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Labor Action, 16 June 1947


Al Findley

Open United States Doors to Displaced Persons!

Powers Ploy with Displaced Persons’ Lives


From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 23, 9 June 1947, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


A sub-committee of the House of Representatives will begin hearings June 4 on the Stratton bill to admit 400,000 displaced Europeans to this country in the next four years.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Stratton and supported by the Citizens Committee for. Displaced Persons, would allow 100,000 DPs to emigrate yearly from Germany, Austria and Italy, through the utilization of unused quotas.

The plight of these unfortunates was dramatized recently by the recent events which forced more than 116 Jewish refugees to spend three days and nights on a bridge in the no-man’s land between Hungary and Austria. Among them were pregnant women and several children. Three of the children died of hunger during this nightmarish time, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

What, happened to this group is typical of the fate not only of Jewish refugees but of refugees generally in Central Europe.

Hungary Incident

On Tuesday, a group of 116 Jews who had fled from hunger conditions in Rumania into Hungary, were forced by Hungarian frontier guards to cross the Austrian frontier at Rohrbach. The Russian kommandature of the district ordered the Austrian guards to send the refugees back. A Soviet major and a detachment of soldiers escorted them across the frontier. Trucks sent by the Committee for Refugee Jews were confiscated by the Russians and the drivers arrested.

When the case was brought by the Austrian Ministry of the Interior to the attention of the Russian authorities in Vienna, they ordered the trucks returned and promised to ask the Russian authorities in Budapest to prevent further “incursions” of refugees. However, the Russians have insisted on returning to Hungary those refugees who already had arrived.

Then the Hungarian frontier guard, under orders from the Stalinist Security Minister of Hungary, refused to readmit the refugees. The Austrian guards in their turn declined to permit the refugees to cross the bridge. There they stayed, without shelter, without food or water, for three days, until the Austrian guards, finally moved by the plight of these pitiful refugees, housed and fed them in the railroad station.

They are still in the railroad station, suffering less hardship, but hardly enjoying the “finer things.”

Immigration Problem

The situation of those in the DP camps has been showing no improvement. The camps are converted concentration camps and the enforced idleness is increasingly disintegrating. They are rotting away and the change of name from “concentration” camp to “DP” camp has not materially improved their hopes for the future.

UNNRA has been giving aid to over 850,000 displaced persons, of whom less than 250,000 are Jews. The UNNRA will cease to exist on June 30. Unless the substitute International Relief Office, with its greatly reduced budget, begins operations immediately, almost one million persons face immediate starvation and deportation to countries where their lives are not safe. The IRO cannot come into existence without the U.S. appropriating its share, $73,000,000, to the budget of this organization.

There is no basis for thinking that the displaced persons will to any significant extent be absorbed into the shattered economies of Germany, Austria and Italy. The real and final answer to the entire problem is immigration.

The majority of the 250,000 Jews want to go to Palestine. The Workers Party, together with the international working class, demands the opening of the doors to the Jews. However, as Americans, living in the richest country of the world, we put the emphasis on the demand of “Open the Door to the U.S.” All the Zionist groups at first REFUSED to raise this demand and now a few do, but still give this demand only a mild lip service. This policy is one of gambling with the lives of thousands of Jews for so-called ideological reasons, and does not help their struggle to open the doors of Palestine.

The 600,000 non-Jewish refugees want to go to North and South America. The Workers Party demands the right of free immigration for all peoples, to all countries. For us, the right of free immigration everywhere is one of the basic democratic rights, like free speech and freedom of religion. Revolutionary socialists have always been the mqst consistent and sincere fighters for civil liberties and democratic rights.

Open the Doors!

What has the Unifed States done up till now. President Truman has demanded the admission of 100,000 Jews into Palestine. But they did not get there – they are in new concentration camps in Cyprus. At the special assembly of the UN on Palestine, the American delegate did not even mention the President’s often repeated demand.

On December 22, 1945, Presjdent Truman, acting within the limits of the present restrictive immigration laws, ordered the admission of 39,000 refugees. It took five months before the first group arrived in May, 1946. Last week was a full year since this group landed and instead of 39,000, only 12,400 immigrant refugees were admitted into the U.S. So as not to sound like totally destructive critics, we hastened to point out that despite President Truman’s Inaction, he has done far-more than did Roosevelt on this question.

Roosevelt operated under the same laws, but this “great humanitarian” did nothing. He even prevented a pro-Jewish resolution on Palestine from reaching the floor of Congress.

The U.S. has trifled too long with the lives and welfare of these people. There is no reason either in common sense or justice why the American labor movement should allow itself to be influenced by the taboos of the immigration laws.

There can be no peace in Europe without solving the DP problem. There is no saving of American money by supporting the DPs in Europe, through UNRRA, IRO and an army of occupation. The immigrant does not have, to become a rival for a job, for an apartment, for a house. With a proper program the U. S. can supply more than three times its present population in comfort. The immigrants will add to the greatest asset any country has – its population, its workers.

In the name of peace and reason, no less than in the name of humanity, the time has come to do something about it.


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