Sunday, August 30, 2015

Getting the Diamonds to America--1946, the Year of HIAS Paperwork

I'd written a bit back in 2013 about finding my grandparents' and great grandmother's HIAS file, but I never went into detail about everything that was there.  Their file was very comprehensive and had letters, documents, and telegrams tracing the process of getting them sponsored to America, their transit to America, and the legal follow-up that needed to be done to ensure that they wouldn't be a burden to the American taxpayer.

Much of 1946 was spent with HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) getting the paperwork together so that my grandparents (Paul and Sonia Diamond) and great grandmother (Sheva Beitch) would be able to legally come to America.

The earliest document in the folder was from June of 1946.
Visa Affidavit, Nathan Zuriff, June 1946

In order to prove that my grandparents and great grandmother wouldn't be a burden on society, Nathan Zuriff (husband of Clara Bender Zuriff, a first cousin of my grandfather) signed an affidavit in June 1946 attesting to the fact that he had sufficient assets to support the relatives of his wife whom he had never met.

Transportation Deposit for the Diamonds, June 1946

A few days later, Nathan Zuriff and Henry Turk (husband of Jesse Suttleman Turk, a half-aunt of my grandfather) sent $610 to my grandparents and great grandmother (getting the name "Beitch" incorrect as "Baer").

Transportation Fee Receipt, July 1946

The following week, a letter from Europe confirmed those funds' receipt and started the process of bringing the survivors to America.  And there was a significant amount of paperwork involved in getting to that point.
Affidavit Correction Request, September 1946
In September, a letter relates that the Turks and Zuriffs were also sponsoring Dvoira and Benjcijon Shuster.  (Devoira was my grandfather's sister.)  Apparently affidavits which had been sent had noted that my grandparents and great grandmother were born in Poland rather than Russia.  Because of the changing borders, this was a legitimate mistake.  My grandparents were born in Poland.  My great grandmother was born in the same area when it was Russia.  And by 1946, it was again under Russian control.  (Today it is in Ukraine.)
Confirmation of Affidavit Correction, September 1946
Several weeks later, HIAS' director of the US Zone confirmed that the affidavits would be updated in order to begin applying for American visas.
Visa Guarantee, Clara Zuriff, October 1946
That October, Clara Zuriff signed a document similar to that her husband Nathan had signed in June, attesting to the fact that she would be able to financially cover for her relatives should they need financial assistance.

A few days later, there was evidence of some crossed wires in the process.  The New York Branch of HIAS contacted the Baltimore branch trying to initiate contact between the Diamonds and Nathan "Lurit" of Baltimore.
HIAS New York Trying to Initiate Diamond-Zuriff/Lurit Contact, October 1946
Two days later, the Baltimore office responded to inform New York of all of their mistakes, with a bit of a snarky tone.  As they pointed out, not only was the name of the Diment contact incorrect, the New York office has mis-typed the address of the Diments in Europe.  Oh, and Baltimore was on top of this and already had the paperwork to reunite these family members underway.
HIAS Baltimore Correcting HIAS New York, October 1946
By the middle of November, it seemed that the paperwork was finally in order so that visas could finally be obtained.
Letter from HIAS in Europe to HIAS in New York, November 1946
The rest of 1946 seemed quiet.  But starting in February 1947 (in an upcoming post), a flurry of communications began as immigration became more imminent.  Read more here.

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