United Nations Policy is to “persuade” Displaced Jews to Return to Homelands
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United Nations Policy is to “persuade” Displaced Jews to Return to Homelands

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The United Nations governments have decided upon a “softening-up” process designed to make displaced persons who do not wish to return to their homes more amenable to repatriation, it is apparent from information available here.

An exhaustive survey by a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent concerning plans for the future care and disposition of persons still held in camps discloses the following situation:

After the majority of the displaced persons have been repatriated, such as the non-Jewish Poles, Yugoslavs and residents of other Balkan countries, those who remain – and into this category fall tens of thousands of Jews – will be left to cool their heels until it becomes clear to them that there is no alternative but to return to their former homes.

Sir Herbert Emarson, chairman of the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees, told this correspondent that “sufficient time has not elapsed since the end of the war to form any opinion as to how-large this group of ‘dissidents,’ – the term used to describe those persons unwilling to return home – is likely to be. The individual who does not want to return really does not have sufficient information on which to pass judgment,” Sir Herbert continued. “It is premature to make any assumption that a particular group now unwilling to return to their country will be, in fact, permanently non-repatriable. The position will not be clear for months, possibly a year or even longer.”


Sir Herbert stressed that until such time as a person is declared to be non-repatriable he will be under the care of UNRRA. UNRRA can give only temporary relief and is not authorized to assist refugees to emigrate to new homes. That is the job of the Intergovernmental Committee. Here is where the “softening-up” comes in. The governments concerned apparently hope that after a refugee has remained in a camp for a year or two under something less than ideal conditions, he will be ready to listen to suggestions that he return to his country of origin. This is borne out by another statement of Sir Herbert’s :

“While the original idea was to consider as non-repatriable one who did not want to return to his country,” the refugee committee chairman said, “the trend of opinion now is to give time to the person to learn more about conditions in his country and to give the governments more time to satisfy their nationals that they can return to their countries with prospects of leading a healthy normal life, before reaching the definite conclusion that the person must be treated permanently as a non-repatriable.

The Intergovernmental Committee, however, is attempting to secure for German Jews the right to decide whether they want to have restored the German citizenship of which they were deprived by the Nazi regime. But the Allied governments are believed to be taking the view that as a result of the repeal of the Nuremberg Laws, their German citizenship has automatically been restored. Sir Herbert said that the German and Austrian Jews, in most cases, are unwilling to return to their homes, but, he added, there are indications that many will be willing to do so within a year or two.

The crux of the situation seems to be that, with minor exceptions, there are no governments willing to throw open their territory to refugees, and, therefore, in the opinion of the authorities concerned, the best solution is for the displaced persons to return to the countries from which they were deported.

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