Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain today evidenced Britain’s concern over anti-Jewish depredations and decrees in Germany by telling the House of Commons there was “deep and widespread sympathy for those who have been made to suffer so severely” for “the senseless crime committed in Paris.” It was to be regretted that press reports of action taken against Jews in Germany were substantially correct, Mr. Chamberlain said at question time. The reports had been to some extent corroborated by Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels, he pointed out.
As persons close to the Prime Minister indicated that diplomatic negotiations with Germany for a general appeasement would be postponed following the new Nazi anti-Semitic campaign, Philip Noel Baker, Laborite, urged that the German Government be notified of the deep horror felt in Britain and A.V. Alexander, Laborite, urged the Prime Minister to consult President Roosevelt for joint representations to Berlin.
Mr. Chamberlain confirmed that the British Government has protested to Germany against the accusation made by Goebbels’ organ, Der Angriff, that Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden and Alfred Duff Cooper had more or less directly instigated the murder of Ernst vom Rath in Paris by a Polish Jewish youth. The protest was delivered by Charge d’Affaires A.D. Ogilvie-Forbes in Berl in.
The Prime Minister also revealed that Britain has acted to protect British Jews in the Reich. “His Majesty’s Charge d’Affaires at Berlin has taken immediate steps to safeguard British subjects,” he told the house. “He has reserved the right to present claims for damage and has requested that the attention of competent authorities should be drawn to the rights of British residents in Germany.”
Noel-Baker asked: “Will the Prime Minister endeavor to find some means, whether alone or in cooperation with other powers, whereby he can make known to the German Government the deep feeling of horror which has been aroused in this country, among all sections of the people, by the action taken against the Jews?” Mr. Chamberlain replied: “There are many means of that being made known. As a matter of fact I do not think there can be any doubt about it.”
Conservative member Lissom proposed that the Intergovernmental Refugee Committee assemble immediately to draw up measures for providing a haven for Jewish refugees. “I do not think that this is necessary,” Mr. Chamberlain declared. “I think that the whole question is under consideration by the committee.”
He refused to state precisely what action the Government might take in this matter and requested time to frame his reply. Alexander asked whether “in view of the almost unprecedented action of the German Government the Prime Minister is considering having consultations with the President of the United States with a view to joint representations being made?” The Prime Minister replied: “I must have notice of this question.”
“Would it not be possible to consult with the High Commissioners of the various dominions as to whether it would not be possible to find some place in the British Commonwealth of Nations for these people, considering how relatively few their number is in Germany — some 500,000 men, women and children, I understand?” George Lansbury, veteran Laborite, queried. “Is it impossible, says the world, to take these people and find for them a place in which they can make a fresh start in life?”
“It is not a matter for the British Government, as Mr. Lansbury Recognizes,” Chamberlain said. “I have no doubt we shall be taking into consideration any possible way in which we can assist those people.”
“While the Dominions are not a matter for this Government, is there not a vast colonial empire in which something definite could be done by this British Government?” James Maxton, Laborite, asked. “It is a matter which is under the consideration of an international commission,” Chamberlain relied.
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.