M. Albert Thomas, the Director of the International Labour Office of the League of Nations, who was Minister of Munitions in the French Government before the war, and was often referred to as "the French Lloyd George", was taken ill in a cafe here last night and died at the Beaujon Hospital, where President Doumer had died about 24 hours previously.
In his capacity as head of the League of Nations, M. Thomas was responsible for the administration of the International Treaties relating to the treatment of Russian and other refugees, many of them Jewish, the control of the so-called Nansen Passports, emigration conditions, etc., and he repeatedly expressed his interest in the position of the Jewish refugees living in many countries. He was in touch with the Jewish representatives to the various voluntary societies and commissions associated with the work of the International Labour Office, like the late Mr. Lucien Wolf, Mr. S. Cohen, and others, and on several occasions he received Jewish deputations and assured them of his interest in their work. When he was in Berlin a few years ago, he received, for instance, Judge Jacob Teitel, the octagenarian President of the Federation of Russian Jews in Germany, and assured him that he would endeavour as far as possible to bring about an improvement in the position of these large numbers of Russian Jews living abroad.
Both at the time he was a member of the French Government, and afterwards as head of the League of Nations Labour Office, M. Thomas expressed himself repeatedly as a staunch supporter of the Jewish work in Palestine and the Zionist cause.
A typical utterance was that contained in a message which he sent to the Zionist Congress held in Zurich in 1929, explaining that "circumstances beyond my control prevent me from coming to Zurich", and proceeding: "I had intended to be present and had promised this not only to my friend Dr. Victor Jacobson, but also to myself. I had looked forward to renewing our common memories which are very dear to me.
"It is already ten years," he recalled, "since, together with Mr. Nahum Sokolov and my friend Andre Spire, I had many conversations with French politicians for the purpose of obtaining for the Zionists civil rights in the new world which the Peace Treaties were to create. How many difficulties we had to overcome-prejudice, contumely, lack of knowledge on the part of Frenchmen and even of Jews, obstacles and reluctance on the part of our Ministers, who after they had given their approval to the Balfour Declaration found certain reasons for holding it back.
"I had the privilege and satisfaction," he added, "of helping to secure the victory of the Zionist cause. France would have been disloyal to her traditions had she not listened to the appeal of the 12 or 15 million Jews who in Russia, Poland, Galicia, America, waited for her aid. The principle of the right of self-determination of the peoples would have been again cruelly violated. The nationalities policy would have remained incomplete had the Peace Treaties not established in Palestine the Homeland for the Jewish people.
"The scoffers must now keep silent. The doubters must bow. With the innumerable difficulties victoriously overcome glorious fulfilments are being prepared or completed, and the Jews of Palestine can repeat with joy the liberation hymn of Bernard Lazard: "I have found myself again. I have have ##eated myself anew. I have become conscious of my Self in history, in the past, and in the present. I have reconquered myself.
"But the right of self-determination of the peoples may lead to international conflicts, if it is not secured and safeguarded through an organised peace policy. The nationalities policy may lead to adventures if it is not incorporated and regulated in a League of Nations. You have probably encountered difficulties in the new mandatory system. But its advantages have been greater. It would in the final analysis be a good thing for Zionism to stand in close and permanent contact with the international community. I hope from the bottom of my heart that your constitutional reorganisation in the course of your present work will strengthen your credit, your respect, your power and freedom, and that the Jewish Agency will fulfil the hopes which the Jewish people repose in it.
We in the International Labour Office will continue also in the future to follow the efforts and the successes of your working people with unceasing and fervent friendship.
"I regret that I am not able to meet in the warm atmosphere of your Congress with some of your devoted workers, glowing with loyalty, striving in the conviction that they are working for the reconstruction of the new Jerusalem. I regret that I am not able to hear with your own voices your report of your enterprises and your demands in the domain of occupational organisation. I would gladly have learnt from you how, through Justice and the equal improvement of all labour conditions, you are seeking to overcome the resistance which has sometimes created difficulties between Arab workers and Jewish workers.
It is the desire and will belthe pride of our International Labour Organisation to have been able to contribute here too in the creation of peace through justice. Jaures lauded once in the French Chamber in a wonderful speech the tradition of the great Jews who saved Justice not only as a harmony of beauty, but promoted it passionately with all the glow of their conviction, who called upon the just God when mankind would be united, and the God to whom they prayed would according to the wonderful words of the Psalmists and the Prophets, dry the tears off all faces.
"In this work of justice, which is seeking to fulfil the peace agreements of the International Labour Organisation, we value the aid which this powerful tradition can bring us. We congratulate ourselves that in the new community which your people is establishing, it is being renewed and strengthened. We hope that the day is near when you will with every right be able to raise your voice in our International institutions in the passionate cry for justice for the common well-being.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.