Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Zweig Urges International Body to Evacuate Children from England

July 16, 1940
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Creation of an international organization of neutral nations to send ships to evacuate children from the European war zone for the duration of the war was suggested today by Stefan Zweig, the famous Jewish poet and author, here for a brief visit en route to South America for a lecture tour.

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Zweig, who is now a British subject, stressed Britain’s determination to fight on to the end, justified the internment of refugees and stressed the need of evacuating children.

“Perhaps,” he said, “a super-national organization could be created for the purpose of sending ships of all neutral nations over to bring away the children in all danger zones, not only England but also Holland, Belgium, Norway, etc., for the duration of the war. In this way the children would be protected en route.

“With this kind of noble service, in a time of inhumanity,. America would be doing a memorable humanitarian deed–beyond all political consideration–one of those deeds characterized by history as more honorable than all war and victory.”

Zweig urged American Jews to support the movement for evacuation of British children. “Thousands of families are seeking with understandable anxiety to send their children overseas, not alone to protect their physical beings, but to shelter them from ever learning to know the horrors of aerial warfare,” he said. “Nothing is more important than that every American mother who would fear a similar fate for her children under similar circumstances should offer hospitality to these endangered children.

“I deem it especially important that Jewish families not limit their assistance and willingness to help the Jewish children alone, but aid all children regardless of religion or origin. We must be ready to serve universal humanitarian ends and it is my feeling that a beautiful counterplay is brought about in these times when America is shipping arms across the sea to meet the necessity of war, if at the same time America will bring children here from Europe, so that at least the most innocent of the innocent can be saved from this horror.”

Stressing Britain’s determination to go on with the war, Zweig declared: “I must say that I have never seen such determination as rules the English people today. They are determined to sacrifice everything, even to permit everything they have to be destroyed. Voluntarily they take up defense service each evening after they have completed their day’s work. Every man and woman is mobilized. The waiter who serves in the restaurant, the clerk in the bank, the bus driver and the girl in the tea shop are all soldiers at night.

“The most significant act in the history of the British Parliament is the projected law putting at the absolute disposal of the State the time, wealth and the very being of every individual in the land. We who know how highly the Englishman prized his individual freedom, fought for over centuries, can understand what it must mean to him to renounce all his civil rights so that England can defend the freedom of the world. It is not an army that Germany must fight, then, but a whole nation, a whole people, from the first to the last man.”

German and Austrian Jews were put in a peculiar position by the outbreak of the war, the author said. “Naturally every one of them wanted to serve with all his might the land that had given him a home. Some of them wished to enlist in the army, others to join other services. The English Government, however, could not utilize this spontaneous offer since the refugees, according to their own passports, were subjects of an enemy country–a country which had declared them as its enemies, too.

“As a precaution the English Government was compelled to effect a constant and ever-increasing supervision, not only of the Jewish but of all refugees in the land. These legal measures brought many individual hardship. But it must be said gratefully that the Government officials made every effort to ease these hardships for the individual as much as possible.”

Recommended from JTA