Die deutschen Friedens-Delegierten und Sachverständigen in Versailles. 1919: Die Mitglieder der für die Friedensverhandlungen in Paris bestimmten deutschen Delegation. (v.l.n.r.) Prof. Dr. Schücking, Reichspostminister Giesberts, Reichsjustizminister Dr. Landsberg, Reichsminister des Auswärtigen Dr. Graf Brockdorff-Rantzau, Präsident der Preussischen Landesversammlung Leinert, Dr. Karl Melchior.

The Germans, even before the Versailles of Jewish Minorities in Poland Treaty was completed, were preparing to argue the case for minority rights to protect Germans living outside of Germany’s borders.   After the rejection of proposals to include the protection of minorities within the Covenant of the League of Nations itself, the minority issue was finally directly and separately addressed.  Dominated by its British and American members, the committee drafted model minority treaties, first for Poland and then for 12 other Countries. Despite bitter protests from their representatives, the Polish government, as a condition for recognition, had to grant in Articles 1—8 complete “protection of life and liberty to all inhabitants” regardless of “birth, nationality, language, race or religion” and to guarantee the free exercise of any “creed, religion or belief” not inconsistent with public order or public morals.

Article 9 laid down that the “Jewish communities of Poland” could establish educational committees of their own choosing and would receive a share of public funds, while Article 11 guaranteed that the Jewish Sabbath was to be respected and not used as a weapon against the Jews.

By 1924 Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia had recognized minorities as collective entities and had agreed to respect their “national rights.”  Upper Silesia and, in 1932, Iraq were added to the list. The special clauses relating to the Jews were not included in the other minority treaties.

Source: Carole Fink, “The Minorities Question at the Paris Peace Conference: The Polish Minority Treaty, June 28, 1919,” in Boemeke, Feldman, and Glaser (eds.), The Treaty of Versailles, 269-70.

June 28 1919 Treaty of Versailles and Protection of Jewish Minorities in Poland

Article 11.

Jews shall not be compelled to perform any act which constitutes a violation of their Sabbath nor shall they be placed under any disability by reason of their refusal to attend courts of law or to perform any legal business on their Sabbath. This provision however shall not exempt Jews from such obligations shall be imposed upon all other Polish citizens for the necessary purposes of military service, national defense or the preservation of public order. Poland declares her intention to refrain from ordering or permitting elections. Whether general or local, to be held on a Saturday, nor will registration for electoral or other purposes be compelled to be performed on a Saturday.

Source: Treaty With Poland Treaty of Peace between The United States of America, The British Empire, France, Italy , Japan, and Poland signed at Versailles on June 28th, 1919 pages 11-13