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Excuses from Évian

The Jewish community takes stock of the international refugee conference

“As always, we Jews are merely objects, not partners on an equal footing. To realize this is especially painful on the 34th anniversary of Theodor Herzl's death, but the fact that close to 40 Jewish organizations participated in Évian as mere spectators indicates well enough how little even we Jews - even in matters of our own existence as a people - have progressed.”


After the Anschluss, the problem of refugees from Germany and Austria became even more pressing. In order to address the issue, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt had called for an international conference in Évian in July, 1938. The conference was anticipated with great hopes by the German-Jewish community but, due to the refusal of the international community to adjust immigration quotas to actual needs, the impact of Évian was extremely limited. Nevertheless, the Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt für Rheinland und Westfalen (Jewish Community Newsletter for Rhineland and Westphalia) tried to present some positive results by pointing out the readiness of several South American countries to absorb Jewish refugees. Regardless of the palpable attempt to remain hopeful, the underlying tone of this front page article in the July 23 issue is not one of excessive optimism.


on the days before