Sosua with Czech history

Sosúa with Czech history

Sosúa with Czech history

The city of the Dominican Reoublic called Sosúa which lies near Puerto Plata on the northern side of the island almost 75 years ago had become a “promised land” for dozens of persecuted Czech Jews. However, only a small part of them  reached the city. Mostly because of the circumstanes during the war.

A Jewish organization – DORSA – was established to help Jewish refugees to settle in the Caribbean and to establish a Jewish enclave on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic was the only country which granted the asylum to the Jews who were threatened witht the exterminated by the Nazis in 1938.

The then Dominican dictator – Rafael Trujillo, generously offered to receive up to 100,000 refugees. Among these were Jews from then Czechoslovakia, most of whom from Ostrava city. Their delegation leaded by Ferdinand Hodja and Bruno Kolko arrived in the Caribbean on February 1st 1939 to sign an agreement with the Dominican government to accept up to a thousand Jews from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. They were promised that refugees would be free of shelter and would be exempt from the obligation to pay taxes for two years. In addition, 80 hectares of land, 10 cows, mule and horse were promised to each asylum-seeker.

The Jews should have replaced the murdered black people.

Trujilli’s generosity probably stemmed from the need to improve his reputation on the international scene after he had brutally massacred 25,000 people in Haiti. Another reason could be that he didn’t like black people. He wanted European men to marry Dominican women and to have children with a lighter skin color. For this reason, more men and less women were preferentially accepted into the Dominican Republic.

The journey of the Jews to their new promised land was not easy at all. Above all, due to the bureaucracy in the countries they had to go through, only 650 people out of 100,000 originally planned reached the Dominican Republic. The remaining Jews mostly died in concentration camps. After 1942, it was no longer possible for the Jews to enter the Caribbean at all due to the warships and submarines from Germans.


The artists became farmers

Life in the Caribbean, however, for many Jews was more than hard. Most of them never worked manually and had no experience with farming – most of them were artists and half of them were over fifty. The only way of livelihood in the Caribbean was agriculture. Still, they have become used to a new way of life and founded a successful Jewish cooperative – Productos Sosua, which today produces most of the meat and dairy products in the country. The richest citizen of Sosúa is one of the original settlers from Vienna – Erik Hauser, who today is owner of one house block in a lucrative district with hotels and restaurants.

Touristic Sosúa city

Nowadays, there are about 150 Jews living in Sosúa (many of Jews moved to the US after the war). They have their synagogue, schools and a museum dedicated to the history of the Jewish settlement.

Tropical Sión – how the city was called, however 30 years ago began to change in the increasingly busy touristic area well known mainly for American, English and German tourists. Many of them found their second home here.


Flora and fauna in the Dominican Republic
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