Aid to Jewish Refugees
Gertrude Weil, 1879 - 1971
In the 1920s and 1930s, the socially and politically active Weil family grew increasingly concerned about the menacing situation for Jews in Europe. They read newspapers, clipped articles, and corresponded with relatives abroad and with American Jewish leaders in an effort to keep abreast of the situation and to be of as much assistance as possible. With many relatives in Germany, Gertrude and Mina, in particular, threw themselves into relief efforts.
As early as 1930, Mina and Gertrude began sending monthly support checks to various relatives who found it increasingly difficult to earn a living in Germany and Austria. When numerous cousins, both close and distant, began to inquire about immigrating to the United States, the Weil women did everything they could to provide the affidavits of financial support necessary to obtain American visas. No relative was too distant or unknown to be turned away.
Following Mina's death in 1940, Gertrude became the central figure in the Weil family's relief efforts. Her personal papers are filled with poignant letters from family members recounting the difficulty of their situations. Extensive correspondence with American authorities, Jewish organizations, and financial institutions attests to her persistent, sometimes even frantic, attempts to complete the voluminous paperwork required and to facilitate the relatives' escape from persecution. Over the years, Gertrude signed affidavits of support for 15 people, a significant financial commitment to often largely unknown cousins. She also contributed sizable sums to the organized relief efforts of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the Joint Distribution Committee.
- Elna C.G. Grissom, "Jewish Relief and Other Philanthropies of the Weil Family of Goldsboro, North Carolina, 1935-1945," M.A. thesis, Wake Forest University, 1984.
- Correspondence in the Gertrude Weil Papers at the North Carolina Division of Archives and History.