Epilogue, courtesy Ken Craggs:
At the Evian Conference in 1938, and the Bermuda conference in 1943, all the major countries refused to take Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.
After ten days of intense discussion, it was clear that the Jewish refugees were not to be allowed in any country. Golda Meir, later Foreign Minister and Prime Minister of the State of Israel, wrote about the conference many years later: “sitting there in that magnificent hall and listening to the delegates of thirty-two countries rise, each in turn, to explain how much they would have liked to take in substantial numbers of refugees and how unfortunate it was that they were not able to do so, was a terrible experience.”
The Dominican Republic was finally the only state that was willing to take a certain number of Jews. The result of the conference was a disaster: With specious arguments most of the participating countries had refused to help the Jews. On 13 July 1938, the German newspaper “Völkischer Beobachter” commented: “No one wants them.”
In 1943, after seven months – on Dec. 10, 1943 – the report of the Bermuda conference was published. Its only positive decision – to revive the Evian Committee – came too late to save a single Jew from the Nazi Holocaust.
In 1938 the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) participated in an advisory committee for the Evian Conference on refugees from Germany and Austria. The U.S. and many other countries failed to change their immigration laws, and little progress was made in finding havens for Jewish refugees, More about the JDC here,
During the conference, the British government made it very clear that it would not be able to increase its quota for refugees, citing high levels of unemployment. France also said that they were “at the extreme point of saturation”. The Australian delegate reported “as we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.” Other countries also cited the economic depression and population levels as a reason why they could not increase refugee quotas.
Only the Dominican Republic volunteered to take in up to 100,000 refugees, but then only in return for large amounts of money. In actual fact only 800 refugees entered the country and most of those moved on to the United States. Hitler noted how ”astounding” it was that, even though these countries criticised Germany for its treatment of the Jews, they nevertheless refused to open their borders to them.
The British delegate to the conference apologised to the Germans for interfering. The Evian conference sent Hitler the signal he needed: foreign governments would not interfere in his anti-Jewish policies.
The Evian Conference stands in historical perspective as a critical turning point. At the conference, the world’s democracies made it clear that they were willing to do next to nothing for the Jews of Europe. Several months later, Kristallnacht signaled to the world that Jews no longer could live under Nazi rule, while at Evian, the world had shown it would not make room for those Jews. The world’s doors, closed at Evian, remained shut throughout World War II.
On the website of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre we read that “During the period prior to the outbreak of World War II, the Germans were in favour of Jewish emigration. At that time, there were no operative plans to kill the Jews. The goal was to induce them to leave, if necessary, by the use of force.
It is also important to recognize the attitude of German Jewry. While many German Jews were initially reluctant to emigrate, the majority sought to do so following Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), November 9-10, 1938. Had havens been available, more people would certainly have emigrated.”
To carry out the “Final Solution” across an entire continent, the Germans required the collaboration and complicity of many individuals in every country, from leaders, public officials, police, and soldiers to ordinary citizens.
Many thanks to “Distant Relative” and also to Ken Craggs, plus to those who commented.
The attempt was to look at as many aspects of the Jews [as we erroneously know them] as was possible, also attempting to avoid the connections with Christianity and Islam over the eons.
There is so much wild emotion in relation to these peoples, something seen in the Evian conference of 1938 [Part eleven], that I thought I’d try to present as neutral a look as possible.