From The Fraternal Visitor Christadelphian Magazine (1939):
The case of the refugees is a formidable one. About 200,000 Jews by religion have already left Germany and Austria. There are probably another 500,000 with 500,000 “non-Aryans” who are subject to serious persecution in Greater Germany. Ther e are 3,000,000 Jews in Poland, and nearly 2,000,000 in Hungary, Rumania, Czecho-Slovakia and Lithuania. What is to be done to deal with this exodus? Various schemes are being suggested: absorption, group settlement, transfer to new areas, some being not very practicable, and all involving the expenditure of large sums of money. Great Britain has been urged to give a lead by a large-scale settlement of Jews in British Guiana, in the hope that similar settlements would follow in French and Dutch Guiana under the auspices of the Governments concerned. Meanwhile “Jacob’s trouble” continues.
- The Fraternal Visitor, January 1939
REFUGEES. The cruel treatment of Jews by Germany, and more recently by certain other countries, has chocked the world. Deprived of their homes, their means of livelihood and of their property these unfortunate innocent people are forced to live under degrading conditions, leave their country,o or suffer the horrors of a concentration camp. England is regarded by them as a happy haven, but the capacity to receive is limited, and in many cases it has been necessary to limit the length of residence in this country. Refugees may be divided into three main classes. First are the children, of whom there are now some thousands in this country, who have to be housed, fed, and educated. Then come the able-bodied, willing to work, but for whom there are limited opportunities. Lastly there are the aged and inform, who can contribute little or nothing, but who require care and attention. The mental outlook and the language of these refugees are different from our own, but our experience is that many of them are of attractive personality and richly deserving our sympathy. This cannot, however, be said of all, and careful selection is necessary when considering the question of hospitality. In a number of cases our brethren have received refugees, and contributed to the various funds, but hitherto there has been no concerted effort or general appeal.
The brethren of the Central Meeting at Birmingham have been more active in this direction, and with their larger numbers and greater wealth have been able to do more than we could accomplish. In The Christadelphian for July there is an article “Jewish Refugee Problems: How can we help?” in which an impressive appeal is made, and some particulars given of what has been accomplished. The ecclesias have already generously contributed £1.250 which has been sent to Lord Baldwin’s Fund. A circular letter has been sent to each family in the ecclesia explaining the need for help in dealing with Jewish children and asking if any could offer hospitality, or give a regular contribution. Special collections are taken. A considerable number of brethren and sisters are taking Jewish girls into their homes, and the need for boys is most urgent. There is need also for temporary hospitality for older Jewish people, who are due to emigrate shortly to America or elsewhere. The Arranging Brethren are inviting the co-operation of other ecclesias. It is pleasing to record the excellent work which our brethren of the Central Meeting are doing. We commend every effort which is being made to lighten the burden on God’s ancient people. We do not propose at present to suggest a separate fund. But we can trust that all who can help will do so, and sent their contributions or their offers of help, to an appropriate organization, or to the office of The Christadelphian, 21 Hendon Road, Birmingham 11.
AN EXAMPLE. As illustrating the work of a Refugee Committee the following extract from a family letter from Sister Edna Hancock, of Lough-borough, may be helpful:––
“I have been rushing about the last few days getting our first refugee family settled in the house we have furnished for them by collecting other people’s lumber. We have another family coming to another house next week, and as far as I can see we have bedsteads but no mattresses, but even wire ones. Imagine our feelings when we were promised a double bed, and it arrived and turned out to be a yawning square. I am the only German speaking lady on the Committee, and we little thought when I was struggling to learn German, and was being so very highbrow, that it was for the purpose of showing people how tot light fires, clean flues, use gas stoves, cook English food, and budget English fashion––not to mention all sorts of interpretation difficulties. As I was showing them how to use their kitchen range, and we were kneeling side by side on the hearth, I had the queerest feeling. If you could see the people you would understand. The man is typically Jewish with the pathetic dog-like eyes of his type. The wife is mid-brown in colouring, very brave and practical. Both are still terrified, and trembling at every knock at the door. As we knelt together I said to them: “In England the hearth is the centre of our home life and the sacred place. When we kindled a fire in a new home we pray for it to be blessed.” They understood, and I think they felt safe for the first time. There are two week girls too, one seven and the other four. They have already emigrated three times: from Germany into Poland, and from Poland into Czecho-slovakia; then illegally, the children on foot, the wife through swamps, and the man hidden in a coal truck. I am not sure that I have their journeys in the right order.”
Among other requests for aid, we have received a letter appealing for help for the Jews of Poland. It states that “It is positively heart-breaking to have to read through the post we daily receive, and to interview the people who call to see us each day.” In October last some 15,000 Jews were driven over the frontier from Germany into Poland, and are now living in a camp at Zbaszyn. Contributions may be sent to J. Goldberg. Federation of British Jews in Great Britain, 24 Aldgate, London, E.C.3.
- The Fraternal Visitor, July 1939
The Government’s White Paper on Palestine has been published and is widely criticised. The terms had been foreshadowed in Jerusalem, but they are such as all Zionists must deplore. 75,000 Jews only are to be permitted to enter Palestine within the next five years, and this number is expected to bring the Jewish population up to one-third of the whole. No further immigration beyond this ratio is to be permitted unless the Arabs of Palestine are prepared to welcome more. On these lines development under the British Scheme will be a nearly independent Palestine with the Arabs in permanent power and the Jews in permanent minority. This is no solution of the Jewish problem nor is it a situation generally anticipated by Bible students. It is, indeed, one of the great human tragedies of our times that Palestine should cease in fact to be a national home for the Jews, in anything but a limited sense, when their need for sanctuary increases. It is of almost daily occurrence to read of Jewish refugee ships being unable to enter the port of destination. Jews crowd to the frontiers of the totalitarian states but cannot cross into friendly territory. “Among these nations thou shalt find no ease neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart and failing of eyes and sorrow of mind thy life shall hang in doubt before thee and thou shalt fear day and night and shall have none assurance of thy life” (Deut. xxviii. 65, 66). It is in the tragic realisation of these sombre prophecies that the Jews have hope, because this is merely a necessary phase of their history, whose end must be glorious.