History’s Dark Chapter Retold
by VICTOR SHARPE
December 12, 2012
The year is 1946. The Second World War is over and much of Europe is a wasteland. Millions of displaced persons roam the ravaged landscape in the wake of the German Nazi devastation. Millions more are dead but none of the citizens of Europe have suffered disproportionally more than its Jewish remnant.
At the beginning of 1933, when Hitler assumed power by exploiting the democratic process, which he then castoff with the acquiescence of the German populace and the industrial military, government complex, there were in the world some 18,000,000 members of the Jewish faith.
By the war's end in 1945, there were barely12 million Jews left. The one third who had fallen under German occupation and their European fascist allies had been beaten, starved, gassed and systematically exterminated; including one and half million children.
Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, might have been saved and allowed to find refuge in their ancestral and biblical homeland of Israel, but for a document known as the White Paper.
This unilateral act was created by the British government in 1939 under the premiership of the arch appeaser and self-righteous Neville Chamberlain - he who had come back from meeting Hitler with a piece of paper fluttering in the wind, announcing "peace in our time."
The Land in which Jews had established their biblical and post-biblical patrimony since time immemorial was then known by its geographical term, Palestine; a name resurrected by the British Mandatory government, which had been awarded the Mandate over the territory by the League of Nations in 1922.
This was the name originally given to ancient Jewish Judea by the Roman emperor, Hadrian, after he had defeated the second Jewish revolt against Rome's pitiless occupation in the year 135 AD.
Hadrian chose to rename Judea (the name from which the word Jew derives) - Philistia after the Jews' hated biblical enemy the Philistines - a sea people originating from Crete who became extinct over a thousand years earlier.
And here it is vital to understand that at no time throughout recorded history has there ever been an independent sovereign state called Palestine: Certainly never an Arab state.
That 1939 White Paper was produced by the Chamberlain government in an act of capitulation to the pro-Nazi Arabs who demanded that Jewish immigration into the Jews' ancestral homeland be prevented. The White Paper was never submitted for approval to the Council of the League of Nations.
Thus Britain limited Jewish immigration to 75,000 people for five years, after which it would cease altogether. Arab oil also played a part in Britain's decision.
World War Two broke out in September, 1939 and lasted five years. This was the five year death sentence for 6,000,000 Jews in German occupied Europe who were barred by Britain from rescue in Palestine.
The British Mandatory government controlling Palestine shut the gates of the territory for the duration of the war to Jews attempting to flee the German Nazi juggernaut of death.
Britain, which rose in anger at the use of brute German force in Poland, alas did not hesitate to use force against Jewish refugees clamoring to escape from the horrors of the German Reich.
It is interesting to note that the lie to Chamberlain's fear of Arab hostility and oil blackmail was given earlier by British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Malcolm McDonald.
In a House of Commons debate on November 24, 1938 he was obliged to admit the advantages to the local Arabs of any additional Jewish presence to the existing Jewish communities in the territory. He said:
"The Arabs cannot say that the Jews are driving them out of the country. If not a single Jew had come to Palestine after 1918, I believe that the Arab population would still have been around 600,000 at which it had been stable under Turkish rule.
"It is because the Jews who have come to Palestine bring with them modern health services and other advances that Arabs who would have been dead are alive today and that Arab children who would have never drawn breath have been born and grown strong."
The League of Nations grant to Britain of the Palestine Mandate was given with the express purpose of incorporating into it the earlier British government's 1917 Balfour Declaration facilitating the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
Furthermore, the British were instructed to "use their best endeavors to facilitate Jewish immigration." Tragically the White Paper and the subsequent British blockade against Jews fleeing the Holocaust in whatever ships they could find - usually unseaworthy hulks - was a betrayal of all such earlier commitments.
In November, 1941, two ships - the Pacific and the Milos - arrived in Haifa with 1,771 Jewish refugees. The human cargo was forcibly herded aboard another ship, the S.S. Patria and ordered to sail by the British authorities to be imprisoned in the then unhealthy tropical island of Mauritius.
While still docked in Haifa, a mysterious explosion ripped through the ship and 250 passengers were killed. Interestingly of the Jewish survivors, 82 young men immediately volunteered for service in the British army despite the suffering they had endured
Similarly, another ship, the Darien arrived also at Haifa carrying some 793 Jews from Rumania and Bulgaria fleeing the Nazi death machine. Half were skilled workers and farmers eager to contribute to defeating civilization's nemesis: Hitler. The British Command in Palestine placed them in a prison camp where five of them went insane.
And then there was the searing tragedy of the Struma. Writing in her powerful blog, Sarah Honig recounts the appalling treatment meted out to the Jewish refugees on the unseaworthy craft by Britain, Turkey and an unfeeling world. She writes about the floating coffin as follows: "The Struma was a 115 year old leaking Danube River cattle barge. Some 769 Jewish refugees, including many young men fit for work or army service, were on board. So were some two hundred women and 70 children."
Ms. Honig continues: "The ordeal of these hapless refugees began on December 16, 1941 and ended on February 23, 1942 in front of a watching but unfeeling world. On December 12, the unseaworthy hulk entered the harbor at Istanbul, Turkey. It had no fuel or water left on board. Britain pressed the Turkish officials NOT to let any of the Jews leave the crippled hulk. A sign with the word "Help" was suspended over the ship's side but in vain."
On February 15, the British announced they'd make an exception in the case of Struma children aged 11 to 16, but the British authorities denied entry to the other children, including babies. All could have been allowed into Mandatory Palestine.
Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer and author of several books including The Blue Hour, a collection of short stories, and Volumes One and Two of Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.