Sunday, April 15, 2007

Kristallnacht

In Haaretz, Amiram Barkat discusses Martin Gilbert’s new book on Kristallnacht:

The Americans refused to increase the immigration quotas, on the grounds that this would necessitate far-reaching legislative changes. The British explained that in the expanses of their Empire, they found no place suited to mass Jewish settlement.

Why were the United States and Britain not forthcoming? Many of the quotes provide an answer. A senior British administration official, one of the people who set immigration policy, said in the summer of 1939 that the Jews were unnecessarily alarmed and did not have to leave. Many of them, added the official, were not suited to immigrate, and there would be serious problems if they were brought to Britain. And then-British prime minister Neville Chamberlain wrote in his diary: “No doubt Jews aren’t a lovable people; I don’t care about them myself.” A venomous (Gilbert called it “critical”) editorial in the British newspaper The Sunday Express stated that Kristallnacht should serve as a warning to the Jews of Britain, and added that absorbing too many foreigners would exact a price from all Britons.

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