Emphasizing that the Jews in Hungary and in the Balkan countries “are new threatened with annihilation,” President Roosevelt at his press conference today issued a statement calling upon the free peoples of Europe and Asia to open temporarily their frontiers to all escaping Nazi victims. He warned that “all who knowingly take part in the deportation of Jews to their death” shall be punished.
The President revealed that he has been in close touch with Prime Minister Churchill and Premier Stalin on the matter. He asked that every man everywhere under Nazi domination “hide these pursued victims, help them to get over their borders, and do what he can to save them from the Nazi hangman.”
“Hundreds of thousands of Jews, who while living under persecution have at least found a haven from death is Hungary and the Balkans, are now threatened with annihilation as Hitler’s forces descend more heavily upon these lands,” the president said, “That these innocent people, who have already survived a decade of Hitler’s fury, should perish on the very eve of triumph over the barbarism which their persecution symbolizes, would be a major tragedy.”
SATISFIED WITH RESCUE ACTIVITIES OF WAR REFUGEE BOARD
The President said at his press conference that the work of the War Refugee Board is going very well and the Board has actually been getting people out. He announced the appointment of John W. Pehle, previously acting executive director, to the full directorship of the WRB.
Asked whether the United States would take part in offering haven, the president said that we are taking care of all the refugees we can get out now, in North Africa, for one place. When it was indicated that the question applied to haven in the United States, the President answered that there are not enough to come, for one reason.
FULL TEXT OF PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT’S STATEMENT
“The United Nations,” the President’s statement reads, “are fighting to make a world in which tyranny and aggression can not exist; a world based upon freedom, equality and justice; a world in which all persons regardless of race, color or creed may live in peace, honor and dignity.
“In the meantime in most of Europe and in parts of Asia the systematic torture and murder of civilians-men, women, and children-by the Nazis and the Japanese continues unabated. In areas subjugated by the aggressors innocent Boles, Czechs, Norwegians, Dutch, Danes, French, Greeks, Russians, Chinese, Filipinos-and many others – are being starved or frozen to death or murdered in cold blood in a campaign of savagery.
“The slaughters of Warsaw, Lidice, Kharkov and Nanking – the brutal torture and murder by the Japanese, not only of civilians but of our own gallant American soldiers and fliers – these are startling examples of what goes on day by day, year in and year out, whenever the Nazis and the Japs are in military control – free to follow their barbaric purpose.
CALLS SYSTEMATIC MURDER OF JEWS BLACKEST CRIME IN HISTORY
“In one of the blackest crimes of all history – begun by the Nazis in the day of peace and multiplied by them a hundred times in time of war – the wholesale systematic murder of the Jews of Europe goes on unabated every hour. As a result of the last few days, hundreds of thousands of Jews, who while living under persecution have at least found a haven from death in Hungary and the Balkans, are now threatened with annihilation as Hitler’s forces descend more heavily upon these lands. That these innocent people, who have already survived a decade of Hitler’s fury, should perish on the very eve of triumph over the barbarism which their persecution symbolizes, would be a major tragedy.
“It is therefore fitting that we should again proclaim our determination that none who participate in these acts of savagery shall go unpunished. The United Nations have made it clear that they will pursue the guilty and deliver them up in order that justice be done. That warning applies not only to the leaders but also to their functionaries and subordinates in Germany and in the satellite countries. All who knowingly take part in the deportation of Jews to their death in Poland, or Norwegians and French to their death in Germany, are equally guilty with the executioner. All who share the guilt shall share the punishment.
URGES GERMANS TO HIDE JEWS AND RESCUE THEM
“Hitler is committing these crimes against humanity in the name of the German people. I ask every German and every man everywhere under Nazi domination to show the world by his action that in his heart he does not share these insane criminal desires. Let him hide these pursued victims, help them to get over their borders, and do what he can to save them from the Nazi hangman, I ask him also to help watch, and to record the evidence that will one day be used to convict the guilty.
“In the meantime, and until the victory that is now assured is won, the United States will persevere in its efforts to rescue the victims of brutality of the Nazis and the Japs. In so far as the necessity of military operations permit this Government will use all means at its command to aid the escape of all intended victims of the Nazi and Jap executioner-regardless of race or religion or color. We call upon the free peoples of Europe and Asia temporarily to open their frontiers to all victims of oppression. We shall find havens of refuge for them, and we shall find the means for their maintenance and support until the tyrant is driven from their homelands and they may return. In the name of justice and humanity let all freedom loving people rally to this righteous undertaking.”
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.