London (Sep. 10)
Agitation among a relatively small section of the Exodus Jews necessitated the use of force by British authorities, a Foreign Office spokesman said today. In reply to a question, he declared that the Cabinet as a whole assumed responsibility for the return of the Jews to Germany.
A dispatch from Hamburg, however, quoted Vaughn Berry, regional commissioner there, as stating that no more than 200 Jews came ashore without compulsion. “They fought like wildcats, even the children,” Berry said. The Daily Telegraph reports that 100 Jews, chosen from among those who had put up the most resistance, were brought back to Hamburg last night from the Poppendorf Camp and compelled to clean up the Runnymede Park, scene of the most violent battles.
The Foreign Office spokesman was also asked whether the disembarkation “constituted an incident in the campaign to re-educate the German people against anti-Semitism.” He replied that care had been taken to prevent Germans from watching the disembarkation. (Correspondents on the scene reported that from the time the refugees were placed on the trains after being dragged from the ships to the time they reached the camps the operation was visible to hundreds of Germans.)
LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE PAPERS HIT OFFICIAL BLUNDERING
The British press is almost unanimous in branding the forcible disembarkation of the Exodus refugees in Germany as a blunder of the first magnitude. This opinion is expressed in newspapers representing a wide variety of opinion, ranging from the liberal Manchester Guardian to the ultra-conservative Evening News.
The Manchester Guardian today lashes out against Bevin declaring that he has shown “appallingly dangerous blind spots” and adding that “mistakes have dogged all his doings with both Jews and Germans.” A Guardian editorial says that the Cabinet ministers “must not read the foreign press, otherwise they would blush with shame to see how Britain’s name has been dragged down by this affair.”
The News Chronicle says that “no more stupid decision could have been made” and warns that “the incidents (at Hamburg) are a godeond to those seeking to portray British soldiers as S.S. men.” At the same time, the paper lashes out at Ben Hecht and his associates, who, it anticipates, “will make the most of the affair.”
The Star says the original decision to return the refugees to Germany, which at attributes to Bevin, was “a blunder of the first magnitude,” adding that the British people are willing to play a part in the resettlement of homeless Jews. “Let the United Nations decide Palestine’s future on the basis of the UNSCOP report,” the Star says, “singlehanded Britain has had more than enough.”
The Times, which usually expresses the Foreign Office’s point of view, blames organizations “bent on making private profit and political capital” of the DP’s desire to go to Palestine for the incident. It warns that the proverbial British patience is not inexhaustible and insists that it is the General Assembly’s duty to relieve Britain of sole responsibility for Palestine.
S. Z. Shragai, press officer of the Jewish Agency office here, today charged British authorities and newspapers with conducting “a deliberate campaign of distortion of facts and misrepresentation” in connection with the Exodus landings. Shragai told a news conference that information received by the Agency indicated that the deportees had put up much stronger resistance than was reported in the London press.