by Tene Kember
Angel Island was not only a port of entry for Asians, but others from other countries came this way as well.
Manfred Schrimmer, age 18 years old, a young man of German/Hebrew descent, arrived in San Francisco, CA, on August 28, 1940, on the ship, "Rakuyo Maru", from Yokohama, Japan. He had come from Berlin, Germany, on August 6, 1940, to Yokohama, Japan. His intentions were to remain permanently in the United States, go to New York City where he had relations, become a citizen of the United States, become gainfully employed and be a productive member of society.
Before he could realize his dreams, he was detained at Angel Island for ten months.
His passage had been paid by the German Relief Society for Jewish Refugees of Berlin.
The first of many hearings, held on September 4, 1940, by the Board of Special Inquiry, were to determine where the actual funds had come from that paid his passage from Berlin to the United States, by way of Yokohama, Japan.
The following provision of Section 3 of the Immigration Act of 1917 stated "the following classes of aliens shall be excluded from admission to the United States **** persons whose ticket or passage is paid for by any corporation, association, municipality, or foreign, either directly or indirectly".
Manfred Schrimmer needed to prove that the funds used for his passage had not been provided by the Society, which was illegal, but that the Society had been used as a vehicle where funds had been deposited by family members and friends to be used to purchase his passage.
Many people were interviewed during this period of Manfred Schrimmer's detention at Angel Island. They tried to offer supporting evidence of the source of the funds for his passage, but nothing was conclusive enough to allow Manfred Schrimmer's release.
Maurice Schrimmer was interviewed in New York City and his interview was entered as testimony in support of Manfred Schrimmer. He was Manfred's father's first cousin, called "Uncle" by Manfred. He sent $100 (contributions from relatives) to Manfred on September 5, 1940 at Angel Island. He thought that Manfred's passage was paid for by a relative.
Albert Dubrow (formerly Dubrowsky) also from New York City was interviewed. He also was a first cousin to Manfred's father. He agreed he could house Manfred if he were released and made his way to New York City. He also testified that he thought that Manfred's passage was paid for by a relative.
Mrs. Helga Erna Magner of Chicago, Illinois, was interviewed. She stated she had sent $20 to Adolf Schrimmer, an uncle residing in New York City, who she thought was making travel arrangements for Manfred's passage to the United States.
Others sent letters of support, such as Rabbi Albert Wolf of The Congregation Beth Jacob of Madison, Wisconsin, George Kariel of Portland, Oregon, and Herman Schoken, a retired manufacturer. Later, they were interviewed and their sworn statements became part of the testimony to allow Manfred's entry into the United States.
During this period, Manfred was hospitalized several times - mainly for stress and stomach problems, probably related to his detention and uncertain situation.
On December 2, 1940, Adolf Schrimmer, Manfred's uncle, was interviewed at Ellis Island, in New York City. He testified, through an interpreter, that the passage for Manfred was paid by Wilhelm Schrimmer, who resided in England, and was the brother of Adolf and Manfred's father. He paid 25,000 marks to a Society of Jewish Welfare in Berlin, who in turn paid the fare for Manfred to come to the United States.
On the same day, Gustav Simoni, a baker, residing in New York City, accompanied Adolf Schrimmer, in case an interpreter was needed. He testified that Wilhelm Schrimmer, on a trip two years ago, left money and jewelry with Gustav, with the intention that Gustav would give it back to him upon his return. Gustav also testified that he saw a letter written to Adolf that stated that Wilhelm Schrimmer had paid 25,000 marks to the Jewish Welfare Society in Berlin to be used for the passage of Manfred Schrimmer. He also offered room and board for Manfred if necessary.
On December 23, 1940, Rabbi Wolf was questioned in Madison, Wisconsin. The Board was intent on questioning him carefully with regards to any information he may have had involving the payment of the passage of Manfred Shrimmer and how he came to know about it. He was a rabbi in Manfred's family congregation for twenty years so felt it was his duty to recommend Manfred for admission to the United States. However, he knew nothing about the arrangements of the passage of Manfred.
The board finally ruled on January 6, 1941, but admission was denied. The decision of the Board was based on the fact that the payment of the passage, by the Society, was in violation of that part of Section 3 of the Immigration Act of 1917.
Manfred was allowed to appeal the decision and did so. On January 28, 1941, the Board of Special Inquiry met and his case was reopened in San Francisco.
It was decided that the Board needed to question Henrietta M. Tishner of the Council of Jewish Women and Herbert M. Picard of the HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), both in San Francisco, to see if they knew anything about the funds that were used to pay the passage of Manfred Schrimmer. Mr. Picard produced a telegram that stated that on January 28, 1941, HIAS at New York received $98 from David Livingston, a relative, and placed the amount to the credit of Hilfaverein, Berlin (the German name for the Society). He further produced correspondence that supported the fact that this money was then refunded to Hilfaverein for transportation advanced to Manfred Schrimmer.
Since these transactions were done by Mr. Livingston only after the case was reopened and not before, the Board deemed that Manfred's passage was paid for by the Society and not an individual and therefore, on January 31, 1941, again, entry was denied.
To show further support, on April 23, 1941, David Livingston stated in a letter to the immigration authorities, that he was willing to "place a bond in the sum required" for Mr. Schrimmer.
In the early days of May, 1941, Manfred Schrimmer sent letters to authorities to inform them that his parents and sister arrived in New York City from Germany, with their passage being paid by funds that the Uncle (Wilhelm Schrimmer) sent from England to the Society in Germany to be used for the passage of the family. He explained this with the hope that it would be understood that his own passage had been paid the same way.
On May 7, 1941, Manfred received a letter that stated that the exclusion decision of the Board of Special Inquiry was affirmed and upheld by the Acting Attorney General. Arrangements were being made for Manfred Schrimmer's passage, to be paid for by him, back to Yokohama, Japan, and then back to Germany. He was going to be deported.
On June 3, 1941, Manfred was suddenly released on his own recognizance, to go to New York City to live with his parents. He was placed on parole, pending the final determination of his status. He had to register for the draft as soon as he arrived in New York City. He had to tell the board if he started to work, where he was working, or if he changed jobs or address.
On June 10, 1941, he arrived at his parents place. Shortly thereafter, he was employed for five days, on June 23, 1941. He registered for the draft on June 24, 1941, but was ineligible to be drafted, according to a letter from the Draft Board to the San Francisco Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Finally, on June 27, 1941, he was admitted into the United States and became a legal alien after ten long months after his arrival on August 28, 1940.
Was Manfred Schrimmer drafted into the armed services after the United States entered the war? Did he survive to live a full and productive life? The file does not tell us those answers.
Tene Woo Kember is a volunteer with the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation.
Place of Origin
Place of Settlement
New York, NY