Who Was the Schindler of Bolivia?

A recently unearthed secret is that a tin baron in Bolivia paid for thousands of Jews’ transportation from Europe to South America during World War II. Although he saved the lives of 9000 to 22,000 Jews between 1938 and 1941, he was not generally known for his kindness. His reputation was solely as a harsh businessman who paid his workers miserable wages, until 1999 when ancient documents from the refugee arrangements surfaced. The benefactor to Jews escaping Hitler’s Germany and Austria was a German-Jewish immigrant to Bolivia named Moritz (Mauricio) Hochschild. He may have been more self-sacrificing than his legend made him out to be. (en español más adelante)

Dr. G. Littmann, Dr. Moritz Hochschild, the bishop of Potosi and the mayor of Potosi; Potosi, Bolivia Image: Center for Jewish History

How did he lay the groundwork for this audacious rescue plan? Don Mauricio made friends with the Bolivian President Busch. Busch wanted European immigrants to his country. Hochschild sent visas to escaping Jews through five Bolivian consulates in Europe; Switzerland, England, France, Germany and Austria. The exiled families sailed by boat from Germany to Chile. Then they traveled from Arica, Chile to La Paz by train; known as the Jewish Express (Express Judío). The JDC from the United States helped support the refugees. Hochschild helped the newcomers obtain jobs and housing. He also built schools for the children. (see photo at the end of the article)

Grandson Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond (not a paragon of virtue in the UN…) confirmed he knew very little about his grandfather’s accomplishments outside of mining. He said;

“I remember in Chile coming across many strangers who, once they had my surname, would tell me how my grandfather had helped them at this or that time in their life.” He believes his grandfather’s deliverance of thousands of Jews from the Nazis was a “great act which has never fully been recognised”.

Perhaps a comparison to Schindler is an imperfect one, Hochschild saved thousands more people.

Thanks for reading a bit of his story.

¡Olé! –Rebecca

To read more click here.

Thanks to Eliana Tobias for her blog and novel that inspired this post!

Ferrocarril/Train Arica/La Paz Image: Alberto Decombe E. 1913

¿Quién es el Schindler de Bolivia?

Un secreto revelado recién es que un barón del estaño en Bolivia pagó el pasaje de miles de judíos de Europa a Sudamérica durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Aunque salvó las vidas de 9.000 a 20.000 judíos entre 1938 y 1941, no era conocido por su bondad. Al contrario, su reputación era una de ser jefe y hombre de negocios duro que pagaba a su obreros sueldos de miseria. Así, hasta 1999 cuando hallaron papeles con la información sobre refugiados que había apoyado. El señor se llamaba Moritz (Mauricio) Hochschild; nació en Alemania a familia judía, y se migró a Bolivia. Durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial llegó a ser la salvación de miles de judíos escapando la Alemania y la Austria de Hitler. Es posible que Hochschild hiciera más sacrificios personales que se haya creído.

¿Cómo construyó este plan audaz de rescate? Don Mauricio se hizo amigo del Presidente Busch de Bolivia. Busch quería que inmigrantes europeos vinieran a su país. Hochschild facilitó las visas de judíos escapando de Europa, usando contactos en los consulados de Bolivia en Suiza, Inglaterra, Francia, Alemania y Austria. Los refugiados viajaron en barco de Alemania a Arica, Chile. Entonces viajaron de Arica a La Paz por tren; conocido como el Express Judío. Una organización judía de los EEUU también contribuía a apoyar los refugiados. Hochschild los ayudaba obtener empleo y domicilio. Además pagó por construir unas escuelas para los niños. (Mira la foto al pie del artículo.)

Su nieto Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond (no un gran ejemplo de virtud en la ONU…) sabía muy poco de las hazañas de su abuelo, aparte de su rol en la minería. Dijo;

“Me acuerdo en Chile conocía muchos desconocidos quienes, al saber mi apellido, me decían como mi abuelo los había ayudado en un momento u otro de su vida.” Su nieto cree que la salvación de miles de judíos de los Nazis era “un gran acto que nunca se ha reconocido.”

Quizás compararle con Schindler no sea justo, porque Hochschild haya salvado miles de personas más que él.

Gracias por leer un poco de su historia.

¡Olé! –Rebecca

Para leer más, haz un clic aquí.

Miraflores Jewish Kindergarten, La Paz 1944 Photo: Archivo Histórico de la Corporación Minera de Bolivia (Comibol Archive)
Rebecca Cuningham

45 thoughts on “Who Was the Schindler of Bolivia?

      1. Thanks for you sweet words my friend. You’re probably right by doing what he did without many people being aware of his philanthropy, must have saved many more

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hello Rebecca: It’s great that you have brought more attention to Don Mauricio!
    For your followers who may want to know more about the man, (although you cover him quite thoroughly) please take a look at my blog posting of September 29, 2022- https://elianatobias.com/?s=rescuer+stories, and click on “The Guardian Audio Link”.

    Also for those interested to learn how Don Mauricio helped refugees once they were in Bolivia – you may find my novel “When We Return” of interest. Take a look!!
    Thanks Rebecca!!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. ‘The Ratline’ shows the exact reasons why Jewish people fled Europe. However, after 1939, there was a refugee crisis in response to Nazi Germany’s antisemitic persecution. Some people were lucky to get visas to enter Latin and North American countries, but they were difficult to obtain as there were quotas and restrictions in place.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WOW Rebecca! This is AMAZING thanks so much for sharing this post with me. I’ve missed your stories! Sorry I’ve been away, we had an early frost on our farm and it forced us to move up our timeline of getting things ready for winter. I can’t wait to catch up!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. good!! More about mucking stalls, mending fences, washing horse blankets, and hauling rocks… so many rocks. OH and planting lots of bulbs for spring! We’re building a greenhouse.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I wish, but every muscle aches and my bones hurt LOL. We loaded our truck up one big river rock at a time until the back was full. We made about six trips. We also hauled mulch over and over again for my rose garden and we had to shovel that too. I don’t know if you’ve ever spent hours shoveling… but when you’re doing squats 100 times a day for weeks at a time well, it’s painful LOL!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Were you building a wall with the river rocks? Or contouring part of the farm? I have done a lot of digging in our garden. I squat when I’m weeding and I have a sore ankle from doing that this week! : )


      4. So the bottom of the greenhouse needs drainage. In order to do that we need some really big rocks inside the foundation first and then some smaller ones and then fine dirt. You do the base out of cinder blocks to lift it off the ground and then fill the inside from there after you mortar everything and level it. After that you can start the framework. VERY time consuming and well everything hurts hahaha.

        Liked by 1 person

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