Continued. Of the 32 nations, only the Dominican Republic offered to take Jews as refugees. As Chaim Weizmann famously quipped, “The world seemed divided into two parts – those places where the Jews could not live and those where they could not enter.”
“Sitting there in that magnificent hall and listening to the delegates of 32 countries rise, each in turn , to explain how much they would have liked to take in substantial numbers of refugees and how unfortunate it was that they were not able to do so, was a terrible experience.”
New Zealand could have taken many Jews. They would have enriched and prospered New Zealand in the mid-twentieth century. They would have fought as New Zealanders in the war. We could have saved their lives and preserved their families. The decisions made that day, were life and death determinations.
The Nazis’ used the international ambivalence as propaganda. “Nobody wants them” were newspaper headlines. But more sinister, it spurred Hitler on to even more diabolical plans -Jewish genocidal extermination. He derided the democratic nations for their weakness and realized, none of them would lift a hand against him. Evian polarized Hitler’s opinion into an all-or-nothing ‘problem’ that he now had to resolve. The nations’ ambivalence and lack of support doomed the Jews of Europe in isolation to murderous serial killers with nowhere to escape. The pogroms and street violence intensified (the atrociously vicious Austrain Anschluss happened immediately after Roosevelt’s conference, as if the ambivalence gave the Nazis tacit endorsement for increased brutality). Synagogues were burned, shops destroyed, Jews murdered, and then the systematic evolution of The Holocaust culminating in the worst euphemism of all time, the “Final Solution.”
If nations had stood up to Hitler earlier, like Churchill did, that lone parliamentary voice derided as extremist and alarmist in the British parliament and European press, or nations had reached out to the Jews, as the Danes did during the war, Hitler would have been delayed, his programme spread across a much longer time, and thousands perhaps millions saved.