Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Fears Rothschild Inn Incident May Set Example for Others

August 27, 1934
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

“A story that appeared in the papers yesterday must have stirred many to indignation,” Candidus (Herbert Sidebotham) writes in an editorial in today’s Daily Sketch. “It appears that a young man who called with some friends recently at a road house for food was approached by the manager and asked whether he was a Jew. The young man said he was. The manager replied that in that case he could not serve him and asked him to leave, which the young man did. It has now come out that the young man in question was Victor Rothschild, heir to the baronetcy.

“Mr. Rothschild made no fuss about his treatment at the roadhouse, and the words between him and the manager were perfectly polite. Nor has he sought publicity for his grievance, but he has made the comment: ‘We live in an age of chains.’ But it does sound rather like Nazi Germany, doesn’t it?’ It is abominably like, and it is the duty of those who value the liberties of our country to jump on this example of anti-Semitism. I believe in combating the beginnings of this, as of other diseases.


“It is easy to do so in this case,” Mr. Sidebotham continues. “It is the legal duty of every innkeeper to supply reasonable refreshments to callers, and that is the condition of his license. He cannot pick and choose whom he will serve and say that he will supply the needs of men with black or brown hair but not of men who have red hair, or whose ties he dislikes, or whose religion or pedigree he does not approve of. It would be different if the application were for some special club privileges.

“The Carlton Club may reasonably blackball Liberals from membership; and I suppose that if anyone were silly enough to form Aryan clubs they could exclude Semites from membership of form a room in a roadhouse, or anywhere else in which they were holding a meeting. But there is no suggestion of a club or its special privileges in this case. Mr. Rothschild and his party were, on the facts set forth, asking for no more than their rights as members of the British public.


“More is at issue than anti-Semitism and the corruption of the British liberty by foreign example. If a man can be denied the elementary right of refreshment because he is a Jew, where are you to stop? A Fascist landlord might refuse refreshments to Communists, a Samuelite Liberal publican (if he could afford it) to all who voted Nationalist at the last election, an Anglican host to Unitarians and Plymouth Brethren. And why stop at the right to refreshment on licensed premises?

“You could go on to exclude people whose views, complexion, or grandparents you disliked from the use of the parks, from public conveyances, even from houses whose letting you and your friends might control, forcing every variation from your own orthodoxy to live in separate Ghettos. If the principles of the road house manager were generally extended the unity of the state would be completely broken up, for without tolerance no real unity is possible. Thus the principle at stake is about as comprehensive as any political or social principle could well be. Some early opportunity be taken to assert it officially.”

Recommended from JTA