Australia’s Participation and Performance at the Evian Conference: Integrity or Shame?

Paul R. Bartrop – PhD in Economic History and Director of The Center for Judaic, Holocaust, & Genocide Studies, Florida Gulf Coast University. 10501 FGCU Blvd S, Fort Myers, FL 33965, USA. E-mail:
Вся статья: 

DOI 10.24833/2071-8160-2018-4-61-153-167 (Читать статью в PDF)

This article outlines and assesses the contribution made by the Commonwealth of Australia to the Evian Conference of July 1938. The attitude of the Australian government, it will be shown, was ambivalent from the start, with the Commonwealth not even prepared to attend unless Britain also attended. Having then made the commitment to send a representative to Evian, the Australian government chose a man who was neither an immigration expert nor a man with any foreign affairs expertise. Thomas (later Sir Thomas) White, the Australian Minister for Trade and Customs, was a senior minister in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, but the experience required for the task of representing Australia at a gathering such as Evian was simply beyond him. The legalistic and unsympathetic stance he adopted led to despair for many of the Jewish delegates at Evian. Upon elected to the chairmanship of one of the two sub-committees set up at the conference, White employed his position to treat the Jewish delegates with utter contempt. His record at the conference, lauded by many of the officials who were present, was one of the least humanitarian of any that can be attributed to Australian statesmen—hardly a ringing endorsement of Australia’s record at this crucial gathering in which the Commonwealth sought, at an early stage, to express itself as an autonomous nation on the international stage.

Key words: Australia, Holocaust, Commonwealth, Jews, British Foreign Office, United States, Evian Conference.

1. Abella I., Troper H. None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933 to 1948. New York, Random House Publ., 1982. 336 p.
2. Adler-Rudel S. The Evian Conference on the Refugee Question. Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook, 1968, vol. 13, pp. 235–273. DOI: 10.1093/leobaeck/ 13.1.235
3. Andrews E.M. Isolationism and Appeasement in Australia: Reactions to the European Crises, 1935- 1939. Canberra, ANU Press Publ., 1970. 151 p.
4. Bartrop P.R. Australia and the Holocaust, 1933- 1945. Kew (Victoria), Australian Scholarly Publ., 1994. 304 p.
5. Bartrop P.R. Indifference of the Heart: Canada, Australia and the Evian Conference of 1938. Australian-Canadian Studies, 1989, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 57-74.
6. Bartrop P.R. Not a problem for Australia: TheKristallnacht viewed from the Commonwealth, November 1938. Journal of the Australian Jewish Historical Society, 1989, vol. X, part 6, pp. 589-599.
7. Bartrop P.R. The Evian Conference of 1938 and the Jewish Refugee Crisis. London, Palgrave Macmillan Publ., 2017. 128 p. DOI: 10.1007/978-3- 319-65046-3.
8. Bassler G.P. Sanctuary Denied: Refugees from the Third Reich and Newfoundland Immigration Policy 1906-1949. St. John’s, Institute of Social and Economic Research Publ., 1992. 288 p.
9. Beaglehole A. A Small Price to Pay: Refugees from Hitler in New Zealand, 1936-46. Wellington, Allen and Unwin, 1988. 180 p.
10. Bentwich N. My 77 Years: An Account of My Life and Times, 1883-1960. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul Publ., 1962. Pp. 147-48.
11. Bentwich N. The Evian Conference and After. Fortnightly, 1938, vol. 144, p. 289.
12. Blakeney M. Bartrop, Australia and the Holocaust. Australia and the Jewish Refugees, 1933- 1948. Sydney, Croom Helm Australia Publ., 1985. 304 p.
13. Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 1938. Vol. 156. 2170 p.
14. False Havens: The British Empire and the Holocaust. Ed. by P.R. Bartrop. Lanham (MD), University Press of America, 1995. 308 p.
15. Gilbert M. Exile and Return: The Emergence of Jewish Statehood. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson Publ., 1978. 202 p.
16. Keogh D. Ireland and Europe, 1919-1948. Dublin, Gill and Macmillan Publ., 1988. 256 p.
17. Rutland S.D. Edge of the Diaspora: Two Centuries of Jewish Settlement in Australia. Sydney, Collins Australia Publ., 1988. 506 p. 18. White T.W. Who’s Who in Australia. 14th ed. DFC, VD, AMIAeE, FRGS, 1950. 816 p.