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Will Gorman

Refugee Conference Hardly Inspiring

(May 1943)

Readers of Labor Action Take the Floor ..., Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 38, 24 May 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Dear Editor:

The Anglo-American Conference on Refugees, which met at Hamilton, Bermuda, ended on April 30. Its accomplishments were negligible because the most important problem, that of the Jews, was hardly mentioned. It was considered improper at this conference to even mention the word Jew, though half the European population of Jews has already been destroyed in the course of the war.

The explanation of this was given as follows: “The refugee conference should not be considered as confined to persons of any particular race or faith.” This statement was an attempt to hide the fact that the British would not lower their immigration quota for Palestine. According to the British White Paper, only 75,000 entry permits will be issued until April 1944.

The conference stated that no negotiations with the German government would occur because Hitler’s word could not be trusted. One member, however, got nearer to the state of mind of the conferees by asking that if Hitler did let some of the Jews out of Europe, what would we do with them? To the conference, the sending of a large number of Jews to the United States or Latin America is impractical and not worth discussing. By their lack of action on the Jewish problem, they evidently share Hitler’s plan to colonize Jews in disease-ridden Madagascar.

The work of the conference was further limited by the fact that only British and American delegates were present. Inasmuch as one of the purposes of the conference was to set up an international committee, you can see that from beginning to end it was a hoax. An intergovernmental committee implies the presence of delegates from many countries and not only from the United States, and Great Britain.

The conference did not envisage any broad movement of refugees, but instead discussed the removal of refugees from one military zone to another. It wants the setting up of temporary havens in North Africa and in some British possessions. This could, at the very most, solve the problem of only 100,000 of the refugees of Spain, Cyprus, Iran and other countries of the Middle East.

In summing up the work of the conference, you can use the mild statement of a member of the American advisory group. He said: “The conference showed no imagination. Its scope was extremely too limited.”

Will Gorman

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