Robert Townsend Smallbones was one of those heroes who didn’t get the praise they deserved while alive. Read this wonderful thread on how he helped over 40.000 Jews escape the Nazis:
The issue was that nobody wanted to give Jews permanent immigration visas.
We don’t need to. Robert says. We can exploit the fact that the USA is sneakier about how it blocks Jews from immigrating:
It gives them visas, but then only lets a certain percentage a year use them.
Robert proposes that the Home Office allow anyone who has a VALID US VISA to “wait” in Britain until their ‘turn’ in the US arrivals queue comes up. Essentially, a TEMPORARY visa for Britain, that expires when they get to America.
Smallbones returned to Frankfurt and kicked things into action. He immediately informed local Jewish Community leaders of the scheme’s existence. And, importantly, that he would allow FAMILIES to apply on behalf of anyone seized by the Gestapo and sent to camps.
He then went to the GESTAPO, and informed them that if he approved a visa, that placed the person under the protection of the British and he expected them to be IMMEDIATELY released when he asked.
It was a lie, and a gamble. But it worked. From then on they fumed but complied.
Robert then turned the entire Frankfurt Consulate into a machine with one job: getting Jews out of Germany to safety in Britain.
Never underestimate the power of doing good.