Amery, Leopold Charles Maurice Stennett°

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AMERY, LEOPOLD CHARLES MAURICE STENNETT ° (Mauritz ; 1873–1955), pro-Zionist British statesman. In 1917 Amery assisted Vladimir *Jabotinsky in obtaining official consent for the formation of the *Jewish Legion and, as assistant secretary to the war cabinet (1917–18), drafted one of the formulas which eventually became the *Balfour Declaration. From 1924 to 1929, when Amery was secretary of state for the colonies, Palestine enjoyed a peaceful period and in his memoirs, My Political Life, 3 vols. (1953–55), he takes pride in this achievement. As a member of Parliament, he fought the anti-Zionist policies of the British government and voted against the White Paper of 1939. In 1946 Amery testified in the same spirit before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine. Amery's famous speech in the House of Commons in May 1940 helped to bring Winston Churchill to power as prime minister. In 1950 Amery was one of the first major British politicians to visit the new state of Israel.

Many years after Amery's death, historical research revealed that Amery's mother, Elisabeth Leitner (née Sapher or Sapier), was Jewish, a member of a prominent Budapest family which had converted to Protestantism about 1840 and whose members moved to Britain from about 1850 on. Amery had concealed his Jewish background all his life, while working in an influential way on behalf of Zionist causes. Amery's background made all the more mysterious the actions of his eldest son john (1912–1945), who, during World War ii, resided in Germany and tried to recruit British prisoners of war to fight for Germany against the Soviet Union. As a result, John Amery was hanged for treason in 1945. Amery's younger son julian (1919–1996) was a Conservative member of Parliament from 1950 until 1992 and was a prominent minister in the Macmillan and Heath governments. He was given a life peerage in 1992 as Baron Amery of Lustleigh.


J.B. Schechtman, Vladimir Jabotinsky Story, 2 vols. (1956–61), index; Ch. Weizmann, Trial and Error (1949), index. add. bibliography: W.D. Rubinstein, "The Secret of Leopold Amery," Historical Research (2000); A. Weale, Patriot Traitors: R. Casement, John Amery and the Real Meaning of Treason (2001); odnb online.

[Oskar K. Rabinowicz /

William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]

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Amery, Leopold Charles Maurice Stennett°

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