Chapter 22 – Solomon Lever’s 1954 speech from the TUC podium

by Jason Lever

Posted on Sun, 01 Dec 2013 18:09:06 GMT

Speaking out against the rearmament of Germany

In 1954, the London Jewish Bakers Union supported a composite motion (which was lost) that ‘This Congress expresses its opposition to the rearmament of either Eastern or Western Germany...’ (TUC History Online, 4).

They were in the company of other unions – from the National Union of Furniture Trade Operatives to the Scottish Painters Society – in moving motions. Solomon Lever’s particular motion stated that:

Congress views with concern the decision of the Government to rearm the Germans. Congress is of the opinion that it would be in the best interests of peace if both East and West Germany remained disarmed for the time being’ (TUC History Online, 5).

Starting his speech, he ensures for the Congress audience that the wider victims of the Nazis are remembered too (TUC History Online, 6):

I want the Germans disarmed because twice in our lifetime have we seen what a menace an armed Germany can be to Europe to the world and to humanity in general... Prominent Germans are fleeing to the east.... as a protest against the rising strength of the Nazis.

This small union which I represent, one of the smallest affiliated to Congress, and the only remaining Jewish trade union in the world outside of Israel, feels that it owes a duty to 6 million Jewish dead...[and] the many thousand socialists and trade unionists in the occupied territories which these same Germans tortured and put to death.’

He makes clear his view of the continuity of both German ‘kultur’ and actual personages in making his argument extraordinarily candidly and powerfully:

Have the people who committed these crimes changed? Most of them are still alive and they hold responsible positions. It is our view that a disarmed and subdued Germany can be an asset to the world...

A rearmed and cocky Germany with “Deutschland uber alles” as its slogan, would not think twice again exterminating millions of people to gain its ends.... men have been known to murder each other, but even savages have spared the children. Not so the Germans’.

The full speech can be read at TUC History Online

His speech has impact at the highest levels. Later in the day, the TUC general secretary, Sir Vincent Tewson said, ‘When our friend from the Jewish Bakers spoke this morning this hall was stilled and our minds went back to debates which we have had here previously [in 1935]’ (TUC History Online, 7).

Five years later, when J.R. Shanley (National Union of Furniture Trade Operatives) spoke in debate on the same issue, he said (TUC History Online, 8):

I want to remind Congress of the last time we discussed the rearmament of Germany. This Congress went as quiet as I ever heard it go in the 24 years I have been coming here... I cannot reproduce the quiet tones of appeal of Solomon Lever; I can only remind you of his words’.

TUC London-Jewish-Bakers-Union Jewish-Bakers Trade-Unionists German-rearmament

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Chapter 1 - Introducing Solomon Lever and his l...Chapter 2 - The Jewish East EndChapter 3 - A family history of Solomon LeverChapter 4 - A Jewish East End education for Sol...Chapter 5 - Joining East End cultural and commu...Chapter 6 - Solomon as a cabinet makerChapter 7 – From cabinet maker to trade union g...Chapter 8 – Rise of the London Jewish Bakers UnionChapter 9 – Dealing with the challenges of a de...Chapter 10 – Solomon’s journey to Jewish trade ...Chapter 11 – Interlude of anarchism’s appeal to...Chapter 12 – Solomon Lever finds his home in th...Chapter 13 – The Liberal and Conservative partiesChapter 14 – The Labour Party consolidates its ...Chapter 15 – The appeal of East End councils’ s...Chapter 16 – The rise and fall of communist sup...Chapter 17 – Surging Labourism after the warChapter 18 – The Labour Party’s support for Zio...Chapter 19 – Short-lived Labour-Zionist honeymoonChapter 20 – Solomon Lever’s 1947 broadcast spe...Chapter 21 – Solomon Lever’s 1948 speech from t...Chapter 22 – Solomon Lever’s 1954 speech from t...Chapter 23 – Solomon Lever’s final TUC speech i...Chapter 24 – His Worshipful The Mayor and Mayor...Chapter 25 – Family connections in the Mayor’s ...Chapter 26 – Important social issues raised wit...Chapter 27 – The adbuction of Solomon LeverChapter 28 – Discovery of Solomon’s bodyChapter 29 – InquestChapter 30 – The death of Solomon LeverChapter 31 – Solomon’s funeral and obituaryChapter 32 – The death knell of the London Jewi...Chapter 33 – An appraisalChapter 34 – Bibliography