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German Jewish immigration to Chile, 1933-1940

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This project seeks to collect all the German Jewish Emigres who arrived to Chile between 1933-1940.

Thousands of Jews from Germany entered Chile during the 1930s. The German Jewish migrants established several organisations of their own:

  • An auxiliary organization - Hilfsverein, or Comité Israelita de Socorros (1933)
  • A communal institution - Sociedad Cultural Israelita B'nei Jisroel (1938)
  • B'nai B'rith lodge (1937).

In all, between 10,000 and 12,000 Jews were able to enter Chile in 1933–40. The two last ships, Augusto and Virgilio, arrived in January 1940 with a few hundred Jews who were moved to the south in a special train under military custody.



Although a relatively small community amounting to no more than 1% of the country's religious minorities, Jews in Chile have achieved prominent positions in its society. They have had key roles both before and after its independence in 1810. Most Chilean Jews today reside in Santiago and Valparaíso, but there are significant communities in the north and south of the country.

Mario Kreutzberger, otherwise known as "Don Francisco" and host of 'Sábado Gigante', the longest-running TV show in the world, is a Chilean Jew of German origin. Other Chilean Jews who have achieved recognition in arts and culture include Alejandro Jodorowsky, now established in France and best known for his literary and theatrical work. Others include Nissim Sharim (actor), Shlomit Baytelman (actress) and Anita Klesky (actress). Volodia Teitelboim, poet and former leader of the Chilean Communist Party, is one of the many Jews to have held important political positions in the country.

Tomás Hirsch is leader of the radical Green-Communist coalition and former presidential candidate in 2005. State ministers Karen Poniachick (Minister for Mining) and Clarisa Hardy (Minister for Social Affairs) are also Jewish. In the field of sport, tennis player Nicolás Massú (gold medalist in Athens 2004 and former top-ten in the ATP rankings) has Jewish background.

Many of the country's most important companies, particularly in the retail and commercial field, have been set up by Jews. Examples are Gendelman and Hites (commercial retailers) and Rosen (Mattress and Bed Industries).