How Clement Attlee Saved a Jewish Child from Hitler

Nov. 27 2018

If not an anti-Semite himself, Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader of Britain’s Labor party is at the very least someone who finds anti-Semitism entirely unobjectionable. But it was not ever thus. As has been made public only recently, Clement Attlee—Labor’s then-leader—took a German Jewish child named Paul Willer into his home in 1939. Rajeev Syal tells the story:

Willer was raised with his younger brother by his Jewish mother, Franziska, in the Bavarian town of Würzburg. Their father, Johannes, a Christian, left their mother in 1933, began a new relationship, and declared himself to be a Nazi sympathizer. Willer’s mother, a doctor, struggled to find work and look after her children. She decided she must leave Germany after witnessing the anti-Semitic violence of Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938. . . .

Her plan was for all three to escape to London, while she would retrain as a midwife. But with no money . . . she could leave [Germany and enter Britain] only if she found someone to guarantee to look after her children. [She] wrote to a German church official in January 1939, “I am in such despair and so despondent that I can’t see a way out.” A faint hope eventually came after her London-based brother Otto contacted the Reverend William Hewett, . . . who then found two local families willing to take a boy each.

One of these families was the Attlees, who were regular churchgoers and occupied Heywood, a beautiful home with a walled garden. At the time, Attlee was fifty-six and had been the leader of the Labor party for four years. Europe was sliding closer to war and Labor was opposing the policy of appeasement being pursued by the then-prime minister, Neville Chamberlain.

Attlee’s decision in 1947, when he was prime minister, to end the British Mandate over Palestine would make possible the creation of the state of Israel, although his government would hardly distinguish itself as a friend to the Jews in the process.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Guardian

More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Labor Party (UK), Neville Chamberlain, United Kingdom

Hizballah Is in Venezuela to Stay

Feb. 21 2019

In a recent interview, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the presence of Hizballah cells in Venezuela as further evidence of the growing unrest in that country. The Iran-backed group has operated in Venezuela for years, engaging in narcotics trafficking and money laundering to fund its activities in the Middle East, and likely using the country as a base for planning terrorist attacks. If Juan Guaido, now Venezuela’s internationally recognized leader, is able to gain control of the government, he will probably seek to alter this situation. But, writes Colin Clarke, his options may be limited.

A government led by Guaido would almost certainly be more active in opposing Hizballah’s presence on Venezuelan soil, not just nominally but in more aggressively seeking to curtail the group’s criminal network and, by extension, the influence of Iran. As part of a quid pro quo for its support, Washington would likely seek to lean on Guaido to crack down on Iran-linked activities throughout the region.

But there is a major difference between will and capability. . . . Hizballah is backed by a regime in Tehran that provides it with upward of $700 million annually, according to some estimates. Venezuela serves as Iran’s entry point into Latin America, a foothold the Iranians are unlikely to cede without putting up a fight. Moreover, Russia retains a vested interest in propping up [the incumbent] Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and keeping him in power, given the longstanding relationship between the two countries. . . . Further, after cooperating closely in Syria, Hizballah is now a known quantity to the Kremlin and an organization that President Vladimir Putin could view as an asset that, at the very least, will not interfere with Russia’s designs to extend its influence in the Western hemisphere.

If the Maduro regime is ultimately ousted from power, that will likely have a negative impact on Hizballah in Venezuela. . . . Yet, on balance, Hizballah has deep roots in Venezuela, and completely expelling the group—no matter how high a priority for the Trump administration—remains unlikely. The best-case scenario for Washington could be an ascendant Guaido administration that agrees to combat Hizballah’s influence—if the new government is willing to accept a U.S. presence in the country to begin training Venezuelan forces in the skills necessary to counter terrorism and transnational criminal networks with strong ties to Venezuelan society. But that scenario, of course, is dependent on the United States offering such assistance in the first place.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Mike Pompeo, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Venezuela