League to Get Petition Urging Intercession for Reich Minorities
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League to Get Petition Urging Intercession for Reich Minorities

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A petition signed by liberal, Jewish and refugee aid organizations appealing to the League of Nations to intercede in behalf of persecuted groups in Germany on the principal ground that their forced emigration imposes unwarranted burdens on neighboring nations was made public today by the American Jewish Committee at a press conference.

Simultaneously, it was announced that definite assurances had been received from an important member state of the League, the name of which could not be divulged, that the petition would be formally presented to the eighteenth plenary meeting of the League Assembly in September. It supports the letter of resignation of James G. McDonald, former High Commissioner for Refugees, which is on the Assembly’s agenda.

The petition is to be officially circulated to the member states of the League before the session. It is accompanied by a 36,000-word annex giving precedents and legal grounds for international action in behalf of persecuted groups in the Reich. The document was ten months in preparation. International lawyers helped to draw it up.

Among those present at the conference were Prof. Morris R. Cohen, chairman of the Committee on Jewish Relations, who emphasized legal precedents for intercession; Dr. Henry Smith Leiper, secretary of the American Christian Committee for German Refugees; Sol S. Stroock, chairman of the executive committee of the American Jewish Committee and Louis Fabricant, of B’nai B’rith.

Among the organizations sponsoring the petition are the American Christian Committee, the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Alliance Israelite Universelle, Comite pour le Defense d’Israelites, Comite National de Secours aux Refugees, Comite Central d’Assistance and Emigrants and the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme. Other important organizations are expected to become signatories before September.

The petition points out that “the discriminations against and persecutions of Jews, ‘non-Aryan’ Christians, Catholics, Protestants and others which have been made a matter of national policy by the German National Socialist Government, and the relentless increase of this oppression, have, because of their far-reaching effects in many other countries where the oppressed are forced to seek refuge, become issues of international concern, meriting consideration and intercession by the League of Nations.”

Emphasizing the League’s obligation to “achieve international peace and security,” the document charges that Germany has violated fundamental principles of the law of nations and violated the rights of other States which have been forced to assume the burden of a refugee problem. This burden has been increased by de-nationalization of thousands after entering neighboring countries, the petition says.


The document calls attention to “a system of espionage and terrorism directed against refugees from Germany and entailing the direct responsibility of the German Government.” It lists nine cases of kidnappings and murders of refugees in other countries.

The 57-page index elaborates and sustains the appeal. It declares in one chapter that the alleged cause of discrimination is “racial” difference, but that the fundamental fact is that innocent persons are deprived of essential and primary human rights. International law and sovereign States have accepted the theory that intercession is justified to uphold basic human rights, the index says.

The petition quotes historic examples of such international action beginning with the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 and including the United States protest in 1902 against persecution of Jews in Rumania.

Declaring that no State can be obliged to suffer in silence the consequences which may follow from the unqualified freedom of action adopted by the German state with respect to its own citizens, the annex lists the following as violations of the rights of other States:

1. The forced emigration from Germany of thousands of individuals and their imposition upon the territory of neighboring states;

2. The denationalization of and refusal to accord full diplomatic protection to thousands of individuals who have thereby been cast stateless upon other countries;

3. The attempt to exercise extraterritorial criminal jurisdiction, which has taken the form of acts of violence and terrorism in the territory of neighboring states.


With reference to forced emigration from Germany, President Harrison’s statement in his annual message of Dec. 9, 1891, is quoted. Speaking of policies then pursued by Russia toward her Jewish subjects, he said:

“The banishment, whether by direct decree or by no less certain indirect methods, of so large a number of men and women is not a local question. A decree to leave one country is, in the nature of things, an order to enter another–some other.”

Two previous instances in which large scale forced emigrations have been considered violations of international law are cited: The American note to Rumania in 1902 and the protest of the Powers at the Lausanne conference in 1923 against Turkey’s refusal following the war to receive back its Armenian nationals.

The legal chapter of the annex concludes with a study of the pledge given by Germany to protect its minorities within its territory, adding that although the Jews of Germany in 1919 were not regarded as a minority, they have now been defined as such and therefore are entitled to the legal protection which the German State pledged to the allies in 1919.

Describing efforts already made by the League on this situation, the annex cites the League Council’s decision in 1933 that discriminatory legislation against “non-Aryans” in Upper Silesia was a violation of German obligations and the Assembly’s reaffirmation that Fall that countries not bound by Minorities Treaties should nevertheless observe their standard in treatment of minorities.

The need for further action, the petition concludes, is imperative. A steady stream of refugees, stateless and impoverished, keeps flowing into other countries, the document says, and Germany shows no signs of having been moved by the League’s mild resolutions in 1933. It asks reconsideration and holds League intercession is required.

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