London (May. 24)
Jews remaining in Germany and Austria will be protected by the new international refugee organization to be established by the United Nations, under definitions adopted today by the United Nations Refugee Committee.
The term “refugee,” under these definitions, will cover not only victims of racial, religious and political persecution who fled abroad and are not willing to accept protection from their former governments, but also persons of Jewish origin who are distained in Germany and Austria, or fled from these countries and were later returned there as a result of enemy action and war circumstances, as long as they are not permanently settle there.
After a stormy debate, the committee by a vote of 11 to 4 agreed to add to its report a statement by the British delegate objecting to the recognition of Jews presently in Germany and Austria as refugees, and expressing the fear that if the new refugee body concerns itself with Jewish refugees as such, it will become involved in schemes for Jewish immigration into Palestine which should be dealt with by bodies especially concerned with that problem.
The British statement, in which the Lebanese delegate concurred, expressed the view that making special provisions for Jewish refugees would introduce the principle of racial discrimination into the matter. It also said that “His Majesty’s Government cannot subscribe to the policy that there is no place for Jews in Central Europe. On the contrary, Jews are capable of contributing vital elements to the civilization of Central Europe,” the statement added, although admitting that in certain cases it may be difficult for Jews to return to places where they suffered.
Another decision adopted today provides that the term “refugee” should also be applied to people who were deported from their native lands for racial, religious or political reasons, and who now express valid objection to returning to those lands, such as fear of racial and religious persecution. Orphans and unaccompanied children in Germany and Austria who lost their parents because of racial and religious persecutions will also come under the protection of the new refugee organization.
The protection will end when these refugees or displaced persons are repatriated, or when they acquire new nationality or are otherwise permanently established. A provision that the protection should end if a refugee violates the law was left pending after the representative of the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees observed that such action should not be taken without consulting the international refugee organization, since there is a danger that the refugees might lose their status and property for alight offenses or might be declared as undesirable by local police authorities.
(In Washington, it was reported today that the State Department had instructed its representatives on the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees to favor issuance of papers similar to the “Nansen passports” to refugees unable to return to their homes.)