MPS LOVE OF THE OPERA MEANS SLAVERY ABOLITION BILL FAILS
[ 15 March 1796 ]
On this day in 1796, a slavery abolition bill narrowly failed to gain a majority in the House of Commons, failing by just 74 to 70 votes.
THE BANK OF ENGLAND HANDS OVER CZECH GOLD TO THE NAZIS
[ 15 March 1939 ]
On 15 March 1939, less than six months before the outbreak of the Second World War, German troops occupied the Czech Republic, a parliamentary democracy. It was a military takeover without any credible pretext beyond Hitler’s fanciful claim that the provinces of ‘Bohemia and Moravia (had) for thousands of years belonged to the lebensraum ( ‘living space’ ) of the German people.’1
HARSH PENALTIES INTRODUCED TO DETER JEWISH REFUGEES FLEEING THE NAZIS
[ 15 March 1940 ]
Today in 1940, the Colonial Office approved a request from the British High Commissioner in Palestine to introduce harsh penalties to deter the arrival of Jewish refugees from Nazi occupied Europe. Any ship involved would be liable to immediate forfeiture and the ‘owner, agent or master’ of any such vessel faced a fine or £1,000 and imprisonment for three years. The refugees themselves would also be liable to be six month prison sentences. The threatened fines and incarceration did little to stop the flow of fugitives, as six months in prison in Palestine was infinitely preferable to the possible alternatives the Nazis had planned for them.2
- Hitler’s proclamation 16 March 1939 cited in Milan Hauner, Hitler: A Chronology of his Life and Time, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke and New York, 2008, p. 242.
- Bernard Wasserstein, Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1988, pp. 59-60.
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