Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Constitution of World Jewish Congress Pushed to Forefront As Geneva Jewish Conference Opens

August 16, 1932
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The world Jewish conference, subject of comment and controversy for the past four months opened here yesterday in the presence of an audience of 500, including many American visitors, and 130 delegates representing Jewish organizations in 20 lands, 33 of them coming from the United States.

From the very outset, the world Jewish congress, its advisability and feasibility, loomed up as the dominating issue before the conference. The program arranged and rearranged by a committee comprised of Dr. Stephen S. Wise, honorary president of the American Jewish Congress, which sponsored the conference, Dr. Leo Motzkin of the Committee of Jewish Delegations, Dr. Nahum Goldmann of Berlin, Mayor M. Dizengoff of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Nurok of Latvia, and others, was discarded.

The opening gun was fired by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise who stated “it may be years before a Jewish Congress is held but held it must be.”

Reverberations of the controversy between the American Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee were present in the addresses both of Dr. Wise and Dr. Nahum Goldmann who has been representing the Congress abroad in its arrangements for the conference here.

At the eleventh hour the programs which had been drafted and redrafted were abandoned and the conference fixed as its principal subject of discussion whether, and when a world Jewish congress is to be convened and what form it is to take. Consideration of action to be taken on political and economic matters affecting the status of the Jews of East Europe and more particularly Germany were relegated to the background.

Dr. Wise in his address stated that it will be a function of the World Jewish Congress to deal first with the status of Jews in various lands, and second with the economic situation of the Jews created by lawlessness.

The conference at its opening sessions resembled a miniature Zionist Congress except for the presence of an appreciable proportion of non-Zionists and even anti-Zionists. The latter group, representing Polish Jewish groups for the most part, came to the conference with a view to consultation and to find some solution for the economic destruction of Polish Jewry.


The conference was opened officially by Bernard S. Deutsch, president of the American Jewish Congress. He was followed by Nahum Goldmann. The closing speech of the afternoon session was delivered by Dr. Stephen S. Wise.

The leading speaker of the evening session was George Kareski, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities who delivered an address on the position of the Jews in Germany. The Jewish situation in Roumania was described by Deputy Meyer Ebner.

Addresses were also delivered by M. Schmorak of Poland, Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum of New York, M. Yefroikin of France, M. Margulies of Czechoslovakia and Robert Stricker of Vienna.

Attending the sessions is Professor William Rappard, head of the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations.

Greetings were received from Senator William E. Borah of Idaho, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate; Professor Georg Bernhard, former editor of the “Vossische Zeitung,” whose ill health prevented his attendance; Simon Dubnov, noted Jewish historian; Professor Albert Einstein and Mrs. Rebekah Kohut, head of the world association of Jewish Women.

Letters expressing sympathy with the purposes of the conference were also received from Jewish organizations in Jugoslavia, Czechoslavia, Egypt, Spain, Turkey and Mexico.

Next to the world Jewish congress plan, the leading subject before the conference is a discussion of the plan of Professor Guido Tedeschi of Rome, for the establishment of an international organization, under the aegis of the League of Nations, to combat anti-Semitism.


Dr. Wise received an ovation when, referring to the situation of the Jews in Germany, he declared that the Jews would not be physically exiled from the Germany of Heine, Wasserman, Rathenau and Einstein.

Referring to the opponents of the world Jewish Congress idea in England, America, France and elsewhere, as “the Jewish Grand Dukes,” Dr. Wise said the time will come when a world Jewish congress will have to concern itself in addition to external Jewish problems with inner problems of Jewish life.

He indicated that the conference will have to deal with the relations between a world Jewish congress and the Jewish Agency. It will have to decide as well whether the Jewish Congress is to confine itself to the Diaspora.

The present conference, he asserted, offers the Jewish people an opportunity to plan and evolve a machine out of which shall emerge this Parliament of the Jewish people. “This is not a Zionist Congress,” he asserted, “but yet I believe we are evoking the shades of Theodore Herzl in this hour, because Herzl was not only the creator of modern Zionism but Israel incarnated and the spirit of the nation at its highest.”

A world Jewish congress, he asserted, will also have to deal “with the breach of minority rights during the past decade with a view to safeguarding them because without continued protests against wrongs it comes to be viewed as normal by both perpetrator and victim alike.”


Dr. Goldmann heatedly attacked the American Jewish Committee and more particularly its president, Dr. Cyrus

Recommended from JTA