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U.S. Policy During WWII: Jewish Organizations Plan for Rescue of European Jewry

(April 14, 1943)

Program for the Rescue of Jews from Nazi Occupied Europe

Submitted to

The Bermuda Refugee Conference

by the Joint Emergency Committee for European Jewish Affairs of

American Jewish Congress
American Jewish Committee
B`Nai B`rit
Jewish Labor Committee
American Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs
Synagogue Council of America
Union of Orthodox Rabbis of America
Agudath Israel of America, Inc.

April 14, 1943



The systematic mass extermination of Jews in Nazi-occupied territories as a program of German state action was revealed as early as September, 1942. The authenticity of the extermination program was established by the directed investigations of consular agents of the United Nations in neutral lands.

By the end of 1942, it was estimated that more than two million Jews had been killed. The extermination program of the Nazis was achieved through mass deportations in caravans, where the victims died of suffocation or starvation; through extermination centers where the victims died of asphyxiation by gas in gas chambers; by fumes from sulphur mines; by carbon monoxide from army trucks; through mass cremation; through mass machine gunning; through planned starvation.

Five months ago, in response to appeals of an aroused humanity, to which the voices of great leaders of religious thought and statesmen of vision gave their support, the United Nations issued a denunciation of the Nazi policy of mass murder, and pledged themselves to take practical measures. Since the declaration was issued, months have passed, and its implementation has yet to be achieved.

But the holocaust of murder continues unabated. As the failure of Total War is driven home to Nazi leadership, the frustration of their hope of world conquest turns them in fury to the murder of all Jews who are helpless in their grasp. In addition to the Jews who already have been done to death, total extermination threatens all those who remain in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Our deepest sympathy goes out to all peoples suffering from the hardships of Total War, and especially to those peoples of all denominations suffering under the heel of the Nazi oppressors. But it is our duty to point out that of all the peoples that have suffered and are suffering under the oppression of the Nazi aggressors, the Jews are the only people who have been singled out and marked for total extermination by Nazi Germany.

The daily accounts of mass murders accumulate in all their heartrending details. These accounts have shaken the Jewish community to its depths.

Those who linger in helpless captivity, awaiting the dreadful call for departure to ghetto or concentration camp where death awaits them, are thrown into the depths of unutterable despair by the thought that they are regarded as merely the wastage of a cruel world, that they are unclaimed and unwanted, that their kinsmen from afar are unable to aid them, and that there seems to be no shadow of hope for them anywhere.

The threat of retribution after the war and the excoriation of their horrible deeds have not served to turn the Nazi leaders from their determined policy of mass murder. The condemnation of the civilized world has not arrested the mounting tragedy. It is submitted, therefore, that the United Nations cannot afford to close their eyes to this appalling situation.

So far as is known, the United Nations have as yet taken no decisive action to rescue as many of the victims marked of death as could be saved. Public opinion is far ahead of Government decision. The moral indignation of great American communities, of their religious and labor leaders, was climaxed by an appeal for action by the United Nations on March 1, 1943, in New York, at a mass demonstration.

At this meeting, a detailed program of rescue was submitted and approved and forwarded to the Government of the United States. What was registered as the meeting on March 1st was endorsed by similar demonstrations which followed in other cities. The American press and assemblies of Christian religious organizations have joined in the demand upon the Government for action. Elsewhere throughout the democratic world the public clamors for immediate action.

The Bermuda Conference was in a measure prompted by all these public manifestations of humanitarian interest. It is submitted, therefore, that it becomes the duty of the United Nations to return a planned program of determined action, looking toward the release of a substantial number of Jews from Nazi Germany, the creation of sanctuaries for them in Allied and neutral countries, and the feeding under appropriate guarantees of those who are compelled to remain imprisoned within Nazi-occupied countries.

In the belief that it may contribute to such a program, the following proposals are respectfully submitted:

The United Nations should approach the German Government, and the governments of the states it now partly dominates or controls, through the Vatican or neutral governments like Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Argentina, with a view to securing their agreement to the release of their Jewish victims and to the emigration of Jews to such havens of refuge as may be provided.

The United Nations should, without delay, take steps to designate and establish a number of sanctuaries in Allied and neutral countries to accommodate substantial numbers of Hitler`s victims and to serve as havens of refuge for those Jews whose release from captivity may be arranged for, or who may find their way to freedom through efforts of their own.

The procedure that now prevails in the administration of the existing immigration under the established quotas, should be revised and adjusted to war conditions, in order that refugees from Nazi-occupied territories, within such quotas, may find sanctuary here.

Subject to provisions for its national security, England should be asked to provide for receiving a reasonable number of victims escaping from Nazi-occupied territories and to provide for their accommodation for the duration.

The possibilities in several British territories, both in Africa and in the Caribbean, should be explored without delay. Sanctuary has already been afforded to thousands of refugees in these territories and there is room for many more, if not for permanent settlement, at least for the duration.

The United Nations should urge the Republics of Latin America to modify such administrative regulations that now make immigration under the law extremely difficult, and to endeavor to find temporary havens of refuge for a substantial number of refugees.

Overriding pre-war political considerations, England should be persuaded to open the doors of Palestine for Jewish immigration and the offer of hospitality made by the Jewish Community of Palestine should be accepted.

The United Nations should provide financial guarantees to all such neutral states as have given temporary refuge to Jews coming from Nazi-occupied territories and to provide to their feeding and maintenance and eventual evacuation. The neutral states should be guaranteed that the refugees will not become a public charge and that they will be transferred to permanent sanctuaries as soon as possible.

In order to do away with the lack of identity many stateless refugees present, and to get them sponsorship and protection, an arrangement similar to that which existed under the League of Nations should be established and the Stateless refugees should be given identification passports analogous to the "Nansen" passports.

In view of the fact that mass starvation is the design of the Nazi regime, the United Nations should take appropriate steps without delay to organize a system for the feeding of the victims of Nazi oppression who are unable to leave the jurisdiction and the control of the Axis.

It is submitted that the United Nations are urged to establish an appropriate inter-governmental agency, to which full authority and power should be given to implement the program of rescue here outlined.

In support of these proposals an appendix is attached.

In the name of humanity and of the ideals which the Armed Forces of the United Nations have arisen to defend, we respectfully submit this appeal in the hope that effective action will be taken without delay.

American Jewish Congress
American Jewish Committee
B`Nai B`rith
Jewish Labor Committee
American Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs
Synagogue Council of America
Union of Orthodox Rabbis of America
Agudath Israel of America, Inc.

Sources: American Jewish Historical Society