerusalem. She founded the Youth Aliyah organization in 1932. The organization saved the lives of 22,000 Jewish children by helping them to leave Nazi Germany for Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel.

Recha Freier was the wife of Rabbi Moritz Freier, who was a rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin between the years 1926 and 1939.

In the beginning of the year 1932 she was approached by a group of six young lads who asked her help. They were all dismissed from their place of work on account of their religion. They asked Recha Freier for advice as to what they could do. Recha Freier told them that the solution to their problem would be to send them to Palestine and to settle them in a Kibbuts where they could work and continue their education.

The first person, outside her family, with whom Recha Freier shared her ideas was Enzo Sireni co-founder of Kibbuts Givat Brenner, who visited Berlin at that time. At his suggestion she wrote to the Jewish Workers' Union in Palestine in order to enquire which Kibbuts would be willing to absorb her first group of olim for a two to three year program of "Hachshara" that is to say training. Recha Freier's repeated effors to obtain certificates for the Youth who sought her help met with opposition. One of the first people that Recha Freier approached was Miss Henrietta Szold, who at the time was the Head of the Social Welfare Department of the Vaad Leumi, of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem. Miss Szold refused to issue certificates on the grounds that the children of poor families in Palestine had preference over Youth from Germany. In order to ensure that her decision would be complied with, Miss Szold wrote a letter to the Zionist Organization in Berlin notifiying them hat Recha Freier's plans were doomed to failure and there is no point in suppotring a lost cause. The Jewish organizations in Berlin derided Recha Freier saying that she led a "crusade of children" and that she suffered from delusions of an eccentric woman". The Zionist Organization in Berlin and the National Council of Wizo in Germany denied all support of her actions, certain of her failure and afraid that they would be blamed for that failure. The leadership of WIZO in Germany demanded that Recha Freier give up her membership in their movement. The only ray of hope at that time was Dr Siegfried Lehman, the founder and director of the Youth village in Ben Shemen, Palestine. He came to Berlin, met the group of Youths and informed Recha that was willing to put at her disposal 12 certificates which he received for youths to be acepted to his Youth village. Recha Freier was in a dilemma. She feared, and justifiably so, that if her group were to go to Ben Shemen they would be regarded as orphans - for that was the purpose of the Youth Village -- and not as young pioneers. In the end Freier agreed as this was the only way of saving these children. Freier added to the six youths who asked for her help a girl and another five lads from Konigsberg and they left for Ben Shemen in October 1932. We emphasize this date as it clearly shows that Youth Aliya was already active in 1932 and did not begin in 1933 as is often stated. This group, which was named "Alumoth" were educated for two years in Ben Shemen, and then joined Kibbuts Deganya for a year's training. By the time they joined Degania, many of their scholmates attached themselves to the group so that in the end their numbers swelled to 80. After a year in Degania, they spent five years working hard in Zichron Yaacov until finally at the end of 1940 they established their Kibbuts "Alumoth".

In the wake of these twelve pioneers who formed the "Alumoth" group 5000 Boys and girls made Alyah until the beginning of World War two. But it is not their number which is significant but the fact that they were pioneers in the Youth Aliya organization whose example was followed by thousands of Youths thereafter.

A further milestone in the development of the Youth Aliyah organization was the official registration of Youth Aliya as an organization in Germany. This took place on January, 30th, 1933, the day on which the Nazis won the elections in Germany. This took place in the office of the notary Dr Hugo Fuerst. Fuerst suggested to name the new organization "Juedische Jugendhilfe" - Support organization for Jewish Youth" the objective of which is to organize professional training for German Jewish Youth planning emigrate to Israel. At the first meeting it transpired that many of those present were under 21 and not eligible to sign the protocol and a second meeting was called for February 5th, 1933, when the protocol was signed. Recha Freier was elected Chairwoman, Mr Simonson, Secretary, and Sally Heilbron, Treasurer. The other members who signed were Rabbi Dr Freier, Dr Hugo Fuerst, Mr Chanoch Reinhold, and Ms Soloweitzik. In May 1933 Recha Freier visited Palestine for the first time. The leading members of the Histadruth Haovdim (the Trade Union) were enthusiastic about Recha's ideas and promised their help. Not so Henrietta Szold, who declared that she cannot overcome her misgivings abvout the feasability of bringing Youths from Germany to workers' settlements in Palestine. Subsequently she met Arthur Ruppin who was more optimistic. Chaim Arlosorov who was the head of the political department of the Jewish Agency imediately set about translating Recha Freier's ideas into an organizational reality. On June 16th, 1933 Arlosorov set out to meet the first group,of Youth Alyah in Ben Shemen. There he met the High Commissioner for Palestine, Arthur Wauchope and discussed with him the problem of finding certificates for Alyat Hanoar. On the evening of that day the course of history was altered by the assasssination of Arlosorov.

At the 18th Zionist Congress, which took place in Prague in August 1933, it was decided to establish a "Department for the settlement of German Jews". The heads of this department were Chaim Weitzman and Arthur Ruppin. One of the tasks of this department was the transfer of children and asdolescents from Germany to Palestine. Ruppin charged Henrietta Szold with the task of running this office in Jerusalem.

At first Szold shared the work with Recha Freier. Szold took care of obtaining the certificates and of making the appropriate arrangements with the Kibbutsim who took the children. Freier arranged the enrolment of the children in Germany and preparing them for the life in Palestine. The first group after Szold's appointment arrived in Ein Charod on February 19th, 1934.

At the 19th Zionist Congress which took place in Lucerne in 1935 Szold had the following praise for Recha Freier. (Translated from Hebrew) "I wish to take this opportunity to thank the originator of this movement, Mrs Recha Freier. It was she who conceived this ingenious plan, and who put it into operation in spite of dificulties and delays We owe her a debt of gratitude for devoting herself wholeheartedly to this cause, which at first found only few supporters and now has grown to such dimensions." However even at this stage, Miss Szold omitted to mention that she turned down Recha Freier's request for help in 1932 and again in 1933 and warned her not to request help from others. Once more in1935 she refused Freier's request to establish a fund in Jerusalem which would receive donations from all over the world in order to enabkle Jewish Youth from Eastern Europe to emigrate to Palestine - as the danger of a German invasion of Eastern Europe was already probable. The differences of opinon between Recha Freier and Henrieta Szold came to the fore once more at the Zionist ongress which took place in Geneva in July 1939. Henrietta Szold claimed in her speech that the Youth Aliya Organization started with the arrival of the group of Youth who came to Ein Charod in the month of August 1933 with certificates supplied by Henrietta Szold. Recha Freier reminded her in a letter that the first group of Youth Aliya was the group that came to Ben Shemen dedscribed earlier in this profile. In 1939 when she realized the danger to Polish Jewish prisoners in concentration camps, Freier stole 100 exit permits from the offices of the Jewish representative body - the Reichsvertretung of German Jews - permits that were issued by the German Government and she passed them on to the Polish Jewish Concentration camp, inmates. On the strength of these permits the prisoners were released. The Reichsvertretung notified thr Gestapo of her action as a result of which she was called to the office of Adolf Eichmann who invalidated her passport. Freier and her daughter managed to escape illegally into Yugoslavia in June 1940. From Zagreb, the capital of Yugoslavia, she organized with the help of smugglers the immigration of another 100 children from Germany who ultimately also reached Palestine. In 1941 Freier and her daughter left Yugoslavia by the land route via Turkey and Syria to Palestine. In Palestine Miss Szold notified her that she would not allow Freier to work within the framework of Youth Aliyah in Palestine. Freier had to leave the organizaton which she founded. From now on she devoted her strength to a new organization which she founded, the Mif'al Lehachsharat Yaldei Eretz Yisrael whose purpose it was to absorb children from poor immigrant families and ensurev their education in hef ramework of Kibbutzim or family units. In recognition of her work Recha Freier was awarded the title of Doctor, honoris causa by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1975 and in 1981 she received the Israel Prize for her special contribution to Society and the State of Israel

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Recha Rivka Freier's Timeline

October 29, 1892
Norden, Deutschland
July 16, 1920
Age 27
July 15, 1923
Age 30
April 2, 1984
Age 91
Jerusalem, Israel