The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was a letter from Britain’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild to be read before the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.
It announced British support for Jewish immigration into the Palestinian Mandate. The Zionist Federation had promised the British government they could mobilize Hollywood and other assets to push America into WWI on the side of the Axis. America entered WWI on April 6, 1917. The Balfour Declaration was made on November 2, 1917. It was widely viewed in Europe as a thank you for American Jewish support for America’s entry into WWI.
The Balfour Declaration was considered a major step towards the creation of the Jewish state of Israel.
The fallout however, was not good for European Jews. Germany had been a safe haven for Jews for hundreds of years. Jews were thriving so much so, that the average Jewish income was significantly higher than that of the average German. Germans felt the Jewish community as a whole had betrayed them. German Jews quickly became stigmatized as disloyal, draft dodgers, war profiteers, and more.
If that wasn’t enough, European Jews soon felt the sting of betrayal from Britain. In the 1930′s the German government offered to move European Jews to the Palestinian Mandate. The National Socialist regime encouraged Jews to obtain Palestinian passports and argued that Jews would be much happier living in a country of their own in the Middle East. The German government promised the Arabs in the Palestinian Mandate free Volkwagon trucks and construction supplies to pacify them. Ideological Zionists living in the Mandate embraced the idea and some even openly supported the National Socialist regime.
Britain immediately capped the number of Jews who could move to the Palestinian Mandate to only 15,000 a year, so they would not change the balance of power.
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In 1940, the National Socialist regime sent the first wave of Jews to the Palestinian Mandate. The first convoy was three ships full of Jews from Prague, Danzig, Vienna, and Tulcea, Romania. The British immediately blockaded the ports and declared that the Jews were illegal immigrants. The Jews were all arrested by the British army and placed in quickly erected concentration camps. Once WWII started many Jews tried to reach the territory to avoid being sent to Nazi run concentration camps. Britain captured tens of thousands and imprisoned them in concentration camps in the Palestinian Mandate, Cyprus, and Mauritius. The British concentration camps looked the same as the dreaded camps run by Germany, Croatia, and Romania. When inmates arrived at the British camps they were forced to strip naked and then sprayed with DDT.
In 1944, the government of Hungary collapsed. The arrow cross party seized control of Hungary to keep the Hungarian army fighting on the Eastern front. To pay for the Hungarian army, Jewish owned property in Hungary was seized. The National Socialist regime made another major attempt to send Jews to the Palestinian Mandate. They had Turkish cooperation to transport Jews to the territory by train. One train was even filled up with Hungarian Jews and ready to leave, but the British said the Hungarian Jews would be refused. The passengers were ordered to switch trains to be sent to concentration camps in Poland. At that time Britain knew full well that the IRC was the sole provider of food and supplies to the camps and it was only a matter of time until access would be cut off due to the advancing red army.
What is even more shocking is that after the Allies and the IRC began liberating the concentration camps, Britain continued to imprison Jewish refugees who tried to enter the Palestinian Mandate. Many survived WWII in concentration camps, only to be imprisoned by the British.
The main British concentration camp was in Atlit, north of Haifa. Many Jews were imprisoned in Atlit before being transported to Cyprus or Mauritius. Over 70,000 Jews were imprisoned there between 1940 and 1945. The camp was shut down when it was attacked by Zionist guerrillas in 1945. Yitzhak Rabin allegedly masterminded the operation, but he did not lead it.
It took a very violent guerrilla war and major acts of terrorism to convince the British to give up the Palestinian Mandate after WWII was over.
by Jason Swartz