Kosovo refugees UN photo/Flickr

Het Europese vluchtelingenprobleem, toen en nu

NEW YORK – Eerder dit voorjaar reed ik naar een prachtige plek aan de zuidoever van het meer van Genève. Mijn bestemming was het Hotel Royale in Évian-les-Bains. In juli 1938 kwamen daar 32 landen bijeen voor een beschamend overleg dat nagenoeg uit ons geheugen is gewist.

De conferentie van Évian, bijeengeroepen door de Amerikaanse president Franklin D. Roosevelt in reactie op de enorme vluchtelingencrisis die was veroorzaakt door het virulente antisemitisme van Adolf Hitler, was een catastrofe. En de rampzalige uitkomst ervan moet in herinnering worden geroepen in het licht van de huidige Europese migratiecrisis.

De conferentie van Évian moest een antwoord geven op de nood van honderdduizenden Duitse en Oostenrijkse joden die wanhopig op zoek waren naar een goed heenkomen. Roosevelt geloofde dat louter een collectieve oplossing soelaas kon bieden. Ook Hitler hoopte dat andere landen de joden zouden opnemen.

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