The Minister in Czechoslovakia (Carr) to the Secretary of State

No. 83

Sir: Referring to the Department’s instruction No. 17 of January 3, 1938, I have the honor to report that Dr. Benjamin Akzin of the New Zionist Organization called upon me this morning and reported that the First National Convention of the Organization which began in Prague on the 31st of January ended this morning at 6:00 o’clock. As the Department is doubtless aware the New Zionist Organization is composed of former revisionist Zionists who left the World Zionist Organization where they constituted the extreme right and were declared adversaries of Dr. Weissmann [Weizmann]. The object of the Organization, according to the declarations made at the Conference, is to solve the Jewish question by:

convoking an international conference;
establishing a ten-year plan of building of Palestine; and
reforming the Jewish agency.

The New Zionists believe that the Jewish problem will not be solved by establishing Jewish immigrants on divers territorities in the world and that there is only one country that can become the real Jewish home and that is Palestine. Vladimir Jabotinský, who founded the Jewish Legion which fought in Palestine during the World War, is reported to have said at the Convention that the plan for the partition of Palestine proposed by England was buried. He is said to have stated that in any case he was against the proposed creation of a small independent Jewish State, because it would be incapable of accommodating the mass of new Jewish immigrants. The only solution, in his opinion, is the creation of a Jewish majority in Palestine on the two sides of the Jordan between the Mediterranean and the desert; because it is only on such an extended scale that sufficient territory can be provided for the new Jewish immigrants and the Arabs who already live there. The first step toward the realization of this Jewish [Page 897]State is said to be the application of a ten-year plan which envisages the installation in Palestine during that period of a million and a half Jews. In his conversation with me, Dr. Akzin confirmed the statements in regard to the purpose of the Organization and its intention to concentrate upon making Palestine the future outlet for Jews of other lands rather than to seek an outlet for them in newer countries such as Brazil and other states of South America. Indeed, Dr. Akzin said that the New Zionist Organization is of the opinion that the Jews should not again be encouraged to emigrate to new countries and aid in their economic and cultural development only to be driven out when the inevitable clash between the Jews and the other portions of the population of those countries occurs as has been the case in the countries of Europe. In his opinion, it would be better for the Jews to find a home in Palestine, the population of which is already 30% Jewish. Dr. Akzin stated that one of the problems which gave considerable difficulty was that of getting the British Government to look at the Jewish question in a proper light. He said that Great Britain had been considering the Jewish-Palestine question as a local Palestine question, whereas the New Zionist Organization considers it to be a general European problem on the ground that if the ideas of the Organization could be carried out and a million and a half of Jews emigrate from Europe to Palestine, it would not only provide a home for people who are now engaged in a serious struggle for existence but it would reduce the pressure in Central Europe and improve the situation there. He said that the British on the other hand are believed to be bent on maintaining the status quo in Palestine and more inclined to do so since the Hitler–Halifax conversations.19 He claimed to have learned on good authority that in his conversation with Lord Halifax, Hitler had found fault with England for temporizing too much with the Jews in Palestine, that Lord Halifax had repeated this conversation to Sir John Simon and Sir Samuel Hoare and their associates in England with the result that the British have since been inclined to take a course less favorable to the Jews. Parenthetically, Dr. Akzin remarked that the German attitude toward the Jews was incomprehensible, since Germany pursued a policy of persecuting Jews in Germany and also, through contributions of money, incited the Arabs to persecute them in Palestine to which country many of the German Jews had emigrated.

Dr. Akzin had little else to say about the work of the Conference. His very definite purpose in calling at the Legation seemed to be to express the hope that I would find occasion to discuss the subject with [Page 898]my British colleague along the line of the aims of the New Zionist Organization. Naturally I gave him no encouragement to expect any such step on my part although making it clear that I was deeply interested in general in the improvement of the condition in which large groups of Jews find themselves.

I inquired Dr. Akzin’s opinion of the situation in Rumania, and he said that he happened to be in Bucharest about the time of the protests of the British and French Ministers against the proposed treatment of the Jews by the Goga Government.20 He added that the American Minister had been of more assistance to the Jews than is generally known. He said that Goga had modified his position very considerably from that which was first announced, although later he was informed that the Government had become more intensely anti-Semitic. He did find Goga, however, sympathetic with the plans of the New Zionist Organization to increase Jewish emigration to Palestine.

He stated that the treatment of the Jews in Poland was extremely bad but that their condition under a new Government would probably be worse than under the present one. Poland was represented as being genuinely interested in trying to find some solution of the Jewish problem through emigration and was giving sympathetic attention to the subject.

Dr. Akzin has a very high opinion of Czechoslovakia as the most democratic country in Europe and as pursuing a satisfactory attitude toward the Jews. He reported having a conversation with Foreign Minister Krofta in the course of which Dr. Krofta had told him that despite the present favorable situation in Czechoslovakia, there would in time probably develop the same difficulties here with the Jews as had developed in certain other countries. The young people upon completing their educational work would increasingly seek places in the professions or in industry and, failing to obtain employment and finding many such positions filled with Jews, they would very likely proceed upon the natural course of agitating the subject of Jewish competition and monopoly of the professions. This, according to Dr. Krofta, would bring about much the same antagonism as had developed in Germany and other European countries so that there was little encouragement that Czechoslovakia could offer in the way of being a field for Jewish immigration.

In regard to the Jewish situation in the United States, I was greatly interested in hearing Dr. Akzin say that he thought the point of saturation had been reached in the United States for Jewish immigration and that it was probable that the present Immigration Law with its restrictive quotas had prevented the outbreak of an anti-Jewish movement in the United States. He was inclined to think that there is a [Page 899]latent antipathy to Jews in many parts of the United States and that it would not take a great deal of agitation to convert that into an active force.

Respectfully yours,

Wilbur J. Carr
  1. For summary of conversations during November 1937, see telegram No. 751, December 3, 1937, 8 p.m., from the Chargé in the United Kingdom, and note from the British Embassy, Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. i, pp. 183 and 196.
  2. See pp. 672 ff.