by Abraham Chicheportiche
Exactly 81 years ago the Evian Conference on the Jews, took place from July 6-15, 1938
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Evian 1938 and Europe 2019
Helpless in the face of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed an international conference to rescue Jews who no longer wanted to live in Germany.
The so-called cvilized world gathers from 6 to 14 July 1938 at the Royal Hotel Evian, on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Several factors determine the ebb and flow of the emigration of Jews from Germany at different times. These include the degree of pressure on the Jewish community in Germany and the willingness of other countries to admit Jewish immigrants. With the intensification of legal repression and physical violence, many Jews wish to flee Germany.
Until October 1941, German policy officially encourages Jewish emigration. Gradually, however, the Nazis sought to deprive Jews fleeing Germany of their property by levying an increasing emigration tax and limiting the amounts that could be transferred abroad by German banks.
In January 1933, there are about 550,000 Jews in Germany, less than 1% of the total population of the country.
Despite the adoption of the Nuremberg Laws in September 1935, as well as subsequent subordinate decrees depriving German Jews of their civil rights, Jewish emigration remains more or less constant.
Categorical refusal: "Jews for sale; even at a low price, nobody wants them! "
32 countries are represented in Evian (excepting Germany, the USSR and Czechoslovakia) to assert their refusal to open their doors to the persecuted German Jews, described as "refugees" (never during the conference, does it openly refer to Jews).
The participants know that a large part of the Jews suffer persecution in Germany and Austria in 1938, so this sign of weakness on the part of Westerners makes it possible to intensify anti-Jewish persecution throughout Europe.
Their refusal was based on prejudices or assumptions, rather than facts, as the Australian representative admits:
"In the present circumstances, Australia can not do more ... We do not have a significant racial problem and we do not want to import one."
France returns to its borders the 10,000 German Jews it had welcomed in 1933. Georges Bonnet, Minister of Foreign Affairs, entrusts to his German counterpart Von Ribbentrop his wish to no longer receive Jews.
Switzerland estimates that it has already exceeded its quota of Austrian refugees and reinstated visas with its neighbor. It will even ask Germany to stamp the letter J on the passports of its Jewish nationals in order to more easily identify them and push them back to the border!
Only one country offers to welcome them: the Dominican Republic led by the dictator Trujillo, but this offer is refused.
The very active and triumphant German propaganda headlines the day after the conference: "Jews for sale; even at a low price, nobody wants them " Hitler, in the days that follow, does not hesitate to taunt Westerners on this failure:
"It was shameful to see the democracies dripping with pity for the Jewish people and to be unmoved when it comes to really helping the Jews! "
After the November 9th and 10th 1938 Crystal Night, when violent anti-Jewish pogroms take place in Germany, Jewish emigration intensifies. Despite the difficulty of finding a destination, about 36,000 Jews manage to leave Germany and Austria in 1938 and 77,000 in 1939.
Many emigrants make their way to Palestine despite the blockade imposed by the British who repel them so as not to antagonize the Arabs and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, who will become Hitler's ally a few months later. offering Muslim fighters to assist the Nazi machine.
More than 18,000 Reich Jews are also able to find refuge in Shanghai, China, a city under Japanese occupation.
But the failures are cruel.
In May 1939, the steamer Saint-Louis, driven back from Cuba and Florida by the United States, must return to Hamburg with nearly 900 Jewish refugees.
In October 1941, when the emigration of the Jews was officially banned, the number of Jews still in Germany has fallen to 163,000. The vast majority of Jews who remained in Germany were murdered in the ghettos and Nazi camps during the Holocaust.
Would a generous action at the end of the conference have changed the course of history?
July 6-15, 1938 will remain the conference of shame where no salvage decision was made.
Compassion is a universal virtue that makes us sensitive to the misfortunes of others, but was sorely lacking in the so-called civilized world at this conference.
Unable to openly show their hatred of the Jews, it is against Israel that the anti-Semitic European leaders now show their hatred.
There was no reason for them to disappear after the Holocaust, nor did their views change, and they are still very active In fact, they have found the way to to act against the Jews by outsourcing their desire for pogroms to the Palestinian Arabs.
Abraham Chicheportiche, born in Paris France, began writing articles in response to the exponential rise in anti-Semitism and hostility to Israel in the wake of 9/11 and is a contributor on Dreuz and other sites. He studied in the US, then made Alyah in 2012 and lives in Southern Israel.
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