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June 16, 1919 Pogroms – Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow WilsonThe attitude of the Great Powers was not based on idealism or philanthropy.  It was based on the promise given to Germany on June 16, (1919) that adequate measures would be taken to protect the German population handed over to other States, and on the purely practical fact that the ultimate responsibility for the new order in Europe lay with those Powers whose armies could enforce that order.  As President Wilson expressed it in a speech to the Plenary Session of the Conference called to discuss the Minority Question, the great Powers ‘cannot afford to guarantee territorial settlements which (they) do not believe to be right, and (they) cannot afford to leave elements of disturbance unremoved, which (they) believe will disturb the peace of the world.’  At that actual moment pogroms were going on in Eastern Europe, and the feeling between Poles or Rumanians and Jews was well known to the Powers, even apart from the memoranda frequently submitted to them by the Jewish delegations.  Their anxiety was therefore to see that there was no basis on which the new States could repeat Rumania’s defiance of the Congress of Berlin on the one hand, and on the other, no advantage secured by minorities which might be justly resented by the majorities among whom they lived.  For this reason the word, “national” was avoided and the colorless word “racial” substituted for it, and no central representative body of any minority was called into being.

Source: Parkes, James.  The Emergence of the Jewish Problem 1878-1939, London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1946.  p. 123

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