May 1, 1997

Bruno Schwebel and his family


My father (Theodore Schwebel, born August 3l, 1897) was Jewish, and also a member of the Social-Democratic Party of Austria. A little while after ”Chrystal Night” he fled, taking my brother Helmut (born September 9, l926) with him; they crossed into France illegally at the Franco-German border in Lauterbourg. Meanwhile, my mother Theresa (born 3-3-l902) and I (born 9-l6-28) remained in Purkersdorf (near Vienna) for a few weeks to sell our furniture and domestic items and prepare for the trip. We left Vienna by train on Demember l0, l938, following the same route that my father and brother had used, arriving in Paris on December 22, l938.

My brother and I were installed in a boarding house for Jewish children in Montmorency, near Paris. It was run by the international organization OSE. My mother found work in the same boarding house.

Close to a year later, when war was declared between France and Germany, my father was confined as a ´´citizen of an enemy state´´ in a French concentration camp´. And, in June l940, when German troops had already approached Paris, my mother, brother and I fled to Montauban in the South of France. With the disintegration of the French civil authorities, my father was able to leave the camp and be reunited with us in Montauban. From that moment on, the family goal was to get a visa-any visa from whatever country possible. The only practical possibilities were Mexico and New Zealand, now that ´´quotas´´ for other countries like the United States or England were complete, or that the corresponding bureaucratic paperwork was too slow.

Finally, on November 6, l94l, Mr. Gilberto Bosques, the Mexican Consul in Marseille gave us a visa for Mexico. If it hadn’t been for the anti-fascist position of the Mexican government, as well as the personal initiative of Mr. Bosques to save the largest number of people possible whose lives were threatened by fascism, my family and I probably would not have survived.

Mexican Jewish social-democratic organizations financed our passage in the ”Nyassa” from Lisbon to Veracruz, Mexico, that sailed during the first days of February l942. We had tried to cross from France to Spain various times without success. On one attempt to cross the frontier, we left from
Pau the 3lst of December l94l. The frontier was open and we boarded the train to initiate our journey of two days to Lisbon. After staying one month in the Portuguese capital, and one month on the Nyassa, we arrived in Veracruz where we were taken in as political refugees.

More than 50 years later, in November l993, it was a moving experience for me as well as a great honor to participate in the discovery of the bust of Gilberto Bosques in the ´´Institute of Legal Asylum and Public Liberties´´ in Coyoacan, Mexico City. The ceremony was organized by the ´´Institute for German-Mexican Inter-cultural Research´´, and by the community of German-speaking exiles in Mexico, as recognition of the humanitarian deeds of Mr. Gilberto Bosques.