Letter: Precedents for keeping the peace, pacifying the Balkans and saving the children

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Sir: Together with all civilised opinion, we are dismayed by reports from the former Yugoslavia of the appalling policy of 'ethnic cleansing', which echoes Nazi concepts of 'national purity'. News of people, in particular women and children, dying in cattle trucks, together with pictures of emaciated people herded into detention camps, are all-too-vivid reminders of the suffering and fate of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.

Since it is not within our competence to express an opinion on the so-called military option, we recognise that there may be good grounds for the Government to reject this as a way of alleviating the plight of those subject to Serbian cruelty.

However, our memories of the Nazi period also recall the hundreds of children who were saved from being murdered in the crematoria of Europe because the government of the time allowed children to be brought to this country on the kindertransport. We find the failure to accept a similar solution in the present circumstance both incomprehensible and inhumane. Is it really better for children to die and for orphans to be left to their fate?

Those who were saved in 1938- 39 were able to become useful members of society and many made outstanding contributions to public life. It would be tragic if specious arguments being advanced by some 'experts' were used to protect an immigration policy that sits unhappily with this country's former proud record of concern for the plight of the


Yours sincerely,




Chairman, Assembly of Rabbis

Reform Synagogues

of Great Britain

London, N3

10 August