The significance of the Evian Conference

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Britain apologised!

The British delegate to the conference apologised to the Germans for interfering. The Evian conference was significant in that it sent Hitler the signal he needed: foreign governments would not attempt to interfere in his anti-Jewish policies.

 

Think!

Despite actually organising the Evian conference, why might the United States have not sent government officials to attend?

What reasons did the delegates give for not enabling refugees to their countries?

What message did Britain give to Germany?

How might the decisions of the delegates have affected the future Nazi treatment of the Jews of Germany and Austria?

What might the Jews of Germany felt about the outcome of the Evian conference?

“I can only hope and expect that the other world, which has such deep sympathy for these criminals, will at least be generous enough to convert its sympathy into practical aid.”

(Adolf Hitler, 1938 prior to Evian)

On 7 July 1938, as a result of American pressure, an international conference was held at Evian, in France, to discuss what could be done to help the German Jews. Whilst each of the 32 delegates expressed their concern about the situation in Germany, the countries concerned offered very little practical help.

Although it was organised by the American government, President Roosevelt, of the United States sent along a businessman to head up his country’s delegation. He did not have the authority to agree to any measures that would have meant a change in government policy that may have helped German Jews.

During the conference the British government made it very clear that it would not be able to increase it’s quota for refugees, citing high levels of unemployment. France also said that they were “at the extreme point of saturation. The Australian delegate reported, "as we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one." Other countries also cited the economic depression and population levels as a reason why they could not increase refugee quotas.

Astounding

Only one country, the Dominican Republic, volunteered to take in up to 100,000 refugees in return for large amounts of money. In actual fact only 800 refugees entered the country and most of those moved on to the United States.

Hitler noted how ”astounding” it was that, even though these countries criticised Germany for its treatment of the Jews, they nevertheless refused to open their borders to them.