Sosua, Dominican Republic
Public information film about the immigration of Jewish refugees from Europe in the Dominican Republic. Jewish refugees work hard to create a prosperous home for themselves in Sosua. Everyone plays a part in the efficient and self-sustaining community that is mainly powered by physical labor. There are several scenes where settlers act as hairdressers and doctors, occupations the settlers most likely had before leaving Europe.
The film opens with a pinpoint of San Domingo on a map. Scenes of a beautiful seascape. Mountains and houses dot the landscape, abundant wildlife. Houses under construction. 00:01:44 Refugees aboard a steamship. People smile and pose for the camera. Refugees organize their luggage on the boat dock. A ship departs from New York City. People wave from aboard the ship. 00:02:22 Footage of the Dominican flag waving. 00:02:28 Diplomatic meeting. Men in black suits stand for a speaker. CUs, speaker. CUs, a Jesuit (?) priest speaking. Men shaking hands. More speakers addressing crowd. 00:03:32 The ocean from a villa deck. Landscape. 00:03:45 Men talking to one another over work plans. Men clearing bush in front of cameraman. Men working on land. 00:04:19 CUs, men talking and drinking. Sosua and refugees working on the land. Camera focuses on the texture of the soil. Sosua is portrayed as an ideal, fertile land. Men plow fields and dig. Rows of crops. Horses in their stables and the cows being milked. A man and a woman process the milk and show the camera the final cheese that they can make. Rows of beds covered by mosquito nets. Women washing and cutting vegetables for cooking. Men pump water. 00:07:49 A barber gives a man a haircut, as more men wait for their turn. The barber gives a man an old-fashioned shave. A doctor gives a physical examination to a young man. The doctor wraps a man's knee with bandages. 00:08:21 Men and women gather for a social outing. Everyone salutes a man in the center of the crowd. 00:08:32 Two couples relax and watch the sunset. 00:08:34 Families have fun at the beach. The houses built in Sosua. Men and women work together to tend their family gardens. A child rides a tricycle. People happily working their land. 00:09:27 A monument in Santo Domingo. 00:09:29 Portraits and people talking to the camera. Jewish refugees living pleasant lives in Sosua.
Interestingly, the word "Jew" is never used in the film, although Jewish refugees from Europe are obviously the new emigres in question.
Biography / History:
In 1940, the Dominican Republic's leader, Rafael Trujillo, agreed to accept up to 100,000 European Jewish immigrants, as long as the refugees would be able to contribute to the agricultural economy. With the aid of the American Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC), the Dominican Republic Resettlement Association (DORSA) was formed. DORSA bought land in the small village of Sosua, providing the Jewish refugees with 26,000 acres of land. Each family was given a small amount of land and farm animals. The agricultural community was not greatly successful. The land was difficult to farm and very few refugees arrived in Sosua in the first year of the resettlement act. DORSA director James N. Rosenberg brought several kibbutz workers from Palestine to Sosua to guide the settlers, resulting in the operation of meat and cheese processing plants in the village. Between 1940 and 1945, 5,000 visas were issued for refugees to enter the Dominican Republic. However, only 645 refugees made it to the Dominican Republic.
2013.130.1 The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum purchased digital copies of film footage from the National Archives and Records Administration in January 2013.
Dominican Republic Settlement Association, Inc.
National Archives & Records Administration (NARA), 200.180
SD ProRes422; H264
00:00:06 - 00:09:55