The British Royal Family and Jewish Refugees

July 12 2022

In honor of the recent platinum jubilee celebrated by Queen Elizabeth II, David Herman briefly surveys the numerous interactions between those Jews who fled Central Europe for England after the Nazis’ rise to power and the House of Windsor. Herman cites the observation of the historian Anthony Grenville that these refugees “developed a surprising degree of regard for the British royal family.” One story, not about Queen Elizabeth but about her mother, stands out:

Gretel Salinger . . . was invited to a garden party held at Buckingham Palace in 1945 for those who had done notable war work. She spoke to the queen (later the queen mother): “‘Where have you come from?’ [the queen asked]. I ought to have said: ‘From Paddington,’ but what did I say? I said: ‘I come from Germany.’ She looked at me and said: ‘And you are invited here to this party?’ I said: ‘Yes, Your Majesty. I have worked very hard during the war and I have collected millions [sic] of pounds for the war effort.’ ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘You mean you are a refugee from Germany.’ ‘Of course, Your Majesty.’ ‘That’s different, my dear child. I’m glad you have escaped and made your way here.’

“Where I took my courage from I still cannot say, but I said: ‘Yes, Your Majesty, but may I tell you what happened to my family?’ She said: ‘Yes.’ ‘All my family have been killed in Auschwitz.’ She made a gesture, [as if] shielding herself. She said: ‘If only I hadn’t asked you.’ I said: ‘On the contrary, Your Majesty, ‘this is my kaddish, the prayer we Jews have for the dead, that I could tell their fate to my queen.’ She took both my hands and she pressed them and said: ‘My darling child, I hope nothing else bad will happen to you and that you will enjoy your life and God bless you.’ I stood there crying, crying.”

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at AJR Journal

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Holocaust, Queen Elizabeth II, Refugees, United Kingdom

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism