On this day in 1942, leading British clergymen and political figures hold a public meeting to register their outrage over the persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany.
In a message sent to the meeting, Prime Minister Winston Churchill summed up the sentiments of all present: “The systematic cruelties to which the Jewish people-men, women, and children-have been exposed under the Nazi regime are amongst the most terrible events of history, and place an indelible stain upon all who perpetrate and instigate them. Free men and women,” Churchill continued, “denounce these vile crimes, and when this world struggle ends with the enthronement of human rights, racial persecution will be ended.”
The very next day, the power of protest over cruelty was made evident elsewhere in Europe. When Gestapo officers in Brussels removed more than 100 Jewish children from a children’s home for deportation, staff members refused to leave the sides of their young charges. Both the staff and the children were removed to a deportation camp set up in Malines. Protests rained down on the Germans, who had occupied the nation for more than two years, including one lodged by the Belgian secretary-general of the Ministry of Justice. The children and staff were returned to the home.