Geneva (May. 26)
The obscure and, until recently, completely unknown Franz Bernheim today won a complete victory over anti-Semitic Germany when the German delegation to the League of Nations was compelled to take the defensive before the world with a declaration, made at the public session of the League’s Council, throwing blame for violation of the rights of the Jewish minority in Upper Silesia upon the shoulders of subordinate agencies.
All German efforts behind the scenes to quash the Bernheim case, presented in the form of a petition to the League by the former resident of the plebiscite areaâ€”efforts which the German delegation continued even so late as this morningâ€”suffered sudden failure when the Council, after a closed session this morning, decided to discuss the Bernheim case at today’s public session although the matter was not on the agenda of the meeting.
This sudden turn of events brightened Jewish prospects which only an hour or two earlier, seemed at their lowest. But the real surprise, however, came when Her. Friedrich von Keller, head of the German delegation, declared, “I have communicated to the German Government, with no delay, the petition from Franz Bernheim submitted a few days ago. The German Government has authorized me to make the following statement:
“It is unnecessary to say that international conventions concluded by Germany cannot be affected by internal German legislation. Should infringements of the provisions of Geneva conventions have occurred in Upper Silesia, this could only be the result of errors committed by subordinate organs acting in erroneous interpretation of the law’.”
This startling action in admitting guilt but blaming minor officials created a tremendous impression. The new rapporteur on minorities, Sean Lester, of the Irish Free State delegation, thereupon rose and declared he was submitting the Bernheim case for the consideration of the Council and asked for debate on it tomorrow.
It is, therefore, definite that a full discussion of the Bernheim matter will occur tomorrow when a full-dress debate on the general German Jewish position is expected to follow.
The shifting of blame for the anti-Jewish discriminations in Silesia on minor officials was ridiculed here today in League circles as a foolish diplomatic declaration. Even the coincidence that the German Graf Zeppelin flew over the League building while the Bernheim case was being discussed, did not help to save Germany from the ironical comments heard in the lobbies and corridors from leading diplomats and others present at the session.
While the declaration does not commit the government of Chancellor Hitler expressly to recognize Jewish rights in Upper Silesia, it is nevertheless believed the restoration of Jewish rights there will follow. This is expected also to influence favorably the entire question of the Jews throughout the entire Reich.
Much credit is being given here