Menu JTA Search

Churchill Intervened Against Mistreatment of Jews in Polish Army, Eden Reveals

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Prime Minister Churchill has discussed the question of anti-Semitism in the Polish Army with Polish Prime Minister Mikolajezyk, it was revealed in the House of Commons today by Foreign Minister Anthony Eden.

The debate on the mistreatment of Jewish soldiers in the Polish armed forces was resumed in Commons today with a number of members of Parliament demanding that the British Government act to secure the transfer of Jewish soldiers from the Polish Army to British units. Replying, Mr. Eden said that he is not prepared to intervene with the Polish Government for any further transfer of Polish Jews into the British forces.

“Our ambassador to the Polish Government, acting upon my instructions, has brought to the attention of the Polish authorities the full report of the debate in this house which was held on April 6,” Mr. Eden said. “He impressed upon them the importance which His Majesty’s Government attaches to the Polish Government continuing to intensify its efforts to eradicate manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Polish forces in this country and that all steps are taken to ensure that this policy be translated into appropriate action.”

Eden added that the Polish Government is keeping the British Government informed of the inquiries which are being made into anti-Jewish activities in the Polish Army, but that these inquiries are not yet completed. Referring to the sentences imposed by a Polish court-martial on 21 Jewish soldiers who left the Polish Army because of anti-Semitism and came to London to join the British forces, he said that he understood that these sentences, ranging from one to two years imprisonment, are subject to confirmation by higher Polish authorities. “I am sure that these authorities will give full weight to extenuating circumstances,” he declared.

COMMONS “NOT SATISFIED” WITH POLISH ACTION ON JEWS

John Mack, Laborite, pointed out in the course of the debate that the polish military authorities “have violated the very principle of democracy and humanity” by allowing anti-Semitism in the army. He urged Eden to draw the attention of the Polish Government to the fact that “the House of Commons is not satisfied with the action it has taken by instituting a court-martial against mistreated Jewish soldiers and not against those who mistreated them.” He demanded that the British Government reopen its negotiations with the Polish authorities for the transfer of Jews from the Polish Army to the British.

Tom Driberg, Independent, also insisted on the transfer of Jews in the Polish Army. He pointed out that the number of Jews in the Polish armed forces is small, since more than 200 of them have been transferred to British units. “The transfer of the remaining Jews would thus not dislocate any of the invasion plans,” he said.

Replying, Eden stated that it is not a question of dislocation, but that it is difficult and delicate to urge the Polish Government to allow members of their forces to be transferred when great events are impending.

Oliver Locker-Lampson, Conservative, suggested that some members of Parliament meet with Polish representatives to discuss the question.

The debate will be resumed on Friday.

NEXT STORY