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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

How did governments react to the Jewish Migration Crisis in December, 1938?

Since war broke out in Syria almost five years ago, 6.5 million people have been internally displaced, almost 4.4 million forced to flee as refugees, and more than 250,000 killed. One in every five displaced persons worldwide last year was Syrian. A new joint report from the World Bank and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) claims that 90% of the 1.7 million Syrian refugees registered in Jordan and Lebanon are living in poverty. The majority of them are women and children. (1)

The same day that the report was published, it was announced that the first 1,000 Syrian refugees have now arrived in the UK under the government's scheme to resettle vulnerable people living in refugees camps, David Cameron has said he had met his pledge to bring the first 1,000 people to the UK by Christmas. The UK government has promised to accept 20,000 Syrians over five years. (2)

European leaders are gathering in Brussels today for an end of year summit which will include discussions on the of one and a half million refugees that have entered Europe this year. The European Commission estimated last month that another three million refugees could arrive before the end of 2016. Cameron is unwilling to become involved in negotiations about taking more refugees and recently told journalists that the current crisis might be the thing that might be responsible for the British people voting to leave the European Union. (3)

Seventy-seven years ago this month, world leaders were discussing another migration crisis. This one involved the desire by the Jewish community to leave Nazi Germany. The failure to agree on a way of dealing with this crisis resulted in about 180,000 German Jews dying in concentration camps.

Once in power Adolf Hitler began to openly express anti-Semitic ideas. Based on his readings of how blacks were denied civil rights in the southern states in America, Hitler attempted to make life so unpleasant for Jews in Germany that they would emigrate. The day after the March, 1933, election, stormtroopers hunted down Jews in Berlin and gave them savage beatings. Synagogues were trashed and all over Germany gangs of brownshirts attacked Jews. In the first three months of Hitler rule, over forty Jews were murdered. (4)

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