Let My People Go (1942/3)
BPJC is proud to publish electronically a historic booklet written by Victor Gollancz in December 1942 entitled “Let My People Go”. Gollancz explains in this 16,000 word pamphlet that between one and two million Jews had already been murdered in Nazi-controlled Europe and “unless something effective is done, within a very few months six million Jews will all be dead.” Gollancz proposed a series of practical responses, centred around a rescue plan, and undertook a lecture and fundraising tour. Published early in the new year of 1943, the pamphlet sold a quarter of a million copies within three monthsand was quoted in the Canadian Parliament in 1943,and in The Adelaide Advertiser on Saturday 15 May 1943. Gollancz’s pamphlet, seen through today’s eyes, is remarkably well informed about the plight of European Jewry at the height of World War 2, in the midst of the Holocaust.
Sir Victor Gollancz (9 April 1893 – 8 February 1967) was a British publisher, socialist, and humanitarian. He was born in Maida Vale, London, the son of a wholesale jeweller and nephew of Rabbi Professor Sir Hermann Gollancz and Professor Sir Israel Gollancz.
Gollancz formed his own publishing company in 1927 and was one of the founders of the Left Book Club. In addition to his highly successful publishing business, Gollancz was a prolific writer on a variety of subjects, and put his ideas into action by establishing campaigning groups. His 1943 pamphlet “Let My People Go”, which called for an attempt by the Allied powers to rescue Jews under threat of extermination in occupied Europe, was widely read in 1943, following coverage in the British media in December 1942 of the Nazis’ extermination policy.
A subsequent pamphlet, published by Gollancz later on in the war, failed to reach a mass audience. By then the British media had almost entirely ceased coverage of the story of the Nazi attempt to exterminate European Jewry, after it had become clear that the western powers were unwilling to respond to popular British sentiment at the end of 1942 and early 1943 in favour of an attempt to rescue Jews in occupied Europe, which would have meant diverting resources from the war effort. He was made Vice-President of Eleanor Rathbone’s National Committee for Rescue from Nazi Terror. Along with Eleanor Rathbone, Gollancz was the foremost British campaigner during the Second World War on the issue of the Nazi extermination of European Jewry.
BPJC is very grateful for the generosity of Theo and Joy Castrikum of Woorim, Bribie Island, in donating this important historic pamphlet.