Menu JTA Search

American Embassy in Vichy Vigorously Protests Deportation of Jews

The United States Embassy at Vichy “has made the most vigorous representations possible to the highest authorities” concerning the recent deportation of thousands of Jews from unoccupied France, it was disclosed here today when the American Jewish Committee made public a letter it had received from Under-Secretary of State Summer Welles.

The letter was a response to a joint protest made last week by the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith and the Jewish Labor Committee. Mr. Welles letter, addressed to Morris D. Waldman, General Secretary of the American Jewish Committee, said:

“I have received your communication of August 27, 1942 enclosing a letter, signed by the Presidents of the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the B’nai B’rith and the Jewish Labor Committee, in regard to the mass deportation of Jewish Refugees from unoccupied France. I am in complete agreement with the statement made concerning this tragic situation which provides a new shock to the public opinion of the civilized world. It is deeply regretted that these measures should be taken in a country traditionally noted for adherence to the principles of equality, freedom and tolerance.

“The American embassy at Vichy has reported fully to the department concerning developments in regard to these deportations and, in compliance with instructions sent by the department, has made most vigorous representations possible to the highest authorities at Vichy. I assure you that the department and the embassy will take an active interest in this matter.”

TEXT OF JEWISH APPEAL TO STATE DEPARTMENT

The letter of the Jewish organizations, which requested that a formal protest be made by the government of the United States to the government of France, summarized the situation as follows: “Reports reaching us from reliable sources concur in stating that the government of France is permitting the forcible mass deportation by the Nazis of Jewish refugees who have been interned in a number of camps in the south of France. This action began about August 8th when a total of 3,600 men, women and children were rounded up, loaded on trains and sent off without any word regarding their destination. The reports agree that these 3,600 were the first contingent of a total of 10,000 Jewish refugees which the French government has agreed to deport to Eastern territories. It is stated furthermore that should

“The refugees now in internment camps in southern France are the remainder of a very much larger number made up chiefly of two groups – first, emigres from Poland and other European lands who had taken up residence in France, and emigres from Germany, who before the outbreak of the war had been accorded refuge in France, all of whom at the time of the invasion were interned as aliens; second, former residents of the German Palatinate and of Alsace-Lorraine who had been deported, virtually without prior notice, to unoccupied France and interned there by the French government. These men, women and children, many of whom had already been uprooted from their homes and stripped of all their belongings, are innocent victims of the cruel and fantastic race dogmas of the Nazis.”

The letter also cited the “long and honorable humanitarian tradition” of the United States Government, and suggested that a protest might dissuade Vichy “from becoming an accomplice in yet another of the long series of barbaric’ crimes which President Roosevelt denounced in his warning on August 21 to the Nazi regime.” The letter was signed by Maurice Wertheim, President of the American Jewish Committee; Stephen S. Wise, President of the American Jewish Congress; Henry Monsky, President of B’nai B’rith and Adolph Held, President of the Jewish Labor Committee.

NEXT STORY