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December 17: The Allied Powers’ Statement on the Holocaust, 1942

December 17, 2015
The_Mass_Extermination_of_Jews_in_German_Occupied_PolandThe United Nations, a confederation of the Allied Powers during World War II, issued its sole statement on the Holocaust on this date in 1942 — three years before the founding of the international body known as the United Nations. Prompted by a report from the Polish government-in-exile, the statement declared that “the German authorities... are now carrying into effect Hitler’s often repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe. From all the occupied countries Jews are being transported, in conditions of appalling horror and brutality, to Eastern Europe. In Poland, which has been made the principal Nazi slaughterhouse, the ghettos established by the Nazi invaders are being systematically emptied of all Jews except a few highly-skilled workers required for war industries. None of those taken away are ever heard of again. The able-bodies are slowly worked to death in labor camps. The infirm are left to die of exposure and starvation or are deliberately massacred in mass executions.” Therefore the Allied states “condemn in the strongest possible terms this bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination. They declare that such events can only strengthen the resolve of all freedom-loving people to overthrow the barbarous Hitlerite tyranny.” The statement was read to British House of Commons in a speech by foreign secretary Anthony Eden, and published on the front page of the New York Times and many other newspapers. “It would clearly be the desire of the United Nations to do everything they could to provide wherever possible an asylum for these people, but the House [of Commons] will understand that there are immense geographical and other difficulties in the matter” —Anthony Eden