Movements to control the movement of refugees in Europe – archive, 1946 | Refugees

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The “illegal” immigrant: France’s proposal

From our own correspondent
November 8, 1946

Paris, November 7
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this afternoon made some comments on the issue of Jews trying to cross France from central Europe to Palestine.

The French government sent a note to the British and American governments proposing the formation of a joint organization of maritime power to control the movement of displaced people, especially Jews, from central Europe. The note, which was transmitted on October 31, follows a French decision to return a train of Jews from the American zone that arrived at the French border last week. None of the passengers had a visa or passport.

In the official French quarters, it is believed that it is largely the Jews who entered France illegally without any documentation or authorization who are likely to constitute a source of illegal immigration to Palestine. These are extremely difficult to control. The number of German prisoners escaping from France to Germany seems considerable, and undoubtedly it is just as easy to make the trip in the opposite direction. The present proposal is an attempt to satisfy the needs of the British authorities, who have recently drawn the attention of the French government to allegations that passengers to Palestine are leaving from a camp outside La Ciotat near Marseille.

Jews entering legally
The French have already put in place a strict control of those Jews who enter France legally. Currently, they allow a maximum of 8,000 Jews in transit to reside in France, 7,000 traveling collectively and 1,000 individually. These must prove that they can obtain immigration permits in a country other than France before being allowed to enter. The Federation of Jewish Relief Organizations is responsible for this. They are housed either under UNRRA‘s [United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration] surveillance or in Jewish homes. A group of these Jews who had entered France legally were recently turned back by French authorities when they attempted to board a Greek ship with false Ethiopian papers. It would appear, however, that those who entered legally are only the smallest part of the problem.

The difficulty experienced by the French government in formulating a long-term policy towards displaced persons in Germany, whether they are Jewish or not, is interesting proof of the difficulty in implementing either the promise of asylum. contained in the preamble the French constitution or an immigration policy to meet the needs of France in additional population.

France needs minors
Although there are plans to import 20,000 minors from Italy, and possibly to cause some German prisoners of war to wish to extend their stay in France, there are no plans to use displaced persons from Germany to increase their stay in France. the French population. In the case of the Jews, the main difficulty is that they do not fit into the categories of labor that France mainly needs – namely, miners and agricultural workers. As far as other categories of displaced persons are concerned, the difficulty is the Communists’ objection to all those whose refusal to return home is in fact based on aversion or fear of the Soviet Union.

British demand on France

From our diplomatic correspondent
November 7, 1946

No response has yet been received from the French Foreign Office to the British suggestion that two Jewish refugee camps near Marseille should be moved inland because there is evidence that illegal immigrants are leaving these. camps for Palestine. Detainees from these camps are said to have reached the port by UNRRA trucks and then taken to immigrant ships. If the French government agrees, illegal immigrants may find it more difficult to board.

Illegal immigration obviously cannot be stopped by such methods alone, as Jews are not only accustomed to overcoming obstacles but many are uncompromisingly determined to reach the land of their hopes. Whether the trip to Palestine takes months or years, whether interned or delayed, they are unlikely to stop trying to get to Palestine. After their experiences, the time factor lost its value for them.

Some of the approximately two and a quarter million Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after the collapse of German power in 1945, August 1946. Photograph: Raymond Kleboe / Getty Images

Editorial: something is wrong

October 29, 1946

The British government, if one can judge from recent indications, has achieved a remarkable feat which was certainly not in its electoral platform: it has managed to ignore as much as possible what is happening in Palestine and to completely forget the Jews who still remain in Europe. In this despicable course he is attended by most of the Labor Party, the House of Commons and the country as a whole. Indeed, by one of those peculiar acrobatics that exasperate strangers so much, we have convinced ourselves that if there is something wrong (which we do not admit for a moment), not only are we entirely innocent, but in fact it is us, and not the Jews. , who are the injured party. Any criticism of our policy in the United States is, of course, nothing but the lowest of policies. Any complaint from Russia is inspired by one with embarrassing us in the Middle East. If the Jews themselves revolt, it is obviously the lowest ingratitude. Besides, what more do they want? haven’t we promoted General Barker outside of Palestine?

But this attitude will not be enough. It is true that British policy has been grossly distorted, especially in the American press. It is true that the problem of Palestine is far from being as easy as it seems to President Truman and that the Arabs have rights which cannot be ignored. It is even true that Jews can be very boring. But these things should not make us forget the total failure of our policy in Palestine or make us forget the tens of thousands of Jews who still live in camps in Germany, Austria and Cyprus.

It shouldn’t be necessary at this point to remind people of the basic facts. These are pretty straightforward. As a result of Hitler’s persecution, five to six million Jews in Europe lost their lives. Of the rest, almost all of whom have suffered personally or through the loss of their families, around 500,000 now wish to leave Europe. Many of them live in countries, like Poland, where anti-Semitism is still widespread and where pogroms have taken place since liberation. Almost 100,000 live in camps in Germany and Austria because they have no homes, no possessions and nowhere to go. In the words of the Anglo-American report, “these men, women and children have a moral right over the civilized world”.

So far, however, this claim has not been met. No country has offered to find housing for more than a fraction of these people. It is true, of course, that the Jews themselves are only a part of the larger number of “displaced persons” who are also the most resettled elsewhere, but it is absurd to say that they should not have the priority. Poles, Balts and Ukrainians are, for the most part, deserving people who should be given the opportunity to live and work in peace and freedom, but they have not been persecuted for fifteen years (not to mention fifteen hundred years), and they are not the survivors of a terrible massacre. Many of them spent the war quite pleasantly behind German lines. With the Jews, it’s different. If the United Nations cannot help them quickly, mankind is failing. Most Jews, if given the choice, would go to Palestine, which they consider to be their own country and where alone they believe they can lead a normal life. But if they can’t go to Palestine (and clearly they can’t all go), they have to go elsewhere. Since it is the British government that prevents them from going to Palestine, it is surely up to the British government to take the initiative to find alternative homes.
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