Kontakt / contact     Hauptseite / page
            principale / pagina principal / home     zurück / retour / indietro / atrás / back

Yehuda Bauer: My Brother's Keeper

A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939

[Holocaust preparations in Europe and resistance without solution of the situation]

The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1974

Transcription with subtitles by Michael Palomino (2007)



Chapter 6. The Beginning of the End
[H. Reactions abroad to the Reichskristallnacht / crystal night and to the split of CSSR]

[6.26. England's policy: 63-65,000 Jewish refugees by the end of 1939]

Great Britain was a special case as far as the refugees were concerned. In the wake of the November pogrom [Crystal Night Nov 1938], Britain's refugee population grew to 13,500 by January 1939. However, both government and public opinion were under a special kind of moral pressure. To a certain degree the government felt responsible for the Munich settlement and for the events that followed. Then there was Palestine, where since October 1938 it had been clear that a pro-Arab compromise that would put an end to Jewish immigration was planned. In early December the government turned a deaf ear to the demand of the Jewish Agency to allow the immigration of 10,000 children from Germany and Austria to Palestine.

(End note 125: Hansard Parliamentary Debates, House of Lords, vol. 111, no. 13, col. 463, 12/8/38, speech by Lord Dufferin)

But it felt that an alternative should be offered. The alternative was to create a sanctuary for children in the United Kingdom itself. In addition, an arrangement was offered whereby Jewish women could come to Britain to work as domestic servants. Other visas for adults with good recommendations could also be obtained. (p.270)

[21 Nov 1938: Britain: 11,000 Jewish refugees bring work for 15,000 Britons]

In the debate on refugees in the British House of Commons on November 21, 1938, the home secretary pointedly referred to the fact that the 11,000 refugees from Hitler who had been admitted to Britain had already provided employment for 15,000 Britons. (p.274)

[End 1939: 63-65,000 Jewish refugees in Britain]

By the end of 1939 there were between 63,000 and 65,000 refugees in Britain. Of these, 9,354 were children and 15,000 were domestic servants.

(End note 126:
-- R21, 1939 draft report;
-- 12-22, report, 1933-43

This large-scale acceptance of Jewish refugees, while welcomed by a large part of the British public, did not go completely unchallenged.

(End note 127: See, for example: Sunday Pictorial, 1/20/39 [20 Jan 1939]: Refugees Get Jobs; Britons Get Dole.

But the climate in Britain in early 1939, and especially later, as it became clear that Hitler would not keep the promise he gave at Munich, was no longer unfavorable to the refugees. Many - 7-8,000 - were liberated from concentration camps on the strength of British entry permits.

[Since Nov 1938: Fund raising by the Council for German Jewry - aid to refugees]

The Council for German Jewry started its collection after the (p.270)

November pogrom [1938]. It collected 850,000 pounds up to the outbreak of war. Of this very large sum, 286,000 pounds were allocated for the care of refugees in England; 145,270 pounds were not allocated at the time but were used later, during the war, to support refugees in Britain. The rest went to support work in Palestine, Shanghai and other places.

[Dec 1938 approx.: Baldwin Fund for Refugees set up]

Others were also making financial efforts. Under Earl Baldwin's leadership, the Baldwin Fund for Refugees was founded; it collected 400,000 pounds. It was estimated that 90 % of the contributors to this fund were Jews; 50 % of the money collected went to support the work of the Council for German Jewry.

(End note 128: Joseph L. Cohen: Salvaging German Jewry; London 1939)

A number of smaller Christian committees were coordinated under the leadership of Lord Hailey in the Christian Council for Refugees.

[Change within the Council for German Jewry: Samuel goes - Reading comes]

The Council for German Jewry itself was transformed; in February, Lord Samuel resigned and Lord Reading became chairman. With this change all pretence that the council represented the American organizations, and especially JDC, came to an end. It became officially what it had long been in fact: a purely British institution, which cooperated with JDC but in no sense represented it.

[Camps for Jewish refugees and emigration expectations]

One of the more fruitful ideas advanced at that hectic time by those favoring the entry of Jewish refugees into Britain was to create large camps for adults and children where the refugees could remain until more permanent homes were found for them. Kahn cabled that the idea was in the "meantime (to) erect camps (and) training centers wherever possible for (the) young generation."

(End note 129: 14-60, Kahn cable, 11/14/38 [14 November 1938])

The largest such camp was opened at Richborough (Kitchener Camp). Of course, the acceptance of refugees into Britain was considered largely a temporary measure, and most, if not all, refugees were expected ultimately to emigrate to other countries.

(End note 130: Hyman at Executive Committee, 1/26/39 [26 January 1939])

[Jewish illegal immigration to England by boat - protection of boat people]

During the last months before the outbreak of war, illegal immigration was attempted even into Britain on a small scale. It is symptomatic that British sailors were reported to have facilitated such immigration and that British judges were inclined to recommend that such immigrants not be deported. (p.271)

(End note 131: 31-Germany, refugees, 1939-42, 2/21/39 [21 February 1939], Adler to Borchardt)