British Trade Union Body Urges Intensification of Nazi Boycott
Menu JTA Search

British Trade Union Body Urges Intensification of Nazi Boycott

Download PDF for this date

The Jews of England must push the economic boycott against German-made goods to the utmost and strike a blow on behalf of the persecuted Jews of Germany and “of all lovers of freedom throughout the world,” Walter Citrine, secretary of the British Trade Union Council and president of the International Federation of Trade Unions, told a meeting of Jewish workers of the furniture and tailoring trades, convened by the Jewish Representative Council at Shoreditch town hall.


Mr. Citrine urged his audience to buy British and upheld the economic boycott as the only means of combatting the Nazi regime which, he declared, had lowered the standard of living in Germany by fifty per cent.”

Commander Oliver Locker-Lampson, Conservative member of Parliament, declared that the British “will stand by Jewry in its distress.” He urged the necessity of Palestine becoming an integral part of the British Empire and pointed out the benefits which would accrue. The League of Nations, he declared, seemed powerless to act in the crisis, but Great Britain was “willing to aid the distressed Jewish people.”

“This campaign embodies no political stunt; it is combination of individuals who want fair play, not for themselves or their groups, but for all humanity,” said Mr. Citrine, referring to the boycott.

“The trade union movement came into this boycott without hesitation or pondering of economic considerations, because it knew that those in power in Germany were beyond the ordinary decent ideals of mankind; and because it realized that only economic pressure could bring home to Germany that it does not pay to tyrannize. Our trade union movement at the time of the height of the post-war embitterment against Germany protested against the hate spirit. Both then and since the labor movement has tried to secure for Germany that equality of treatment which we should have demanded had we been in her place.


“All who believed that racial discrimination belongs only to the Middle Ages felt that they must make their protest. The labor movement stands for freedom, freedom in the political, religious and economic spheres. It believes that the workers and citizens of all lands should live in amity. Because this principle has been outraged we have found it necessary to take part in this campaign.

“How can we make our protest most effective? There is no organized public opinion in Germany; therefore some method other than appealing to German opinion is necessary; and that is the method of this representative council. Dr. Schacht himself has said that the boycott has been the chief reason for the fall in German exports, and for Germany’s inability to pay interest on her foreign debts. The loss on the German state railways last year from their own figures was £23,000,000, largely due to foreign traders and tourists not using the German lines.


“The only safe guide is to buy British. We are trying to secure legislation that under the Merchandise Marks Act goods must be marked with the source of origin.

“I know the argument that a boycott will only damage the position of the Jews in Germany. But only as other nations have made their protests felt has the present regime in Germany slackened in intensity. Your Jewish compatriots there can’t tell you what they feel. But you traders can make your protests felt by action in the furniture and tailoring trades as it was in the fur trade.


“You employees must realize that Germany has so degraded the standard of life that wages there now are only a half of those current two years ago.

“There is not only a subversive movement against the present Nazi regime going on underground on the part of the German workers; but the industrialists and financiers also feel that the Hitler regime cannot continue. My forecast is that there will be a domination by the army with Hitler shoved into the background. Everyone in Germany realizes that this madness cannot go on. Will not you give it the final push? The Jewry of Great Britain will say with unanimous voice that it is determined to strike a blow not only on behalf of your liberty and that of your brethren, but on behalf of all lovers of freedom throughout the world,” Mr. Citrine concluded.


“The Nazis have gone out to destroy Jewish honor not only in Germany but all over the world; they desire that Jews should not be allowed equal citizenship in any country,” P. Horowitz, joint chairman of the Jewish Representative Council, declared.

“Here are a few telling figures; for four months of last year the imports from Germany to this country of furniture and veneers were 135,000 kilos, for the corresponding period of this year they were only 69,000 kilos; but on the other hand, unfortunately, the import of plywood has risen by thirty-three per cent.


“Until the Jews are given back equal status there will be no trading with Germany — that is our platform.”

Mr. Nadler, representing the tailoring trade, urged that there should be no copying of German models and no handling of German cloth.

A resolution was passed pledging the association of furniture trades, tailors and makers of women’s garments to refrain from handling German goods so long as racial discrimination continues in Germany.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund