"An Appeal for Catholic Refugees from Germany", October 1938


Railroad tracks in Eastern Europe after World War I, Bruce M. Mohler Papers, American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives

            Initially, Catholic refugees from Germany were entrusted to the care of pre-existing Catholic organizations for German immigrants, such as Father Joseph Ostermann’s Leo House in New York City. Leo House, however, was equipped to deal with the small trickle of peacetime German immigrants, who were generally one of the more well-off immigrant groups, but not with the desperate victims of a new and fiercely anti-Catholic regime. As the flood of refugees quickened, the US Catholic bishops saw that new organizations were needed to properly aid them. They formed the Bishops’ Committee for German Catholic Refugees, putting Father Ostermann in charge because of his previous experience with German immigrants. In this leaflet, intended for the lay Catholic reader, Fr. Ostermann seeks to make Catholics aware of their fellow-believers’ plight and solicits donations for their aid.


An Appeal for Catholic Refugees from Germany


As you read the document (linked below) reflect on the following questions:

  • To which anti-religious persecution from history does Ostermann compare the Nazi persecutions?
  • What are the three classes of German Catholics who do not qualify as Aryan?
  • Why does Ostermann argue that the refugee Catholics who have fled from Germany are “living martyrs?”