Baron Hirsch Program: Argentina Immigration


Map of South America


In 1875, Argentina passed the “Law of Immigration and Colonization.” It included no religious restrictions which made Jewish immigration possible. In 1878-79, the ” Desert Conquest” effectively removed Indian ownership and gave the State an additional 245,000 square miles, mostly unpopulated and unexploited. A new Argentina President took office in 1880 and found himself with this reality and the immigration law as a means to populate the area.

The main thrust for Jewish immigration was the program sponsored by the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) which was founded on August 14,1891 and funded by Baron Maurice de Hirsch and his wife, the Baroness Clara de Bischoffshein. They had lost their only son, Lucien, and decided to honor his memory by helping to improve the well being of the Russian Jews. Originally they tried to negotiate with the Russian government to create a fund to further the education of their Jewish subjects. It was soon clear that sponsoring emigration was more consistent with their objective. Through 1889-1891, the Jewish communities in England and the U.S. were concerned with the possibility that a large influx of Russian Jews would create a backlash and imperil the progress they had made in their countries. This influenced baron Hirsch’s decision to sponsor the Argentinean land purchase program.

The focus of the immigration program was colonization and agriculture, which met the goals of both the Argentinean Government and the ruling elite.

Why leave Russia?

During the period when Argentina was in need of immigrants to populate its newly acquired farm lands, in Russia, a pogrom took place in Elizabethgrad, in the Kherson region of the Ukraine in mid-April 1881. This triggered a wave of similar incidents in the South of Russia. In 1881, Argentina issued a decree appointing an honorary agent in Europe ” with the special charge of directing towards the Argentine Republic the Israelite emigration currently initiated in the Russian Empire.”

The years 1881 and 1882 saw an explosion of violence and pogroms against Jews in the South of Russia. They further intensified as the XIX Century was ending and through the beginning of the XX Century. In April 1881 there was a pogrom in Elizabetgrad, located in the Kherson region of Southern Russia. One incident in April 1903, which took place in Kishinev, capital of the Besarabia Province, was particularly significant not only for the extent (40 dead, 600 hurt) but also because there was very little effort to disguise the involvement of the Ministry of the Interior. Prosecution took also legal shapes: forceful expulsion of those established outside the “Residence Zones”, quotas for the number of Jewish youths with access to higher education. Violence was a daily event and it included all ages and social status.

In 1904 the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese war started (Ukraine was incorporated to Russia at the time). Many Jews perceived this as the ultimate menace: the certain danger of being enlisted and sent to the front, to fight side by side with those who, even in civil life, were persecuting them.

From 1880 and in the early 1900s, emigration to England became difficult. Both, trade unions and members of the Conservative Party formed an unlikely alliance to resist it. Most Jewish immigrants were poor and as such were particularly not desired as refugees. A similar phenomenon occurred in the U.S., starting in 1882. American anti-immigrant phobia increased through the 1890’s. This culminated in the restrictive U.S. quota act of 1921 and the Reed-Johnson quota act of 1924. The trade union movement and xenophobic conservatives were the driving force behind the policies. The resistance was not race-driven but on a desire to restrict “new” immigrants, and Catholics (e.g. Irish and Southern Italians) in particular.

Argentina, however, had ended the 19th Century with a booming agriculture economy. By 1899 there was public pressure to foster immigration. The only concern that dampened this interest was the perceived danger of importing an unwanted number of anarchists. This resulted in the Law of residence of 1902, which empowered the executive to expel new or established immigrants based on their crimes or ideology. Otherwise, the decision to emigrate to Argentina, U.S. or the U.K. and its colonies was very much a matter of personal information and ties with friends or relatives.

 Argentina immigration areas

Carlos Caseres Area Map

The Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) colonies eventually became depopulated. Some of residents left the country, but others were capable farmers who were offered land in private transactions in the South of Buenos Aires Province and in La Pampa. This is how the Jewish settlements were created. In 1904 the JCA bought 247,000 acres Southwest of the Buenos Aires province. The area was designated ” Baron Hirsch” and it was assigned to well-to-do settlers that needed to buy the land. Those with no means were taken as laborers at first and were eventually given land. Thus Jewish agricultural towns like Carlos Casares were created.


  Israel “Sam” Ruben CHARGO’s Immigration Adventure

Sam Chargo, and his two sons, according to his ship manifest, lived for more than a year in Carlos Casares. In 1913 Sam (Srul Schargoroski on the manifest), age 48, arrived in Galveston, TX from Bremen, Germany with his sons Ben (Beril) and Harry (Hersch). They probably came to Galveston as part of a program for getting Jews to America. However, Sam was DEBARRED (Not Admitted) to the U.S. . . . but his sons were admitted. It is not know why he was refused entry. Sam was sent back to South America and eventually returned to America via Ellis Island in 1916. It is not known when Sam departed Galveston, TX returning to Bremen, Germany. While in South America he lived in the small town of Carlos Caseras, near Buenous Aires, Argentina. Sam lived in Argentina for 3 more years before departing again for America in 1916. His wife, Tillie, arrived in America from Europe in 1924. Sam CHARGO arrived at Ellis Island, from Argentina, in 1916 at age 51. His occupation on the ship manifest was listed as farm laborer.

He probably arrived in Argentina sponsored by the Russian Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch. The Baron was a wealthy businessman who dedicated his life to saving Jews. Besides funding other programs assisting Jews in escaping from Europe, he purchased vast lands in Palestine, America, Canada (Western) and Argentina in an effort to create alternate Jewish agricultural colonies.

Baron Hirsch died leaving the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) with almost 9 million pounds sterling and nearly 500,000 acres of land in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Entre Rios. The focus of JCA sponsored immigration was to colonize the land, establishing families that would dedicate themselves to farm work. The plan was for immigrants with money and farming experience would be able to pay their moving and part of their start-up farming expenses.

Sam may have had his passage to Argentina paid by the Hirsch JCA organization. Immigrants to Argentina during 1896-1914 were not taxed to enter (as they were in the U.S.) and were offered free accommodations in the Immigrants Hotel, the “Hotel de Inmigrantes,” Argentina’s version of Ellis Island. Argentina also provided occupational orientation and free transportation to immigrants’ final destinations.

It is probable that Ruben processed through this facility; Records exist that may confirm this. (The CEMLA organization (non-profit Catholic) may have arrival records for Ruben. Fee charged for search. Email: ) After processing, it is possible he worked as a farmer in Carlos Casares until he departed for America. Carlos Casares was located 316 km (about 200 miles) west of the city of Buenos Aires, in the Province of Buenos Aires. It was served by the Argentina Western Railway called “Ferro Carril Oeste,” abbreviated F.C.O. which was normally appended to town names indicating that the rail line served it. If you look closely at the maps, you will note the rail line next to the town. And the Vauban ship manifest listed Ruben’s residence as Carlos Casares, F.C.O.

It is also possible that other Chargo – Shargorodsky relatives lived there too. The ‘Asociation de Genealogia Judia de Argentina’ has names of 10 “Scgargorodsky’s” in their records (6 arrived in ships of the Baron Hirsch program). If Ruben changed his name after arriving in Argentina he may be one of these names. Additionally, they have the names of 50 “Scharagorodsky’s” in their burial records. Fee charged for search. email: web:

Lastly, the town of Carlos Casares has a museum with some Jewish records.

Carlos Caseres Town Sign

Interactive map of Carlos Caseres

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