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“The world seems to be divided into two parts—those where the Jews could not live and those where they could not enter.”—Chaim Weizmann, Manchester Guardian, May 23, 1936
As the Nazi government grew in power, a growing number of Jews recognized the necessity of mass emigration from their homelands in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland. But which countries would step forward to take them in? President Franklin Roosevelt proposed that nations sympathetic to the plight Jews wishing to escape persecution by Nazi Germany meet at a designated site to discuss the problem and proposed solutions. Thirty-two nations including the United States answered the call and representatives from these countries and several international agencies convened at the luxurious Hotel Royal on the banks of Lake Geneva in Evian, France for ten days in July, 1938.
Many in the international community were hopeful that the attending nations would greatly expand the quotas of immigrants from Germany and other Nazi controlled regions allowing them to legally enter their countries. Sadly, every nation, with the exception of one, sympathized with the plight of the Jews but refused to allow more immigration.
You and your students will now have the opportunity to assume the personalities of these representatives and to discuss this historic refugee problem. Perhaps you will change history! You will then compare your decisions with what occurred in those fateful days just shortly before the outbreak of World War Two.