Evian is not just a bottled water company. And the town of Évian-les-Baines in France on the south shore of Lake Geneva is not just a location for luxury hotels. It’s also the location where, in July 1938, the first international effort was ever made (or feigned) to alleviate a refugee crisis.
The crisis was the Nazi treatment of Jews. The representatives of 32 nations and 63 organizations (plus some 200 journalists covering the event) were well aware of the Nazis’ desire to expel all Jews from Germany and Austria, and somewhat aware that the fate that awaited them if not expelled was death. The decision of the conference was essentially to leave the Jews to their fate. (Only Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic increased their immigration quotas.) The decision to abandon the Jews was driven primarily by anti-Semitism, which was widespread among the diplomats in attendance and among the publics they represented.
These nations were represented at the Évian Conference: Australia, the Argentine Republic, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, United Kingdom, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Italy refused to attend.
⇒ Keep Reading