Lucien Wolf Describes How National Minorities Treaties Were Drafted

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service)

Considerable light on the efforts of Anglo-Jewry toward the securing of the treaties guaranteeing the rights of national minorities was shed by Lucien Wolf, secretary of the Joint Foreign Committee of the Anglo-Jewish Association and the Board of Jewish Deputies, in his address at a dinner given in his honor by the Jewish Historical Society of England.

“The Minorities Treaties were especially noteworthy for three things,” Mr. Wolf said. “They had, in the first place, secured the constitutional emancipation of all the formerly oppressed minorities in Eastern Europe. In the second place, they had corrected the old democratic principle of Equal Rights for All by stipulating the Right of Equal Value in the cases of social, religious and linguistic minorities to whom ordinary equal rights might prove useless or even oppressive. And finally by investing the League of Nations with the guarantee of the Minorities Treaties they had provided an effective machinery for assuring their execution.

“All that was as much the work of the Jewish Delegations in Paris as of the Peace Conference. Indeed, originally, the Peace Conference did not contemplate special Minorities Treaties at all but proposed to re-enact the impotent and discredited civil and religious clauses of the Treaty of Berlin, practically without alteration. It was only when this was accidentally discovered by the Jewish Delegations from whom it evoked a strong protest, that the Commission des Nouveaux Etats was formed and charged with the preparation of the Treaties as they are now known. Our own delegation in Paris,” Mr. Wolf declared, “during the whole of 1919 collaborated very actively with the Commission des Nouveaux Etats. In fact, it was the Anglo-Jewish Delegation that first proposed the creation of the Commission, and it was on the draft of the Anglo-Jewish Delegation of a Treaty that the Commission worked. It was we, too, who were responsible for the vital suggestion that the Treaties should proceed under the guarantee of the League of Nations and it was we who, in conjunction with the Alliance Israelite, drafted the important Article VII of the Roumanian Treaty which rendered impossible a repetition of the evasions of the Treaty of Berlin by which a community of 400,000 Jews had been condemned for over forty years to a status of permanent alienage in their own country.

“Although the old feuds between minorities and majorities in Eastern Europe,” Mr. Wolf continued, “are even now far from healed, the Minorities Treaties have effected an immense beneficial change in the condition of the formerly persecuted and outlawed minorities. Their emancipation has become a reality, they are everywhere citizens and nationals of the countries to which they belong, and everywhere they exercise the Parliamentary Franchise, and are represented in the Legislatures. That constitutes a great step forward in the solution of the minority problems. It is true that infractions of the Minorities Treaties still take place and that the relations between the Jews and non-Jews in Eastern Europe are still poisoned with anti-Semitism, but we must remember that the League of Nations is doing much to neutralize these things. The mere existence of the League of Nations, the mere fact that appeals can be made to it, compel the fulfillment of the obligations laid down in the Minorities Treaties. All the Minorities States desire to stand well with the League of Nations. They prefer negotiating first, to getting into disfavor with the League of Nations.”

He had been lately reproached, Mr. Wolf continued, for not insisting more frequently on the rights of appeal. But he feels very strongly that to do this would in the long run defeat the main objects of the Treaties themselves. “We must look forward to the eventual establishment of permanent peace between minorities and majorities based upon mutual understanding, upon a common nationality, a common patriotism and common interests. But that vision can never be realized if the minorities are encouraged to treat their rights under the Minority Treaties in a litigious and separatist spirit. We have every reason to believe that this policy is proving successful in spite of recent deplorable events in Roumania. We have already travelled far toward the goal and look with confidence to the time when normal conditions prevail and Minorities Treaties will be allowed to repose in the archives, having ceased to have any relation to practical politics,” he stated.

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