How the Allies Responded to the News of Hitler’s Final Solution
Rescue and refuge
...For the Colonial Office, maintenance of the six-monthly Palestine quotas was the cornerstone of their policy. As they saw it, it was essential not to antagonize the Arabs of the Middle East. The German army was victorious in North Africa; the German navy patrolled the Aegean; German aircraft were based in Crete and Rhodes. British control of Egypt, the Suez Canal and Palestine hung on a slender thread. Without Arab goodwill, Britain could find herself defeated in her most vulnerable region.
...In July 1942 the Vichy regime had agreed to hand over to the Germans ten thousand foreign Jews living in the unoccupied zone of France. These Jews were to be deported by the Germans to Poland: Berlin radio, monitored in Britain, had announced the fact of these deportations. Thousands of those affected tried to flee to Switzerland. But on August 13 the Swiss Government had closed its frontiers to all those seeking to cross them ‘illegally’. So strict were the Swiss authorities that more than a thousand Jewish refugees who had managed to cross into Switzerland without permission were taken to the border and forced to cross back into France.
The British Government were asked to take at least the children of these Vichy Jews. But it was felt in the Foreign Office that priority in any relaxation of the immigration laws should be given to children of Allied nationality as ‘it would be very difficult to justify to our Allies the grant of visas to enemy aliens, however sound our humanitarian reasons. The Permanent Under-secretary of State, Sir Alexander Cadogan, gave as his considered opinion: ‘It seems to me wrong to support bringing children to this country at present.’