17 December 1942: Declaration on the Persecution of the Jews

On 17 December 1942, 11 governments issued a joint declaration condemning the Nazi treatment of the Jews – a result of mounting evidence from Poland about the systemic mass murder of European Jews.

Anthony Eden © UK Crown (Open Government License)

The UK joined with the USA, USSR, and eight European governments-in-exile in acknowledging that the Nazi regime was killing many hundreds of thousands of Jews through mass executions, incarceration in concentration camps and ghettos, and forced labour. They condemned ‘in the strongest possible terms this bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination’.

On the 70th anniversary of the declaration Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

‘Sir Anthony Eden’s Statement to Parliament on 17 December 1942 was followed by much public and Parliamentary discussion in the UK and among the United Nations about what could be done to stop the genocide and had a strong impact on subsequent allied planning for the post-war trials of Nazi leaders.’

The date marks the historically significant moment when the Allied governments publicly acknowledged that the Holocaust was taking place in continental Europe, as well as one of the first instances of an international commitment being made to combat extreme human rights abuses in foreign dictatorships.

Explore our other dates to remember

The Holocaust

The Holocaust

The Holocaust (The Shoah in Hebrew) was the attempt by the Nazis and their collaborators to murder all the Jews in Europe. From the time they assumed power in Germany in 1933, the Nazis used propaganda, persecution, and legislation to deny human and civil rights to German Jews. They used centuries of antisemitism as their foundation.

Nazi persecution of the Jews

Nazi persecution of the Jews

Once the Nazis came to power they introduced legislation intended to deny Jews freedom and restrict their rights. Boycotts of Jewish doctors, lawyers and shops began in 1933 and by 1935 Jews were not allowed to join the civil service or the army.

Anne Frank

Anne Frank

The diary written by Anne Frank is famous around the world as an eye witness account which gives an insight into the persecution faced by Jewish people under the Nazi regime.