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William Gorman

State Department Dooms Refugees

(December 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 51, 20 December 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Last week a congressional committee was considering a bill to set up a special commission “to effectuate the rescue of the Jewish people of Europe,” The State Department came out against this move, as it obviously meant that the jurisdiction of the State Department over the refugee problem was going to be challenged by the contemplated new commission.

Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to give the opinions of his department. The New York Times reported that his testimony on the bill “... indicated Mr. Long’s feeling that such legislation would ... constitute a criticism of what the State Department has done quietly toward this end.”

In answer to any such criticism, Long insisted that the record of his department was good and that it had done everything possible for the victimized Jews of Europe. But as usual with the State Department, what Long didn’t say is more important than what he said. One thing is clear: the State Department insists that its handling of the refugee question remain a secret buried in its dusty files in Washington.

The Record of Ten Years

It is worth while here to review the record. Not for the sake of Long; he knows it too well. That is precisely why he doesn’t discuss it in public.

In 1933, Secretary of State Hull assured the American Jewish Congress that the anti-Semitic wave in Germany would be stopped by the Nazi government. Anyway, that is what the Nazis said.

By 1938 it had become clear that the Nazis were the instigators and not the preventers of pogromism. An international conference was called at Evian, Switzerland, to discuss ways and means of saving the lives off German Jews. But just as in the disarmament conferences everybody urged everybody else to disarm, so here too, every country urged every other country to open their doors wide. In fact, it was at that time that dead bodies were washed up on the shores of Palestine; the bodies of Jewish refugees who tried to swim from their ships anchored out on the sea, because they had no visas!

It was the same year in which the two great “democrats,” Chamberlain and Daladier, flew to Hitler and Mussolini in Munich. They all posed smilingly for pictures. But not one word was said, not one move was made to save or even to alleviate the desperate plight of German Jewry.

And More Recently

The death agony of European Jewry has aroused great protest in this country and England. The diplomats tried to save their shamed faces with another conference, this time in Bermuda. No delegates from organized Jewry were allowed; detailed reports of the rescue of European Jewry, reports which would have inspired hope and, courage in Europe’s most cruelly oppressed people, were never issued. Representative Sol Bloom, who attended the Bermuda Conference, openly stated that the conference did not lift a finger to halt the slaughter of the Jews of Nazified Europe.

Well known liberals such as Leon Henderson, Dean Alfange and Congressman Will Rogers, Jr., all have severely criticized the Allied governments for their inaction.

Dr. Israel Goldstein declared before the Jewish Conference earlier this year that feasible programs for the rescue of European Jewry were presented to the governments but “the will for great salvation is weak.”

Eliahu Doblain, a deputy member of the Jewish Agency of Palestine, said in a report: “Many opportunities for saving Jewish refugees were lost because there weren’t enough immigration certificates and they weren’t given out in time.”

A few days after Long’s defense of the State Department, Representative Emanuel Celler challenged Long to give the figures of how many Jews entered this country in the last few years compared with the number who requested admission.

A week ago the Intergovernmental Refugee Commission, which was set up in Bermuda and is now in London, declared that Jews would no longer be permitted to present proposals in person before the commission. The reasons are very simple: the Jews are bitterly critical of Allied complacency about the extermination of European Jewry. So the commission slams the door in their face. A befitting climax to ten years of “saving” the Jews of Europe.

Friends of the Jews?

When the State Department starts describing how virtuous it is, it only probes the worst depths of cynical hypocrisy. For years the main activity of this organized expression of American reaction has been to defend and befriend Europe’s fascists: Salazar, Franco, the men of Vichy, Prince Otto, the Hungarian pretender, and all the tottering crowns of Europe. The Jews did not get a tenth of the sympathy and active friendship that these henchmen of reaction received from the State Department.

There was always a suspicious smell about the State Department’s attitude and action for “the suffering Jews of Europe. Long’s defense, given in secret testimony, was supposed to clear the air. But it only made the stench more distinctly putrid.

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