Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Kosovo refugees UN photo/Flickr

Europe’s Refugee Problem, Then and Now

In July 1938, representatives from 32 countries in Europe, North America, and Australia, meeting in Évian-les-Bains, France, refused to accept Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany. At a time when Europe is increasingly turning its back on migrants, it is vital to recall this history.

NEW YORK – Earlier this spring, I drove to a beautiful spot on the southern bank of Lake Geneva. My destination was the Hotel Royale in Évian-les-Bains. It was there, in July 1938, that 32 nations met for a shameful discussion that has been virtually airbrushed from our memory.

Convened by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the massive refugee crisis triggered by Hitler’s virulent anti-Semitism, the Évian conference was a catastrophe. And its disastrous outcome needs to be recalled in the light of Europe’s current migration crisis.

The Évian conference was supposed to address the plight of hundreds of thousands of German and Austrian Jews who were desperate for refuge. Roosevelt believed that only a collective solution could meet the challenge. Hitler, too, hoped that other countries would accept them.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/R9nHt1q;
  1. lhatheway8_Spencer PlattGetty Images_stockmarketcoronavirus Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    A COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan

    Larry Hatheway

    The rapid escalation of the COVID-19 crisis may be setting the stage for a global recession. Economic policymakers have no time to waste in preparing a response – preferably one that makes full use of low and falling bond yields, below-target inflation, and the lessons of the last recession.

    0
  2. fischer166_JIM WATSONAFP via Getty Images_trumplookingangrywef Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

    The West’s Final Countdown?

    Joschka Fischer

    With the US presidential election approaching, no one can say they didn't foresee the possibility of Donald Trump winning a second term – an event that would pose an existential threat to the very idea of "the West." So why are European leaders spending their time squabbling over agriculture subsidies?

    8

Edit Newsletter Preferences