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International Jewish Conference Opens in Atlantic City; Criticizes Democracies

November 27, 1944
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The charge that the democracies have not done enough to save millions of Jews in Europe from Nazi annihilation was made here today by the principal speakers at the opening session of the five-day War Emergency Conference convened by the World Jewish Congress.

The conference, which is the first international Jewish gathering since the outbreak of the war, adopted a resolution demanding that the Allied governments should not only establish Palestine as a Jewish Commonwealth, but should actively help in the development of the Commonwealth.

More than 300 delegates from 40 countries are participating in the conference, including about 40 from Latin American countries. The delegation from France, the only one which was expected to arrive from a liberated European country, did not arrive. Nor did the full delegation from Palestine. The largest European delegation is that from England, which is composed of eight persons. The absence of a Jewish delegation from Russia was publicly regretted by Dr. Stephen S. Wise, president of the World Jewish Congress, in his opening address.

In a moving speech, Dr. Wise pointed out that this international gathering of Jewish representatives is not a relief conference, but was convened for the purpose of planning freedom and security for Jews throughout the world, and the re-enfranchisement of Jews in former German-controlled countries.

There were times, Dr. Wise said, when it was thought that justice for Jews could be secured as a favor from the outside world and as crumbs from rich dining tables. The present conference, however, aims at bringing forward the conviction of the Jewish people that no real justice can be expected by the Jews unless they, as a people, formulate their own demands, he continued. The word ” refugee,” Dr. Wise said, must be banished from the vocabulary of civilized nations. This word, he added, is in itself a reproach to civilization and must be blotted out.

” Jews,” Rabbi Wise continued, “cannot be permitted to become a great body of refugees. They must have human rights and equal rights. A world at peace can deny those rightist to Jews in every land in which they live, only if they are indifferent to the causes of other and still more terrible wars. A world which permits Jews to be warred upon by any nation will find itself at war everywhere.”


Emphasizing that the Christian world owes reparations to the Jews for all the terrible sufferings that they have undergone, Dr. Wise appealed to the United Nations to support the Zionist demand for the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish Commonwealth. “The English-speaking peoples I am confident favor the establishment of a

Jewish Palestine; the Soviet Union cannot fail to give it concurrence,” he stated. “The failure to establish a Jewish Palestine would mark the tragic failure of this global war,”

Dr. Wise spoke out strongly against the recent assassination of Lord Moyne and called upon the Jews to combat terrorism in Palestine “at any and every cost.” “If such terrorism had the approval of the population of Palestine,” he said, “it might be difficult to banish it, but it is a wicked aspersion upon the honor and integrity of the Jewish people even to insinuate that the terrorism has more than a handful of advocates and defenders among the Jewish people of Palestine.”


Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the administrative committee of the World Jewish Congress, addressing the conference, emphasized that countries which had millions of Jews before the war are now left with but a few hundred thousand. The real moral responsibility for the Jewish tragedy, he said, lies with our whole generation. The democracies, he asserted, cannot say that they were not warned, because since 1933 they were warned again and again by leaders of the Jewish people either to stop Hitler’s persecution of Jews or, at least, to enable them to get out while there was still time.

” The reply to our warning,” Dr. Goldmann told the conference,” were routine measures, red tape and the rejection of measures proposed by us and other Jewish organizations. And what was done was too late or too little. When we asked them to intervene with Germany the reply was that anti-Jewish policies are the internal affair of a country whose sovereignty forbids other countries to intervene. When we asked the opening of doors to other countries, especially Palestine, the reply was that immigration policies are the internal affairs of a sovereign state. And England’s appeasement policy toward the Arabs led the English to shut the deers of Palestine at a time when their opening was more essential than ever before.”

Outlining a program of Jewish demands to the Allied nations, Dr. Goldmann urged.

1. Jewish rights be restored where they had been abrogated and Jewish property should be restored as far as is possible. “It would be adding mockery to tragedy, were non-Jewish individuals and communities and governments to become the heirs to property which, if not legally, certainly morally belongs to the Jewish community and must be used for rebuilding the Jewish life and a Jewish future,” Dr. Goldmann said.

2. Jews be given international help at least as much as all the other European peoples. ” Jewish rehabilitation in the future, ” Dr. Goldmann explained, “cannot be the exclusive and primary task of the Jews themselves. In its magnitude and complexity the problem of Jewish rehabilitation surpasses the resources of private Jewish relief. The main bulk must, therefore, be provided by the same agencies of government which will assist Europe and Asia after the war.”

3. The punishment of criminals who have committed crimes against Jews. ” This is not a question of revenge,” Dr. Goldmann pointed out. ” To teach the world that crimes such as those committed by the Nazis and their allies cannot remain unpunished is a necessary condition for the restoration of the moral balance of the world of tomorrow.”

4. The establishment of a Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine. “No program of Jewish demands has meaning or historic significance if it does not culminate in a demand for a Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine,” Dr. Goldmann said. “If there is any kind of real reparations due us from the democratic world it can be made only through

the establishment of a Jewish Commonwealth, a place where every Jew from Europe or elsewhere who wants to go there, or is forced to go, will be received and find refuge.”

5. Jewish representation in the councils of the peoples of the world. “The first step toward treating the Jews with equality should be to grant them recognition and representation in all those international conferences and agencies where problems vital to our future are under discussion,” he stated.

pointing out that the World Jewish Congress is working in close cooperation with Jewish bodies of various countries in Europe, Dr. Goldmann referred to the necessity for reestablishing and strengthening the ties between the Jews of Soviet Russia and world Jewry. “It is a slow and difficult process,” he said, ” but the more Russia assumes international responsibility, the more the walls that separate the Soviet from the rest of the world will break down. To bring back the Russian Jewish community into the orbit of Jewish life and to utilize its great resources and ability for rebuilding the Jewish future is one of our essential internal tasks.”


At the evening session of the conference, Dr. A. Leon Kubowitzky, head of the Rescue Department of the World Jewish Congress, spoke on the program of action with regard to the rescue of surviving Jews in Europe conducted by the Congress. He estimated that apart from Jewish losses in combat service, 5,500,000 Jews have been killed in Germany and German-occupied territories since the outbreak of the war.

Dr. Arieh Tartakower, head of the relief department of the Congress, reported to the conference on the relief and rehabilitation work of the organization. He made an appeal for unity in the cause of Jewish relief. Dr. Maurice L. Perlzweig, head of the political department of the Congress, reported on political activities of the organization.

A memorial service was held for the fallen Jews of Europe. The service was conducted by Rabbi Isaac Alkalay, former Chief Rabbi of Yugoslavia, who is a delegate to the conference.

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