LONDON (Mar. 20)
The British Government is consulting with other governments on the new refugee problem created by German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia and will do “whatever they can to mitigate the consequences of recent events,” Foreign Secretary Viscount Halifax said today in a statement to the House of Commons.
The Foreign Secretary said that in recent weeks migration of Sudeten Germans and other classes of refugees had been proceeding on the whole smoothly. He continued:
“Some hundreds of refugees received permission to enter Czecho-Slovakia before German occupation. Urgent instructions were sent to His Majesty’s Minister in Prague to do his best to expedite the issue of permits and accelerate the departure of persons on the British list. We instructed His Majesty’s Ambassador in Berlin to make urgent representations direct to Germany and ask them to put no obstacle in the way of the departure of the refugees on the British list.
“In arrangements for financial assistance to Czecho-Slovakia, 14,000,000 had been set aside to be employed for this purpose. We take the view that if proper safeguards can be established this money should, if possible, still be available for the purpose for which it was intended, but I am in no position at present to tell the House how or whether, with due safeguards, that end in fact could be achieved.
“The Government are consulting with other Governments, but further refugees will now be added to those of Czecho-Slovakia. The Government are doing and will continue to do whatever they can to mitigate the consequences of recent events. But it is quite plain that anything we attempt depends on the attitude of the German Government.”
Prague dispatches continued to report numerous Jewish suicides. Over the weekend 20 Jews, including a High Court judge and a banker, were taken to hospitals after unsuccessful attempts at suicide. Persecution of Jews in Slovakia, Nazi protectorate, was reported widespread. Jews in the town of Bardejou were collectively fined $10,500 for alleged offense.
A Federation of Czech Jews was formed here today to supplement the work of the British Committee for Czech Refugees. H.A. Goodman was elected chairman.
A conference of sectional refugee committees, meeting yesterday at Oxford under the chairmanship of Lord Hailey, urged the British Government to allot for refugee and accelerated emigration of Jewish children from Germany the remainder of the planned Â£10,000,000 loan to former Czecho-Slovakia. The conference adopted a resolution for closer cooperation with the Coordinating Committee for Refugees, urging Government financial assistance and emphasizing that refugee work had passed the stage of voluntary efforts. It also suggested the committee investigate settlement possibilities of the Negev, southern Palestine.
Plans for the purchase of a 100-acre estate at Swansea, Wales, to provide schools and training colleges for refugee children were announced by the Rev. Rees Howells, director of the Biblical College of Wales. The project will cost between $400,000 and $500,000.