Online Module: The Holocaust and Fundamental Rights

Doc. 4: The course of the conference

About

 This chapter provides a short overview of the course of the Evian conference.

Material

  • Salomon Adler-Rudel, The Evian Conference on the Refugee Question, in: Leo Baeck Institut Yearbook (1968), 235-276.

In the resort-town of Evian on Lake Geneva delegates from 32 countries met for a nine-day intergovernmental conference, accompanied by some 200 international journalists accredited as observers. 24 Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs or NGOs), most of them Jewish, were finally allowed to take part – not officially as interested parties – but with the possibility to contribute oral or written statements in short extra hearings to inform the government representatives. The conference lasted nine days, starting on 6 July, ending on 15 July, 1938.

Following the opening speeches by the representatives of the US, the UK and the French delegate, the representatives of the other participating countries reported about the situation in their countries– whereby the general term "refugee" was used, despite the fact that for the countries the German (and Austrian) Jews "caused the crises"; also, Nazi-Germany as the regime, that fueled the "refugee crises" was often not named directly.

Two sub committees worked on so-called technical issues and on what they called the reception of those concerned with the relief of political refugees from Germany (including Austria). Both published a report.

The following statements are originally taken from the Proceedings of the Intergovernmental Committee (London, July 1938). In 1968, Salomon Adler-Rudel (1894–1975) – executive secretary of the Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden (the central representation of German Jews which was transformed by government decree in 1939 into the "Reichsvereinigung" which had to execute the Nazi-policies) and on the executive board of the Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland from 1933 to 1936, who later managed to escape to the UK and resettled in Israel in 1949 – published an extensive article on the conference, based on his experiences. All quotes and the basic arguments regarding the conference’s course follow this thorough analysis of an eye-witness. He summarized the positions of the delegates into three groups. There are some remarkable individual cases which were highlighted.

 

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