200th Anniversay Birkbeck Effect: William Temple, President of Birkbeck and Archbishop of Canterbury  

Temple campaigned on behalf of Jews during World War II. Temple responded to the crisis by co-founding the Council of Christians and Jews, dedicated both to helping the persecuted Jews in Nazi Germany and to fighting anti-Semitism in whatever guise.

In one of his 1943 speeches in the House of Lords, Temple spoke about the “extermination of the Jews” in Nazi Germany. He reminded listeners of the parable of the good Samaritan who came to the aid of a wounded traveller by the roadside. “My chief protest”, he began, “is against procrastination of any kind…. The Jews are being slaughtered at the rate of tens of thousands a day…. We at this moment have upon us a tremendous responsibility. We stand at the bar of history, of humanity and of God”.

It was a statement that gives a lie to the view that Britons during the early 1940s did not know about what we now called the Holocaust.


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