During Nazi rule there were many aid organisations that provided rescue and refugee assistance to emigrants. They worked at international, national or regional level and were often religious, Zionist or connected to a political party or movement. Some aimed at specific target groups, such as children and young people, scientists and academics or artists and some had already existed since the 19th Century providing assistance to refugees in earlier crisis situations.
The work of some of these organisations was to explicitly help people to escape, either from Germany or from a country of exile. They offered job retraining, provided information on emigration or escape routes, travel documents and tickets and organised employment opportunities in the receiving country. Other initiatives offered support to refugees in the exile country itself and helped them become professionally and socially integrated in the new country. Many of the organisations cooperated locally, making contacts in the world of politics, business and culture, in order to draw attention to the plight of those being persecuted. They also raised funds and attracted influential supporters.
The Zionist-oriented aid organisations include the HICEM and the Youth Aliyah. And the major Jewish organisations American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and B'nai B'rith were both organisations that helped people who had suffered persecution, first of all mainly in their European home countries or European exile countries. It was not until the situation worsened for those who had been and were being persecuted that aid organisations became increasingly involved in offering people practical help to escape.
The Reich Representation of German Jews was active from within Germany. The Sozialdemokratische Flüchtlingsfürsorge (Social Democratic welfare assistance for refugees) and International Red Aid worked helping political refugees, while the churches ran the Caritas Notwerk and the Büro Pfarrer Grüber (Pastor Grüber’s Office) and others. The Quakers and Unitarians also provided practical escape aid.
The Emergency Rescue Committee, the American Guild for German Cultural Freedom and the German PEN Club in Exile ("Exile PEN") focussed on assisting artists and intellectuals. The Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced German/Foreign Scholars, the Acedemic Assistance Council, the Notgemeinschaft deutscher Wissenschaftler im Ausland (Emergency Association of German Science Abroad) as well as several private foundations dedicated themselves to providing help for persecuted scholars.
After the Second World War, some of the aid organisations supported emigrants in returning to their home countries or helped the people in Europe who had been liberated from the concentration camps.