1939 White Paper

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Jewish demonstration against white papers in Tel Aviv, 1939, from the collection of the Jewish National and University Library .
Jewish demonstration against white papers in Tel Aviv, 1939, from the collection of the Jewish National and University Library .

The 1939 White Paper, or "MacDonald White Paper", was a policy pursued by the British government that abandoned the idea of ​​splitting the British mandate over Palestine in favor of a joint Jewish - Arab government.


In January 1938 the Woodhead Commission was set up to find ways to implement the Peel Commission's proposals . Her report was published on November 9, 1938, when the November pogroms in the German Reich were at their height. The idea of ​​partition was maintained, but the proposed area of ​​the Jewish state was much smaller and limited to the coastline.

In February 1939, the St. James Conference (also known as the 1939 Round Table Conference) was convened in London . However, the Arab delegation refused a formal meeting with its Jewish opponents and did not recognize them. The conference ended on March 17th with no progress being made.


The White Paper , unilaterally drafted by the British, was published on May 17th and provided a new approach. It was less influenced by the situation of the Jews in Europe than by the attempt to counterbalance the pro-German policy of Hajj Mohammed Amin al-Husseini by pulling the Arabs over to the British side before the approaching Second World War . It was also published under pressure from the previous Arab uprisings . It called for the establishment of a unified state in Palestine within the next ten years. The borders of this state should be the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea .


An excerpt from the White Paper in a German translation:

"I / 4: His Majesty's government is now declaring unequivocally that it is not their policy to turn Palestine into a Jewish state. [...]

I / 10/1: The aim of His Majesty's Government is the establishment of an independent Palestine state within ten years, which has contractual relations with the United Kingdom in such a way that the economic and strategic interests of both countries are taken into account.

I / 10/2: In the independent state, Arabs and Jews should rule together in such a way that the essential interests of each community are secured. [...]

II / 13/1: Jewish immigration will be regulated in the next five years in such a way that the number of Jewish immigrants will reach approximately one third of the total population of the country - provided that the economic capacity of the country allows this […] from April of this year 75,000 immigrants will be admitted within the next five years. [...]

II / 13/3: After five years, no more Jewish immigration will be allowed unless the Arabs of Palestine are willing to do so.

II / 13/4: His Majesty's government is determined to prevent illegal immigration. [...]

III / 16: The High Commissioner receives powers to prohibit and control the sale of land. "


Although the White Paper states that it is bound by the Balfour Declaration , it substantially restricts both Jewish immigration to Palestine and the possibility of buying land there. The White Paper provided for a five-year period during which the immigration of 75,000 Jews (10,000 per year and an additional 25,000 refugees) should be allowed. Thereafter, further immigration should only be allowed with Arab consent. Compared to the status quo , it was an extraordinary defeat for the Jewish side, who viewed it as a betrayal of the British promise (to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine). The White Paper governed British policy in Palestine until 1947, when the British made it clear that they wished to give up their Palestine mandate.

The future Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill rejected the White Paper. He did not officially withdraw it, but did approve of deviations from the policy prescribed therein. Against the background of the Holocaust , the British government took up the division of the country again in internal discussions.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ [1] from Federal Agency for Civic Education, Issue 278 of March 28, 2008
  2. Tom Segev : Once upon a time there was a Palestine, Munich, 2006, p. 502f