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296 I59e 56-10348 

Institute of Jewish Affairs 
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296 I59e 56-10348 
Institute of Jewish Affairs 
European Jewry ten years after 

the war 


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Ten Years 

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European Jewry 
Ten Years After 
The War 

European Jewry 

Ten Years After 

The War 










The opinions expressed in the studies o the Institute of Jewish 
Affairs are not necessarily those of the World Jewish Congress 

Printed in U.S.A. 3 by RAUSEN BROS., 142 E., 32 St,. N.Y.C, O 149 


This volume, prepared and published under my direction, 
is in a sense a companion volume to the Institute publication 
Hitler's Ten Year War on the Jews published in 1943, which has 
remained to this day a standard work in this field: it deals with 
practically the same nations and its aim is to show what hap- 
pened to the Jews in those countries over which the Nazis had 
extended their rule between 1933 and 1945. 

The present volume is intended, mainly, for readers who are 
not experts, on a particular country or region and are interested 
in the facts rather than in source material. 

Although the volume is dedicated to the postwar period, 
some information on the period before that time is given. Fre- 
quently, it would be difficult to understand the present era 
without this information. 

The authors of the various articles had to submit to certain 
common rules of presentation. However, no attempt was made 
to put them in a straight jacket of total uniformity. This would 
undoubtedly have led to a greater uniformity of the articles 
but would have destroyed the individuality of the studies. Fur- 
thermore, the background, the history, and the development in 
the various countries differ so much that total uniformity could 
not be achieved anyhow. 

A short summary of the development and the present situa- 
tion in the whole of the countries concerned is to be found in 
my Postscript at the end of the volume. 

The articles are grouped in accordance with the present 
situation of the respective Jewish communities. 

As said, the articles were written by various hands. Julius 




Fisher wrote on Rumania and Hungary; Gerhard Jacoby on 
Germany; Oskar Karbach on Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, and 
Italy; Max Katzenelenbogen (Brussels) on Belgium; Jacob 
Lestschinsky on Poland; Arnold Mandel (Paris) on Prance; 
Gerhard Polak (Amsterdam) on Holland; Robert Serebrenik 
(formerly CMef Rabbi of Luxembourg) on Luxembourg; Saul 
Sokal on Czechoslovakia, and Pinchas WeUner (Copenhagen) on 
Denmark. Maximilian Hurwitz translated the articles on France, 
Poland, Denmark, and Belgium and edited the rest of the 


I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Kurt Wehle and Mr. 
Fritz Becker for material and help in connection with the 
preparation of the studies on Czechoslovakia and Italy, respec- 
tively; to Dr. Albert Vajs, whose articles on Yugoslav Jewry, 
published in Jevrejski Almanah 1954, was extensively used in 
preparing the study on Yugoslavia, and to Anatole Goldstein 
for general advice and assistance. 


December, 1955 





Poland 13 

Rumania 44 

Hungary 60 

Czechoslovakia 82 

Bulgaria 109 


Germany 125 

Austria 153 

Greece 162 

Yugoslavia 180 


France 195 

Holland 220 

Belgium 232 

Luxembourg 251 

Norway 255 


Italy 261 

Denmark 277 






It is impossible to understand Jewish life in Communist 
Poland without taking into consideraton pre-war Polish Jewry. 

It is one of the enigmatic phenomena of community life that 
accumulated spiritual energy continues to be effective although 
most of its physical bearers have disappeared. This enigma stands 
out vividly in the case of the present Jewish community of some 
50,000 in Poland. The bearers of religious and national culture 
perished in the Great Catastrophe, or else fled Communist Poland, 
but the activity of the small Jewry which remains greatly exceeds 
that of other communities of the same or even larger size. In 
the present case the former atmosphere, as it were, exerts an 
influence. A contributing factor is that in Poland everyone, 
including the representatives of the present regime, is accustomed 
to look upon the Jewish community as an ethnic body entitled 
to develop in national forms. 

Let us dwell briefly on the uniqueness of the Polish Jewish 
community in relation to national and religious culture. In 1939, 
Poland contained about 3,250,000 Jews. With respect to creativity 
in the sphere of religious and national culture in all forms and 
shades, Polish Jewry was far above any other Jewish com- 
munity. In fact, until 1939 Poland was the spiritual and religious 
center of world Jewry. 

Here are a few facts that will corroborate and illumine our 
statement. According to the census of 1931, 87.8 per cent of the 
Jews of Poland gave Yiddish and Hebrew as their mother 



tongue; in the former Russian parts of Poland, the percentage 
was over 90. According to the figures for 1934-1935, the Jewish 
religious and secular schools which were maintained by Polish 
Jewry had an aggregate enrollment of about 226,000. Compared 
with the total number of Jewish children of school age, this 
was about 50 per cent of all such children. If we bear in mind that 
most of the pupils at the Jewish schools, especially the religious 
schools (which were attended by 171,000 of the aforesaid 226,000) 
were boys, it follows that between 85 and 90 per cent of the 
boys studied at the special Jewish schools maintained by Polish 

About 60,000 children attended schools with Hebrew as the 
language of instruction: more than 44,000 the Tarbuth and 
over 15,000 the Yavneh (Mizrachi) schools. In these institutions 
were brought up those Chalutzim who comprised the Third 
Aliyah to Eretz Israel, that aliyah which was so fruitful a con- 
tinuation of the traditions of the Second Aliyah. 

In the 1930's there were in Poland 30 Yiddish dailies, 112 
Yiddish weeklies, and 137 other Yiddish periodicals; 5 Polish- 
language Jewish dailies, 14 such weeklies, and 55 other such 
publications. In addition, there were 4 Hebrew weeklies and 24 
other such publications. Commensurate with the large numbers 
and the high quality of the periodicals was the production of 
books: in 1930, it amounted to 526 titles, of which about two-thirds 
were in Yiddish and the rest in Hebrew. 

It is very difficult to divide the past decade (in reality, 
eleven years) into definite periods of time. To be sure, there 
is one mark by which this decade could be divided into two 
periods: the Polish massacres of Jews from mid-1944, from the 
start of the liberation of Poland, to the beginning of 1947 and 
the ensuing years of, so to speak, "normal" development, with- 
out the impact of the openly anti-Semetic, oppressive atmo- 
sphere. But this division, however important, does not explain 
all the processes of emigration, welfare work, and cultural 
activities which were governed by many other causes and motives, 
factors and trends. 



The Kielce Pogrom of July 4, 1946, shocked the world, especi- 
ally the Jewish world. In fact, however, this pogrom was only 
the most conspicuous and widely reported as well as the most 
extensive of anti-Jewish actions in liberated Poland. After the 
Hitler slaughter of millions of Jews before the eyes of the 
Polish people, one would have thought that even if their hatred 
for the Jews was not mollified they would at least desist from 
physical violence against them. But the appearance of Jews in 
the places liberated from the Germans enraged the Poles, and 
the Jews were given to understand that the Poles were not 
ready to tolerate them in their midst. To the traditionally strong 
Polish anti-Semitic feelings were added a number of new and 
complex reasons, in the main the opposition of large groups of 
the population and the Catholic Church to the regime imported 
from Moscow (which also included some Jews), the fear that 
the Jews would demand back the properties which Poles had 
acquired, and the general growth of ultra-nationalism as the 
result of the 1939 defeat, the double occupation, and the loss 
of the Eastern teritories to the U.S.S.R. 

The murder of Jews by Poles started even before the Red 
Army occupied any part of Poland. It increased immediately after 
liberation, involving pogroms and threats of murder (if the Jews 
did not leave the place) in a few towns. An indication of the nation- 
wide nature of these outrages was that, according to press reports, 
about 150 Jews were killed in March, 1945, alone. A second wave 
of violence broke out in the second half of 1945 a pogrom in 
Cracow, the blowing up of a Jewish house with its inhabitants, 
invading a hospital and murdering the Jewish inmates, shootings 
in the dark to frighten away the Jews, dragging Jews to the 
woods and putting them to death there. In the months of 
September-November of that year, 116 Jews were killed in 26 
towns of Poland and hundreds were wounded. Nor was the 
terror confined to grown-ups: in a hospital in Lublin a mother 
was murdered together with two of her children; in another 



case, a gang of armed bandits opened fire on a Jewish orphanage 
at Leszniegrad (near Zakopane) it was only due to the inter- 
vention of the police that the attack was repelled. The toll 
of the first year of liberation (1945), according to figures compiled 
by the Jewish Central Committee in Poland, was 352 Jews killed. 
Approximately the same figure (360) was given by Dr. Emil 
Sommerstein to the Warsaw correspondent of The Jewish Chron- 
icle. The worst of it was that it was not the work of small gangs 
of anti-Semites. As the celebrated Yiddish journalist, Bernard 
Singer, wrote on August 22, 1945, in the Jewish Journal, "the 
liquidation of the Jews in Poland is going on to the terribly 
hostile or indifferent accompaniment of the Polish citizenry." In 
certain instances even soldiers of the Polish Army attacked Jews. 
There were cases where Jews were attacked without interference 
from the police, as even the political parties comprising the 
government were not free from anti-Semitism. Singer cried: 
"Why does the Catholic Church in Poland keep quiet? Why do 
not the Polish Bishops speak out?" The answer was given by 
Rabbi David Kahane, former Chief Jewish Chaplain of the 
Polish Army, who said that the Polish clergy had been backing 
Fascist bands which engaged in anti-Semitic activities and had 
done nothing to check anti-Semitism. 


The most atrocious of all the pogroms and the one which 
marked the end of an epoch, took place on July 4, 1946, in 
Kielce. It was apparently not only contemplated in advance (it 
was prepared pretty well on the lines of ritual murder, except 
that the alleged murder of Polish boys was not connected with 
the use of their blood), but also part of a wider scheme: 
similar accusations and smaller pogroms were attempted else- 
where, including Silesia and Pomerania; there were also assaults 
upon Jews in trains (resulting in the murder of 33 Jews in one 
week), etc. 

Let us first listen to the account of the pogrom given by a 


very prominent Jewish Communist. B. Mark, the Communist 
editor of Dos Naye Lebn, organ of the Jewish Central Committee, 
wrote as follows in the July 12, 1946, issue of that paper: 

Not under the black cover of night did the ruffians do 
their bloody work; nor were they embarrassed, ashamed, 
or afraid. It was not a night but a DAY of the long knife. 

I saw the survivors, saw them at a hospital in Lodz. 
I looked into their faces, which looked like porged meat. 
The assailants did not want merely to kill the Jews, but 
to torture them. 

"Shoot me, I cannot stand the pain any longer", Joseph 
Feingold implored the mob. "Suffer, agonize, accursed Jew!" 
was the answer. 

It was an orgy of torture, a well-nigh mystic dance 
of murder, a sacred service of cruelty. 

The young poet Saltzman, who was on his way to Lodz, 
to the Writers' Club, with his latest manuscript, was pulled 
off the train by the ruffians. One of them clutched his 
hands, while another kept hitting him for a long time in 
the face with a lump of coal weighing several pounds, 
beating the face into pulp. When the beater grew tired, 
another took up the "sacred" work, then a third, then a 
fourth, until the victim became unconscious. 

They kept hitting the Cracow Jew Konor on the head 
with iron bars. Elegant ladies enthusiastically egged on the 
murderers with the cry: "Hit him some more!" 

Slowly, leisurely, they first broke the nose of the Jew 
Dorfman of Otwock, then pulled out his teeth, then smashed 
his jaw, then gouged his eyes. 

Who were the ruffians? Professional robbers, murderers, 
beasts of the forest? Mark gives us the answer: "Among those 
who beat the helpless victims were young mothers of infants 
with delicate fingers and tender, maternal hearts. There were 
many who had read Mickiewicz, who at school had studied 
Slowacki, Orzeszko, and Zeromski. The sweet savor of Jewish 
blood intoxicated them." 

Mark describes more murderers, who on the Sunday before 
the pogrom had piously knelt at church and prayed to their 


God. What did they pray for? For courage to murder and 
torture more and more Jews? 

Mark does not content himself with a mere description; he 
is so disheartened by the picture he saw that he writes the 
following words, seeking the causes of the pogrom: "The sad 
fact is that the common people are actuated by an unreasoning, 
almost biological hatred for Jews." 

The following sentence from a Warsaw dispatch which 
appeared in the New York Times of July 17, 1946, or roughly ten 
days after the pogrom, says all that can be said of the massacre 
in relation to the attitude of the Polish population toward the 
Jews and the Jewish mood at that time. We quote: 

News of the pogrom at Kielce may have shocked the 
outside world. Inside Poland, as far as can be seen, there 
was hardly a ripple of surprise. 

The Kielce pogrom represented a turning point insofar 
as it compelled the Government to take stringent action: the 
murderers were tried and measures against those behind them 
were taken. This action provoked strikes in some factories, 
attacks were renewed on Jews in various towns and in trains, 
and demonstrations against Jews took place. Although with the 
consolidation of the power of the Government open demonstra- 
tions and attacks on Jews ceased, this was not due to a change of 
heart on the part of the population, but was the result of the 
stringent measures to restore order. 


The Kielce pogrom was not only a turning- point in the 
anti-Semitic action of the Poles; it also supplied the most 
potent stimulus for the exodus of the Jews from Poland. In 
the question of the exodus from Poland there were three parties: 
The largest party was the mass of the Jews. This party was 
animated by a sound instinct for safety, namely, that there 
was no place for them in postwar Poland, and guided by a high 
ideal: striving for a Jewish State, for a country where one would 


not have to beg for leave to stay, nor to be afraid of "biological 

We shall see presently that the majority of the Jews in Poland 
were returnees from Russia and the rest returnees from con- 
centration camps or survivors of ghettos. About half of the first 
group were ill: the Polish correspondent of the New York pro- 
Communist Einikeit confirmed in May, 1946, that "fifty per cent 
of the returnees from the Soviet Union are incapacitated for 
work." All of them needed particular care and peace. What 
reception did they get when they arrived in Poland? We have 
detailed the story of violence. Let us now have a general descrip- 
tion of the situation. The October 27, 1945, issue of the New York 
Times reported that reg<ardless of the worse than terrible 
plight of the Jews in the war years and regardless of the steps 
taken by the Polish Government to check anti-Semitism, the 
latter had revived in Poland on such a scale that it would force 
the majority of Jews to emigrate from Poland. The civilian 
administration was in many instances openly hostile to the re- 
turning Jews and not infrequently outspokenly anti-Semitic. The 
repatriates who had no relatives were left to sleep on park benches 
or in the streets, as related by an eyewitness. 

The opposing party consisted of the Jewish Communists, 
who did not want to be left without Jews, because their usefulness 
to Communism was mainly bound up with the existence of a 
Jewish minority. In addition, it was only in the Yiddish language 
that they could display all their talents and make use of all 
their abilities. 

The third party was the Polish Government, which had to 
reckon with the elemental desire of the Jewish masses, with 
their readiness to force their way across the borders, with their 
unrest and excitement. It also had to reckon with the Jews 
of the whole world, to whom there had been communicated the 
elemental fear and wrath of the Jewish masses who had gone 
through more than one hell. Finally, the Polish Government was 
not yet so firmly in the saddle as to disregard world public 


opinion, which was sympathetically disposed toward the Jewish 

As a result of all these factors, there came about a veritable 
exodus accompanied by a whole series of compromises and 
concessions, which led to it that about four-fifths of the number 
of Jews who were in Poland at one time or another left the 
country. The legal emigration formed the smaller part of the 
exodus. The semi-legal, quasi-legal, and 1 wholly illegal emigra- 
tion accounted for about 180,000 Jews, the great majority of 
whom went to Israel and helped no little in winning the War 
of Independence and in consolidating the victories. 

During the first months after the end of the war, there 
was a constant coming and going over the borders which cannot 
be put into exact figures. Beginning October, 1945, almost 200 Jews 
managed daily to slip across the Polish borders and into Austria. 
The total number of emigrants during the year 1945 was estimated 
by P. Zalecki, the Secretary of the Central Committee, at 20,000. 
Strictly speaking, the border was closed, but one paid little 
attention to that. 

The flight to the American zone of Germany was spontaneous 
and quite impetuous from the first day that Hitler's defeat 
became complete; but it assumed a wholly different tempo and 
character after the Kielce Pogrom. 

Forty-two killed and more than a hundred wounded in the 
Kielce Pogrom "caused no surprise in Poland," but it impelled 
Jews not only to fiee, but to jump across borders without regard 
to the barriers on both sides of the frontier. They jumped across 
the borders with infants in arms, with sacks on the back, with 
sore feet whose ailment had been contracted in Russia, driven 
on by the consciousness of the "biological hatred" toward Jews. 
Again there were casualties, but the mass of Jews were seized 
with such instinctive fear that they were determined to seek 
safety without any explanation, feeling that nowhere else could 
it be worse than in Poland. 

After the Kielce Pogrom the Zionist Organization of Poland 
resolved to proclaim an "exodus from Poland." The Government 


was informed about it and the latter agreed to keep the borders 
actually open for the space of one month. The resolution of the 
Zionists was not made public, neither did the Polish Govern- 
ment announce its decision or, more properly, its consent. But 
Jews began to flock to the borders, and the month was extended 
to many months, more properly until the middle of 1947. It was 
not until June, 1947, that the Government instituted foreign 
passports. Previously, if a Jew wanted to leave Poland, he did it 
in a semi-legal way. Officially he was supposed to be crossing the 
Polish border illegally, but unofficially the Government knew 
about it but looked the other way. 

This was at a time when the Bevin policy of barriers and 
restrictions was still raging in Palestine, while it was difficult to 
.gain admission to other countries. But the Jews of Poland knew 
one thing: in the DP camps of Germany, Austria, and Italy 
one was secure in his person and assured of sustenance, and 
.above all, there was hope of somehow making one's way to a 
free country, as far away from Poland as possible. 

There arose a new factor which beckoned to emigration: 
to all the negative causes there was added a positive one, which 
deeply stirred the Jewish population-^stirred, inspired, and 
strengthened the will to get out at the earliest possible from a 
country where the entire soil was saturated with Jewish blood; 
where its was becoming ever harder to be a Jew; where the rule 
of the Jewish Communists had become more and more oppressive. 
There was created the State of Israel, thereby adding a factor 
which could beg and also demand. And regardless of the open 
resentment of the Jewish Communists, the Polish Government, 
toward the end of 1949, conducted negotiations with the Israel 
Legation about permitting legal emigration for a certain period 
of time. 

The joy of the Jewish masses know no bounds: there was a 
rush as to a wedding feast. The Left Labor Zionist, Adolf Berman, 
weU acquainted with the temper of the masses, thus described 
the mood of the Jewish population in an article which appeared 
In the London Jewish Chronicle of June 23, 1950: 


Over a year ago, the Polish authorities indicated that 
they would adopt a liberal attitude towards Jewish emigra- 
tion to Israel. But it was not until the late summer of 
1949 that the change actually occurred. A special Govern- 
ment Commission "for the solution of the Jewish problem" 
was formed. . . . The Commission conducted a detailed 
study of Jewish problems in Poland, and decided that they 
must be radically solved by 1950. 

As for the solution, the Commission decided that by 
January, 1950, all Jewish institutions should be taken over 
by the State, and that Jews should be accorded the right of 
free emigration to Israel if they so desired. 

It is difficult to describe the excitement which this 
aroused among tens of thousands of Polish Jews. All Zionist 
parties convened special conferences. Mapam, the strongest 
party, called on its members to mobilize for mass Aliyah. . . . 

A special communique from the Ministry of Public Ad- 
ministration subsequently elaborated on the method of 
registration for Aliyah. . . . 

As soon as registration started, a considerable section 
of the Jewish population expressed its willingness to go, 
notwithstanding the fact that the economic position of 
the Jews in Poland was favorable, and despite reports of 
the difficulties facing newcomers in Israel. 

Berman himself settled in Israel early in 1950. In the above 
article he stated: 

Until now, about 25,000 Jews (30,000, if children are 
included) have registered for emigration. As the time limit 
for registration does not expire until August 31, it is apparent 
that the majority of the 70,000 Jews in Poland will eventually 
go to Israel. 

Many tricks were devised by the Jewish Communists to 
harass the Jews who registered for emigration. This harassment 
went on for weeks and in many cases for months, for it was 
necessary to go to the Committee of the Jewish Cultural Society 
for a certificate that one was a Jew and had paid all one's taxes. 
It is known from official figures that 29,706 Jews immigrated to 
Israel from Poland in the years 1950-1953; these are figures about 
Polish Jews who came direct from Poland (i.e., they do not include 


those Polish Jews who came from DP camps or other temporary 

Had not the authorities halted the emigration at the end 
of 1950, or had not the Jewish Communities hampered the emi- 
gration during 1950, there would be far fewer Jews in Poland 
today. This is obvious from Herman's article from which we 
quoted above. This was undoubtedly the dream of the great 
majority of Jews in Poland with the exception of small groups 
of Communists. 

That the dream of emigration still haunts a great many 
Jews in Poland is confirmed by all those individuals who have 
managed in the last four years to get out of that country. 


As said, Jews began to reappear in Poland as soon as a place 
was liberated from the Germans. There are no reliable figures 
on the number of survivors in Poland: those who were in hiding 
or with the Partisans, those who lived as "Aryans" (their 
number was reported as over 20,000) or escaped in the last 
minutes from ghettos and camps which were liquidated by the 
Germans before they left Poland. It was reported, for instance, 
that about 5,000 Jews managed to escape from Auschwitz when 
it was evacuated in January, 1945. The only more or less reliable 
figures relate to the middle of 1945, when a census, conducted by 
the Jewish Central Committee, established that the number was 
55,509 as of the middle of June (not counting those in the Polish 
Army). But even this figure is by no means correct because of 
reported double registration, inclusion of repatriates from Russia, 
and the non-inclusion of many of those who lived under assumed 
Aryan names. The Moscow Einikeit of October 9, 1945, reported 
that the census established the number of Jews in Poland at 
50,411. As a matter of fact, the number changed constantly 
because of on the one hand the repatriation from Russia, and 
to a small degree, from Rumania, and the mostly temporary 


returnees from DP camps in Germany, whose number was esti- 
mated at 20,000, and on the other the emigration to Germany 
and Austria, etc. Actually, even the number of returnees from 
Russia is not known exactly. One source reported the number 
of those who returned from Russia during the first seven or eight 
months of 1946 as amounting to about 160,000 while others as- 
serted that by October, 1946, the figure had reached 130,000 or 
more, and by the end of 1946 about 170,000. Smaller groups of 
Polish Jews amounting to a few thousands came in 1947 and 
1948: the figure for 1948 is given at about 2,000 persons. Taking 
the average of the available figures, it may be said that the 
number of all Jews who at one time or another lived in Poland 
after the end of the war, without counting the Marranos, was 
about 220,000 to 240,000 souls. 

There are differing data on the number of Jews at a given 
moment, in addition to the afore-cited figures of the census. 
The Secretary of the Central Committee of the Jews in Poland, 
P. Zaleski, estimated their number early in 1946 at 80,000. Ac- 
cording to the census of Passover, 1947, based on the number of 
those who registered for matzoth, the number of Jews at that 
time was 93,000. The Passover census of 1949 gave a total of 
nearly 100,000 and that of 1954, about 90,000. However, all these 
figures must have been exaggerated, because Dos Naye Lebn 
of December 13, 1948, put the total of Jews (without indicating 
the exact month) at 88,257 souls, while Adolf Herman, in the 
above-quoted article in the Jewish Chroncile of June 23, 1950, 
estimated the number of Jews in Poland at that time at 70,000 
only a figure which may be accepted as correct. 

The figure given by Mr. Herman calls in question the afore- 
cited figures on the number of Jews in Poland at Passover, 1949 
and 1954. And there is no doubt that the figure of 72,000 which 
was given to the visiting British Labor M.P., Ian Mikardo, as 
related in his article, "Why Jews Want to Leave Poland," (The 
Jewsh Chronicle, October 15, 1954) does not correspond to the 
reality. As stated above, according to the registration for matzoth 
for Passover, 1954, there were 90,000 Jews, but the Jewish Com- 


munists themselves deducted about 20,000 from this number, 
assuming that many non-Jews, posing as Jews, claimed matzoth. 
That so large a number of non-Jews could deceive the registering 
officials seems very strange. According to the figure which the 
Israel Branch of the World Jewish Congress Executive obtained, 
also from Poland, the number was not 72,000 as reported' by Mr. 
Mikardo, but 66,837, and likewise on the basis of the registration 
for matzoth for Passover, 1954. In this connection it is stated that 
about 15 per cent of the Jews did not register with the Jewish 
communities for matzoth, and so it is deduced that the number 
of Jews is approximately 75,000. 

All these figures must be exaggerated, and we have to assume 
that the number of Jews in Poland today is not more than 
45,000, as appears from the statement of Adolf Herman, who 
was Chairman of the Central Committee of Polish Jews. As 
Chairman and in addition Left Labor Zionist, he had no reason 
to understate the number of Jews in Poland. 

Two characteristics of the distribution of Jews in postwar 
Poland strike the eye: (1) The Jews strive to settle and remain 
in the former German regions. And unquestionably one of the 
factors at work in this tendency consists in the desire to be 
as near as possible to the borders facing Western Europe and 
not those facing Russia. We say one of the factors because no 
doubt other factors have also been at work, such as rent-free 
homes at the disposal of settlers; requisitions of land and other 
possessions with the ready approval of the Polish Government; 
and certainly also the better accomodations of both the dwellings 
and the social institutions. (2) Jews shun Warsaw. It is as though 
the Jews were simply afraid to tread upon the ground which 
is most deeply steeped in Jewish blood; as though the Jews 
stubbornly avoided a city where the cruelty of both the Hitlerite 
murderers and their Polish helpers manifested itself in the 
most terrible and savage manner. 

Let us first say a few words about the relative weight of the 
Jewish population. According to the census of 1950, Poland had 
26,200,000 inhabitants. The natural increase during the last five 


years must be estimated at over a million. It follows that the 
percentage of Jews in the total population is about 0.17. This 
percentage requires no comment. 

According to the latest figures (supplied by Simeon Sammet 
"Jews and Jewishness in Present-Day Poland." Jewish Daily For- 
ward, April 10, 1955), the Jews of Poland are distributed as follows: 
in Wroclaw (formerly* Breslau), 12,000-15,000; in Lodz, 12,000; 
in Szczecin, 5,000; in Dzierzanow, 5,000; in Walbrzych, 5,000; 
in Cracow, 3,000-5,000. This gives us a total of over 40,000 Jews 
in these few cities alone. According to other reports, there were 
about 8,000 Jews in Warsaw, about 10,000 each in Lodz and 
Cracow, about 3,000 each in Stalinogrod (formerly Katowice) and 
Szczecin. However, it is interesting to note that Mr. Sammet, 
who traveled in Poland for weeks, does not find it necessary even 
to mention the number of Jews in Warsaw. According to various 
estimates, the present Jewish population of Warsaw does not 
exceed 3,000-4,000, and a recent arrival in Israel put the number 
of Jews in Lodz at 5,000 only. 

Here is an example of how unreliable the reported figures 
are. The aforesaid journalist Sammet was told that there are 
now 3,000 to 5,000 Jews in Cracow. But in the June 11, 1955, 
issue of the Communist Morning Freiheit there is a letter from a 
Communist about a trip to Poland and a visit to Cracow, who 
gives the city's Jewish population not at 3,000 to 5,000, but as 600! 

The real situation would seem to be as follows: In the three 
cities Warsaw, Lodz, and Wroclaw there live about 20,000 to 
30,000 Jews, two-thirds of the total Jewish population of Poland. 
The rest are scattered in scores of cities and towns. Hundreds 
of localities where Jews lived for many centuries, now do not 
have a single Jewish inhabitant. Even the Jewish cemeteries 
have been plowed up. Bialystok, which on the eve of World War II 
had a Jewish population of 39,000, now has 150 Jewish in- 
habitants. Grodno, which had a Jewish population of 21,000 on 
the eve of the war, now has even fewer Jews. 


And in many localities Jewish houses remained intact and 
are now occupied by active or passive participants in the annihila- 
tion of almost 90 per cent of Poland's pre-war Jewry. 


In the case of Jews who stampeded back from the camps 
and Russia and who dreamt of escaping from Poland at the 
earliest possible, one could not expect normal occupations. Ac- 
cordingly, they resorted to many makeshifts. Some traded in 
things abandoned by the fleeing Germans and got hold of a 
piece of cultivated land and became farmers. Still others 
found employment in the factories of Wroclaw and Lodz, which 
explains why these two cities still contain the largest Jewish 
populations. Not until 1947 did a certain situation crystallize 
which may be called normal; relatively speaking, of course, insofar 
as there arose certain groups with particular skills who found 
a, means of livelihood in their own craft or speciality. 

In the first period there was still another factor, which is 
usually included in the cultural category, but in the given case 
it was rather a social- economic enterprise. We have in mind 
the kibbutzim (collective labor groups) which all Zionist groups 
began to establish from the very first day of Poland's liberation. 
Extensive productivization and cultural work were carried on 
in the kibbutzim. The young, who rarely had a home and who 
were Zionist-minded, flocked by the thousands to the kibbutzim. 
The thousands of adolescents and young adults employed at the 
Mbbutzim, where they received not only food and clothing, but 
education and vocational training, including instruction in 
farming, greatly lightened the burden of the Jewish relief in- 
stitutions. We will therefore dwell first on the kibbutzim. 

In the first weeks immediately after part of the country was 
liberated by the Red Army and Polish forces, a handful of men, 
just emerged from the lowest depths of human degradation, 
from over 5 years' sojourn in the Hitler hell, met in order to 
begin anew the interrupted Zionist work. 


During the first year, from August, 1944 to August, 1945 r 
12 kibbutzim were established in which over 500 Chalutzim worked 
and studied According to Paul Novick, at the beginning of 
July, 1946, a director of the kibbutzim of Ichud (General Zionists) 
told him that in all the kibbutzim there were then 15,000 Jews.. 

This number was to be found in the kibbutzim at a parti- 
cular time. But inasmuch as the inmates of the kibbutzim 
gradually emigrated from the country, in an organized manner,, 
and their places in the kibbutzim were taken by others, it can 
safely be said that tens of thousands of Jews passed through the 

Let us get acquainted with the figures for only four major 
kibbutzim. Following is the vocational distribution of those 
gainfully employed among the members of the four kibbutzim. 

Number o/ 
Occupation Gainfully Emiploed 

Tailors 493 

Shoemakers 301 

Carpenters 213 

Bakers 71 

Locksmiths and 1 bricklayers 326 

Farming <and kitchen gardening 172 

Coal miners 102 

Government enterprises 1,598 

Unskilled laborers 1,106 

Cooks, health and domestic service 1,439 

Total 5,821 

Here we have a clear picture of the colossal role which the 
kibbutzim played economically, and not economically only. The 
character of the enumerated four kibbutzim was not of the 
agrarian type common before the war. To be sure, even before 
the war there were also urban kibbutzim in Poland which used 
to undertake various city jobs, and the role of the kibbutz 
consisted in finding and apportioning the work, in training the 


Chalutz, and turning him into a skilled worker; and, naturally 
in educating him in the Zionist way, in teaching him Hebrew,, 
and above all, instilling in him a Chalutzic spirit. 

As time went on, the situation became more crystallized and 
the vocational distribution of the Jewish population fitted into 
the new economic and social order. 

The organ of the Central Committee of Jews in Poland, 
Dos Naye Lebn, of December 13, 1948, gives interesting figures 
on the socio-economic structure of the Jewish population. Of 
a total Jewish population of 88,257, 36,954, or 44.2 per cent, 
were gainfully employed. This would be (if the total figure was 
correct) a larger percentage of gainfully employed than in pre-war 
Poland, where, according to the census of 1931, the percentage of 
gainfully employed Jews was only 36. It should be borne in 
mind, however, that the Jewish population in 1948 did not 
contain any old persons and but very few children. The largest 
group (17,080 or 46.2%) represented heavy and light industry; 
the second (6,879 or 18.6%), State, municipal, and community 
employees; the third (4,380 or 11.9%), commerce; the fourth 
(3,540 or 9.6%), health and social workers. Then followed schools 
and educational institutions (1,843 or 5%), agriculture (677 or 
1.8%) and communications and transport (523 or 1.4%). The 
rest (2,033 or 5.5%) were engaged in various other occupations. 

The percentage of those employed in agriculture was very 
small, less than half of what it was before the war. The 
percentage of those employed in heavy and light industry was 
approximately the same as before the war, according to the 
census of 1931. There was only one minor difference, namely, 
that in 1948 there were 800 Jewish coal miners. 

In commerce the percentage of the gainfully employed Jews- 
was one-third of what it was before the war. This would perhaps 
be an achievement but for the consciousness that tens of thou- 
sands of Jewish stores were now in the hands of Poles, who stole 
not only the premises, but also the merchandise. 


If we add figures for the categories of professionals, officials, 
and white collar workers, we find in these groups more than 
a third of all the gainfully employed Jews, about six times as 
much as before the war. 

There are no detailed data on the occupational distribution 
in subsequent years. The Jewish Communists carried on a voci- 
ferous campaign of propaganda to have Jews leave the artisans' 
workshops and cooperatives and go to work in large-scale in- 
dustry. They agitated and also threatened. To this day the 
majority of Jews are apparently still employed in handicraft, 
although in an interview given by Hirsch Smolar, head of the 
Social Cultural Association of Polish Jews, on September 16, 1955 
to Harry Schwartz (conrtibutor to the New York Times) , it was 
stated that most Polish Jews are now workers; about 70 per cent 
are engaged in the leather, textile, and other light industries 
and the rest in coal mining, metallurgy, and other heavy 

What are the reasons which caused Jews to stick to handi- 
craft? To begin with, a material consideration: a good artisan 
earned more than an industrial worker. Again, the artisan en- 
joyed more freedom in his arrangement of the work and "steal- 
thily" rested on Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath) and worked 
on Sunday. "Stealthily" because of the Jewish Communists: 
the law is neutral in this matter. Finally, the Jewish artisans 
exhibited a good deal of creative energy and practical judgment 
under the existing conditions and combined in cooperatives 
which were practical in many if not all respects: first of all, it 
was much easier for the cooperatives to obtain raw materials 
from the Government reserves; second, it was easier to obtain 
subventions and loans from the Joint Distribution Committee; 
thirdly, the marketing of the finished products was much more 
profitable. It is therefore worthwhile to glance at the wonderful 
cooperative structure reared by the Jewish artisans, although 
the great majority harbored plans to escape at the earliest 
possible from Poland. 


The number of Jewish cooperatives and of those employed 
in them was as follows: 


No. of 


No. of 


November 1, 1946 . . 

. . . 114 


January 1, 1948 . . . 

. . . 182 


July 1, 1948 . . . 

. . . 208 

8 002 

From 1946 to mid-1948 the number of cooperatives nearly 
doubled, but the number of employees almost tripled. And these 
were purely Jewish cooperatives, which received very large 
loans, amounting to millions of dollars, which later remained 
in Poland, although it had been promised that they would be 

The value of the goods produced by these cooperatives, which 
not only turned out fine goods but also set up an efficient market- 
ing apparatus, aggregated as follows: in 1946, about 113 million 
zlotys, and in 1948, about 8 billion zlotys (or about 20 million 

With the growth of the Jewish exodus, the ranks of the 
cooperatives grew thinner and thinner. It is interesting to note 
that in the majority of cooperatives even the members who 
emigrated legally were not paid their share. This was by way of 
punishment for leaving the Communist fatherland which was 
increasingly hailed from year to year by the Jewish Communists 
as the dearly beloved country, as the country of the Jew's future. 

The Jewish Communists began to carry out the policy of 
changing the cooperatives from purely Jewish bodies to hetero- 
geneous ones. The first reason adduced was that the common work 
of Jews and non-Jews would make for brotherly relations among 
the people of the new Poland. From individual figures on 
cooperatives it is evident that by 1952 many of them had a non- 
Jewish majority. Previously the Jewish members often thought 
up reasons for observing a Jewish holiday or for working shorter 
hours on the Jewish Sabbath; with a mixed membership this 
became impossible. In August, 1955, according to Hirsh Smolar, 


about 8,000 Jews were members of Jewish cooperatives, ranging 
from farming cooperatives to textile work and shoe-making. 

A few lines on the various trades represented in the co- 
operatives. In 1948 the ready-made clothing cooperatives com- 
prised 42 per cent of the total membership and accounted for 
52 per cent of the value of the total output. The leather goods 
cooperatives comprised 17 per cent of the total membership and 
accounted for 16 per cent of the total value. These two trades, 
which had been the principal occupations of the Jews in Poland 
before the war, were also their chief vocations there after the 

In the last few years scores and possibly hundreds of Jewish 
workers have gone to work in large-scale industry, among them 
many "shock" workers who have attained higher positions, 
such as department heads, and even managers. Jewish youths, 
graduates of technical high schools, have entered big industry 
where the prospects of advancement are much better. At the 
same time there has been some change in the two principal 
industries during these years. Conditions in the factories have 
become much improved, more hygienic, with better prospects 
for the future. For this reason, young Jews have in recent years 
flocked almost exclusively to the factories. The Jewish Com- 
munists are dancing for joy; but the Jewish youth is being 
submerged and swallowed up in a Polish sea. Assimilation, which 
was already intensive enough, is now proceeding at a tempo 
never witnessed before in Poland. 


At the beginning of 1948 the following Yiddish schools 
existed in Poland: 20 kindergartens, with an enrollment of 
1,227; 33 elementary Day Schools, with an enrollment of 2,986; 
4 afternoon schools, with 51 pupils; total enrollment at the various 
types of Yiddish schools, 4,264. In addition, there were Hebrew 
schools, with an enrollment of 1,100. Altogether, the Jewish 
schools were attended by 5,364 children, who constituted about 40 


per cent of all Jewish children of school age. (Unser Zeit, New 
York, June, 1948, page 19.) The Yiddish schools were under the 
control of the Jewish central Committee, while the Hebrew 
schools were under that of the Zionist groups. But Hebrew was 
also taught at the schools of the Committee, though not much 
of it. 

The subsequent developments will not be clear unless we 
dwell a little on the political situation. In 1948 the tendency of 
the Polish Communists to get rid of the coalition parties and 
themselves to take over the reins of government became most 
pronounced. It goes without saying that the Jewish Central 
Committee followed the same line. In the Folks-Sztyme of 
November 12, 1948, there was published a resolution adopted at 
a conference of the active Jewish members of the Polish Com- 
munist Party. The resolution expressed regret that "the class 
struggle has hitherto been neglected in the Jewish street," 
that "the, to us, alien Zionist ideology has not been opposed with 
sufficient energy," that "the political bourgeois Utopian move- 
ment of Chalutzism" had not been adequately combatted. 

There ensued that campaign which very soon led to the 
closing of the Chalutz training centers and the Hebrew schools. 

Of course, a great role, indeed, a very great role in the 
liquidation of Jewish cultural activity was played by the 
large emigration. In 1955, there were reported 9 elementary and 3 
high schools with Yiddish as the language of instruction. There 
was a report that the Yiddish high school of Lodz had an en- 
rollment of about 400. 

Hirsh Smolar told the correspondent of the London Jewish 
Chronicle that there are now 7 elementary schools and 3 high 
schools in Poland, in which about 2,000 Jewish children are 
receiving instruction in Yiddish. 

But what matters more is what they teach in these schools. 
The textbooks used in these institutions do not contain the 
name of a single Jewish historical hero, or an account of a 
Jewish holiday, or an ordinary tale of Jewish life. We say 
"ordinary," because while they do reproduce tales from Mendele, 


Peretz, Reisin, and other Yiddish writers, these are exclusively 
stories of Jewish poverty or of the suffering of the poor at the 
hands of the rich and powerful. 

No instruction is given in the Hebrew language or even in 
Jewish history. There is much information on Lenin and Stalin 
as well as on Polish life. Polish patriotism has become the sole 
topic of both the textbooks and the poetic effusions. 

Along with the Jewish social activity in Poland to be described 
further on, there arose a large Jewish press. The first Yiddish 
paper to appear in postwar Poland was Dos Naye Lebn, which 
was founded in Lodz on April 10, 1945. Originally a semi-weekly, 
it became a daily on January 1, 1948. Early in 1947 there was a 
Jewish press in Poland which could easily have put to shame 
much happier Jewish communities in other lands, both as regards 
quantity and quality. The publications were mostly divided along 
party lines, each group having one and frequently two (Yiddish 
and Polish) organs. In the beginning of 1948 over 30 Jewish 
periodical papers and publications appeared in Poland. But this, 
expansion was short-lived and the bulk of the publications; 
closed down in 1949. By 1950, all but the Communist-dominated 
publications had disappeared. 

The cultural life of the Polish Jews is governed by the 
Cultural Association, which also administers the Jewish archives 
and the Jewish Museum in Warsaw and the -central Jewish 
library and printing plant. According to Polish Jewish sources,, 
the Association had some time ago 16 branches, with a combined 
membership of 6,563 persons. There is still considerable publishing 
activity in Yiddish. The number of annual subscribers to the pub- 
lications of the Yiddish Book Publishing House rose in 1953 to 
5,300. From time to time the publishing house announces new 
publications, mostly translations but also new editions of Mendele 
Mocher Sforim and other Jewish classics. The Historical Institute 
publishes a journal containing important material. The Jewish 
Communists publish a monthly called Shriften. 

In 1952 the Yiddish Book Publishing House published 31 
Yiddish books. In the most recent years, it has brought out no 


fewer than 24 volumes annually, among them works of Mendele, 
Peretz, Sholom Aleichem, and, of course, also of Lenin and Stalin. 
It must be acknowledged that it has also published major 
historical works on the Hitler massacres and the Warsaw Ghetto 

Despite this literary output, the small Jewish community is 
sinking. Dr. Nathan Sznejberg, who visited Poland in 1953, was 
quoted as saying upon his return to Israel that the Yiddish 
language as a spoken tongue was disappearing, and that the 
Yiddish Theatre was attended mostly by Gentiles. He also told 
of the veritable epidemic of mixed marriages, saying that 
intermarriage was a common occurrence among the young. 

One of the results of the decline of Jewish life was the closing 
down in 1953 of the Yiddish Theatre in Lodz. There still exists 
a Yiddish Theatre in Wroclaw (Silesia) , but it moves from town 
to town and the bulk of the audience consists of Gentiles. A 
recent broadcast from Warsaw reported about the Yiddish State 
Theatre in that city, which has been given a special building by 
the Government. According to Mr. Smolar, there are 30 Jewish 
culture clubs, each with a Yiddish library, dramatic circle, etc. 

The handful of Jewish intellectuals, as mentioned, are very 
active. They publish a Yiddish paper which appears four times 
a week in issues of 6 and often 8 pages. They publish a monthly 
magazine devoted to political and cultural questions. They also 
issue a quarterly devoted to the Hitler massacres. They organize 
hundreds of meetings and lectures annually. 

At the end of January, 1955, the second Jewish art festival 
was held at the Yiddish Theatre in Wroclaw. It was attended by 
Jewish choirs, orchestras, and dramatic societies from various 
Jewish communities. Yiddish was predominant but most of the 
songs had as their theme the people's democracies, socialism, and 
peace. Some Hebrew songs were also recited there. 

In July, 1955, the Warsaw radio carried an interview in 
Yiddish with Mr. Hurwitz, vice-chairman of the Cultural-Social 


Union of Polish Jews. Mr. Hurwitz gave a survey of the cultural 
development in the last 10 years which represented (in his words) 
"a full-blooded, colorful, creative Jewish cultural life," but little 
information about the present situation except that the Jewish 
books are published in editions of 6,000 to 7,000 copies (according 
to Smolar, the publishing house brings out 30 volumes a year, 
mostly of a literary nature, and has 5,500 subscribers) , and that 
all cultural institutions and, in general, all cultural activities of 
the Jewish "working people" are completely maintained by 
the State. 

The larger Jewish Communities are recognized by the 
Government and are active in religious and cultural affairs. The 
number of synagogues is small: one each in Warsaw, Wroclaw, 
and Lodz and, apparently, two in Cracow. Daily services are 
held in Lodz and Wroclaw. In Lublin a single synagogue still 
stands, but it has been cofiscated by the Government and turned 
into a factory because the 400 Jews of Lublin do not need a 
synagogue and can pray in a private house. The synagogue in 
Warsaw is closed on weekdays for lack of worshipers; on Saturdays 
and holidays a few dozen and on Yom Kippur a few hundred 
congregate there. (On Rosh Hashanah, 1955, however, fewer 
than 100 Jews attended the services.) The reason is that all the 
Jews are employed in State office^ or plants and are afraid to 
stay away from work. There is a single mohel in the whole 
of Poland and his work is steadily decreasing, mainly as a result 
of mixed marriages. Kosher meat is available in the larger Jewish 
settlements, but the number of kosher butchers is on the decrease. 

The situation in the smaller communities may be summed 
up by the case of Lublin: there is no rabbi, no shohet, and no 
Jewish school; there is practically no Jewish communal life at all. 

Mordechai Lichtenstein, head of the Warsaw religious 
community, thus described the situation to Harry Schwartz: 
"Our rabbi is 80 years old and there are no new rabbis in sight. 
We would be glad if some of the Jewish children here learned 
to pray in Hebrew. Beyond our lifetime, the future is up to God/' 
(The New York Times, September 18, 1955.) 



Emigration solved the problem of the great majority of the 
survivors of the massacre of Polish Jewry; but this was not ac- 
complished in one day nor even in one year. As we have seen, 
it took years. In the meantime one had to live, which meant 
looking for a livelihood. It was neccessary to send the children 
to school. It was also necessary and desirable not to let the 
masses fritter away their time in dreams of flight, so cultural 
institutions had to be created. Equally important and urgent was 
the question of training youth, nor youth alone, for aliyah. This 
was the sacred dream of all Zionist factions from the first moment 
of free activity, even before the final defeat of Hitler. 

The following excerpt from a statement by Dr. Emil Som- 
merstein, the Chairman of the Central Committee, which was 
published in the Jevtish Chronicle of February 1, 1946, (p. 9), will 
afford an idea of the social atmosphere in Poland at that time: 

The remnant of Polish Jewry, although apparently 
united under the Central Jewish Committee, is nevertheless 
beset to some extent by party friction. Ostensibly, the 
main legal Jewish parties the Bund, the Jewish Com- 
munists, Poale Zion, and other Zionist groups are repre- 
sented on this Committee, both in Warsaw and the pro- 
vincial cities. But in actual fact, it is the policy of the Jewish 
Communists that is predominant. This group is not a party 
in itself, but is called the Jewish cell of the Polish Communist 
Party P.P.R. In the same way, the Bund tends to become 
a Jewish section of the Socialist P.P.S. 

Friction arises out of the fact that the policy of these 
left-wing groups is not necessarily the policy of the re- 
mainder of the Polish Jews (probably the majority), who are 
Jewish nationalists and staunchly Zionist. For instance, 
the Zionists want as many children as possible, and parti- 
cularly orphans, to leave Poland. Nor is the Government 
averse to this plan. But the Jewish Communists are opposed 
to it, and a recent offer by Sweden ... to take a number of 
Jewish children, was turned down by the Jewish Committee 
on pressure from the Communists. 


Apart from the Central Committee, there is a Jewish 
religious Council. The former Jewish community councils 
have not been reestablished, and the Aguda has been banned, 
together with all Polish parties declared to be reactionary 
and undemocratic. The religious Council, therefore, is 
the only body recognized by the State as being responsible 
for the religious needs of the Jews, that is, the supervision 
of Kashrut, weddings, circumcisions, and Synagogue ser- 

We thus get some idea of the state of mind among the Jews 
in the first months of Poland's liberation. 

A vast amount of social activity was developed in the first 
postwar years. A big role was no doubt played by the financial 
contribution from America, chiefly from the Joint Distribution 
Committee, but an even bigger part was played by the extra- 
ordinary social activity of the small Jewish community which 
flocked back from the forests and bunkers, from the concentra- 
tion and death camps, from the Siberian cold and years of hunger. 
Particularly active were the Zionist groups, which from the 
outset stressed preparation for aliyah, for the final struggle for 
a Jewish State. This last solution was nowhere else in the world 
accepted with such enthusiasm and with such faith in its 
imminent realization, as in Poland. 

The Jewish Communists, like the Polish Government, pursued 
a coalition policy during the first three years. As stated above, 
they permitted all groupings of all ideological trends, except the 
Agudath Israel, to participate in the communal work. To be 
sure, from the very first day they had a much greater say than 
they were entitled to by their numerical strength in the Jewish 
community; nevertheless, in the first years, one could do a great 
deal of work and accomplish many things. Gradually the course 
of the general, and also of the Jewish, policy changed. Toward 
the end of 1948, and particularly in 1949, the powers that be began 
to liquidate all organizations which were not quite all right 
from the Communist point of view. On December 31, 1949, a decree 
was issued ordering all Zionist parties and organizations to 
disband. They carried on for a while illegally and semi-illegally. 


The Bund was liquidated through the absorption of part of it 
by the Communists. Also liquidated were all papers and periodicals 
which were not to the liking of the Communist rulers. In the 
course of 1950, the Communists became the sole and complete 
masters of Jewish life. 

But still another factor contributed to the death or decline 
of many institutions and enterprises. The relatively large emigra- 
tion reduced the number of Jews in the cooperatives, which played 
a great role in Jewish life in the first postwar years. The enroll- 
ment at the Yiddish schools fell. Naturally, the circulation of the 
Jewish press and books also declined. Nevertheless, it must be 
acknowledged that, considering the small number of Jews remain- 
ing, their activity is to be admired. 

In what follows we shall not be able to trace the development 
of every kind of activity in the past decade. We shall have to 
confine our remarks to a general characterization of certain 
phases in the development of particular institutions. We shall 
also have to dwell briefly on the present activity of the 

In the first couple of years the social work was placed upon 
such a broad, almost democratic base that one might have 
thought and hoped that we were on the threshold of Jewish 
autonomy in Poland. It seemed as though the Polish Jewish 
Communists had learned "a lesson from the destructive work 
of the Yevseks (Russian Jewish Communists) and would not 
repeat the Soviet experiment, which had led to the extinction 
of Jewish culture even before Stalin laid his deadly hand upon 
the last remnants of Yiddish literature and the Yiddish theatre. 
But this hope proved illusory: the lust for power triumphed in 
the general policy and also among the Jewish Communists, who 
from the very outset were only a section of the general Com- 
munist Party of Poland. Besides, the Jewish Communist group 
in Poland was a faithful imitator of the policy of the Soviet 
Yevsektsia group, which was to show at all times that one was 
more consistent and faithful to "true" Communism than all 
the other Communists. 


The composition of the Jewish Central Committee in the 
first period was as follows: 6 representatives of the Workers 
Party (Communists); 4 of the Bund; 3 of the Left Poale Zion; 
3 of the Right Poale Zion; 4 of the Ichud, a Zionist coalition group; 
2 of the Jewish Partisans; and 3 of minor groups, including 
Hashomer Hatzair. 

The program of the Committee was also a broad one, com- 
prising productivization, emigration, child care, schools, culture, 
press, and a great many other social welfare activities 
necessitated by the precarious state of health of the Jewish 
population. Significantly, from the very start there was never 
any talk of returning property to Jews. There was a Legal 
Division in the Committee, taut it was for the special purpose 
of recovering Jewish children from Christian homes. The Com- 
munists looked with disfavor upon this last activity, but during 
the first couple of years they tolerated it. 

Many believe that this broad representation was a concession 
to Jewish public opinion abroad in order to obtain those large 
sums of money which Poland needed so badly. And indeed, vast 
sums streamed into Poland: from the Joint Distribution Com- 
mittee, the various Zionist organizations, the Central Federation 
of Polish Jews and individual landsmannschaften, as well as 
many other institutions and organizations. 

On the occasion of the Slansky trial in 'Prague, the Yiddish 
Communist papers the world oyer carried scores of villifying 
articles against Zionism of such violence as to surpass the ac- 
cusations of the Prague press. And the material and tone for 
this campaign was given by the Polish Jewish Communists. 

In the Warsaw Folks-Sztyme of November 29,, 1952, there 
appeared an editorial from which we cull the following gem: 

The verdict and the whole Prague trial have completely 
torn off the curtain with which the Zionist agents of Anglo- 
American espionage have always sought to hide their 
criminal activities directed against the vital interests of 


the Jewish people. All the efforts of Zionism to pose as 
"national deliverer" are merely means to mask its real 
function .as an agency of Anglo-American imperialism, as 
an enemy of the people, as a Mania which thinks only of the 
interests of its employers, the Wall Street enemies of man- 
kind. The men of the Zionist centers now stand exposed 
before the world as common spies, diversionists, moral 
enemies of the freedom of the people. 

Not long ago a broadcaster on the Warsaw radio, speaking 
in Yiddish, repeated the accusation that the Zionists had helped 
to incite the Second World War. 

The congress of Polish Jews held in the first quarter of 1953 
was devoted mainly to the problems of the ideological reeduca- 
tion of Polish Jewry through greater efforts by the Jewish Com- 
munists. Speaker after speaker urged intensified activity to 
counteract Jewish nationalism, past and present. A clear indica- 
tion of the atmosphere which prevailed at the gathering was the 
" confession'* of Simon Regozynski, a well-known laywer and 
long-time Zionist. He renounced his Zionist ideas and stated that 
Israel was "in practice a colony of American imperialists." 

The Slansky trial, contrary to other People's Democracies, 
was not followed in Poland with show trials of Zionists or Jewish 
Communists, despite reports of arrests of Jews and impending 
trials of scores of them for "illegal Zionist activities" and the 
expected trial of a few Jewish Communists with "confessions" 
charging Israel and Zionism with espionage against Poland. 
The Warsaw radio reported, however, that a band of Zionist 
spies and agents had been arrested and that some of them had 
confessed in advance of the trial. Apparently, these were the two 
local employees of the Israel Legation. 

There were reports about systematic although quiet and 
cautious elimination of Jews from key executive positions in the 
Government nobody was arrested or disgraced, but transferred 
to positions of lesser "security" risks. 

The situation appears to have stabilized 1 in the second 
half of 1953, and since then no new purges or dismissals have 
become known. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the 


end of the war about 100 Jews, writers, engineers, workers, and 
f armers, were given high government awards for service to Poland. 
Most of the recent emigrants from Poland stress the con- 
tinued existence of anti-Semitism among the people. The pre- 
vailing anti-Semitic feeling is one of the major reasons for the 
desire of the Jews to leave such cities as Lodz. It is noteworthy 
that, according to a Warsaw broadcast in August, 1955, a Polish 
spokesman admitted to a Jewish youth delegation from foreign 
countries that one sometimes en-countered anti-Semitic senti- 
ments in Poland. He also said that Poland was fighting against 
anti-Semitism, and manifestations of it were punishable by law. 
The existence of latent anti-Semitism was also reported from 
Lodz by Jack Raymond, the New York Times correspondent, in 
the November 22, 1955, issue of that paper. A young Jew summed 
up th esituation in these simple words: "You must realize that 
Jews are not very well liked in Lodz." 


The Youth Festival which took place in Warsaw in August, 
1955, and which was attended by more than 30,000 Communist 
youths from all over the world, including about 700 Jewish 
youths from various countries, was the first real occasion of 
contact between the Jewish Communists of Poland and those 
from other countries. There were about 100 Jewish delegates 
from Great Britain, many more from Israel, but relatively few 
from the Soviet Union, In addition, there were Jewish delegates 
from Argentina, Brazil, France, Canada, and some other countries. 

For the Jewish youths special conferences were arranged 
to discuss problems concerning future coqperation between Jews 
of the West and the East, to give them an account of the 
activities of the Jewish Communists in Poland, and to enable 
them -to ask questions and report on conditions in their own 
countries. Not only were political, cultural, and economic questions 
aired, but interest in religious life was so keen that S. Farber, 


the spokesman of the religious Jews in Poland, was called upon 
to address the visitors. It is worth mentioning that, for the first 
time in years, "Hatikvah" was sung at the ceremony of laying 
wreaths at the foot of the Fighters' Memorial in the former 
Jewish quarter of Warsaw, and that members of the Israeli 
group danced, played the flute, and sang at the Festival, which 
made a powerful impression on the delegates. 



The number of Jews in Rumania on the eve of the last war 
must be assumed to have been about 750,000, although there were 
higher estimates. This figure is based on the 1930 census, which 
listed 756,930 Jews, and the fact that the 1941 census (which 
was made after Bessarabia, North Bucovina, and North Tran- 
sylvania had been ceded to the Soviet Union and Hungary, 
respectively) showed a decline in the Jewish population in most 
of the regions compared with the 1930 census. 

In 1940, Northern Transylvania was ceded to Hungary under 
German pressure, and Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina to 
the U.S.S.R. Rumania regained the two latter parts after the 
German onslaught upon Russia in 1941, but lost them again 
after her defeat. However, she regained Northern Transylvania 
from Hungary. 

During the war, Rumanian Jewry was subjected to pogroms, 
discrimination, alienation of property, and, particularly in the 
areas outside the Old Kingdom, to deportation and massacres. 
Only a little over one-half of Rumanian Jewry survived the 
persecution. The number of the survivors was estimated by the 
local Jewish organizations at 428,000. These comprised the bulk 
of the Jewish population in the Old Kingdom, about 40,000 
returnees from among the North Transylavania deportees, and 
some 50,000 of the Bessarabian and North Bucovinian Jews. 




Despite their shattering experience during the war, Rumanian 
Jews worked with admirable perseverance toward their re- 
habilitation in both the cultural and economic fields. 

They very soon reestablished their religious institutions; 114 
larger congregations resumed their activities. The vacant places 
of their martyred rabbis were filled. The Zionist organizations 
as well as their political arm, the Jewish Party, soon reopened 
their offices. The Ununea Kvreilor Romani (Union of Rumanian 
Jews) which had fought for Jewish rights and had been headed 
for thirty years by Dr. William Filderman, renewed its activities. 
TWO new national Jewish organizations were founded, the 
Federation of Jewish Religious Communities, with Chief Rabbi 
Dr. Alexander Shafran and Dr. Filderman at its head, and the 
Comitetul Democratic Evreilor (The Democratic Committee of 
the Jews), a leftist organization which was to play so fateful a 
role in the years to come. In November, 1944, the Rumanian 
Section of the World Jewish Congress was established which, 
z.a., produced publications of great importance; the American 
Joint Distribution Committee, OSE, and ORT opened their offices 
and gave assistance in the rehabilitation of Rumanian Jewry. 

A network of schools comprising over 200 institutions was 
reestablished. The Tarbut School system was rapidly expanded. 
Sixteen Jewish weeklies and other periodicals (14 in Rumanian, 
1 in Yiddish, 1 in Hungarian) were launched, libraries and 
reading rooms were established. 

Jewish charitable institutions were reopened. The Caritas 
Nova, the large Bucharest hospital, looted by the Fascists, was 
reequipped with American Jewish aid. All told, there were at 
the peak of the rehabilitation period 18 Jewish hospitals, 3 lying-in 
hospitals, 30 dispensaries, 6 dental dispensaries, 1 polyclinic, 
and 27 homes for the aged. 

In the economic field, the Restitution Law, for all its defects, 


restored to the Jews much of their lost property and property 
rights and positions, with the exception of landed estates. 

The first years after the liberation were marked by a great 
economic boom. The war-ravaged country was hungry for goods 
and, in addition, a runaway inflation created a feverish circula- 
tion of all kinds of merchandise. The Jews participated greatly 
in the economic rehabilitaion of the country. This was reflected, 
la., in the fact that in a single year, 1946, 2,017 new business 
firms were founded more than during the 20-year period 

On the other side of the ledger, there was the circumstance 
that many Jews had been uprooted from their former economic 
positions, particularly the former residents of the villages, who 
were unable to return thither; there were also a large number 
who were unable to rehabilitate themselves for lack of means, 
the aged, the crippled who had been incapacitated for life in the 
concentration camps. In round numbers about one-third of the 
Jewish population was able to reestablish itself economically, 
while the rest had to struggle hard to make ends meet. 

Then, too, there was the reaction to the experience of the 
Fascist period. A large segment of the Jews were determined to 
leave the bloody scenes of massacres and humiliations. As a 
result, the Zionist movement, always popular in the country, now 
swept the Jewish masses. Each of its various parties created its 
own organization; weeklies, pamphlets, lecture courses spread 
their message throughout the country. Eleven fiachsfiarot (train- 
ing farms) were established with 4,000 trainees. All these organi- 
zations were combined in an overall national Zionist Federation 
whose first president was AX,. Zissu, who in December, 1944, was 
succeeded by Dr. B. Rohrling. 

The total membership of the Zionist groups was estimated 
at 108,000: about 15,000 in the Zionist youth organization, some 
39,000 in Labor Zionist groups, about 50,000 in the General Zionist 
movement, and 4,000 in the hachsharot. 



1. The Political Situation 

The situation just described did not last long, however. 

The first postwar cabinet included semi-Fascist elements: 
General Nicolai Radescu, the Premier, and Gheorghe Tatarescu, 
the Minister for Foreign Affairs, were notorious anti-Semites. 
On March 6, 1945, Dr. Peter Groza formed a coalition cabinet. 
Up to that time he had been a staunch and proven liberal, but 
became Moscow's puppet thereafter. 

Soon the Communist Party became the dominant political 
factor in Rumania. In July, 1947, the Communists liquidated the 
Peasant Party and imprisoned its leaders. In November of the 
same year they smashed the party of the Liberals and ousted 
its representatives, Gh. Tatarescu, from the cabinet. 

The same technique was employed on the Jewish scene, 
with the CDE (Jewish Democratic Committee) playing the role 
of the Communist Party. Founded by Moshe Seltzer-Sarateanu, 
and composed- of left-wing elements and extreme left Zionists, 
it had no roots in Jewish life. By terroristic methods it forced 
the resignation of Dr. Filderman from the Presidency of the 
Union of Rumanian Jews (November 24, 1947), which was sub- 
sequently disbanded. The Jewish Party, which had sent two 
deputies to the Parliament, decided to disband "voluntarily." Now 
the elimination of the Zionist organizations was begun. But 
here tough resistance was Coffered. In the first moves the Com- 
munists contrived to share in the vital service of the Zionists' 
administration of the Aliyah, the Palestine Appeal. Then they 
launched a frontal attack. The signal was given by the Com- 
munist Party's Secretariat, which at the end of 1948 branded 
Zionism as a regressive movement. "Zionism," the Communist 
resolution read, "all its brandies are a reactionary movement. . . . 
They have blocked the efforts at the integration of the Jewish 
masses into productive activities." 

The CDE sprang into action. First the Communists eliminated 
the Zionists, including the extreme leftists, from the CDE, then 


they elected in the persons of Bercu Feldman and Hersh Sherban- 
Leibovici, an "activist/' i.e., brutally fierce, leadership. They 
invaded the Bucharest offices of the Zionist Federation, 
smashing the furniture and equipment. The Zionists flocked 
to the scene and offered resistance. Tragic scenes followed, 
with Jews fighting and maiming Jews. The struggle lasted for 
a week. Fnally, the inevitable happened. On December 23, 1948, 
the Zionist organizations suspended their activities. Soon the 
Hachsharot were liquidated and the 4,000 Chalutzim dispersed. 

On the ruins of wrecked Jewish organizations the CDE be- 
came the sole Jewish organization in the country. The Federation 
of the Jewish Communities was tolerated. After the emigration 
of the erudite Chief Rabbi Alexander Shafran, a Communist, 
Dr. Moshe Rosen, was appointed as his successor and head of 
the Federation. 

The destruction of the Zionist organizations did not end the 
movement. On the contrary, the economic factors of the new 
"era" and their political consequences intensified the desire for 
emigration to Israel. 

Parallel with the tightening of the Communist control of the 
country, the economic measures became ever harsher'. In the 
summer of 1947 the regime stabilized the currency and launched 
a drive for the mass expropriation of business and industrial 
enterprises. Through ceaseless chicaneries by the authorities, 
through jailing owners on trumped-up charges, through inter- 
ference with normal business activities, a situation was created 
in which the only expedient was the relinquishment of the 
enterprise to the State. In this way many Jews lost their 
livelihood and the economic existence they had rebuilt after the 

Under government ownership the output of factories fell, 
the production of the collectivized farms showed a sharp decline, 
and the misery of the population increased. 

The Jew was made by the Rumanian population the scapegoat 
for all the misfortunes, especially after the rise of Ana Pauker 
to high leadership. 


The Jewish masses, deprived of the means of making a living 
found themselves in an atmosphere of virulent hatred. Rumors 
of pogroms circulated and a mass flight across the borders started. 
Tragic incidents occurred: Jews were misled at the borders, 
abused, robbed by villains; nineteen persons, mostly Jews, were 

It took months of counter-propaganda on the part of the 
CDE and strong government measures to put an end to the 
flight. The number of those who had left the country by the 
end of 1947 was estimated at 37,000. 

2. "Restratification" and Emigration 

The blocking of emigration efforts did not solve the problems 
of the dispossessed and declassed. 

On the contrary, with the expansion of the nationalization 
program (outright confiscation of enterprises and, in 1950, na- 
tionalization of housing) , the situation became still worse. 

According to estimates of well-informed Rumanian Jewish 
sources, the number of those eliminated from the processes 
of production amounted to 50,000. They became public charges, 
irrespective of their former economic standing. 

As in other satellite countries, the Communigt cure-all 
for this desperate situation was "restratification." However, 
little beyond words was ever done in this respect. 

Bercu Feldman himself repeatedly admitted the complete 
failure of this plan: "as for vocational readjustment," he said 
at the CDE convention of 1949, "generally speaking, we have not 
found the best methods. ..." In a Warsaw Yiddish broadcast 
of last September it was announced that 40,000 Jews had been 
"brought into production" in the past few years. 

Emigration to Israel remained the last hope of the regime's 
victims. With the establishment of the Jewish State, sanguine 
hopes arose among the Jews. False rumors of impending large- 
scale emigration circulated and caused, on occasion, many thou- 
sands to travel to Bucharest for visas, only to have their hopes 


In the first postwar years, the 20,000 Jewish refugees from 
abroad who had found refuge in Rumania during the war, left 
the country without hindrance. The mass flight of 1947-8 took 
tens of thousands of Rumanian Jews across the borders. Since 
then, emigration has taken a fitful course. Concerning this 
problem, according to the Christian Science Monitor of Janu- 
ary 25, 1951, "there is a schism in the Communist Party. Some 
of them think it useful to dispose of the declassed elements. 
Others, like B. Feldman, are held to be concerned over the 
possible decline of their power should Rumanian Jewry decline 
in numbers." 

The latter view seems to be corroborated by the fact that 
the CDE has consistently used extreme pressure to deter Jews 
from emigration. This committee was reported to have forged 
documents in the names of those who had applied for visas to 
Israel purporting to withdraw their applications. 

3. Anti-Zionist Action 

Instead of helping the uprooted strata and thus curing the 
root of the evil, the regime sought to suppress the symptoms 
of it and blamed the Zionist leaders for the emigration psychosis 
which the rulers themselves had created. 

A violent anti-Zionist campaign was launched. Bercu Feldman 
opened it with inflammatory addresses at CDE conferences 
(1948-9). The remaining three Jewish weeklies teemed with 
scathing attacks upon the "Marshallized Israeli Government." 
They went to the length of publishing pictures of small Israeli 
children being sold as slaves to Israeli capitalists. They opened 
an anti-Israel exposition in Bucharest on July 22, 1950. 

Bercu Feldman charged his "activists" with the task of 
unmasking the Zionist "agitators," i.e., denouncing them to 
the authorities. 

There ensued a period of anti-Zionist terror. 

On August 18, 1951, the blow fell when a large number 
of Zionist leaders were arrested. For two years no information 
on their whereabouts was given to their relatives. In August, 


1953, they were brought to trial before a Bucharest military 
court, with Alexander Petrescu, a former Facist, as prosecutor. 
The charges included sabotage, espionage, high treason. The 
defendants, leading Revisionist Zionists, were sentenced to prison 
terms ranging from 10 to 16 years. 

The second trial took place in November of the same year. 
Jacob Littman and Mrs. Shoshana (Susanne) Benevisti, former 
leaders of the Bucharest Section of the World Jewish Congress, 
drew prison sentences of 15 and 10 years, respectively. Their 
plea that their activities were perfectly legal at that time and 
that the Jewish Communist leaders (Bercu Feldman, H. Sherban- 
Leibovici, Dr. M. Rosen) were themselves delegates to the Second 
Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress in Montreux 
was ignored. 

Five months later, in March, 1954, 22 members of the 
Hashomer Hatzair were tried. Their leader, Abir Mark, in dignified 
words, denied any guilt. He and seven others were sentenced 
to 20 years in prison. The rest received lighter sentences. 

New arrests and trials followed in May and June, 1954. A.L. 
Zissu, the aged former national president of the Zionist Organi- 
zation, and his successor Mishi Benevisti were sentenced to life 
imprisonment. Jean Cohen, Mrs. Mella Jancu, former president 
of the OSE, and Matzi Moscovici were sentenced to 20 years 
in prison. Employees of the Israel legation, including its watch- 
man (Gerder), were condemned to long jail terms. 

In order to discredit the Zionist leaders, the Rumanian 
Government made appeals to the Rumanian Jews residing in 
Israel to return to the country. In addition to free passage, it 
promised a, subsidy of about $200 to each who returned. Of the 
considerably more than 100,000 Rumanian Jews in Israel, 288 
succumbed to the lure. After their arrival they were compelled 
to appear as prosecution witnesses at the trials. Also, they had 
to broadcast over the radio disparaging reports on Israel. One 
of these unfortunates was reported to have committed suicide 
in order to avoid treachery. 

The long series of miscarriages of justice aroused public 


opinion in the free world. A storm of protests arose. Moshe Sha- 
rett, the Israeli Premier, in the Knesset; President Eisenhower, in 
his letter to the American Jewish Congress; Anthony Nutting, 
Under-secretary for Foreign Affairs, in the British Parliament, 
denounced in strong terms these violations of human rights. On 
the same ground the World Jewish Congress, in a memorandum 
to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, sought to 
block Rumania's admission to UNESCO. On May 23, 1954, dozens 
of former Rumanian Jews in Israel began a hunger strike in 
protest against the Rumanian acts of iniquity. The large Jewish 
organizations held mass meetings of protest throughout the world 
against Rumania's action. 

These moves did not remain without effect. At first, a white- 
wash campaign was launched. The CDE, at a mass meeting in 
Bucharest (May 23, 1954), sought to justify the trials by making 
violent attacks on the "Fascist regime of Israel." In July, 1954, 
the Communist Chief Rabbi addressed an appeal to the Jews 
abroad to disregard "the slanderous propaganda against his 
country" and gave an account of a flourishing Jewish life with 
a vast number of institutions in Rumania. 

Then some gestures of moderation were shown by the 
Rumanian Government. The Bucharest Adevarul of June 4, 1954, 
reported the creation of a committee for the purpose of applying 
a recent amnesty decree to the release of those whose sentences 
were under 4 years or who had already served a portion of their 
sentence so that its remaining part was less than four years. 

At the beginning of July, 1954, six Jewish leaders were re- 
leased while Jean Littman and Mrs. S. Benevisti were granted 
a retrial. The same month the release of other Jewish leaders 
was reported, as was the release of 19 Zionists in August; it 
was said, however, that about 200 were still in jail: 

In March, 1955, the Supreme Court quashed the sentences 
imposed on 60 Rumanian Zionists in the preceding year and 
ordered a retrial. 

In July, 1955, the Rumanian authorities released Mark Abir, 
the leftwing Zionist youth leader who, as mentioned above, was 


arrested in 1949, tried in 1954, and sentenced to 20 years imprison- 
ment on the charge of having organized illegal emigration to 
Israel. On retrial the sentence was reduced to four years. 

In August, 1955, the Rumanian authorities announced that, 
following an appeal to the Supreme Court, 31 Zionist leaders 
had been released, either by acquittal or reduction of sentences. 
However, according to the Viata Noastra of Tel Aviv, A.L. Zissu, 
Mishi Benvenisti, Jean Cohen, as well as the group of Revisionists 
headed by Edgar Kammer, were still in jail, despite earlier reports 
of the release of Benvenisti and Cohen. Only later were they 

It was reported that the released Zionists would be permitted 
to emigrate to Israel. 

4. Deportations 

The trials of the Zionist leaders struck terror in the hearts 
of the country's Jews. The charges preferred were based on 
Zionist activities, which had been branded as subversive and 
treasonable. The legality of these activities at the time of their 
commission did not impress the courts. Thus, any Jew who 
had attended Zionist meetings, contributed money to the cause, 
or even kept a National Fund coin box in his house, became a 
potential defendant. 

Parallel with these procedures, deportations further darkened 
the situation. Members of the former bourgeoisie, big and petty, 
were turned out of their homes and resettled, minus their 
possessions, in rural communities. True to the policy of con- . 
cealment, no information about their whereabouts was forth- 

A considerable segment of the Jewish population was affected, 
although exact figures are not available. Having already been 
deprived of their businesses and property, they were now robbed 
of their household goods. No reliable details have come through 
concerning their fate. But it is certain that they live like 
outcasts wherever they are. 


These deportations took place throughout 1952-3. The world- 
wide protests by governments and organizations aroused by 
simultaneous deportations in Hungary appear to have impressed, 
the Rumanian Government. Since then, no new deportations. 
have been reported. 

5. Religious and Cultural Life 

* In Rumania the rabbinate was held in high esteem, and 
congregational life pulsated vigorously. Therefore the Communist 
regime sought both to undermine the congregations and to 
deprive the members of spiritual leadership. 

They undermined the financial basis of the congregations. 
The Law on Religious Cults (August 23, 1948) separated Church 
and State. Thereafter congregations were deprived of their 
right to levy taxes on the members. The following year a Statute 
for the Organization of the Mosaic Faith decreed the central- 
ization of the Jewish congregations on the local as well as on 
the national level. Under it only one congregation can exist in. 
one city or town. If there be more, even of various shades, 
Orthodox, Reform, they must merge. The individual congregations 
of the country must be organized into one national federation. 
Thus strict unity has been created instead of the multiple warring 
factions of previous years. However, this unity is essentially a 
straight jacket, serving exclusively the interests of the regime. 
The local and national organizations are headed by diehard 
Communists through whom the Government has an iron grip, 
on these organizations. 

The emigration of rabbis was permitted in pursuance- 
of the policy of depriving the masses of their spiritual leaders. 
A large number of the rabbis left the country (Dr. Alex Shafran, 
the Chief Rabbi; Rabbi Josef Adler, the leader of Transylvanian 
Jewry, etc.) so that their number apparently dwindled to 32 or 37, 
(Thirty-two rabbis signed the Passover appeal of 1951, and the 
statement of June, 1954, regarding the trials of Zionist leaders, 
in Rumania.) 


The Hebrew and Yiddish schools were nationalized, staffed 
with Communist teachers, and filled with the Communist spirit, 
while IKUF (Yiddisher Kulturfarband) with its 34 branches 
was forced to abandon its own rich cultural program and become 
.a mere instrument of Communist propaganda. 

One Rumanian-language Jewish weekly is permitted to 
appear, the Viata Nova ("New Life"). 

To put the finishing touch to its work of destruction of 
Jewish communal life, the regime nationalized the imposing 
network of Jewish charitable institutions, most of them rebuilt 
with the aid of American Jewish organizations. 

"All these institutions," said Hersh Sherban-Leibovici, "have 
hecome government institutions and are open to the Jewish 
population as well as ... to all coinhabitant nationalities." 

Finally, all ofilces of the foreign Jewish organizations were 
ordered closed, among them those of the American Jewish Joint 
Distribution Committee, which had disbursed about $3,600,000 
annually in that country. 


1. The Economic Situation 

The youth trained during the last decade, as well as crafts- 
men and laborers, are gainfully employed. The same is true also 
of certain professional categories (physicians, engineers, and 
a number of lawyers). There are a number of Jews in the civil 
service. The proportion of the declassed and pauperized cannot 
be ascertained with accuracy, but must be presumed to be 

The lot of those who earn a living is generally -far from 
comfortable. The cost of living is exceedingly high in Rumania, 
the purchasing power of the wages paid is low. It is hard for 
a wage earner to make ends meet. 

The most recent emigrants from Rumania to pass through 
Vienna supplied the f ollowing data on the living standards in the 


country: one Austrian schilling has (in Vienna) the same pur- 
chasing power as a leu in Rumania, but the average wage in 
Austria is 1,500 schillings and in Rumania 500 lei. 

On the whole, there seem to be two economic groups: 
one that makes a meager living, the other the declassed. The 
wealthy class has disappeared. Highly placed bureaucrats may 
be the only exceptions. But they, as a rule, have severed 
relations with Jewry and Judaism. 

2. Religious Affairs 

The congregations are in ruins. Their finances were based 
on the prerogative of levying taxes on the members and on the 
obligation of every Jew to join the local congregation as a member. 
The abolition of these rights by the Law on Religious Cults was 
a blow inconceivable to those who live in countries with a 
different historical evolution. Jewish readiness to make voluntary 
contributions would have overcome these difficulties but for the 
revolutionary change in the members' economic circumstances. 
With the favorably situated strata gone, a considerable part 
of the Jews pauperized, the wage earners struggling to meet the 
bare necessities, there is no financial capability to maintain a 
congregation. In the anti-religious atmosphere, willingness to 
join a religious organization is on the wane. Clearly, the con- 
gregations must, if they have not already done so, collapse. 

This accounts for the disastrously small number of rabbis. 
Their number is bound to dwindle. In such conditions and 
atmosphere, youth will not and cannot choose the rabbinical 
calling. Religious life is heading for extinction despite official 
statements to the contrary: Bercu Feldman told Maitre Andre 
Blumel (President of the French Zionist Federation) in July, 
1955, that there still were in Rumania 500 synagogues or 
shtieblach (small -chapels) open, 70 religious communities, a 
yeshiva with 12' (!) students, and that matzoth and kosher wine 
were available for Passover. It is worth noting that, according- 
to information released in July, 1954, by the Rumanian Legation 
in London, there were 126 Jewish communities, 32 Talmud Torahs, 


and 69 mikvot (ritual baths), and religious services were held 
daily in temples and synagogues of which Bucharest was said 
to have 50, Jassy 75, and Butosani 45. 

3, Organizational and Cultural Life 

With the liquidation of all cultural, Zionist, and charitable 
organizations, two Communist-led organizations have survived: 
the Federation of the Jewish Congregations, presided over by 
the Communist Chief Rabbi, the significance of which is dwindling 
with the decline of the congregations, and the CDE. Not even 
in its heyday were the branches of CDE active, as attested by 
the endless "criticisms and self-criticisms" published in the 
now defunct Unirea. Recently, according to reports by recent 
arrivals from Rumania, the CDE was disbanded, and the As- 
sociation of Religious Communities replaced in a sense the CDE. 
Bercu Feldman was transferred to the office of the Prime Minister. 
The boss on the Jewish scene is reportedly Yoshka Chischinewsky, 
who is decribed in Rumanian papers as the "vice-president of the 
Ministry" and Communist Party big-shot. (Maitre Blumel re- 
ported, on the other hand, that Feldman is still believed to 
be in charge of Jewish affairs in Rumania.) 

IKUF and the two Yiddish theatres are mostly Jewish 
in language only, though they reflect 'some Jewish activity. 
Essentialy they are channels for Communist propaganda. Jewish 
cultural and organizational activities have been rendered im- 
possible in Rumania. 

The schools are nationalized, the youth reared in the Com- 
munist spirit in complete ignorance of their Jewish heritage, 
estrangement from and hostility not only toward Judaism but 
toward their own parents being the goal envisaged. According 
to Bercu Feldman, some 5,000 Jewish children are taught Yiddish, 
either in all-Jewish schools or in general schools where Yiddish 
is added to the curriculum. A state publishing house brings out 
Yiddish books, and a new Yiddish quarterly is about to make its 



Although no reliable statistics are available, it is safe ta 
say that about 150,000 Rumanian Jews emigrated during the 
postwar decade. Rumania did not permit indiscriminate emi- 
gration to Israel (as did Bulgaria or Czechoslovakia). For the 
most part, only selected groups were permitted to emigrate. 
Nonetheless, up to 1,000 persons per shipload were permitted for 
a time, so that, according to official Israeli statistics, the total 
number of immigrants of Rumanian origin to Israel since the 
establishment of the Jewish State was 121,818. The distribution 
by the various years was as follows: 17,678, from. May 15 to- 
December 31, 1948; 13,596 in 1949; 46,430 in 1950. There was 
also considerable emigration in 1951 until September: according* 
to the same Israel sources, 40,208 Jews of Rumanian origin 
immigrated during that year. Since there were comparatively 
few Rumanian Jews in DP camps, the bulk must have come 
directly from Rumania. After October, 1951, the number of 
exit permits steadily diminished, and after February, 1952, 
emigration stopped for all practical purposes. Nonetheless, there 
were 3,627 such immigrants in 1952, 180 in 1953, and 99 in 1954. 
Only very recently (in May, 1955) did the authorities begin ta 
accept applications again, and in July, 5 exit permits, the first 
in a long time, were granted, resulting in a small number 
of subsequent arrivals in Israel. It is, however, too early to decide 
whether extensive emigration will be resumed in the near future,, 
although this gesture created a veritable fever of excitement 
in the Jewish quarters of Bucharest and, according to reports, 
the Rumanian Minister of Foreign Affairs sent word to Israel 
(on the occasion of the induction of a new Minister to Israel) 
that Rumania accepted the Israeli point of view that families 
should be reunited by emigration to Israel: parents wishing 
to join children and vice versa should be permitted to emigrate; 
spouses should also be united. Other relatives were, however, 
to be excluded from the reunion. It is also reported that the 
Israel Government is in communication with a Rumanian 


Transport Company regarding the transportation of new emi- 
grants from Constanza to Haifa. On the other hand, there 
are 200 Rumanian Jews who will soon return from Israel to 


Taking into consideration that there were about 428,000 Jews 
in Rumania after liberation; that the 20',000 refugees who 
were included in this total have left Rumania; that about 37,000 
left during the flight in 1947; that since 1948 about 122,000 have 
emigrated to Israel, and that smaller groups have left for other 
countries, it must be assumed that there are at present about 
220,000 to 240,000 Jews in Rumania one of the largest Jewish 
communities in Europe today. 



Before the First World War nearly one million Jews lived 
among the approximately twenty million inhabitants of Hungary. 

After the First World War, Hungary was dismembered. 
With the loss of Slovakia, Transylvania, Croatia, and Slavonia, 
her territory was reduced to one-fourth of its former size. Rump 
Hungary had 473,310 Jews among her 7,980,143 inhabitants, ac- 
cording to the census of 1920. 

During the Hitler era Hungary retrieved some of her lost 
territories. On November 2, 1938, the German-Italian Arbitration 
restored to Hungary parts of Slovakia and two years later a 
similar arbitration returned Upper Transylvania to her. The 
number of Jews in this enlarged Hungary was 725,007, according 
to the 1941 census (not counting about 100,000 Christians of 
Jewish descent) . 

After the conclusion of the 'Second World War, Hungary was 
deprived of these territorial gains and reduced to her 1918 area. 
The following table will illustrate these changes: 

Jewish Population 
Area Year Number 

Historical Hungary (before 1918) 1918 938,458 

Rump Hungary (19181939) 1920 473,340 

Enlarged Hungary (19391945) 1941 725,007 

Postwar Hungary (1945) 1946 143,000 



Beginning with 1938 anti-Jewish measures of an economic 
nature were introduced in Hungary, while deportations to 
Poland commenced in 1941. The first victims were foreign Jews: 
18,500 were deported to Poland. In October, 1942, compulsory 
labor service for Jews was introduced, and within two years, about 
60,000 Hungarian Jews were sent to work behind the Axis 
battle lines; few of them returned. Even worse was the plight 
of the Jews in the annexed territories: they were deported and 
massacred soon after annexation. With the German occupation 
of Hungary on March 21, 1944, harsher anti-Jewish measures 
were introduced. By the middle of August the Jews in the 
provinces were placed in ghettos; in Budapest, the Jews were 
squeezed into what was known as "yellow" houses. In the spring, 
400 000 Jews were shipped to Auschwitz, Mauthausen, and 
other extermination camps. The deportations were suspended on 
July 5, 1944, but when on October 15, 1944, the Regent announced 
his break with the Axis, he was forced to resign and a reign 
of terror was launched against the Jews: they were massacred 
in the streets, in the "yellow" houses, shot to death or thrown 
into the river. In November, about 100,000 Jews were driven afoot 
from Budapest to Austria, of whom 25,000 perished on the way. 
In Budapest a ghetto was set up for 50,000 Jews. The remaining 
Jews were saved by the occupation of Hungary by the Russians. 
On January 20, 1945, a provisional government was formed and 
on April 6, the whole country was liberated. 

The postwar history of the Hungarian Jews can be divided 
into three periods. The first lasted from 1945 till 1948, when 
it was still hoped that the country would retain a democartic 
system. The second period comprised the years from 1948 till 
Stalin's death (March, 1953) r marked by Communization of the 
country, climaxing in the mass evacuation from the cities of 
the bourgeois elements and moves in the direction of anti- 
Semitism; the third period started with Stalin's death in 1953 
and has been marked by the abandoning of the anti-Jewish 
policies and by rapidly changing economic trends. 



1. The Demographic Situation 

In the provincial towns and cities practically no Jews were 
left at the end of the war. As said, they had been deported by 
the Hungarian Fascists to Auschwitz or other death camps. In 
Budapest about 60,000 were found in the ghetto and 20,00025,000 
in the various "protected houses" (Swedish, Swiss, etc.), neutral 
legations, and in hiding. In the provinces about 25,000 remained 

Some 40,000 Hungarian Jews survived the labor battalions 
and the German concentration camps. Soon after V-E Day they 
began to return to Hungary. It took months before all who desired 
it were brought home. The situation they found was appalling. 
In many places only one of every ten survived. In the provincial 
cities and towns nearby 60 per cent of the families were disrupted, 
with the husband or the wife missing, never to return. Children 
were hardly to be seen: of the 72,000 Jewish children within 
Hungary's present borders, 56,000 had been killed. In the "En- 
larged Hungary," 139,000 children had been murdered. The total 
number of Jewish survivors in "Enlarged Hungary" was 260,000. 
Within the present area of Hungary, slightly over 400,000 
professing Jews had lived before the Second World War, of 
whom about 150,000 survived. The number of Jews in Hungary 
in 1945 was estimated at approximately 190,000 (apparently in- 
cluding non-professing Jews) according to the Statistical Report 
of the Budapest Branch of the World Jewish Congress, published 
in 1946, but the 1946 census showed a total of 143,624 professing 
Jews only. 

As a result of the exterminations, the age structure of 
Hungarian Jewry became extremely unfavorable: In 1950, more 
than 25 per cent of all Jews in Budapest were over 60 years old, 
and the age median was 46.0 as against 30.5 in 1920. There 
were 26 per cent more women than men in the marriageable 
age; almost one-half of the children were orphans. 


2. Reconstruction of Family Life 

The liberation opened wide vistas for the surviving remnants 
of Hungarian Jewry. The general belief was that a new era 
of democracy and liberalism had begun. 

Animated by hopes of a brighter future, the Jews set to work 
to rebuild their shattered lives. Their first effort was to establish 
normal family life. A wave of marriages ensued. Thus, on a 
single day in the diminished community of Kaposvar, 16 couples 
were married; on one Sunday (in May, 1946) 100 weddings took 
place in Budapest. The number of births rose rapidly; in 1946, 
their number soared to 2,188, exceeding, for the first time since 
the Nazi catastrophe, the number of deaths. 

3. Religious and Cultural Revival 

The same revival could be observed in the religious and 
cultural life of Hungarian Jewry. All pre-war national organi- 
zations (the Central Bureau of the Orthodox Jews; that of the 
Reform Jews; the various Zionist organizations) reopened their 
offices. Of the former 472 Jewish congregations, 266 resumed 
their activities. The larger congregations filled the places of 
their martyred rabbis. The Budapest Rabbinical Seminary trained 
and ordained rabbis (seven in 1946 and nine in 1947). However, 
as a result of the terrible loss of life, many of the smaller con- 
gregations went out of existence: 93 of them were liquidated in 
the first postwar year because they had lost all their members. 
Their synagogues and cemeteries passed into the possession of 
the respective religious National Bureaus (the supreme bodies 
of the religious groupings). 

Simultaneously, a rich cultural life developed in the country. 
A galaxy of new writers emerged. Dozens of memoirs were 
published. Jenoe Levai wrote his fine monograph on the Fascist 
regime in three volumes. The Budapest Kehillah established a 
Jewish Free University and a Music School. The National Jewish 
Museum was reestablished; 23 of the former 147 elementary 


schools, 3 so-called civic schools, and 5 high schools, all con- 
gregational institutions, were reopened. 

The great catastrophe that had befallen the country's Jewry 
dominated the scene for a long time. Monuments to the memory 
of the 550,000 martyrs were erected in almost all the larger 
centers (Budapest, Miskolc, Gyor, Pecs, etc.). In some cases, the 
dedication of these monuments assumed the character of national 
events. Many of the victims who had been murdered in West 
Hungary were exhumed and reinterred in the capital. The country 
is dotted with such monuments, reminders of the darkest age 
in history. 

4. Economic Rehabilitation 

After the liberation on April 6, 1945, the economic situation 
was tragic. The economy was disrupted. Forty per cent of the 
country's industry was in ruins. The transportation system was 
paralyzed. Most of the railroad rolling stock had been removed 
to Germany or wrecked by bombing. 

The economic situation of the Jews was even more tragic. The 
homes and stores of the returning Jews were empty. The finan- 
cial losses of the Hungarian Jews were estimated in a joint 
memorandum of the national Jewish organizations at no less 
than one billion dollars. 

American Jewry rushed help to these impoverished victims 
on an unprecedented scale. The American Joint Distribution 
Committee organized and subsidized a network of free kitchens, 
orphanages, homes^for the aged, hospitals, cultural organizations. 
During the first years it spent $30,000,000. 

The Hungarian Government enacted a number of decrees 
and laws to regulate the vital problems of restitution. These 
measures were far from satisfactory from the Jewish point of 
view: they were involved; they favored the Gentile user or tenant 
who had taken possession of the Jewish property; in cases of 
litigation, they imposed heavy daily fees for the arbitrators. The 
Jewish organizations voiced their criticism in memoranda and 
at conventions. With all their shortcomings, however, these 


laws provided a measure of economic rehabilitation for the Jews. 
Property in the form of buildings was almost entirely recovered 
due to the short span of the Nazi regime there had been no time 
for the transfer of Jewish properties, and their ownership 
remained clear. Civil servants were reinstated in their positions. 
State licensees recovered their rights. The restoration of business 
premises was a slow process. The sorest point, however, was 
that the Jews did not get back their landed estates confiscated 
by the Fascists. Decidedly, they now lost contact with the soil. 
The runaway inflation after the war affected the Jews in two 
ways. The rapid decline of the currency produced a feverish de- 
sire to purchase goods and thus get rid of the depreciating bank- 
notes. This created an opportunity to expand production. On the 
other hand, the wage earners suffered exceedingly through the 
constant decrease of the real value of their earnings. Most de- 
plorable, however, was the situation of the large number of in- 
valids, aged persons, widows, and others who were unable to do 
any work. 

5. Prosecution of War Criminals 

Hungary was one of the countries that meted out condign 
punishment to the war criminals. People's Courts were set up 
and the concepts of war crimes and crimes against the people 
were clearly defined. Those guilty were brought to justice. Almost 
all Cabinet members of the Fascist governments were ap- 
prehended and tried. The bloodthirsty L. Endre, responsible for 
the deportation to Auschwitz of 400,000 Jews within six weeks; 
his henchman, L. Baky; the diabolic Bela Imredy, former premier 
and director of the National Bank; the half-insane sadistic 
Ferenc Szalasi, the "Leader of the People" after Regent N. Horthy's 
overthrow, and the members of his Cabinet all these answered 
with their lives for their monstrous crimes. They were shot 
dead or hanged amidst stormy demonstrations. 

Within two years, 136 criminals were executed while 15,178 
penalties of varying degrees of severity were imposed on lesser 


6. Anti-Semitism 

However, the harsh punishments meted out to war criminals 
did not serve as a deterrent to anti-Semitism. The Hungarian. 
Government by means of Act VIH, 1946, declared anti-Semitic 
agitation a criminal offense; in a specific law (Act XXV, 1946) 
it offered "moral satisfaction" to Hungarian Jewry for the 
horrors it had been subjected to; yet the atmosphere grew ever 
more tense. 

Many factors combined to produce this new wave of Jew- 
hatred. First, there was the effect of years of Nazi propaganda 
in the press, on the radio, in speeches, and in books. Second, 
there was the disaffection of those who had been in possession, 
of Jewish property which they now had to surrender. Third, 
the fact that a number of Jews were employed by the police 
(because they were a "reliable" element) and a number of Jews 
were among judges of the People's Courts (for the same reason) 
contributed to the anti-Jewish agitation. The fact that some 
of the leaders of the Communist Party were of Jewish origin. 
(Matjas Rakosi, E. Geroe, Joseph Revai, Zoltan Vas, and others) 
was also a source of anti-Semitism. 

An additional factor in the Jewish situation was stated in 
the testimony before the U.S. Select Committee on Communist 
Aggression (Fifth Report of the Hearings before the Subcommittee 
on Hungary). There Zoltan Pfeiffer, Hungarian Undersecretary 
of Justice in 1946, testified as follows: 

In the summer of 1946, Communist-incited crowds, 
staged a pogrom at Kunmadaras. It may sound unusual 
that the Communist Party should have taken part in open 
anti-Semitic propaganda. In Hungary the Communist Party 
had very few adherents. They recruited members where 
they could, and thus many former Nazis gained immunity 
for themselves by joining. 

This was so openly done that Communist Party organ- 
izers made the rounds of the internment camps, promising 
immediate freedom, full immunity, and a career to those 
who joined up and solemnly pledged blind obedience. 


In the same testimony it was stated that in August, 1946, 
Laszlo Piros (the organizational secretary of the Communist 
Party) , acting upon Russia's slogan, "To the gallows with the 
black marketeers!" organized a march of 200 on Miskolc. The 

beat to death a Jewish miller, and nearly killed many 
others. The pogrom threw a scare into the Communists. 
Communist Minister of the Interior Laszlo Rajk arrested 
the culprits, but not the instigators. 

Next day Piros and his associate, Ferenc Dusek/ again 
led a demonstration. They freed the culprits and beat up 
the Jewish officers of the police. 

The perpetrators and the instigators of the Miskolc 
pogrom did not come before the courts, because it turned 
out that the pogrom was prepared and executed by Com- 
munist Party functionaries. 

In the early stage of the Communist activities, Communism 
and anti-Semitism were not incompatible in Hungary. On 
March 15, 1946, the leader of the Communist Peasant Party, 
Joseph Darvas, who subsequently became a member of the 
Communist government, published an editorial warning the 
Jews not to try to capitalize on their sufferings, "otherwise the 
Hungarian nation would eject them." His party chieftains fol- 
lowed suit. Other political writers struck inciting notes in then- 
books Oe.g., M. Wesselenyi, The Fall of the Third Reich; J. Szeesi, 
The People Left Here} . 

7. Reaction of Jewry; Zionism 

The result of this situation was that the bulk of the Hungarian 
Jews soon became anxious to leave the country. 

According to the joint memorandum of the Hungarian Jewish 
organizations of March 1946, 63,500 Jews intended to emigrate 
to Palestine and 45,000 to other countries. All in all, 108,500 Jews 
were desirous to emigrate. In this atmosphere the Zionist move- 
ment grew by leaps and bounds. Early in 1946, there existed 
the following numbers of Hachshara groups: Hashomer Hatzair, 
11; B'nai Akiba, 10; Dror Habonim, 8; Hanoar Hatzioni, 6; 
Gordonia, 5. The total number of Chalutzim exceeded 2,000. 


The movement to leave the country was so manifest that a 
Hungarian Catholic columnist, Gyorgy Parragi, appealed to 
the Hungarian Jews to abandon their emigration plans and to 
participate in the reconstruction of the country. 

The answers he received throw a sharp light on the frame 
of mind of the Jews. 

"The Hungarians murdered us, robbed us, degraded us to 
the level of animals," one wrote. "You have no right to call us 
deserters, because you know that we are hated more than ever." 

"I cannot live together with the unknown murderers of my 
parents, children, and wife/' replied another. 

"I shall go away not from cowardice," said a third letter, 
"but from being disgusted with certain people who have not 
changed their political color. Democracy here is still in its infancy 
and I have no time to wait until it grows up." 

The memories of the past, the revulsion against living in the 
midst of those who had shed the blood of their loved ones, and 
the rabid anti-Semitism prevalent in the country were the chief 
causes of a veritable emigration fever among the Jews only 
one year after their return from deportation or release from 
the ghettos. 


1. Gleichschaltung (1948-1953) 

The seizure of power by the Communist Party in 1948 and 
the sovietization of the country which followed, wrought tre- 
mendous changes on the general as well as on the Jewish scene. 

Jewish cultural life soon became gleichgeschaltet. All Jewish 
papers and periodicals were discontinued except for one, Uj-Elet 
("New Life"). This paper, which had reflected the life and 
activities of a versatile Jewry, became monotonous and dedicated 
in the main to the glorification of Soviet-Hungary's and Soviet- 
Russia's leaders and to attacks on the "Western Imperialists." 
Jewish literary production came to a sudden halt. Scholars like 


Dr. Samuel Lowinger, the president of the Budapest Rabbinical 
Seminary; leading rabbis like Dr. F. Hevesi, the Chief Rabbi 
of Budapest, and his successor, Dr. F. Hershkovits, as well as 
dozens of others, emigrated. 

Gone were the Jewish meetings and conventions with their 
clashes of opinions and party struggles. They were convoked 
only to vote "enthusiastically" for resolutions submitted by 
the new "leaders." 

2. Liquidation of Jewish Cultural and Organizational Life 

The law on the nationalization of schools was enacted 
in June, 1948. It provided for the taking over by the Govern- 
ment of all parochial schools. The Catholic Church offered stiff 
resistance culminating in a riot at the town of Pocspetri, where 
a policeman was killed. Under courtmartial proceedings, the 
killer was executed within 48 hours, while the village priest, 
his accomplice, was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Pro- 
testant churches yielded and signed an agreement with the 
Government. The Jews followed suit. In this agreement the 
Jewish denomination took cognizance of the fact that the 
Hungarian Government had decided to take over non-govern- 
mental schools. The rabbinical schools and Talmud Torahs, 
however, were excepted; also, as a token of the Government's 
appreciation of the merits of the Jewish denomination, one 
Budapest Jewish high school was not nationalized. Yet, in 1949, 
this high school, as well as the Jewish Teachers' College and the 
ORT schools, were closed by the Government. In 1950, IMTT 
(Jewish Literary Society) and OMIKE (Jewish Cultural Associa- 
tion), after decades of publishing valuable volumes on Jewish 
literature and lore, were disbanded. Their function was officially 
transferred to the Cultural Department of the Budapest Con- 
gregation, of whose activities very little, if anything, is known. 

The new Hungarian Constitution of August 20, 1949, pro- 
claimed the separation of Church and State ("a free Church in 
a free State" being the slogan). As a result, the Jewish congre- 
gations were deprived of their right to levy taxes on their members 


and to collect them, if necessary, with the aid of the authorities. 
Also, they lost any title to a State subsidy. Previously, the Govern- 
ment had guaranteed a minimum salary to rabbis (as to other 
ministers of religion); if their congregations were unable to 
pay it, the Government was bound to make up the difference. 
These rights were deemed vital for the financial security of 
the religious organizations. 

In order to cushion the transition, the Hungarian Govern- 
ment on December 10, 1948, concluded an agreement with the 
representatives of the Jewish National Bureaus, providing for 
a temporary subsidy, to be reduced at the end of every fifth year 
by 25 per cent. After 1968, no State subsidy will be given. 

The centralization of Jewish religious organizations took 
place in 1950. For 83 years Hungarian Jewry had been divided 
into three wings: Orthodox, Reform (Neolog), and Statusquo 
(middle-of-the-road), which built up strong local and national 
organizations and developed 1 their own literature. Under govern- 
mental pressure, these groups liquidated their particular orga- 
nizations and merged. 

February 20, 1950, was the opening of the convention at which 
the unification of all Hungarian Jewish organizations was 
proclaimed. The Minister of Religious Affairs opened the con- 
vention of 170 delegates, which lasted 4 days. The new statutes 
were unanimously adopted. Their highlights are as follows: 
The congregations discard their designations (Orthodox, Neolog, 
or Statusquo). In one city or town only one congregation can 
exist. The individual congregations are to be grouped in districts, 
of which six are to be organized. The supreme authority is to be 
the National Bureau of the Hungarian Jews. The officers of the 
National Bureau are to consist of a President, Vice-Presidents, 
Executive Council, and Rabbinical Council. Lajos Stoeckler, the 
president of the Budapest Jewish Congregation, was elected 
National President. 

The nationalization of schools, as well as the separation of 
the Church and State, had a direct bearing on the religious 
education of the growing generation. Traditionally, the curricula 


of public elementary and high schools had included religious in- 
struction. Thus, every child received at least a modicum of 
knowledge of his spiritual heritage. As a result of the changed 
situation, religious instruction was excluded from the schools' 
curricula. But the parents were entitled to request of the school 
authorities that religious instruction be provided to their children. 
In the first year the demand for such instruction was heavy: 
of about 4,500 school children, some 2,800 were reported to have 
made it. The Government, however, has provided no facilities 
for religious instruction. The congregations conduct classes for 
religious instruction. Obviously, these are no effective substitutes 
for Jewish education. Clearly, a considerable number of Jewish 
children grow up in utter ignorance as far as Judaism is concerned. 
The large Jewish Hospital in Budapest, reequipped at an 
enormous expense by the American Joint Distribution Committee, 
was nationalized. According to Budapest sources, a small hospital 
with 80 beds has been reserved for Jews clinging to a kosher 

3. Structural Changes in Economic Life 

Under the Nationalization Law (Act XXV, 1948) of May 11, 
1948, all plants, factories, and mines employing 100 or more 
laborers were nationalized. The owners were to be compensated. 
A special law was to prescribe the amount of compensation, but 
no such law is known to have been enacted so far. It was 
nationalization without compensation. The nationalization decree 
of December 28, 1949, resulted in the seizure of all enterprises 
employing 10 or more, in some cases 5, persons. 

In 1950, the privately owned pharmacies, in 1951, the still 
privately owned mills, and in 1952, the privately owned apart- 
ment houses and a large category of homes, were nationalized. 
Also, the privately owned cinemas were confiscated, the film 
industry and film imports being taken over by the Government, 
and the theatres were nationalized. 

The declaration of principles in 1949 of the Workers' Party 
included the demand for the elimination of the middlemen in 


order to reduce the wide margin between the cost price and 
selling price. Artisans were informed that the days of small-scale 
individualistic production were gone and that by collective 
methods they would achieve much more for their own benefit 
than by operating singly. 

Before they realized it, the Hungarian Jews saw almost 
all their traditional means of livelihood slip from their hands. 

For a while small factories and retail shops had to compete 
with State-owned establishments, but in the fall of 1949 most 
of them were taksn over by the State. After the nationalization, 
the former owners were or were not employed in the enterprise. 
The extent to which Jews suffered through these measures may 
be judged from the following figures: of 1,721 owners of retail 
stores nationalized by December 12, 1949, 1,504 were Jewish. 

As a result, the physical survival of the expropriated masses 
became a grave problem. The Communist cure-all for it was: 
economic integration or restratification. At the beginning of 
1949, MIZRAT, an organization for vocational retraining and 
for organizing cooperatives, was established. Its president, Dr. 
I. Kisfalvy, was far from optimistic. The vocational readjustment 
of the Hungarian Jews, he said, was fraught with great difficulties. 
The Jews of Hungary were overage more than half of them 
were over 46 years old, Men in the higher age-brackets were 
hard to retrain. The situation was aggravated, he said, by the 
fact that women outnumbered men: in the higher age-brackets, 
their number was almost double that of men (1,784 to 1,000 men). 
The conclusion was that a considerable segment of this Jewry 
was beyond help. 

The American Joint Distribution Committee made great 
efforts to help those affected. In the space of a few months, it 
gave 9,200,000 forints (approximately $900,000) to help individual 
firms and 2,485,000 forints (approximately $240,000) for the 
establishment of cooperatives. In these cooperatives, 1,000 persons 
found employment. This, however, was no solution for the vast 
and tragic employment problem of the Jewish masses. 


4- Emigration 

By 1949 it had become clear to a large segment of Hun- 
garian Jews that their only salvation lay in emigration. The 
number of those who were desirous to leave the country at that 
time was estimated at 50,000. 

At that time it seemed that Hungary would follow the 
liberal emigration policies of Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. But 
within a few weeks there was -a change in the Hungarian attitude. 
Hungary was veering toward the negative attitude adopted by 
the Rumanian Government and stopped emigration. The Govern- 
ment closed the offices of <the K;ejren Kayemet and Keren 
Hayesod in Budapest and on March 24, 1949, the Zionist organiza- 
tion "voluntarily" disbanded. The motivation was that "the 
establishment of the Jewish State rendered their activities 

Their hopes for legal emigration frustrated, large groups 
decided to leave the country illegally. Crossing the Slovakian 
border, some 2,000 Jews succeeded in reaching Vienna via Bratis- 
lava by the beginning of May, 1949. A week later, the number 
of refugees rose to 3,000. 

The Hungarian Government took drastic steps to halt this 
mass exodus. It prevailed on Czechoslovakia and the Russian 
forces in Austria to turn the emigrants back from the borders. 
Hungary's western boundary became hermetically sealed. Accord- 
ing to photographs, a barricade of barbed wire five feet high 
was erected all along the 125 miles of frontier with watchtowers 
and searchlights at frequent intervals. 

When in the middle of July, 1949, Jewish refugees were arrested 
by the Czechoslovak authorities, this mass emigration movement 
came to an end. Subsequently, the Hungarian Government decided 
to permit the emigration of 3,000 persons to Israel. About 1,000 
were to be persons whose near relatives had legally emigrated 
to Israel, the rest had to be persons over 55 years of age. In 
October, 1950, a ban was again put on emigration, but small-scale 
emigration was later resumed. In August, 1952, 112 Jews arrived 


in Haifa, the last group of the 3,000 who had received permission 
to leave the country for Israel. 

The urge to emigrate to Israel continued strong. According 
to Joshua Shai, director of the Israel Immigration Department, 
50 per cent of the remaining Hungarian Jews had registered for 
emigration. In August, 1952, it was reported that 70,000 of the 
100,000 Jews in Hungary had expressed a desire to emigrate 
to Israel. 

According to Israel data, a total of 13,392 Hungarian Jews, 
coming either directly from Hungary or from DP camps, immigrat- 
ed into Israel between May, 1948, and September, 1951. Dana Adam 
Schmidt estimated in The New York Times of March 26, 1950, the 
number of illegal emigrants at 20,000. 

5. Evictions and Deportations 

In 1951, the Government of Hungary, for reasons of its 
own, decided to evict and deport a part of the population. 

On May 22, 1951, Steven Kovacs, Chairman of the Presidential 
Council of Budapest, made the following annonucement: 

The enemy must be liquidated . . . class-enemies and 
unreliable elements must be kept occupied in socialized jobs 
under supervision. . . . We want to choose their place 
of work. . . . 

On the day preceding this announcement the mass evictions 
commenced. The London Economist of August 4, 1951, gave the 
following account: 

On the night of May 20-21, the Budapest secret police 
suddenly rounded up some hundreds of persons. Whole 
families were taken at a time and, after being given a 
few hours to pack immediate necessaries, were taken by 
train to Debrecen. Here the children were separated from 
their families, the adults were loaded on to truks provided 
with authorization to enter the prohibited zone on the 
frontier with the Soviet Union and driven north-eastward. 
Nothing has since been heard of them. 

This proved to be only the first step in a process of mass 


deportation. A second convoy was sent off. on May 23 and 
since then convoys have been leaving Budapest three times 
weekly. ... A similar operation has been going on in the 
other larger towns of Hungary. It even appears that the 
net has been cast over the small towns and remote country 
districts. They are rounded up and liquidated by a process 
of slow extinction. This process is proving quick in many 
cases, for many persons served with expulsion orders have 
committed suicide and the conditions under which the 
deportees are kept result in an exceedingly high death rate. 
The procedure is always the same, except in detail. 
The police arrive at night, with a notice of expulsion. The 
expellees are given a short period in the most favorable 
case 24 hours to pack a quantity of effects which again 
varies from some hundredweight to a few pounds. So far 
as it is known, with the exception of the first batch, the 
deportees have, at least for the present, been kept in 

Jews represented a not inconsiderable portion of the evictees. 
According to reliable sources, the total number of evicted Jews 
was about 3,000. 

When the news of these measures became known abroad, 
the Hungarian Government made efforts to minimize them. On 
June 12, 1951, the Budapest radio in an English broadcast tried 
to refute the reports that "tens of thousands are deported from 
Budapest to isolation camps." Only a few dozen aristocrats, 
former generals and bankers had been evicted, averred the 
broadcast, and enumerated the names of those affected. 

However, according to the New York Herald Tribune of July 28, 
1951, 42,000 persons had been evicted from Budapest by mid-June, 
while reports from Vienna put the number of evictees by the 
end of July, 1951, at 65,000. 

At meetings and conventions of organizations, in the 
newspapers, in parliaments, as well as at sessions of the United 
Nations, violent protests and stern warnings were addressed to 
the Hungarian Government. Representatives of the Govern- 
ments of the United States, Great Britain, and France joined 
in the protests. 

These pronouncements seem, to have impressed the Hungarian 


Government. By the middle of August the deportations had 
been halted. 

In November, however, and intermittently throughout 1952, 
fresh evictions were reported. An Associated Press dispatch, 
datelined Vienna, August 29, 1952, reported a new wave of 
deportations from Hungarian cities: 

At the end of June, police from Budapest arrived at 
Miskolc. . . . They gave 200 families 20 minutes to pack 
their essential possessions. The deportees were forced to 
leave all the rest of their belongings behind. . . . 

In late June and early July, deportations were also 
reported to have been made from several towns near the 
Yugoslav frontier, including Pecs, Nagyatad, and Nagykani- 
sza, and from several towns near Austria, including Koeszeg 
and Szombathely. In South Hungary, 51 families reportedly 
were deported by rail from Szeged. . . . 

No reliable information was available as to whether there 
were any Jews among the deportees. 

In the period of relaxation that followed Stalin's death the 
deportations were halted, the deportees permitted to return to 
their homes under certain conditions, as we shall see- below. 

6. Arrests and Trials 

The Budapest Zionist leaders were suspected of having organ- 
ized the mass flight of Hungarian Jews in 1949.- On June 5, 1949, 
ten of them were arrested and brought to trial. Seven were 
sentenced to penal servitude, the others were acquitted. 

Further arrests of Zionists took place at later times, but 
neither the anti-Zionist propaganda in Hungary nor the persecu- 
tion of the Zionist leaders ever attained large proportions. 

During the heyday of the anti-Zionist drive, in 1949, the 
leaders of the Hungarian Zionists, Dr. Bela Denes and Heinrich 
Galos, were arrested on the charge of "Titoist-Zionist espionage." 
Abraham (or Geza) Kornitzer, leader of the Orthodox Jews, 
.shared their fate. They were sentenced to three years in prison. 
Yet after the expiration of their term, they were not released 


but new charges were preferred against them. Only on Feb- 
ruary 15, 1954, the World Jewish Congress announced their 
acquittal and release. 

At the beginning of 1953, Lajos Stoekler, the president of the 
Budapest Jewish Congregation and of the National Bureau 
of the Hungarian Jews, and Laszlo Benedek, director of the 
Jewish Hospital, were arrested. Their fate is not clear up to this 
date: Stoekler was reported to have been sentenced to 8 years 
in jail, and Benedek to have been released. At the same time 
other outstanding leaders (Leo Csengeri of Debrecen, Shlomo 
Groszberg of Budapest) together with a number of Jewish 
physicians and professionals were reportedly imprisoned. A mass 
trial seemed to be in the offing, which owing to Stalin's death 
was never held. 

RELAXATION (1953-1955) 

With the death of Stalin, a period of comparative leniency 
was inaugurated in Hungary resulting, i.a., in the liquidation of 
the internment camps and return of the deportees. The leniency, 
however, has not resulted in any basic changes on the Jewish 

1. The Number of Jews 

All reports concur in estimating the present number of Jews 
at 100,000. Since their number was over 140,000 in 1945, the Jewish 
population has in the space of a decade decreased by nearly 30 
per cent. Of the 100,000 Jews, about 80,000 live in Budapest. 

2. The Congregations 

The number of congregations is estimated at 70. Government- 
inspired information puts it, however, at 150. Even if the latter 
figure is accepted, it indicates a tragic development. The Statis- 
tical Reports No. 13-14, May, 1949, of the Budapest Office of the 


World Jewish Congress enumerated 253 congregations. During 
the past 6 years the number of the congregations has thus 
decreased by 100 to 180. The explanation is simple. In 1949, 
more than the half (precisely 163) of the congregations were 
very small, numbering less than 100 souls. As many of their 
members left the country, while others removed to the larger 
cities, these congregations disappeared. 

The depopulation of even the larger communities was 

Number of Jews 

City 1949 1955 

Debrecen 4,500 800 

Szeged 1,800 500 

Pecs 928 600 

Miskolc 2,357 500 

These figures alone indicate that, except for Budapest, which 
harbors 80 per cent of the Hungarian Jews, Jewish life is rapidly 
declining throughout the country. 

3, Religious, Cultural, and Organizational Life 

There appears to be religious freedom in the land; the 
Government does not interfere in religious matters. The president 
of the world organization Agudath Israel saw a large attendance 
at the (Orthodox) synagogues of Budapest. The Nagy regime 
is even said to encourage out-of-school religious instruction. 
The Budapest Jewish Congregation still possesses a library 
comprising 80,000 volumes and manuscripts, a Jewish Museum 
with, ceremonial objects and panel painting's, -and two Jewish 
high schools. The Budapest Babbinical Seminary continues to 
train young rabbis, but mo full-fledged rabbi was ordained 
in 1954. 

However, the financial basis of the synagogues is shattered. 
The new Constitution separating the Church from the State 
does not impose affiliation with their religious organizations upon 
the citizens. As a result, many Jews disaffiliated from the con- 


gregations. Of the 80,000 Jews in Budapest, only 30,000 are 
members of the Congregation, while 50,000 are "free," having 
severed their connection with the synagogue. Considering that 
most of the remaining members are in poor financial circum- 
stances, the financial plight of the Congregation must be lament- 
able. In fact, Dr. L. Heves, the new president of the Congregation, 
lias made a desperate appeal for contributions by the members. 

For centuries Hungary had been a bulwark of Orthodox Jewry: 
the remnants of this group still cling tenaciously to their 
heritage, and it is these who fill some of the synagogues. But the 
majority of the rest of the Jews display utter indifference toward 
their religious organizations. There is no chance to educate a 
child in the spirit of Judaism; there are no Jewish youth 
movements, no Jewish lectures, no Jewish literature, not even 
an opportunity for an occasional get-together. Jewish youth 
as well as the entire Jewish population of Hungary is being cut 
off from any type of Jewish cultural manifestation. Thus all 
ties between these Jews and their brethren in faith in other 
lands are bound to be severed. 

iThe overall picture is one of rapidly declining Jewish com- 
munities in the countryside, the desperate material plight of even 
the central congregation in Budapest, the absence of Jewish 
cultural activities, indifference on the part of the majority of 
the Jewish population, and a young generation estranged from 
the Jewish heritage. 

The hospitals and welfare institutions of the congregations 
are nationalized, except for a network of homes for the aged. 
They are maintained by the congregations and subsidized by 
the Government. 

3. The Economic Situation 

The governmental occupational readjustment experts ac- 
knowledged already six years ago that the vocational retraining 
of the Hungarian Jews would encounter difficulties because of 
their being overage. Today the situation is even worse. According 
to available reports, 40,000 of the 100,000 Hungarian Jews are 


over 60 years of age. Some of them receive a pension a mere 
pittance from the State, others depend on their relatives abroad. 
No statistics on the employment of Jews are available. It 
seems a close conjecture to say that about the half of them 
are unemployed. The other half of the Jewish population are 
in the main wage earners; many are employed as unskilled 
laborers in industrial enterprises. The wages are low, affording 
a bare subsistence. To make both ends meet, both husband 
and wife must work. Many of the lawyers have been deprived 
of their licenses, but physicians are employed by the State. 

4. The Political Situation 

A number of the foremost Communist leaders of Jewish 
origin have definitely been removed from the scene. 

The dreaded and Tiated chief of the Secret Police, Gabor 
Peter, a former journeyman tailor, was sentenced to jail for 
life. Together with him the former Minister of Justice, Gyula 
Decsi, who staged the trial of Cardinals Mindszenty and Groesz, 
was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment, while Peter's former 
deputy, Istvan Timar, received an eleven-year prison sentence. 
All three are of Jewish origin. 

Matyas Rakosi, as a member of the Party Secretariat, has 
always remained a potent force, but his close collaborators of 
Jewish origin have been eliminated. At the beginning of July, 
1954, Ernest Geroe, a veteran of the Spanish civil war, who spent 
the Second World War in Moscow and had since 1945 been 
second only to Rakosi in power and influence, was removed from 
his position of Minister of Interior. Prior to this Joseph Revai, 
the foremost theoretician of the Party, who had been regarded 
as the No. 3 Communist, was also deprived of all his functions. 

5. The Position of the Deportees 

As stated above, deportations were discontinued in 1953. 
The regime permitted, under certain conditions, the return 
of the deportees to their homes. As a result, about 70 per cent 


of the deportees, whose total number was estimated at 95,000 
(Jews and Gentiles), have been released. In the middle of 1954, 
a number of Jews were still reported languishing in their places 
of deportation, while the rest had returned to their respective 
places of residence. However, many of the latter were unable 
to secure living quarters; moreover, from time to time they 
were investigated by the authorities and if they did not succeed 
in securing some kind of work, they were in danger of being 
transferred as vagabonds to an internment camp. 

6. Anti-Semitism 

Anti-Semitism, which during the various anti-Jewish cam- 
paigns was rampant in the country, has somewhat abated. 
But grass-roots Jew-hatred, although suppressed by the authori- 
ties, is still strong. Reports of incitement to pogroms and of 
cries of "We will make soap of you," etc., circulate from time to 

7. Emigration 

Throughout 1954-55, there were recurrent reports in the 
press that the Hungarian authorities had decided to permit the 
emigration of 3,000 Jews sick persons and people over the age 
of 65 having relatives abroad. 

At the end of 1954, between 60 and 70 persons left the country. 
In the months January-August, 1955, 180 Hungarian Jews arrived 
in Israel. In June, 1955, the arrival of a group of elderly Hungarian 
Jews in Australia was reported from Melbourne. 

The total number of Hungarian Jews who arrived in Israel 
from May, 1948 until the end of 1954 was as follows: 

1948 (May 15 Dec. 31) ...... 3,463 

1949 6,844 

1950 2,721 

1951 1,273 

1952 218 

1953 224 

1954 55 



Czechoslovakia consisted from its foundation in 1918 until 
1938 of three geographical areas: (a) the historic or Czech lands, 
Bohemia and Moravia-Silesia, which had belonged to Austria 
until 1918; (b) Slovakia, which had been part of Hungary; and 
(c) Carpatho-Russia, Which had also formed part of Hungary. 

(a) The historic lands and the Czechs there had already 
under the Austrian regime advanced far economically, culturally, 
and politically. The Czechs, as the majority people, had struggled 
with the German minority for national supremacy. They obtained 
it when Czechoslovakia was born. In the nineteenth century, 
the Jews in the Czech lands had lived mostly in the realm 
of German culture. Increasing numbers shifted since then to 
Czech culture. Between the two World Wars, the Jews were 
largely assimilated to Czech or German culture or linguistically 
to both. Politically there were two opposing groups: those out- 
spokenly assimilationary (the so-called "Czech" Jew) and the 
"national" Jews (mostly Zionists). Among the Jews of Bohemia, 
who were almost twice as numerous as those of Moravia-Silesia, 
the Jews who declared themselves as being of Czechoslovak 
nationality were the largest group. 

(b) Slovakia, as part of Hungary, had lagged in its develop- 
ment behind the Czech lands, and the Slovaks as a people had 
been nationally oppressed by the Hungarians. They did not 
measure up to the Czechs, politically and culturally, after the 
establishment of the Czechoslovak state. The Jews of Slovakia 



were, in large measure, Orthodox and deeply religious. They 
possessed famous Yeshivot, the foremost of which was the 
Pressburger Yeshiva (Pressburg being the former name of Slova- 
kia's capital, Bratislava). Hungarian assimilation, of some im- 
portance before the First World War, lost its foundation after- 
wards. On the other hand, Slovak assimilation of Jews had been 
non-existent before the First World War, and was only in its 
early stages and still insignificant between the two wars. As a 
result, there was no counterpart in Slovakia to the "Czech" Jews 
of the historic lands and Yiddish and Orthodoxy remained alive 
to a considerable extent until the Second World War. Culturally, 
the Jews of Eastern Slovakia were akin to the Jews of Galicia. 

(c) Carpatho-Russia was a poor, undeveloped agrarian 
province whose native population spoke Ruthenian (Ukrainian). 
The Jews of Carpatho-Russia were part of East European Jewry 
and spoke Yiddish. The majority were Orthodox and the Chassidic 
movement was powerful. Those not Orthodox or Chassidic were 
mostly Zionists. Assimilation and assimilationism were practically 
non-extant. In Slovakia and Carpatho-Russia together there 
were about thirty Yeshivot. 

Roughly speaking, it may be said that economically the lot of 
the Jews in the historic lands was very good, in Slovakia good, 
and in Carpatho-Russia poor. 

Between 1918 and 1938, the Jewries in the three parts, 
although for historic reasons different from one another in 
many ways, were nevertheless united as one entity, living an 
active national Jewish life and politically integrated by a common 
purpose. There were Jewish schools. In Carpatho-Russia, with 
Hebrew as the language of instruction, there existed about half 
a score elementary schools and kindergartens, a full-fledged 
Gymnasium (with an eight-year course) in Munkacevo, and an 
incomplete one (with a six-year course) in Uzhorod. In other 
parts, with the vernaculars as languages of instruction, there 
were Jewish elementary schools and a Real Gymnasium (Czech 
and German) in Brno, Moravia. The Jewish nationality was 
officially recognized. There was a widespread, influential press, 


consisting mostly of weeklies, some of which made their mark 
in the history of Zionism. Nor did the activity of the Jews halt 
with Zionism; they had -a political instrument , in the Zionist- 
led Jewish Party which received votes in almost all districts 
where Jews lived about 100,000-^and, thanks to a proportional 
election system, sent two deputies to parliament. Full-blooded 
East European Judaism, advanced enlightment of West Euro- 
pean Jews, and Zionism possessing the characteristics of both, 
combined to shape a Jewry aware of its peoplehood and 
active wherever a useful purpose was to be served. It was 
multifaceted, but in politics, strongly unitary. Its activities were 
made possible by the democratic and liberal conditions in the 
state. For certain reasons, the Jewish national movement was 
favored even officially. 

Some of the differences among the Jews in the three parts 
of Czechoslovakia can be expressed in figures taken mainly from 
Bruno Blau's article, "Population Movement among the Jews 
of Czechoslovakia," in Yiddishe Ekonomik, April-June, 1938. 

(a) Under Czechoslovak law, every citizen could, at a census, 
declare his nationality, i.e,, his belonging to an ethnic group. 
In the census of 1930, only 31% of the Jews in the Czech lands 
registered as of Jewish nationality (the percentage in Bohemia 
was 20, in Moravia-Silesia almost 52), while the percentage in 
Slovakia was 53 and in Carpatho-Russia 93. 

(b) Of the total number of marriages in 1931-1933 with 
both partners or one only being Jewish, the proportion of the 
latter, i.e., mixed marriages, in Bohemia was almost one half 

'(44.7%) and in Moravia-Silesia almost one third (31.5%); in 
Slovakia one tenth (9.8%); and in Carpatho-Russia almost non- 
existent (a negligible 1.2%). 

(c) The population balance of the Jews had been un- 
favorable in the Czech lands for many years, but was favorable 
in Slovakia and particularly in Carpatho-Russia. In the three 
years 1931-1933, the difference between births and deaths 
amounted in the Czech lands to a deficit of 3,067, but in Slovakia 


and in Carpatho-Russia to a gain of 1,383 and 3,460, respectively. 
The total natural increase was reduced by emigration and baptism. 

According to the census of 1930, there were 356,830 Jews in 
Czechoslovakia; about one third of them (117,551) in the Czech 
lands; more than one third (136,737) in Slovakia; and less than 
one third (102,502) in Carpatho-Russia. Between the censuses 
of 1921 and 1930 the aggregate Jewish population in the three 
parts remained almost stationary, the increase amounting to 
only 2,488. In the 1930's till 1938 there was some increase caused 
by Jews from Nazi Germany who found asylum in Czechoslovakia. 

The fate of the three parts of Czechoslovakia during the 
war differed somewhat. Through the notorious agreement of 
Munich on September 30, 1938, Hitler detached the Sudetenland 
from the historic lands and annexed it to Germany. The Jews 
fled abroad or to the not yet occupied part of the historic lands. 
Half a year later, Hitler marched into Prague and made the 
historic lands (without the annexed Sudetenland) a German 
Protectorate. The deportations of the Jews from the Protectorate 
were complete and at the war's end there were virtually no Jews 
there (except in the Terezin camp). 

Slovakia was set up as an independent state (except for 
the part ceded to Hungary). Actually it was a puppet state of 
Germany. Most of the Jews were deported, but some saved 
themselves within the country and even fought in the ranks 
of the rebels against the Nazis. 

Carpatho-Russia was annexed by Hungary. The Jews were 
exposed to the anti-Jewish persecution policies of the Hungarian 
government. Some were used in the forced labor battalions sent 
together with the Hungarian army against Soviet Russia, but 
the great majority were deported. A few, being in Budapest, 
escaped deportation. After the war, Carpatho-Russia was ceded 
to the U.S.S.R., and Czechoslovakia was reconstituted of two 
parts only: the historic Czech lands and Slovakia. However, as 
win be seen below, most of the survivors of the Carpatho-Russian 
Jews continued to be a part of Czechoslovak Jewry, for most 
of them moved from Carpatho-Russia to the Czech lands. There- 


fore, after the war, Czechoslovak Jewry continued to consist 
of three distinct groups. 

The highest number of Jews in postwar Czechoslovakia was 
43,000-44,000, including a few thousand returnees from abroad. 
The number of those who had succeeded in emigrating between 
1938 and 1940 is estimated at about 50,000. Thus, less than 100,000 
survived: of the 360,000 Jews living in Czechoslovakia before 
Munich, 260,000 perished. 

Jewish history in postwar Czechoslovakia falls into three 
parts: the period from the liberation to the Communist coup 
d'etat in 1948; the period from this coup to the end of 1949 
(the time of mass emigration) ; and the period since then. 


1. Number and Composition of the Jewish Population 

(a) The Czech Lands. Postwar Jewry in the Czech lands, 
was composed of two groups: former residents of these lands 
(survivors and returnees) and the newcomers from % Carpatho- 
Russia. We will set forth the available demographic data for 
each group separately. In the following statistics and elsewhere 
"Jews" comprise only those who belonged to the Jewish 

(aa) Members of the Jewish Communities 

The surviving former residents of the Czech lands who re- 
turned soon after the liberation from Terezin, from other con- 
centration camps, or from abroad registered upon arrival with, 
the respective Jewish Communities. Membership in the Kultus- 
gemeinden (Communities) was compulsory under the law. 

On the other hand, the majority of the Carpatho-Russian 
Jews, whose status, as we shall see, was at first uncertain, did, 
not register with the Communities immediately upon arrival,, 
but only after their stay or status had been secured. 


It is generally assumed that somewhat over 12,000 Carpatho- 
Bussian Jews survived the Nazi and Fascist period, although 
some maintain that the number was twice as high. The total 
of 12,000 was compiled in five assembly centers in Carpatho- 
.Russia in June, 1945. This number comprised those who were on 
the spot on that date but did not include those who had left 
Carpatho-Russia before June, those who returned there after 
June and then left, and those who, after their liberation by the 
Western Allies from concentration camps in Germany, went 
straight to the Czech lands. 

The first to return to Carpathho-Russia were the soldiers 
who came back from Russia in October-November, 1944. The 
second were the inmates of the concentration camps east of 
Breslau liberated by Russia in January-February, 1945. The third 
were the returnees from Budapest after its liberation by Russia 
in March-April, 1945. The fourth were those from the concentra- 
tion camps in Germany liberated by the Western Allies in 
May-June, 1945, part of whom did not go back to Carpatho- 
Russia, but, as stated, went straight to the Czech lands. 

The trek from Carpathoh-Russia to the Czech lands took 
place in several waves. The survivors went to their homes to 
look for relatives, but when they read in the Pravda Zakarpatskoi 
Ukrajini the heading "We ask for the unification of Carpatho- 
Hussia with the Ukraine," many did not wait any longer and 
left for the Czech lands. Others waited to see what restitution 
would be like. But the statute turned out to be of limited 
application and required court proceedings. The official day 
of the annexation by the U.S.S.R. was June 29, 1945, and the 
border at Cop was closed (as the Carpatho-Russian Jews recall, 
it was the last day of Succoth, Feast of Tabernacles) on Septem- 
ber 30, 1945. The great majority went to the Czech lands and 
only a few hundreds to Slovakia (Kosice). 

At the first Conference of the Central Council of Jewish 
Communities (Rswla) held Sept. 1-2, 1945, the number of Jews 
who were registered with the Jewish Communities up to mid- 
August, 1945, was given as 7,208, 4,144 of them in Prague. It was 


not reported then how many of the 7,208 were Carpatho -Russian 
Jews. An emissary of the World Jewish Congress who visited 
the Czech lands in the summer of 1945 reported that about 
2,000-3,000 Jews from Carpatho-Russia were present there. Their 
numbers increased in the summer and fall of 1945 when Jews 
kept coming from Carpatho-Russia to the Czech lands. 

At a conference with the President of Czechoslovakia on 
November 10, 1945, the head of the Central Council of Jewish 
Communities said that at the end of October, 1945, the num- 
ber of the Jews registered with the Communities was about 
10,000, and he added that a certain number of people from 
Carpatho-Russia were included in that figure. The special 
mention of them in conjunction with the facts stated above 
leads to the conclusion that a considerable part of the 10,000 
were Carpatho-Russian Jews. 

It may be assumed that the former residents of the Czech 
lands numbered between seven and nine thousand at the end 
of October, 1945, On the whole, their return and registration 
had come to an end by then and their numbers were not radically 
changed during the democratic era. Thus, the larger number 
of Jews recorded in the years 1946-1948 was attributable, for 
all practical purposes, to the increase in the -ranks of the 
Carpatho-Russian Jews. The combined number of both groups 
in those years was 18,000-19,000, of whom 8,500 were registered 
in 1947 as coming from Carpatho-Russia. Actually, the number 
of Carpatho-Russian Jews must have been higher, for the 
reasons already set forth and for the further reason that the 
19,000 also contained 2,000 Jews registered as having returned 
with the Czech forces. The majority of them seem to have been 
Jews from Carpatho-Russia. Former residents of the Czech lands 
had served only in the Western army; the Carpatho-Russian 
Jews, however, served in both the Western and the Eastern army. 
To the former they had come after joining the Czech Legion 
in Rumania or Palestine and eventually reaching France and 
England They became soldiers of the Eastern 'army after having: 
been forced by Hungary into military labor units, called Munka- 


zoLgalat. Part of them were taken prisoner in Russia in the 
winter of 1942-43, and then joined the Czech military forces 
formed in that country. They constituted the major part thereof. 

It must thus be concluded that of the 19,000 Jews registered 
in 1947, the Carpatho-Russian Jews represented more than 8,500, 
constituting over one half of the total. This remained their 
proportion in the years before the Communist upheaval, not- 
withstanding repeated flights to the DP camps in Germany. 

Together, both groups, the f omer residents and the newcomers 
from Carpatho-Russia, numbered 18,000 (17,892) in the summer 
of 1946, a shade under 19,000 (18,970) in 1947, and somewhat 
over 19,000 (19,123) in 1948. 

According to the registration of 1948, there were 7,572 Jews 
in Prague, composed both of former residents of the Czech lands 
and of newcomers from Carpatho-Russia, and amounting to 40 
per cent of the total Jewish population. Elsewhere i.e., apart 
from Prague there was a more or less clear-cut geographical 
division: the Carpatho-Russian Jews lived largely in the Sudeten- 
land because there they received, thanks to the expulsion of 
the Germans, houses and other facilities free. Outside of the 
Sudetenlajnd, (the Jews formerly resident in the Csjech lands lived 
mostly in their former homes: 1,033 in Brno (Brunn), the capital 
of Moravia, 528 in Moravska Ostrava (Mahrisch-Ostrau), 293 in 
Plzen (Pilsen), 246 in Olomouc (Olmutz) ; and in smaller numbers 
in the other localities. 

On the other hand, in the Sudetenland, where the Carpatho- 
Russian Jews were settled, there were more communities with 
relatively speaking larger numbers. The Carpatho-Russian Jews 
made up the two Jewish communities which were numerically 
the largest after Prague: in the industrial centers Teplice-Sanov 
(Teplitz-Schonau) and Liberec (Reichenberg) with 1,185 and 1,105 
Jews, respectively. Among the other communities were Ustin/L 
(Aussig) and Podmokly-Decin (Bodenbach-Tetchen) with 789 and 
600 Jews, respectively. The Carpatho-Russian Jews also comprised 
the new communities in the once famous spas: Karlovy Vary 


(Karlsbad) with 945 Jews, Marianska Lazne (Marienbad) with, 
198 Jews, and Frantiskovy Lazne (Franzensbad) with 246 Jews. 

(bb) Non-Members of Jewish Communities 

In addition to the members of the Jewish Communities* 
there were those whom the Nazis had classed as Jews. On Novem- 
ber 10, 1945, the head of the Rada told the President of the 
Republic that at the end of October, 1945, in addition to 10,000 
Jews, there were 5,000 racial persecutees. These, as said, were 
not members of the Jewish Communities, but registered with 
them as so-called B Jews (B standing for the equivalent of 
"without religion") . The Communities and the Rada cared for 
them, too. Humanitarian reasons and the necessity to avoid a 
split in the fight for rehabilitation accounted for this cooperation* 

The B Jews were in their overwhelming majority former 
residents of the Czech lands, while Carpatho-Russian Jewry had 
produced only an insignificant number of this category. In 1948 
5,292 B Jews were registered with Jewish Communities, among 
them 3,188 in Prague, 365 in Brno, 121 in Moravska Ostrava, 110 
in Plzen, 108 in Olomouc. Outside of the Sudetenland, there 
were some communities where the professing Jews were exceeded 
in number by the B Jews; for example, Hradec Kralove (Konig- 
gratz) had 110 professing Jews as against 143 B Jews, and 
Kolin 98 as against 118. 

In the communities composed mainly of Carpatho-Russian 
Jews, there were few B Jews registered: twelve in Teplice-Sanov 
and two in Liber ec; twenty-eight in Ustin/L and ten in Pod- 
mokly-Decin; twenty-six each in the spas Karlovy Vary and 
Marianske Lazne. 

After the war, the abandonment of the Jewish religion con- 
tinued. The Jewish Communities, functioning as governmental 
registrars, recorded that from May, 1945 to October, 1947, 
838 persons left the Jewish religion and religious Communities, 
572 of them becoming "without religion" and 132 turning 
Roman Catholics. The number of persons who embraced the 
Jewish religion in the same period was 94, of whom 76 had been 
without any religious affiliation. 


(b) The Jews in Slovakia. There are no official or semi- 
official figures on the number of Jews in Slovakia. The highest 
estimate for 1946-1947 was 24,500 (apparently, confessing Jews 
only), including the few hundred Carpatho-Russian Jews who 
lived mainly in Kosice, the second largest Jewish community. 
The number of Jews in Bratislava was estimated at 8,000 and 
in Kosice at 4,000. 

There were also those who had turned Christian, estimated 
at an early date after the war at 5,500 Many of these had 
adopted Christianity during the Fascist regime, and part of 
them allegedly returned to the Jewish fold after liberation. 

2. Communal and Organizational Life 

(a) Ideological Background, Assimilation, Zionism. Where- 
as, between 1918 and 1938, the Jews had enjoyed, and made use of, 
the recognition of Jewish nationality, matters were different 
after the war. Postwar Czechoslovakia reorganized herself as a 
national state of Czechs and Slovaks, determined no longer 
to tolerate national minorities. This was due to the unfortunate 
experience with the Sudeten Germans. Before liberation, Pre- 
sident Eduard Benes, in announcing the end of national minority 
rights, included those of the Jewish minority. Benes and other 
government officials, who later spoke in a similar vein, simul- 
taneously called for "assimilation," expressed sympathy for a 
Jewish State, and suggested that those Jews who wanted to enjoy 
national rights should go to Palestine. The change in the 
official policy, though not translated into law, was one side of the 
matter. The other was the tragic reduction of Jewry to tens 
of thousands as against the pre-war hundreds of thousands. 
It was no longer realistic to think of a political Jewish party; 
or of Jewish schools in the absence of Jewish children. Out of 
respect for the official opinion, or in obedience to the dictate 
of the new Jewish reality, or of their own accord, or for a 
combination of these reasons, the Jews registered, after the war, 
as of Czech or Slovak nationality. The status of Jewish nationality 


that together with other rights and liberties had endeared 
Czechoslovakia to the Jewish people everywhere was no more. 

In the Czech lands, the antagonism between the "Czech" 
Jews and the Zionists continued in the woefully reduced com- 
munity, although owing to the changed situation, it was not 
marked by the same fierceness as before. (The remnants of the 
Jews of German . "nationality" were only an object of concern 
to be defended against persecution.) 

Assimilation as a policy was not popular among the Jews 
in the first postwar years, but Zionism was. The "national" 
Jews or Zionists became the dominant group. It was they who 
took the initiative in Jewish life, who fought for rehabilitation, 
and who planned for the future. Thanks to the zeal and ardor 
of the Zionists, the Rada (Council of Jewish Communities) 
became an efficient, militant, respected institution. The pre- 
sence of the Carpatho-Russian Jews was a contributing factor 
to the strength of the Zionists. The "Czech" Jews dared not 
challenge the Zionists. But they did not disintegrate altogether 
as an ideological or political group. On the contrary, in January, 
1948, almost on the eve of the Communist coup, they gathered 
for a nation-wide conference to discuss and plan for the future. 
The Zionists, on their part, did not flout the "Czech" Jews; 
they did not want to cause, or contribute to, disunity. They 
needed and wanted their cooperation, and the "Czech" Jews 
cooperated. Thus, tbe pattern was set: the Zionists led. 

In Slovakia, with Hungarian assimilationism gone and Slovak 
assimilationism not yet of major importance, the influence of the 
Zionists was overwhelming. They did not have to fear lest those 
not sympathetic to Zionism or to national JewLsh affairs might 
be alienated. 

The Zionists of Czechoslovakia were united in one organi- 
zation, headed first by Dr. Oskar Neumann and later by Oskar 
Krasnansky, both Slovak Jews. The center of Zionism had shifted 
from the Czech lands to Slovakia. An All-Czechoslovak Confer- 
ence took place in Luhacovice (Moravia) in 1946. There were 


19,600 who paid' the Zionist Shekel preliminary to the World 
Zionist Congress, held in December, 1946. 

Zionist journals and bulletins appeared, but for the most 
part irregularly. The journal SionisticJce Zjviavy of the Zionist 
Organization was always printed; Haderech of the Hashomer 
Hatzair and Halapid of the Maccabi Hatzair were either printed 
or mimeographed. 

The Aguda had followers in both parts of the country. The 
number of its members in Slovakia was 3,000. In the Czech 
lands, part of the Jews from Carpatho-Russia were oriented 
towards the Aguda. 

(b) Religious Affiliations and Affairs. Religious life, always 
quiet, unexciting, and organizationally undivided in the Czech 
lands, had been diversified and organizationally split in Slovakia. 
The three branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Neolog, and Status- 
Quo) established under the Hapsburg monarchy, had in the 
Twenties been reduced to two. The Neolog and Status-Quo 
communities were united in the Jeshurun Union; and the 
separatist Orthodox communities in the Orthodox Landeskanzlei, 
central office of Orthodox Jewry. The communities of "Jeshurun" 
comprised also some Orthodox elements, including the Mizrachi. 
The Orthodox of the secessionist or separatist stripe, having 
all the time been persistently opposed to organizational unity, 
lost out after the war: the Zionists pleaded for unity and over- 
came the opposition. Unity was achieved. Although there was 
no chief rabbi in Slovakia before the war, the Government 
appointed one after the war: Dr. Armin Frieder. 

In the Czech lands, particularly in Prague, the Orthodox 
way of life continued to prevail to some extent among the 
Polish and Rumanian refugees and the Carpatho-Russian Jews, 

Dr. Aladar Deutsch, who had been Chief Rabbi of Prague 
before the war and survived in Terezin, succeeded himself after 
liberation. After him, Dr. Hanus Rezek (Rebenwurzel), who had 
been a chaplain in the Czechoslovak Western Army, was acting 
Chief Rabbi, until Dr. Gustav Sicher 'assumed this post. Dr. Sicher 


had been a rabbi in Prague before the war, emigrated to Palestine, 
and was called back to Prague to become the Chief Rabbi there. 

The Altneu Synagogue in Prague, famous in Jewish history, 
survived the Nazi period and, after the war, became the main 
synagogue of Prague. 

The old way of life and religious orthodoxy still obtained 
in some parts of Slovakian Jewry, although it was not much 
evident in the street: Jewish quarters had disappeared, the 
Yiddish language was not used openly because it sounded Ger- 
man, and the number of Jews was pitifully small compared with 
the pre-war times. But in Bratislava and even more in the 
second largest community, in Kosice, Orthodox Jews with beards 
and ear locks and religious children's schools (the chedarim) 
could be seen, and the old-fashioned melodies, which were part 
of the children's studying and interpreting in Yiddish what 
they were studying, heard. 

(c) The Communities. The returned Jews took great pains 
to restore religious services and to set up their Communities 
again. First the Community of Prague was reestablished. It 
was headed at the beginning by the Zionist Ernest Frischer, 
who had been a member of the Czechoslovak State Council in 
Exile, then by Dr.Karl Stein, also a Zionist. Elections to the 
Communities were held in 1947, mostly on the basis of a single 

As an overall representative body, the Council of Jewish 
Communities in Bohemia and Moravia-Silesia (Rada) was set 
up. The President and the Secretary General of the Rada were 
the Zionists Ernest Frischer and Dr. Kurt Wehle, respectively. 
Frischer was elected and reelected at the first and second 
conference of the Rada held in September, 1945, and October, 
1947, respectively. Dr. Wehle was appointed by the Rada in 1945. 

In the first conference of the Rada, 63 delegates, representing 
43 Communities, participated; in the second conference, 132 
delegates, representing 53 Communities. 

The organ of the Rada was the Vestnik, which at first 
appeared weekly, then semi-monthly and monthly. Until 1948 


the Rada received some financial support for its activities from 
the legacy of Theresienstadt (the Terezin Fund), which was 
later, like all heirless property, escheated to the State. 

The Jewish Museum, owing to an ironic twist of history, 
was in a position to increase its treasure tremendously. Dr. Karl 
Stein, named above, persuaded the Nazis to collect in the Museum 
the art and religious objects of the places made "judenrein" 
(clear of Jews). The Nazis agreed, intending this collection to 
demonstrate the spiritual decline of the Jewish people. Instead, 
the collection has turned out to be a testimonial to creative 
Jewish life. 

A Union of the Jewish Communities in Slovakia (Ustredni 
Svaez) was formed by a decree of the Slovak National Council 
in the fall of 1945. The Union was concerned with matters of 
religion and social welfare only. 

The Union was headed by Dr. Armin Frieder, a Zionist. After 
Dr. Frieder's death in 1947, his brother, Emanual Frieder, a 
school principal, also a Zionist, became the head of the Union. 

While, officially, 124 Communities were listed, half of that 
number were virtually non-existent. Records were kept merely 
because of the synagogue buildings and the cemeteries. 

The political struggle for rights and restitution in Slovakia 
-was conducted by the Organization of Racial Persecutes (S.R.P.) . 
Its president was the Zionist Dr. Oskar Neumann; after him, 
Ing. Shnuerer. There was a personal union in the leadership of 
Svaez and S.R.P.: the Secretary General of both was Dr. Vojtech 
Winterstein, a Zionist. 

S.R.P. published 1 the Tribuna, which -appeared weekly and 
was read widely. 

A proposal to set up one body to represent the Jews of both 
the Czech lands and Slovakia did not materialize. The Rada and 
the Svaez' cooperated, had mutual observers, and set up a 
Coordinating Committee in 1947. 

By 1946, Svaez had joined the World Jewish Congress. There 
was a committee of followers of the WJC in the Czech lands, 
headed by Dr. Karl Stein. In the Rada, the Zionists, themselves 


wholeheartedly for tine WJC, did not press the issue of affiliation 
for quite some time, in order to avoid heated arguments with the 
"Czech" Jews. At the Second Conference of the Rada in October 
1947, a decision was reached, and at the end of January 1948, 
the Rada, too, joined the WJC. 

3. The Fight For Jewish Rights 

(a) Jews of German and Hungarian "Nationality"; Carpatho- 
Russian Jews. Between 1945 and 1948 the central bodies of the 
Jews fought vigorously for Jewish rights. They made use of the 
liberties of the still existing democratic system until it was 
itself overthrown. The high government authorities and the 
top liberal leaders frequently heeded Jewish appeals. Foremost 
among them was Jan Masaryk, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

In the Czech lands there were two categories of Jews whose 
citizenship rights, and even their right to remain in the 'country, 
were in jeopardy. The first group consisted of Jews who, in the 
census of 1930, had registered as of German mother tongue and 
nationality (in 1930 about 30% of all Jews in the Czech lands 
had declared themselves as of German "nationality"). Their 
number, according to a memorandum submitted by the Rada 
to , the Prime Minister on September 5, 1946, was estimated at 
between 1,500 to 2,000 (including non-professing Jews). They 
were in danger of being treated as "racial" Germans. Their 
citizenship was canceled; their property was subject to con- 
fiscation; and they were not eligible to claim restitution. Worst 
of all, they were liable to be expelled to Germany together with 
their former persecutors, the Sudeten Germans. It took a long 
and hard fight to impress upon the Government and the public 
that these Jews had not been the allies, but the victims of the 
Nazis; loyal citizens and not traitors; and that part of them 
had fought in the Czech Foreign Army. 

Finally, in September, 1946, the Minister of Interior ordered 
that Jews and other racial persecutees should not be deported. 
Nonetheless, from time to time Jews were still placed in trans- 
ports of Germans to be deported, and intervention by Jewish 


representatives was necessary to free them. Only in 1947 was the 
threat of expulsion removed, although certain difficulties in the 
field of citizenship, restitution, etc. continued. 

The second and by far larger group comprised the Jews from 
Carpatho-Russia who settled in the Czech lands. Their main 
difficulty consisted in their uncertain citizenship status. These 
Jews, arriving in the historic Czech lands, were threatened with 
repatriation to the Soviet Union as residents of a region ceded to 
that Union. Only those who had served in and returned with the 
Czech armies in exile were without difficulty restored to Czecho- 
slovak citizenship. As for the other Jews from Carpatho-Russia, 
it was for a considerable time debated whether or not they were 
eligible to opt for Czechoslovak citizenship. 

The Carpatho -Russian Jews settled in Prague (living there 
together with the former residents of the historic Czech lands) 
and the Sudetenland, which was practically emptied of Germans. 
The Jews of Carpatho-Russia who had done heavy work in 
forestry, agriculture, and transporation in their native land, 
now worked in factories and on farms, and also as artisans 
and small businessmen. Some were appointed by the State to 
manage businesses left by the expelled Sudeten Germans. Because 
the labor force of the Carpatho-Russian Jews was needed in the 
Sudetenland, the Ministry of Labor was in favor of their admission 
to the country or right to stay there, and against their 

Intervention with the Government on their behalf met 


intermittently with failure and success. The authorities were 
blowing hot and cold. Local government organs frequently made 
raids on the Jews from Carpatho-Russia. While waiting for a 
definite decision, many lost hope of remaining in Czechoslovakia 
and, to forestall repatriation, either left for DP camps "in Germany 
or, to a lesser extent, emigrated to France or elsewhere. The 
exact numbers are unknown; the estimates range between 
2,000 and 4,000. Eventually the struggle of the Jews from 
Carpatho-Russia was won: at the beginning of 1948 all, except 
a few hundred, already possessed Czechoslovak citizenship. The 


committee which dealt with Carpatho-Russian Jews was under 
the leadership of Dr. Martin Nahum and Rabbi Samuel Freilich. 

In Slovakia there were some Jews of "German nationality" 
(in 1930 their number was 9,945, or 7 per cent of the Jews) and 
there were threats of deportation, too, but the immediate danger 
of such action was smaller. The German problem did not loom 
so large there as in the Sudetenland, and many Germans had 
fled after the end of the war. There were also Jews of "Hungarian 
nationality" (in 1930, their number was 9,728, or 7% of all the 
Jews) who were for a time menaced with deportation, together 
with the "real" Hungarians, to Hungary. Interventions by the 
Jewish spokesmen removed the imminent danger of expulsion. 
After agreements with Hungary regarding the reciprocal status 
of the citizens had been concluded, the deportation question 
disappeared altogether. However, because of the deportation 
threats and other discriminations, some of the Jews had moved 
to Hungary in the meantime. 

(b) Restitution. Restitution was provided for by law. But 
the law was defective and, in addition, too often frustrated in 

In the Czech lands, household goods which were confiscated 
by the Nazis were restored to the owners if they identified them 
in the storehouses where the Germans had deposited the movable 
property left by the deported Jews. There was also, to a degree, 
restitution of houses but little of industrial and still less of 
agricultural property. 

For Jews who had declared themselves as of Jewish nationality 
in 1930, it was difficult to obtain from some authorities a certificate; 
of reliability, which was obligatory for the claimant of restitution. 
It even happened that they were considered to have been. 
"Germanizers" despite their previous declaration of Jewish 
nationality. Late in 1947, thanks to the interventions made by 
the Rada and S.R.P., the 1930 declaration of Jewish nationality 
was expressly recognized as a mark of reliability. 

The situation appears to have been even worse in Slovakia. 
At first, Slovakia was exempt from the restitution legislation, the- 


first restitution decree of December 19, 1945, having validity in 
the Czech lands only The law of May, 1946, applied also to Slova- 
kia, but it was thwarted to an even greater extent than in the 
Czech lands. The reason was that, while in the Czech lands 
Jewish property was first transferred to Germans and then taken 
-over from the latter by the Czechoslovak State, Jewish property 
in Slovakia had to a considerable degree fallen directly into the 
hands of individual Slovaks. The Slovak possessors of these 
properties were united in their determination to keep the booty. 
All were hostile to restitution. When a case came up, the 
authorities usually evinced malice toward the claimant, the 
Jew. A report made by the Slovak representative Jewish body 
to the World Jewish Congress in November, 1947, pointed out 
that he who made the decision was either an Aryanizer himself or 
,an Aryanizer's relative or friend. Needless to say, all the loopholes 
of the law were abundantly used in Slovakia. 

Jews frequently dared not press their claims for fear of 
mob violence. The attitude of the coalition parties, the Democrats 
and the Communists, was at best passive. They did not speak 
up for the Jews nor did they act against the anti-Semitic mobs. 
They preferred not to antagonize the Slovak masses. 

"Jews in Slovakia forego properties" in these words the 
situation was summed up in November, 1946, by the Christian 
Science Monitor correspondent in Bratislava. 

In the whole of Czechoslovakia, the Communists and the 
trade unions under their control obstructed restitution and 
pressed for nationalization even where the law did not explicitly 
provide for it. No remedy was possible they had the upper hand. 
The provision of the law that restitution was to be denied where 
it was "against the public interest" gave full freedom to the 
authorities to refuse it in many instances. 

The position as of April, 1947, was succinctly summed up 
by the organ of the Council of Jewish Communities, Vestnik, 
when it said that the amount of assets restored did not add 
up to 10 per cent of the pre-war total. As of the same time, 
90 per cent of the Jewish farms in Slovakia remained in the 


hands of the Aryanizers. Some property was restored thereafter, 
but after the Communist coup d'etat restitution ceased alto- 

The story of the heirless Jewish property is no less disappoint- 
ing. Official promises had been made to hand it over to the 
Jewish community. Instead, it was assigned in July, 1947 to 
the Currency Liquidation Fund (a fund to stabilize the currency 
and the economy of the country). The hopes of the Jews lingered 
on for some time, but in actual practice not the Jewish com- 
munity, but the Czechoslovak State became the heir and 
successor. ! 

The total spoliation during the Nazi period and the slow and 
small restitution of property after the end of the war could 
not but adversely affect the economic position of the remnants of 
Czechoslovak Jewry. Owing to these factors and the general 
economic policies of the Government, the number of entrepreneurs 
and independent merchants was relatively small in the Czech 
lands, contrary to what it had been before the war. The majority 
of the Jews were salaried employees, white collar workers, and 
civil servants. Some became administrators of enterprises which 
had been confiscated from the Germans or had formerly been 
Jewish. In Slovakia, economic rehabilitation was even more 
difficult. Very few were able to get jobs as salaried workers, ex- 
cept in the civil service. It should be borne in mind, however, 
that the period under consideration was short (1945 to 1948) 
and the general economic situation unsatisfactory. 

(c) Anti-Jewish Incidents. There was no organized anti- 
Semitic action in the Czech lands, but even there anti-Semitic 
feelings were evident. They were provoked by the demand for 
restitution and were exploited for the purpose of preventing 
the latter. The existence of strong anti-Jewish sentiments in 
Slovakia was openly admitted by President Benes in August, 1945. 
Anti-Jewish riots began there immediately upon the return 
of deported Jews. This wave culminated in the Volka Topolcany 
pogrom of September 24, 1945, which resulted in 49 persons 
being injured and many Jewish apartments being smashed. 


The rioters were incited by the accusation that a Jewish doctor 
had poisoned Christian children while making vaccinations. 
Killings of Jews occurred in the same year in- the district of Snina. 
New riots, openly arranged, took place in Bratislava in August, 
1946. There were also occasional minor riots in 1947 and more 
widespread ones in 1948. In all instances lip service was paid 
to justice by condemning the rioters publicly, but little, if 
any action, was taken against the guilty. It must be considered 
that m-any Slovaks who had served the Fascist Slovak puppet" 
State during the Nazi period were now serving in various 
branches of the Government with unchanged hearts and minds. 


The Communist coup in February, 1948, was the end of an 
epoch in the history of Czechslovakia and of Jewish history 
there as well. A mass emigration, made possible by the establish- 
ment of the State of Israel, set in. 

1. Gleichschaltung 

When the democratic Government was overthrown, some 
Communists among the employees of the Rada and the Kultus- 
gemeinde in Prague made a revolution in these institutions. 
An assistant to the secretary of the Rada turned out to have 
been a Communist collaborator. The "revolutionaries" set up 
an Actions Committee, which had the backing of the Communist 

The coup d'etat in the State was paralleled by a coup on 
the Jewish communal scene. A Jewish delegation dared protest 
at the Ministry of Education (the competent authority) and 
at the Secretariat of the Communist Party. At the former, the 
delegation heard good words that the right was on its side. 
At the latter, the secretary-general, the then powerful Rudolf 
Slansky, refused to receive the delegation; the Church Depart- 
ment of the Secretariat "promised" to investigate, but nothing 


The Actions Committee soon admitted other trustworthy 
men as members, but no Zionists. It reorganized the Rada: the 
Zionists were first deprived of their leading positions, then were 
ousted altogether, or withdrew "voluntarily." 

It did not take long before only such persons as were deemed 
reliable by the regime were in charge of the main offices of the 
Jewish institutions. 

The fight for Jewish rights and restitution was no longer 

The cooperation of the B Jews with the Jewish Communities 
came to an end. The local Communities, as well as the central 
bodies, were restricted to religious tasks, the State paying the 
salaries of the religious functionaries. The only exception was 
that the Jewish bodies were exploited by the regime for purposes 
of propaganda for consumption at home and abroad. 

2. End of Organizational Life 

The continuation of Zionist activities grew more and more 
difficult. However, in the beginning of 1949, a second Zionist 
conference took place in Piestany (Slovakia) which was attended 
by delegates from both parts of Czechoslovakia, though elections 
for delegates had not been held. At the end of that same 
year the Right Labor Zionist Party still held a conference in 
Bratislava and elected officers. Significantly, in a report sent 
to Tel Aviv it was said that the names of the elected officers 
would be learned from a man going to Tel Aviv. It seems that 
the situation was more rigid in Prague than in Bratislava, 
because at the end of 1949, the bulletin of the Labor Zionist 
Party changed its address from the former city to the latter. 
In 1950, Zionist activities ceased altogether. 

The affiliation of the Communities with the World Jewish 
Congress came to an end in 1949. The Union in Slovakia formally 
disaffiliated by cable received in New York on December 5, 1949. 
The reasons given were: non-participation in the Peace Con- 
ference (Communist style) in Paris by the World Jewish 
Congress, the exclusion from Congress work in New York of the 


leftist groups, and the expulsion from the American Jewish 
Congress of the leftist workers' organizations. The Rada did 
not take pains to communicate its recession; it disaffiliated 
via Jacti. 

The American Joint Distribution Committee was ordered 
to discontinue its work and leave the country in January, 1950. 
Similarly, all other foreign relief institutions had to terminate 
their activities. The Jewish Agency, later in the same year, 
decided to close its office because Jews were no longer permitted 
to emigrate. 

3. Mass Emigration 

The number of Czechoslovak immigrants arriving in Israel 
was 2,558 in 1948 (443 before May 15 and 2,115 after that) 
and 15,689 in 1949, a total of 18,247 in both years. Another 401 
(or 632, depending on whether Czechoslovakia was taken as 
the country of residence or as the country of birth) brought 
up the rear in 1950. Seven thousand went to other countries, 
according to figures published by the American Joint Distribution 
Committee, but there is no exact information as to which 
period this figure relates and to what countries they went. 
Private sources report that about 2,000 Carpatho-Russian Jews 
went to the United States, Canada, and Venezuela. The emigra- 
tion to Israel and elsewhere was thus between 25,000 and 26,000. 
Since the number of Jews was about 43,000 (19,000 in the Czech 
lands and 24,000 in Slovakia), it follows that about 18,000 Jews 
remained. It is unfortunately not recorded how the immigrants 
to Israel were distributed as between the Czech lands and 

Late in 1949, Dr. Emil Ungar, who by the grace of the 
Communists was then president of the Rada, in an interview 
with a Jewish correspondent from abroad, sized up the situation 
as he saw it by saying that the regime tried to transform the 
Jewish merchants into workers, but failed because the Jews 
preferred to go to Israel. At the desire of the Jews in the Sudeten- 
land, synagogues were built, but the Jews there changed their 


minds and left for Israel. Some 15,000 16,000 or, according to 
others, 18,000 Jews remained and only part of tliem were 
religious, Dr. Ungar said. 

Not all would-be emigrants appear to have left. In July, 
1951, when Dr. Arieh L. Kubovy, the new Minister of Israel, 
presented his credentials to President Gotwald, they talked 
about the emigration of 5,500 Jews, who wanted to leave. Pre- 
sident Gotwald was sympathetic and some exit visas were 
granted; but, due to the anti-Israel campaign that soon set in, 
the matter went no further. In October, 1954, allegedly 2,500 
requests for exit permits to proceed to Israel were pending. 
However, only 22 visas for elderly Jews with relatives in Israel 
were authorized, and the Jewish Community of Prague was 
informed that it was useless to submit requests for large numbers 
of exit permits because they would not be granted. An elderly 
woman arriving in Israel in August, 1954, was the first emigrant 
from Czechoslovakia in three years. 


1. Trials and Arrests 

In the last months of 1951 general purges were carried out. 
In the fall of 1952, the Rudolf Slansky trial was held. The 
world was shocked and the Jewish people everywhere aroused, 
because the trial had a direct bearing on Jewish life. 

The motives for this trial transcend Jewish as well as 
Czechoslovak history. But the trial was admittedly anti-Zionist 
and, though denied by the Communist leaders, anti-Jewish as 
well. None of the defendants was a Jew in the sense of religion, 
culture, natioaoality, or peoplehood, or in any sense except that 
of "race." They had not considered themselves Jews. But pro- 
secution and court called them planners of, and agents in, Israel, 
Zionist, and Jewish affairs. As if it were a part of the crime, 
the Jewish origin of the defendants was stressed again and 
again. They were stigmatized as arch-cosmopolitans, as per- 


sons who had no roots in, or attachments to, the nation and 
the fatherland. 

Fate and Communist strategy had willed it that Czecho- 
slovakia should be singled out for the biggest Communist 
trial in which Zionism as well as Jewish humanitarian activities 
were branded as part of a worldwide criminal conspiracy. The 
trial had for a time wide repercussions on the Jews of Czecho- 
slovakia. It had been preceded and accompanied by a purge 
of Jews from public positions and by arrests of Jewish officials, 
accused of collaborating with Slansky. 

The show trial of Slansky was followed up by other, often 
secret, trials. They pursued the same end. In most cases the 
accused had been under arrest, like Slansky, since the last months 
of 1951. 

In May, 1953, Rudolf Slansky's brother, Richard Slansky, 
Eduard Gold'stuecker (who had been Minister to Israel) , another 
man of Jewish origin, and one non-Jew were tried. The first 
two were sentenced to life imprisonment, the last two received 
sentences of twenty-five years each. All were convicted of 
"espionage." Goldstuecker was referred to as a "Jewish bourgeois 

In January, 1954, seven persons, six of them, of Jewish, origin 
(among them Jarmila Taussigova, Mikulas Landis, Bedrick Hajek, 
alias Karpeles) were, as alleged accomplices in the conspiracy 
of Rudolf Slansky, sentenced to long prison terms, the minimum 
being 15 years. Here, too, some of the accused were described 
as "Jewish bourgeois nationalists." 

In April, 1954, five former Slovak Communist leaders, all 
non-Jews, were tried in Bratislava and convicted of various 
anti-State crimes, especially of having protected Zionism, Jewish 
emigration, the Joint, etc. Thus, the line, laid down on the 
Slansky trial, was still pursued. 

In the trials, the accused men who were of Jewish origin had 
been high officials of the Communist Party and of the Govern- 
ment. To round out the picture of a worldwide Zionist conspiracy, 
Israelis were not missing among the villains. Shimon Orenstein 


and Mordecai Oren (a member of the Knesset) were arrested 
on December 8, 1951, and December 31, 1951, respectively. They 
were held incommunicado, then used as "witnesses" in the 
Slansky trial. Late in 1953 the Czechoslovak Government in- 
formed the Government of Israel that each had been tried (in 
camera) and convicted of espionage, with Orenstein sentenced 
to life imprisonment (on August 7, 1953) and Oren to fifteen 
years (on October 9, 1953) ., A third man from Israel had also 
been arrested, but being a Persian, was released. 

Orenstein was released in October, 1954. When he went back 
to Israel, it was learned from him that he had been tried and 
convicted with fourteen other defendants, eleven of them Jews. 

It is not known how many secret trials were held and how 
many Jews were interned. Nor is it known how many Jews, not 
Communists or Government officials, or Israelis, but just Czecho- 
slovak Jews were prosecuted in the wake of the Slansky triaL 
as part of the campaign against the "Zionist Conspiracy." In 
August, 1953, nine Jews were, according to reports received much 
later, tried in secret and given heavy sentences. They were 
accused of having promoted emigration to Israel. In September, 
1953, a report had it that a group of 50-60 Jews was under 
arrest and held for trial in Bratislava. Nothing further transpired. 
Early in 1954, twenty-three Jews were arrested in Pilsen for 
"forbidden contacts" with Jewish organizations abroad. At the 
same two, two SlovaMan Jewish leaders (the Chief Rabbi Elias 
Katz and Joseph Lipa) were reported under arrest for several 
days because they threatened to complain about the closing 
down of five synagogues in Slovakia. They were released on the 
understanding that they would make no further complaints. 

2. The Remnants of the Community 

Years passed after the second) conference of the Rada (held 
in October, 1947) with no* new conference being called until 
the third was held five years later, June 30, 1952. In less than 
1^2 years the fourth conference took place on November 22, 1953. 

At the fourth conference, a Constitution of the Council of 


Jewish Religious Communities in the Czech lands was submitted 
and adopted. It received the proper confirmation by the author- 
ities. The fact was hailed as a great achievement. It is signifi- 
cant that before the last war the Rada was a mere attempt, that 
in the first poswar period the Rada was very active but managed 
only to obtain a temporary Constitution from the Government, 
and that only in the Communist era was a permanent Constitu- 
tion adopted. 

The Constitution regulates all organizational matters in 
the minutest detail: the synagogue congregation is the smallest 
unit, the Jewish Religious Community is the highest body. The 
supreme organ is the Congress of Delegates. 

The report about the fourth conference appeared in many 
languages, including English and Yiddish. It contained speeches 
making peace propaganda in the Soviet style, but no data what- 
ever about the situation or the number of Jews. 

In Slovakia, a conference of the Jewish Communities took 
place in May, 1955, about which all that is known is that it 
adopted a resolution against atomic armament and sent a message 
of loyalty to the State. 

Apart from being stirred by trials or other hostile acts 
by the regime, Jewish life was sluggish and unexciting. The 
Zionist ferment was no more. The variety that the Jews from 
Carpatho-Russia had represented was gone: the majority had 
left during the mass emigration and only about 1,000 of them 
remained. The marriage of that group of Eastern European Jews 
with their Zionism, Yiddish, and Orthodoxy, to the culturally 
assimilated Bohemian Jews had lasted too short a time to be 
able to rejuvenate and invigorate the latter. 

It may be noted here that a World Jewish Conference 
against German Rearmament, held in Paris in June, 1955, was 
attended by delegations from Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. 
The representatives of the first two countries went out of their 
way to praise and advertise the happy lot of the Jews in their 
countries and the Nourishing condition of Jewish culture there. 
But there were no delegates from Czechoslovakia. 


A concise picture of Jewish life at the present time was 
presented by Shimon Saxnmet (an Israel newspaper man) who 
visited Czechoslovakia in 1949 and in 1955. On his first visit 
he was told by the Sexton of the "Altneu" Synagogue in Prague 
that there were fewer than 2,000 Jews in Prague. After his 
second visit he reported that there were no more than 3,000 Jews 
in Prague, 12,00015,000 in all of Czechoslavakia, and that the 
number in Slovakia was larger than in Czech lands. 

He also reported that there were fifteen religious communities 
in the Czech lands (earlier records had spoken of only nine 
religious communities and synagogues in a few other places; the 
synagogues were apparently now counted as communities), and 
about as many in Slovakia, According to the information he 
obtained, the Government provides the financial means necessary 
to enable the Jews to meet their religious needs. There are, 
however, no Jewish schools in Prague. There are few rabbis in 
Czechoslovakia and they have to travel all over the country to 
perform religious rites. Dr. Gustav Sicher has remained the 
Chief Rabbi of Prague. His translation of the fifth volume of 
the Pentateuch into the Czech language was published under the 
Communist regime; the first four volumes had been translated 
by him and published before the war. 



In 1940 there were about 48,000 Jews in Bulgaria, and 3,000 
children attended Jewish schools. At the time of the ofBLicial 
census of 1934, the Jewish population of 48,398 (counting only 
persons of Jewish faith) formed about 0.8 per cent of a total 
population of approximately six millions. According to a survey 
made in 1944 by the Bulgarian Association in Palestine, the Jewish 
Communities owned 50 synagogues and other religious buildings; 
5 houses used for administrative purposes; 5 hospitals, old age 
homes, etc.; 12 orphanages, nurseries, and youth centres; 28 
yeshivas; 4 Batei Am (Jewish centers) ; 25 libraries and museums, 
and 56 items of real estate. There were 8- Jewish newspapers 
and other periodicals, and 165 Jewish voluntary institutions 
and organizations were active. The total value of these assets 
was then estimated at about 764 million leva. 

During the war the Jews within the old kingdom generally 
escaped deportation and annihilation, although many were sent 
to special centers of detention. This was partly due to the deter- 
mined stand of all strata of the Bulgarian people, including the 
armed forces and the dignitaries of the Orthodox Church, 
especially the Metropolitan Stefan* Anti-Jewish laws, including 
deprivation of property, existed, but were never fully enforced. 
Far less fortunate, however, were the Jewish communities in 
the parts of the country acquired from Greece, Macedonia and 
the Aegean area, as well as Jewish residents of foreign nationality. 
Most of them were delivered into the hands of the Nazis and 



perished. The same fate befell three hundred Jewish refugees 
from Yugoslavia in Bulgaria (another 100 managed to nee to 
Albania). Thie number of victims is veriously given as 15,000 
(according to a report by Ben-G-urion) and more than 22,000. 


The terms preliminary to Bulgaria's surrender to the Allies 
included the restoration of full rights to Jews and other dis- 
franchised citizens. All anti- Jewish measures were therefore 
suspended in the towns along the Black Sea as early as August, 

All the Jews who had been sent to centers of detention in 
Bulgaria were released and either returned to their old places 
of residence or flocked to the capital where 15,000 were already 
concentrated in the fall of 1944 and 25,000 in the following 

,A report of March, 1945, stated that 33 Jewish Communities 
were reorganized; 2,200 children under 13 years were attending 
15 Jewish schools, while 4,160 Jewish children went to secular 
schools. An official memorandum by the Bulgarian Jewish Central 
Consistory to the Foreign Ministers' Conference in Paris (May, 
1946) stated, i.a<: "We ... are all safe and sound and have 
increased in number from 47,000 before the war to 50,000 after 
it ... not one Jewish person was taken by the Germans." The 
exact figure given by the Consistory at that time was 49,712 
(or 49,815). It is, however, doubtful whether this number was 
correct because the same Consistory reported that 123 Jews had 
been killed while serving with the Partisans, 1,100 had died 
in internment, and 3,000 had emigrated to Palestine. . 

The economic situation of the Jews was bleak. In September, 
1944, it was described by Deputy Hristo Statev in the Bulgarian 
Parliament as "difficult indeed." A month later, the new Chief 
Secretary of the Ministry of Propaganda, Fayonov, himself a Jew, 
said in a broadcast that "a real solution [of the Jewish rehabilita- 
tion problem] was possible only with the assistance of the great 


Democracies." Reports issued at the end of 1944 stated that 
Bulgarian Jewry was economically ruined, destitute and poverty- 
stricken beyond any possible description. They were completely 
confirmed by so experienced an observer as Mr. Ben-Gurion, 
then chairman of the Jewish Agency, who visited Bulgaria in 
December, 1944, and was received by the Regents and the leading 
figures of the Government. He found children "starved and 
naked." The same conclusions were reached by Joseph M. Levy, 
correspondent of the New York Times. 



1. Legal and Economic Rehabilitation 

In August, 1944, the Minister of the Interior received the 
Jewish Executive Council, headed by Reserve Colonel Tadzher, 
a well-known leader of Bulgarian Jewry, and informed them 
of the informal removal of anti-Jewis(h restrictions. Prof. 
Ehrenpreis, Chief Rabbi of Stockholm and former spiritual 
leader of the Jews of Bulgaria, rejoiced that Bulgaria "was the 
first country in Europe to restore human dignity to the Jews 
who are her citizens." To be sure, Ira Hirschman, noted for his 
work on the War Refugee Board, stated: "Bulgaria's initial move 
to revoke anti- Jewish laws was the direct result of pressure from 
the War Refugee Board, exercised . . . through Bulgarian diplomats 
in Turkey." The official abrogation of anti-Jewish measures took 
place on December 4, 1944. At the same time, Jews were readmitted 
to the Bulgarian Bar Association and to the Medical Association. 

Difficulties soon arose about the citizenship of such Bulgarian 
Jews as had fled to foreign countries. Originally they were 
requested to return by March, 1945; as this was clearly impossible 
in view of the fact that the war was still going on, this date was 
extended to May 27, 1945. Although justified complaints about 
this and other matters were voiced in a memorandum of the 
Central Committee for the Immigration of Jews from Bulgaria 


in Palestine (May, 1945), all Jews not returning by March 1, 1946, 
were to be deprived of their citizenship and their property con- 
fiscated, according to a World Jewish Congress report. Simul- 
taneously, all Jewish youths, born in 1923-24, had to report for 
military service. 

The restoration of civil rights to Bulgarian Jewry soon found 
expression in the appointment of members of the Jewish com- 
munity to important public office. Already in 1944, M. Fayonov 
was named Undresecretary for Propaganda and M. Levyev head 
of the Office for Foreign Trade. Three Jews were elected to the 
Presidium of the Journalists' Association, three others were 
included in the official list of parliamentary candidates of the 
Fatherland Front (2 Socialists and 1 Communist). In 1946, two 
Jews were deputies (Eztiel Meyer and David Yerichem). In the 
fall of 1946, 25 Jews appeared on the parliamentary list of the 
Fatherland Front, among them 13 Communists and 3 Socialists. 
In 1947, Prof. Nissim Nevorach was appointed Minister Plenipoten- 
tiary at the Foreign Office. In 1949, Prof. Jacob Nathan, 
head of the Jewish Consistory, was made vice-president of the 
State Committee for Arts, Science, and Culture. 

Despite the enactment of a restitution law, serious com- 
plaints were voiced about the pace and scope of restitution. Fin- 
ally, in March, 1946, the Government decided to return 8,288 
Jewish-owned buildings valued at 1,850 million leva without any 
special legal proceedings, and shortly afterwards it was" reported 
that all immovable properties had been restored to their former 
owners. In July of the same year, an amendment to the law was 
adopted providing for the voiding, of compulsory sales and for 
the repayment of the special "Jewish tax"; compensation was 
to be paid' in cash up to 50,000 leva, with the balance in negotiable 
3 per cent bonds. Jewish cooperatives were reestablished with 
the assistance of the Joint and a ten-year loan of 250 million 
leva granted by the Government to the Jewish Cooperative Bank, 
free of interest. As a result of this step, 29 Jewish cooperatives 
were operating in the summer of 1948. As everywhere in Europe, 
housing of uprooted Jews posed a serious problem. Former 


apartments were returned as far as possible, but business pre- 
mises, now state-owned, such as shops, offices, workshops, 
factories, etc. were exempted from restitution. 

2. Revival of Jewish Cultural and Social Life 

Originally the Government refused to subsidize Hebrew 
schools as purely religious institutions (February, 1945). How- 
ever, three months later the Regents declared that it was obvious 
"that the minorities in Bulgaria will preserve their cultural, 
religious and ethnical characteristics within the framework of 
the Bulgarian State," and that the Government would finance 
the schools of the minorities. In the fall of 1945, a certain f alling- 
off in the number of pupils at Jewish schools seems to have 
taKen place; in Sofia, the total enrollment was only 426 mostly 
poor children with about one half in the elementary school 
and the rest equally divided between the secondary school and 
the kindergarten. At that time, the Sofia municipality granted 
a subsidy of l / 2 million leva to these schools. A bill providing for 
equal status for minorities' schools was introduced in Parliament 
in September, 1946, and enacted into law a month later. Under 
it Jewish teachers received equal rights with respect to salaries, 
pensions, etc. Instruction was to be given in the Bulgarian 
language, but the Hebrew language and Jewish history were 
to be taught in Hebrew. In February, 1947, it was finally permitted 
that the major part of the curriculum in Jewish schools be 
taught in Hebrew under a new plan for the, education of minori- 
ties' children: a new law provided that they study their mother 
tongues and the development of their respective cultures. 

At the end of 1948, the Government also granted the ORT 
school in Sofia a subsidy of a million leva. In the fall of 1946 a 
Jewish Hospital was opened in the capital, "a gift of American 
Jewry," presented by the Joint. 

After the liberation, a variety of old-established Jewish 
voluntary organizations had quickly resumed their activities; 
in March, 1946, for example, representatives of Jewish Com- 
munists, Socialists, Zionists, and B'nai B'rith set up a committee 


under the chairmanship of Chief Rabbi David Zion which was 
to act as the local branch of HIAS. An official survey, published 
by the Consistory at the end of 1946, revealed that 30 Jewish 
Communities were functioning, as well as 7 cultural and educa- 
tional organization, a public library, a Jewish Science Institute, 
a Jewish anti-Fascist association called "Ilya Ehrenburg," a 
United Zionist Organization with six sections, a Student Federa- 
tion, and a B'nai B'rith Lodge (the latter having been temporarily 
forbidden after the liberation). 

Ever since the days of the kingdom, the Central Jewish 
Consistory, a body of public law, was recognized as the supreme 
.administrator of Jewish affairs and the spokesman of Bulgarian 
.Jewry before the authorities. Now reconstituted and retaining 
its old name, the Consistory abandoned its religious activities 
.and fell under the influence of a Communist minority which had 
the backing of the Government. Already in November, 1944, 
"anti-Zionists" took over the guiding role in the Consistory, 
which, at that time, was aptly described as "Communist-controlled, 
but Zionist-minded." After the Minister of the Interior had ap- 
pointed a sufficient number of "reliable" members to the Con- 
.sistory, true wartime Commissariat for Jewish Affairs was dis- 
solved in the spring of 1945 and its tasks assigned to the Con- 
jsistory. During 1948 the composition of the body changed twice. 
.In May it consisted of 13 Communists and 13 Zionists. Obviously 
.following directives from above, a complete unification of official 
.activities was decided upon, the main result being the discon- 
tinuance of all Jewish newspapers and periodicals, mostly Zionist, 
which meanwhile had started publication. In their place, the 
monopoly of a single Communist-Jewish paper, Yevreysky Vesti, 
was established. Simultaneously, aU financial support was with- 
drawn from the synagogues, which henceforth were to be 
.maintained solely by contributions from religious Jews. In 
.September, 1948, the membership of the Consistory changed 
.again, strangely enough through the readmission of Socialists 
and Independents. The body was now also charged with the 
-supervision and regulation of what there still was of emigration 


to Israel. In accordance with general trends prevailing behind 
the Iron Curtain, the Consistory announced in June, 1949, its 
secession from the World Jewish Congress, giving the usual 
Communist reasons for this step, viz., "reactionary activities" of 
the Congress and its failure to participate in the World Peace 
Congress in Paris. 

3. Zionist Activities 

With moving enthusiasm the Jews of Bulgaria had at the 
very moment of the collapse of the Fascist rule resumed their 
work for Zion. Already in September, 1944, the Zionist offices 
were reopened and in October the first (local) Zionist conference 
held. At the same time and as the first Jewish paper Zionist 
Endeavor (Bamah Zionith) , a four-page Hebrew-language weekly,, 
was launched with a circulation of 4,000. A few weeks later 
another Zionist weekly, Poale Zion, began to appear with a 
circulation of 5,000, and in June, 1945, Hamadir Haivri. 

The organizational position of the Zionist movement within 
the framework of the strongly centralized public life of Bulgaria, 
represented by the Fatherland Front, early resulted in difficulties. 
Already in October, 1944, Undersecretary Fayonov had announced 
that "the Zionist Organization and other Jewish bodies will 
naturally adhere to the Fatherland Front." In January, 1945, 
the Bulgarian Poale Zion movement split and the minority joined, 
the Bulgarian Socialist Party. In the following June, a three-day 
nation-wide conference of the Bulgarian Hechalutz suggested 
obviously under heavy pressure that the movement, as part of 
the Fatherland Front, "temporarily abandon the Zionist program." 
However, this storm blew over and in November all Zionist 
parties, with the sole exception of the Revisionists, were function- 
ing with the approval of the authorities. 

In January, 1946, 126 delegates attended the First Conference 
of the United Zionist Organization of Bulgaria. That the Zionists; 
possessed ample freedom of action was clearly manifested by the 
fact that in February they cabled abroad their protests against, 
a broadcast by the Communist president of the Consistory; they 


pointed out that the majority of Bulgarian Jews were Zionists 
and 13,000 of them were organized members of the Zionist move- 
ment, representing 75 per cent of those of an age to be organized. 
In May the United Zionist Organization joined the Jewish section 
of the Fatherland Front and received equal representation on 
all specialized welfare commissions. In the spring of 1948, during 
the war of Israel's independence, all Bulgarian Jewish groups, 
including the Communists, lauched a fund-raising drive for the 
embattled Jewish forces in Palestine. When finally the State of 
Israel was recognized by Bulgaria, a public celebration of that 
historic event took place in February, 1949. 

4. Stand against anti-Semitism 

In August, 1944, Premier Ivan Bagrianov denounced the 
anti-Jewish persecutions of the former regime, headed by Bogdan 
Filov, in a speech before the Bulgarian Parliament. In line 
with this governmental attitude, a half-hour weekly program 
on the Jewish question and devoted to an all-out fight against 
anti-Semitism was introduced by Radio Sofia in the spring of 1945, 
and continued for some time, obviously in order to prepare 
public opinion for the adoption (in March, 1947) of laws which 
made anti-Semitism a punishable crime. In May, 1946, it was 
reported that the authorities had arrested a band of 200 who, 
apparently as a counter-revolutionary move, were planning the 
mass murder of Jews. 


The orderly exodus of the vast majority of Bulgarian Jews 
would never have been possible without the extraordinary 
cooperation of the regime, which, in spite of certain temporary 
vacillations, did not prevent their mass emigration and repeatedly 
expressed its sympathy with the Zionist cause. 

The emigration of Bulgarian Jews to Eretz Israel started 
immediately after liberation, beginning with the first enterprising 
group of 114 who reached the shores of Palestine as early as 


October 3, 1944. In spite of the fact that visas were obtainable 
pnly with the consent of the Bulgarian Government and the 
Allied Control Committee, and that at that time British restric- 
tions on immigration to Palestine still played a decisive role, 
12,000 applications had already been submitted by the end of 
October, 1944. In December, 1945, the first party of 1,000 Jews 
was authorized to leave and thereafter emigration, partly legal 
partly illegal, continued uninterruptedly. In February, 1946, the 
last large transport under the White Paper Quota (382 persons) 
left. The first group (400), armed with regular visas from the 
new-born Jewish State, sailed in July, 1948, followed by an 
exodus of tens of thousands. According to the official immigration 
statistics of the Israel Government, 35,089 Bulgarian Jews arrived 
between May 15, 1948, and the end of 1949. They were followed 
by 1,000 in 1950; 1,142 in 1951; 461 in 1952, and 359 in 1953. Thus, 
a total of 38,051 Bulgarian Jews came to Israel in approximately 
5 J /2 years. 

Already in October, 1944, a prominent spokesman of the 
Government declared that it "views favorably the emigration 
of Bulgarian Jews to Palestine in order to contribute to the 
establishment of a Jewish State for people who have suffered 
under Nazism." This favorable attitude was, however, qualified 
by the demand that prospective emigrants waive property and 
claims thereto. Ben Gurion's visit to Bulgaria in December of 
that year obviously served also the cause of emigration. A Jewish 
training farm was permitted and in May, 1945, a Bulgarian- 
Palestinian Chamber of Commerce established. 

At the opening of the second national conference of the 
Jewish section of the Fatherland Front (April, 1946), its pre- 
sident, Prof. J. Nathan, certainly not without the approval of 
the regime, attacked the British White Paper and stressed again 
tha the Fatherland Front had no objections against emigration 
to Palestine. In October of the same year the Bulgarian Socialist 
Party adopted a demand for freedom to emigrate to Palestine 
for Bulgarian Jews as one of the four points of its "Jewish 
Program." Delegates of Bulgarian Zionism participated in the 


World Zionist Congress in Basle (December, 1946). In 1948, after 
the establishment of the Jewish State, both Foreign Minister 
L. Kamjenov and Finance Minister S. Stefanov declared that 
the Bulgarian Government would continue to permit Jewish 
emigration to that destination and would extend the necessary 
assistance to those leaving. It may be true, as the Christian Science 
Monitor said in March, 1949, that Bulgaria wished to be rid of 
the Jews, largely a middle-class element, in order to facilitate 
the converting of the country into a 100 per cent Communist 
state; nevertheless, it must be stated that Bulgaria alone among 
the Communist countries adopted so reasonable and friendly 
an attitude. 

To be sure, anti-Zionist views were also voiced in Bulgaria, 
starting as far back as the first meeting of the Jewish Committee 
for the Fatherland Front in September, 1944, which, while re- 
solving to contact the anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow as 
well as the World Jewish Congress, indulged in attacks on Zionism 
and declared Hebrew a foreign language in Bulgarian schools. 
There were only four dissenters. In the spring of 1945 the Jewish 
Agency reported that in the distribution of relief goods which 
this body had sent, "Zionist" children had been discriminated 
against. The Fatherland Front opened a "Jewish People's Uni- 
versity" as a counterweight to Zionist influence. The anti-Zionist 
campaign was accompanied by attacks of Jewish Communists 
allegedly of German and" Austrian origin upon the Jewish 
religion. In June, 1945, the Hebrew broadcasts were terminated. 
The following month the then Premier Kimon Gheorgieff said 
that young, able-bodied Jews would not be permitted to leave 
the country. In August, however, the Government relented and 
gave general permission, but only after a formal declaration on 
the part of the emigrants that they did not have any family 
obligations and were leaving "as emigrants." In May, 1946, the 
Consistory, in true Communist fashion, went on record as main- 
taining that the finding of the Anglo-American Committee of 
Inquiry on Palestine that the East European Jews wanted to- 
emigrate, "did not apply to Bulgaria." 



The number of Bulgarian Jews who decided to stay is now 
(1955) estimated at about 5,000. They are scattered aU over the 
country and there are still twenty-eight places where Jews are 
living. However, only two of them, the capital Sofia and Plovdiv, 
harbor somewhat larger Jewish groups, 2,800 and 600, respectively. 
In addition, six towns have a Jewish population of more than 100, 
thirteen between 10 and 100, and seven fewer than 10. 

Emigration, unhampered by the authorities, continues. On 
receiving the Israel Charge d'Affaires Gershon Avner, Foreign 
Minister Neytchev stressed again in December, 1952, that "Jews 
will not be prevented from going to Israel." It should be noted 
in this connection that in 1953 Bulgaria introduced as a general 
rule the death penalty for unauthorized emigrants and for citizens 
traveling abroad who do not return; members of their families 
remaining in the country are to be sent to "labor-educational 
camps." It is significant that only one Bulgarian Jew has returned 
from Israel. 

Obviously, the rapid diminution of the Jewish population 
caused by the exodus to Israel was bound to be reflected in a 
far-reaching reorientation and reorganization of Jewish life 
in the country. Not only was the residual community unable 
to maintain all the institutions which had been temporarily 
restored after the war for a group six or more times as large, 
but, after the departure of the Zionist-minded elements, most 
of those staying behind were, of course, adherents of the Com- 
munist ideology. 

Jewish religious life could not escape the impact of these 
changes. While, in 1944, 35 synagogues still existed in the country 
(some of them dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries), 
eleven years later only nine remained usable, while others had 
been turned over to the municipalities and converted to secular 
purposes. In Sofia, where daily services were still held in 1955, 
only about 80 elderly people were said to attend them; a part 
of the synagogue was handed over to the Government for the 


establishment of a museum. Plovdiv, the second largest com- 
munity, seems to have a more religious Jewry; there a visitor 
found about 200 adults, mostly elderly, at the synagogue, thus 
about 30 per cent of the total Jewish community. In all other 
places where Jews are living, services are held on Holy Days 
only. There are no chazanim, mohalim, or shochtim in the coun- . 
try. Many boys, born after the war, are not circumcised, and 
Jewish burials have perforce to take place without observance of 
the proper ritual. Mixed marriages occur, but are still criticized 
in Jewish circles and frequently end in divorce. 

In the cultural field, Yevreysky Vesti remains the only Jewish 
periodical. The publication of any other Jewish paper had been 
forbidden by the authorities in 1948, and shortly thereafter 
Yevreysky Vesti started to attack Israel and American Jewry. 
Lack of pupils caused the closing of all Jewish schools. All Zionist 
organizations ceased their activities. Chief Rabbi David Zion 
settled in Israel and was succeeded by Dr. Asher Hananel (Hanniel) > 
One (woman) Hebrew teacher remains in the country. Ladino, 
formerly the common language of Balkan Jewry, hence also of 
the Bulgarian Jews, is now spoken by elderly people only, the 
younger Jewish generation understanding only Bulgarian. Such 
Jewish writers as remain in the country do not apply their skill 
to Jewish topics. The Children's Center in Sofia was turned 
over to the city in 1949, the hospital in the summer of 1950. 
The Jewish Center became a Communist office. Collections of 
valuable books and documents were handed over to the Govern- 
ment, while volumes with a "Jewish national tendency" were 
removed from the Jewish Library and schools and are now in- 
accessible to Jewish readers. 

Individual Jewish supporters of the regime continue ta 
be honored in many ways; Jewish writers and Jewish actors 
(of the Bulgarian National Theatre) have received decorations; 
Jewish film artists, Dimitrov Prizes. A Jew, Reubeai Levy, was. 
appointed Minister of Science, Culture and Arts in February, 
1952, and quite recently (June, 1955) two Jewish scholars, Azaria, 
Policarov and Leon Mitrani, were mentioned in connection with 


Bulgarian researches into the use of atomic power for peaceful 

Certain Jewish activities continue. In 1949, fifty delegates 
attended the Conference of Jewish Communities in Sofia under 
the chairmanship of Professor Jacob Nathan, head of the Con- 
sistory. This conference confirmed the secession from the World 
Jewish Congress. A Jewish bank called "Geulah," a Cultural 
Society, an Artistic Circle, a Jewish Scientific Institute, a Jewish 
Folk Choir named "Israel Madshen" remained active at that 
time. In 1952, at the 5th Conference of Jewish Communities since 
liberation, 22 Jewish communities were still represented. In the 
summer of 1954, Chief Rabbi Dr. Hananel announced that a 
public meeting would be arranged to commemorate the 50th 
anniversary of Herzl's death and that 1,000 persons were expected 
to attend. At that time all non-religious Jewish affairs were 
managed by the Consistory, which was also responsible for the 
publication of the only existing periodical. 

All this notwithstanding, it is certainly not astonishing 
that already in the fall of 1950, Bulgarian Jews were described 
as "gradually losing their connection with Judaism." 

In 1955, the Cultural Club in Sofia still continued to arrange 
lectures and recitals. Plans were made for visits of the Sofia 
Jewish orchestra, dance groups, and choirs to the provinces, as 
had already been done by the Jewish Theatre Collective. It was 
even announced that the Jewish Center in Plovdiv would be 
enlarged, and that a new one would be established at Russe. 

The economic situation of the Bulgarian Jews is not good. 
Elderly people have great difficulty in adjusting themselves to 
the economic policies of the regime and their age prevents them 
from joining the ranks of industrial workers. More than 400 
families are thus dependent upon financial assistance by the 
Consistory, which openly favors veteran members of the Com- 
munist Party. In industry and the professions Jews are playing 
a significant and recognized role, but their number is small. 
Most of those gainfully employed are white collar workers, 
watchmen, etc. 






The German situation is considered by observers of the 
German scene contradictory in itself and enigmatic in both 
domestic and foreign policy. Similarly, the future of the Jews 
in that country poses a number of questions which cannot be 
answered today, not even by the most careful observers, because 
the main question the relationship between Jews and Germans 
depends on the general German situation and therefore ap- 
pears, like it, contradictory and enigmatic. 

One of the important phenomena of the past ten years was 
the appearance in West Germany of Jewish displaced persons 
who had escaped the fate of the six million European Jews 
murdered by the Nazis and their henchmen. The fact that these 
displaced Jews there were about 50,000 of them on German 
soil at the end of the hostilities decided to remain in the mother- 
land of the murderers, was in itself a phenomenon explicable 
only by the turn of events, mainly the occupation of the country 
by the Allies. The number of these "aboriginal" DPs was increased 
by Jews from Eastern Europe who, largely as a result of new 
pogroms after the war (especially the Kielce Pogrom of July 4, 
1946), fled from their homelands and sought temporary havens 
in the countries occupied by the Allies (Austria, Germany, Italy). 
Thus, for a number of years Germany was the abode of Jewish 
displaced persons. When the latter finally and gradually moved 
on and found new homes, principally in Israel, the United States, 
Australia, and the South American countries, a number of them 



stayed on in Germany, becoming members of the Jewish com- 
munities. The small remnants of German Jewry who survived 
there, plus these thousands of former DPs, can by no stretch 
of the imagination be regarded as a continuation of the German 
Jewish community which existed before 1933. It is a "new" 
composite group with its own characteristics. While the original 
German Jewish element is overage and may be considered a 
lost generation, the displaced persons, who on the average are 
considerably younger, may if they stay on contribute to a 
certain rejuvenation of the Jewish population in Germany. 


At the time of the accession of the Nazis in the beginning 
of 1933, 525,000 Jews lived in Germany. They were most pro- 
minently represented in commerce and the professions, less in 
industry, and very little in agriculture. Of the 147,804 Jews engaged 
in commerce and credit, 92,353 were independent, i.e., had their 
own establishments; of the 55,655 Jews engaged in industry 
and handicraft, 22,199 were independent; and of the 4,167 Jews 
engaged in agriculture, 3,256 owned their own farms. Jews 
constituted 16.3 "per cent of all German lawyers; 10.9 per cent 
of all German physicians; 5.1 per cent of all writers and journal- 
ists; 34.3 per cent of all bankers (62.5 per cent in Berlin and 68.5 
per cent in Frankf urt) . 

Although the emancipation of German Jewry had led during 
the 19th century to considerable assimilation and integration 
into the general life of the nation, it resulted, on the other 
hand, in an upsurge of new Jewish energies, as manifested, i.a., in 
the creation of Jewish learned societies and the publication 
of Jewish studies, and in the role German Jews played in the 
Zionist movement. They established the Gesamtarchiv der 
Deutschen Juden, the Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der Wis- 
senscfiaft des Judentums in Berlin, the AJcademie fuer die Wis- 
senschaft des Judentums in Berlin, the publishing houses of the 
Philo-Verlag, Juedischer Verlag, and the Eschkol Welt-Verlag. 
About 50 Jewish communal weeklies and another 50 Zionist, 


youth, and similar periodicals were published, as well as the 
monthly for the history and science of Judaism. All these were 
evidence of a very active and many-sided Jewish cultural life. 

The German Jewish Communities were probably the most 
highly organized in the world. In 1931, 963 Jewish Communities, 
embracing about 90 per cent of the total Jewish population, had 
a yearly expenditure of over 28 million marks. There were 311 
Jewish institutions in 1932, among them 20 hospitals, 53 con- 
valescent homes, 41 orphan asylums, and 65 kindergartens and 
youth centers, with a personnel of about 2,500. These figures 
do not include libraries and reading rooms. 

In 1932, 140 cities, towns, and villages had Jewish elementary 
schools, attended by about 12,600 out of a total of 56,000 children 
of school age. In some cities (Hamburg, Cologne) almost 50 per 
cent of all Jewish children attended Jewish schools. In addition, 
there were many Sunday Schools; in Berlin alone there were 
(in 1932) forty-seven such schools and extensions attended by 
3,700 children. The larger cities had Talmud Torahs, and there 
were three major rabbinical colleges. 

When the Nazis came to power in Germany, Jews began to 
be systematically eliminated from the cultural, economic, and 
political life of the country. Due to oppressive governmental 
measures, ever growing social anti-Semitism, and overt acts of 
violence, Jews began to emigrate from Germany in increasing 
numbers. The number of those who left grew in proportion to 
the persecution. In May, 1939, according to German figures, 
there remained only about 235,000 Jews in Germany. 

About 360,000 Jews emigrated in the years 1933-1941, but 
a considerable number of them were subsequently caught in 
various European countries by the onrushing German armies 
(France, Belgium, HoUand), or in countries allied with Germany 
(e.g., Italy) . Those who did not commit suicide or die of natural 
causes were deported to the East for extermination. Only a 
few thousand succeeded in hiding in Gentile surroundings. A 
similar fate befell the 140,000 Jews who remained in Germany 
at the end of 1941. 



1. Numbers and Age Structure 

At the end of the hostilities, there were about 70,000 Jews 
in Germany, 15,000 to 20,000 of them of German nationality. 
They consisted of survivors of the Nazi concentration camps 
in Germany, brought there from various countries, and those 
German Jews who had managed to survive Nazism, either because 
they had lived in hiding or were married to "Aryans" and there- 
fore protected under Nazi legislation. After the above-mentioned 
influx from Eastern Europe, the Jewish "population" increased 
to almost 200,000 at the beginning of 1947, Then followed a 
rapid decline as a result of emigration of the DPs, especially to 
the newly-founded State of Israel: in July, 1947, the number 
of Jewish displaced persons amounted to about 169,000; in June, 
1948, to about 163,000; at the beginning of 1949, to about 91,000; 
in May, 1949, to 59,000; in March, 1950, to 25,000, and in 
August, 1950, to 21,500. Of this last total, 8,760 lived in 
displaced persons' centers and the rest in various cities and towns 
of West Germany. The total number of Jews in the whole of 
Germany in August, 1950, was 34,000, Since then the number has 
changed but little. The decline during the following years because 
of emigration of DPs was balanced to some extent by a certain 
number of re-migrants. In December, 1952, the number of Jews 
in West Germany, excluding West Berlin, was estimated at 23,000. 
On March 31, 1953, the number of Jews was given as 26,500 in 
West Germany and the whole of Berlin. In January, 1955, a 
survey by the Federal Government established that 27,000 Jews 
lived at that time in West Germany and Berlin. Among them 
were 18,000 Jews of German origin, while the remainder consisted 
of former displaced persons from Eastern Europe. 

All these are professing Jews, members of the Jewish Com- 
munities. However, there seem to be numerous non-baptized 
Jews who do not register with the Jewish Communities, and some 
of whom even conceal their Jewish origin. Their number is 
estimated at 15,000. 


A striking characteristic of the Jews in Germany is that 
the majority of the "German" Jews is composed of older people, 
their average age ranging between 55 and 58 years. On the other 
hand, the Jews in Germany who stem from the East European 
countries have a consideribly lower average age, between 40 
and 45. 

As regards children, meaning the group of people under 14 
years of age, the situation has improved since the early postwar 
period. During the first five years after the end of the war 
there were hardly any children in many small Jewish communities 
and very few even in the larger ones. Thus, for instance, in 1949 
there were no children at all under 10 years of age among the 37 
Jews at Trier, and not more than 2 children among the 70- Jews 
at Aachen. In January, 1951, the Jewish congregation in Muenster, 
Westphalia, celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of the only surviving 
Jewish boy in that community. According to a report of the 
Central Council of Jews in Germany, there were already about 
2,500 children in Western Germany, including West Berlin, in 
June, 1954. In the city of Duesseldorf there were 50 children, at 
the end of 1954, while two years earlier the community had only 
four. Most of the children are the offspring of the former Jewish 
DPs who have founded families in Germany and are begetting 
virtually all the Jewish children to be found there. 

There is still the problem of Jewish children in Germany who 
are living with non-Jewish families, with whom they were 
placed for safety during the Nazi regime. Their number is 
unknown, even approximately. This question has been repeatedly 
taken up by Jewish organizations with the Bonn Government 
and a list of these children was drawn up early in 1954. 

All but one of the DP camps have been completely disbanded 
in the course of the years. Inhere are still a few Inmates in 
Foehrenwald. In this camp the so-called hard-core cases were 
concentrated and were later joined by some former DPs who 
had returned from Israel and entered Germany without official 
re-admission papers. Most of the hard-core cases have found 
a haven in Israel and in the Scandinavian countries. Arrange- 


ments are now being made for the inmates of this last DP 
camp to be resettled in various places of Germany, insofar as 
they do not emigrate. 

2, The Economic Situation 

Immediately after the end of the hostilities, due to their 
spoliation, poor state of health, and the advanced age of the 
remnants of the German Jews, the Jews in Germany were 
largely dependent on public assistance. As late as 1949, at 
least 40 per cent of the Jewish population in Germany lived 
on relief. In Hamburg no less than 60 per cent were forced to 
depend on financial aid at the end of 1951. Since the aid given 
by agencies of the municipalities or the Laender and the assistance 
granted to victims of Nazism did not satisfy the most urgent 
needs, foreign Jewish organizations and the Jewish Communities 
in Germany had to contribute to the local relief funds. For the 
Jewish Communities in Germany this was a very hard task 
because of their own precarious situation. In many cases the 
unfriendly attitude of the German agencies and excessive red 
tape contributed to the slowing down of assistance payments. 

As a consequence of the improved indemnification laws, the 
economic condition of a number of Jews in Germany has im- 
proved, since former officials, professionals, and other persons 
who lost their livelihood because of Nazi persecutions are now 
receiving indemnification in the form of annuities, pensions, 
capital funds, and loans. 

Jewish properties, including a number of important Jewish 
enterprises, have been restored to their former German pre-Nazi 
owners, and a number of the latter have returned to Germany 
to resume their activities in that country. One of the best known 
is the publishing House of Ullstein in Berlin, which was founded 
in 1877 and was one of the largest publishing concerns in Europe 
in the 1920*s, employing 10,000 persons and doing $20 million 
worth of business annually. The Berliner Morgenpost, which 
before 1933 had a daily circulation of 500,000, is now being 
published again. 


The improvement in the economic situation in the Federal 
Republic also affected the economic lot of the Jews. There are 
now about 300 Jewish lawyers practicing in the Federal Republic, 
as against only 97 in 1949. There are 30 Jewish physicians and 
from 20 to 30 Jewish editors. In the offices of the Federal Republic 
and the governments of the Laender, 140 Jewish officials are 
active, some of them in important positions. Jewish judges are 
sitting in courts, three in the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe. 
The Vice-President of the Federal Constitutional Court is a 
Jew. A number of university professors have also returned to 
Germany and are teaching at German universities. 

There are about 200 self-employed Jews in trade and industry. 
They are organized in the Arbeitsgemeinschaft juedischer 
Gewerbetreibender und Industrieller (Association of Jews Oc- 
cupied in Trade and Industry), which operates under the guid- 
ance of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. 

During the first five years after the war Jews engaged in 
industry and commerce had to face peculiar difficulties: whole- 
salers gave preference to their non- Jewish customers; in many 
instances the official agencies which allocated merchandise and 
raw material to the producers assigned less to Jewish firms than 
to their non-Jewish competitors because the Jewish firms were 
not on the official list of buyers prepared under the Nazi regime 
and still in use at that time. Export licenses were in many 
cases also allotted on the basis of figures valid in 1938, when 
many of the Jewish businessmen were either in concentration 
camps or excluded from commerce. This situation has completely 
changed in the last years: at present there is no longer any 
discrimination against Jews in German industry. In this the 
attitude of leading members of the Adenauer Government has 
played a decisive part. 

In 1954, the American Joint Distribution Committee together 
with the Central Welfare Agency of the Jews in Germany estab- 
lished a revolving loan fund to help Jews in Germany become 
self-reliant artisans, professionals, or businessmen, in order to 
consolidate the economic position of the Jewish community in 


Germany. Branches of the fund were set up in Frankfurt, Munich, 
and Berlin. 

3* The Jewish Ccttnmimities 

After the end of the war the Jews in Germany began to 
rebuild their Communities. This was an almost impossible task, 
as a comparison between the number and status of the Jews 
in Germany in 1933 and in 1945 will show. In addition to the 
completely changed demographic situation, the responsibilities 
of the Jewish Communities since 1945 were greatly altered, 
embracing duties never known before. Beside the religious, 
cultural, and social welfare work, the Jewish Communities had 
to help their members in such problems as feeding, clothing, 
housing, education, occupation, and emigration. Assistance to 
the needy, old, and sick was a tremendous burden since, as said, 
the aid given by the governments and municipalities did not 
suffice in any way. 

In addition, the Jewish Communities had to start their work 
on a vast field of ruins. Most of the synagogues and Jewish 
communal buildings were burned down or had been destroyed 
during the progroms of 1938 or turned to profane uses like 
movie houses, theaters, slaughter houses, garages, etc. The Jewish 
cemeteries had been badly damaged before and during the 
war, accidentally or by design. 

The Jews in Germany are now scattered in about a hundred 
cities and towns, some of them in communities of only a few 
souls. The report of the Federal Government gives the number 
of Jewish Communities at the beginning of 1953 at 84. Today 
the number is about 100. The Jewish Community of Berlin has 
about 5,000 members; Munich, 2,100; Frankfort, 1,200; Ham- 
burg, 1,100; Cologne, 900; Duesseldorf, 500; Dortmund, 270; 
Fuerth, 250; Hannover, 250; Essen, 181; Nuernberg, 190; Regens- 
burg, 160; Wiesbaden, 140; Aachen, 105; Bonn, 100, The rest are 
even smaller in size. 

The larger Jewish Communities have regained their pre-Nazi 
status as corporations under public law. This status, which is 


enjoyed by the churches of all major denominations, confers 
certain fiscal advantages and makes it possible for the Jewish 
Communities to levy "church taxes." In an important decision 
at the end of 1954, the Berlin Administrative Court confirmed 
that all residents of Berlin who list themselves as Jews are 
automatically members of the Jewish Community and therefore 
liable to pay the "religious tax" collected by the Berlin Jewish 
Community. This decision is of fundamental importance. It was 
made in a test case in which a Jew who had returned to Berlin 
from a country of emigration claimed that he was not obliged 
to pay the religious tax because he had not registered as a member 
of the Jewish Community , that the Community's status as a 
corporation under the public law did not include the right 
to levy taxes, that the social structure of the Community's 
membership had undergone major changes, and that mandatory 
membership was unconstitutional. The Administrative Court 
ruled on all these four points against the Jewish returnee and 
for the Community. 

The Jewish Communities of the various Laender are united 
in Federations, most of them named Landesverbaende der 
Juedisehen Gemeinden (State Federation of Jewish Com- 
munities). There are the Landesverbaende of Nordrkein- 
Westfalen, Hesse, Rheinland-Pfalz, Niedersachsen, Bayern; the 
Verband der Juedischen Gemeinden Nordwestdeutschlands 
(comprising Bremen and Hamburg) ; the Juedische Gemeinschaft 
Schleswig-Holstein (comprising Kiel, Luebeck, and Flensburg); 
the Oberrat der Israeliten Badens (comprising Freiburg, Heidel- 
berg, Karlsruhe, Mannheim) ; the Israelitische Kultusvereinigung 

All these Federations and Berlin were linked together with 
the Communities of East Germany in the Central Council of 
the Jews in Germany, which was founded in 1950. The coopera- 
tion of all Jewish communities of West and East Germany and 
the whole of Berlin in the Central Council was of great 
importance for the development of Jewish social and cultural 
institutions under a central direction. The following important 


bodies are working with the Central Council: The Zentrale 
Wohlfahrtsstelle der Juden in Deutschland; the Juedische 
Frauenbund, with about 3,000 members; the Arbeitsgemeinschaft 
juedischer Gewerbetreibender und Industrieller; the Arbeits- 
gemeinschaft der juedischen Juristen. Through their cooperation 
in the Central Council, these centralized bodies are able to take 
up their needs with the Federal Government or the governments 
of the Laender in a suitable form in accordance with the well- 
understood exigencies in all parts of the Federal Republic. 

The Central Council of the Jews in Germany is affiliated with 
the World Jewish Congress. 

During the past ten years a considerable number of Jewish 
Communities rebuilt and reconsecrated some of their synagogues 
which had been destroyed by the Nazis. A number of memorials 
to Jews murdered by the Nazis have also been erected. 

Special care has been given to homes for the sick and the 
aged. The Jewish hospital in Berlin, which is today the only 
Jewish hospital in Germany, has 400 beds and a staff of 250. 
It was the only Jewish institution in Germany which was able 
to continue its operations under the Nazi regime, under the 
most difficult circumstances. In recent years the hospital has 
been modernized and carries on the work of nursing the sick 
as a Jewish responsibility, although only about one-third of the 
patients are Jews. 

An especially heavy burden incumbent on the Jewish com- 
munities since the war has been the care of the Jewish cemeteries. 
Many of these had suffered severely under the regime of Nazism 
through willful desecrations, removal of metal and stones, and 
from war operations. Unfortunately, after the end of the hostili- 
ties, the willful desecrations of hundreds of Jewish cemeteries 
played a most infamous role in the life of the new Germany, 
and these violations continue even today. The Jewish communities 
have not been able to bear the financial burden of maintaining 
all existing cemeteries, especially those which are closed and 
located far from a large community. The total number of Jewish 
cemeteries amounts to 1,800; of these, 100 are in use, while 1,700 


are closed. Close cooperation among the Federal Government, 
the governments of the Laender, the local authorities, and the 
Jewish communities with a view to concerted and concentrated 
efforts for the care of these sacred places is required. 

For a long time after 1945 there were acrimonious disputes 
between the Jewish Communities on the one hand and the so- 
called successor organizations (the Jewish Restitution Successor 
Organization JRSO in the American zone, the Jewish Trust 
Corporation in the British zone, and the French branch of the 
Jewish Trust Corporation in the French zone) on the other, in 
regard to the Jewish communal property in West Germany and 
Berlin. Finally, an. understanding was reached: two trust funds 
were set up, each administered by a board of eight members, to 
defray future communal and welfare needs. The trust funds 
will receive substantial lump-sum payments from the successor 
organizations, as well as a share of the identification payments 
based on the destruction of Jewish communal property. So far 
as the former communal property is concerned, special agree- 
ments have been concluded between the successor organizations 
on the one hand, and the Jewish Communities of West Germany 
and that of West Berlin, on the other. 

4. Cultural and Religious Life 

The peculiarities of the Jewish situation in Germany are 
especially reflected in Jewish cultural and religious life. Not 
the programs, but the possibilities, have been the decisive factor 
in the development of the new Jewish Communities and their 
members. The significant characteristic of German Jewry since 
1945, namely, the fact that there are many living in mixed 
marriages or are half -Jews, necessarily manifests itself in Jewish 
cultural and religious life. A common aspect is that one partner 
of the mixed marriage attends Jewish divine services, and the 
other the services of his or her Christian denomination. 

The main task in developing or preserving Jewish cultural 
and religious life consists in bringing up the children in a 
Jewish way and in teaching the adults things that they either 


have never known before or have almost f orforgotten under the 
pressure of events. The solution of the problem depends on finding 
a satisfactory answer to the question of how to provide the 
Jewish communities with rabbis and teachers and how to facilitate 
their work in areas in which the communities are widely dispersed, 
and where the rabbi often has to travel for hours by car or 
train in order to officiate at a Jewish funeral or other services. 
There are only 5 or 6 permanent or semi-permanent rabbis in 
the Federal Republic to take care of a Jewish population of 
about 27,000 Jews; sometimes there are only 3. In Berlin, there 
is also the perennial question of finding a permanent rabbi for 
the biggest community in the country. Rabbis from abroad, in 
particular from Great Britain, officiate on the High Holy Days. 

Of the former Jewish DJVs who are staying on in Germany 
and whose number may be estimated at about 9,000, a considerable 
number observe the Orthodox and traditional practices, In 
November, 1954, an "Association for Torah-True Judaism" was 
founded in Fuerth, Bavaria, under the chairmanship of Rabbi 
David Spiro, formerly of Warsaw. The meeting was attended by 
delegates from all parts of Germany. A parallel group is to be 
set up in Frankfort-on-the-Main, headed by Dr. Moses Breuer, 
President of the Frankfort Chevra Kaddisha. 

Synagogues are being rebuilt, often with the financial as- 
sistance of the German authorities. This will also contribute 
to the strengthening of Jewish religious and cultural life in the 
country. The number of houses of worship in active use amounts 
to about 60, the majority of them Betsaele. 

The most important task, the Jewish education of the 
children, is progressing slowly. Because of the scarcity of teachers, 
this education is limited to instruction in religious practices and 
biblical history. There is a possibility of receiving Hebrew lessons 
in the larger communities, but there is so far not a single Jewish 
school in the whole Federal Republic, although Jewish kinder- 
gartens are being maintained successfully in the larger 


In May, 1954, for the first time since the downfall of Nazism, 
Jews from all parts of West Germany and from West Berlin 
assembled at Bad Nauheim to deliberate on ways and means of 
invigorating Jewish cultural life and Jewish education in Ger- 
many. The conference was headed by Professor Baruch Graubard, 
director of the former Hebrew high school in Munich and now 
a lecturer at Marburg University, who dealt with the need of 
instilling a spirit of Jewish identification in the Jewish children 
growing up in scores of towns and cities throughout Germany 
with little Jewish education or none at all. He laid emphasis on 
the teaching of Hebrew, on summer camps, vacation travels to 
Israel, employment of itinerant teachers, and the establishment 
of a boarding school. Dr. E. G. Lowenthal, Secretary of the Cultural 
Commission of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, outlined 
a program of adult education, lectures, scientific reseach, and 
public relations. But the question remains as to what extent the 
existing circumstances will permit the carrying out of these 

For some time now the Jewish Community of Berlin has 
conducted Jewish divine services and educational courses over 
the radio in a regular series for adults. The official Free-Berlin 
radio station in West Berlin started Jewish cultural and religious 
broadcasts about a year ago. 

In January, 1955, Jewish delegates from all parts of West 
Germany were invited to a Jewish youth camp near Hausham 
in the Bavarian Alps, where they formed the Central Association 
of Jewish Youth, whose object is to serve as a coordinating 
organization with its seat in West Berlin. The meeting was 
addressed, i.a., by Dean Hermann Maas, Superintendent of the 
Protestant Church in the Heidelberg area, a proven friend of 
the Jewish people, who saved many Jewish children during the 
Nazi regime. Dean Maas, who recently visited Israel as a guest 
of the Israeli Government, speaks Hebrew fluently and is the 
German translator of the works of Bialik. Since Berlin has 
become the seat of the Central Association of Jewish Youth, it is 
to be expected that Berlin, the largest Jewish community, win 


closely cooperate in the educational and cultural work of this 

There are Jewish periodicals in the Federal Republic: 
the Allgemeine Wochenzeitung der Juden in Deutschland, pub- 
lished weekly in Duesseldorf , which is already in its tenth year. 
It deals with all aspects of Jewish life, in Germany and Israel, 
and also with the events of Jewish importance in other coun- 
tries. In Munich there are two weeklies, the Muenchener Juedische 
Nachrichten in German and the Naie Jiddische Zeitung in Yiddish. 
Two papers are issued monthly: the Juedische Illustrierte in 
Duesseldorf and the Israel-Informations-Dienst, issued by the 
Israel Mission in Cologne. An organ of the Jewish Students 
Associations, entitled Baderech, is published at irregular intervals. 

Interest in Zionism and in the newly- founded State of Israel 
was and is keen among all Jews living in Germany. Therefore 
it was a heavy blow for them when the Jewish Agency announced 
in August, 1950, that it would close its offices in Germany. The 
Jews in Germany felt that this decision was an undeserved re- 
flection on their Jewish sentiments and they stressed that in 
spite of their tremendously difficult situation they had contributed 
financially to the utmost of their ability to the task of building 
the new Jewish State. It was a very happy moment indeed when 
in July, 1954, it was announced that the Zionist movement had 
been re-established in Germany with the organization of a new 
Zionist Federation and the election of a three-man executive 
and a seventeen-member national board. The new federation is 
affiliated with the World Zionist Organization. Shekolim will 
be sold by German Zionist Organization and on that basis the 
Jews in Germany will be able to send delegates to the next 
World Zionist Congress. Local chapters of the Zionist organi- 
zation of Germany have been established in Frankfort, Berlin, 
Cologne, Stuttgart, and steps are being taken to found a branch 
in Munich. 

Some difficulties with shechita arose when German authorities 
and associations in Munich and Frankfort adopted resolutions 
in favor of enacting legislation prohibiting the Jewish religious 


mode of slaughtering animals for food. Strangely enough, some 
German legal experts considered the Nazi legislation prohibiting 
shechita as still legally valid and only temporarily in abeyance 
as a result of a decree by the Allies at the beginning of occupation 
which permitted the killing of animals according to the Jewish 
ritual law. These German legal experts expressed the opinion 
that with the end of the occupation this Nazi law would auto- 
matically be restored, since the law was a "humane and not an 
anti-Jewish measure." As of this date, shechita has not been 

5. Relationship with the non- Jewish German Population 

The question whether peaceful co-existence of Jews and 
non-Jews will be possible in Germany has been asked ever since 
the end of the war in 1945. A clear-cut answer has not yet been 

In the first years after the end of the hostilities, it was 
generally assumed that no Jews would remain in that country and 
that there would never again be any Jewish communities there. 
Not only could the Jews not forget the tortures inflicted upon them 
and the murder of their relatives by the Nazis, but every day 
they were reminded that they were Jews and that they were 
staying in a country of which anti-Semitism was one of the 
strongest characteristics. Adhering to the Nazi doctrine, many 
of the Germans still considered the Jews a foreign substance in 
the German body politic. Moreover, they generally included the 
Jews among those responsible for the "misfortunes" which had 
befallen the German people after the lost war. 

The German Federal Government and most of the govern- 
ments of the Laender have made a serious effort to rid the 
country of anti-Semitism. There is no official anti-Semitism in' 
the Federal Republic and West Berlin today. President Heuss, 
Chancellor Adenauer, and most of their ministers are certainly 
no anti-Semites, and no anti-Jewish utterances are heard in the 
Federal Parliament. However, no law against anti-Semitism 
has yet been promulgated in the Federal Republic. 


The German governments, authorities, and public agencies 
have conferred all lands of honors upon Jews within and outside 
Germany in order to prove their pro-Jewish feelings. The highest 
newly created German decoration, the Grand Order of Merit 
with Star, has been awarded to a number of Jews, Three jurists 
have been appointed to the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe. 
Jewish scholars have been appointed and re-appointed professors 
at German universities. Four Jewish professors have been 
appointed rectors (chancellors) of West German universities. 
Stamps showing the faces of Walter Rathenau and Professor 
Paul Ehrlich have been issued by the West German Post Office. 
The 750th anniversary of the death of Moses Maimonides was 
observed with an impressive ceremony at Duesseldorf which was 
attended by a distinguished audience, including President Theodor 
Heuss and other high West German officials. Speakers at the 
ceremony were Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck, who had flown from 
London to Duesseldorf specially to attend the commemoration, 
and Professor K. H. Remgstorf, a Protestant theologian, who re- 
vived at Muenster University the Delitzsch Institute of Jewish 
Studies, founded in 1886 at [Leipzig to enable Protestant theolo- 
gians and missionaries to study Jewish subjects and closed by the 
Gestapo under the Nazi regime. The Bavarian Academy of Science 
has appointed three Jewish scholars among 14 savants in foreign 
countries as associate members. 

"World Brotherhood", an offshoot of the National Conference 
of Christians and Jews in the United States, which already has 
seven national sections in a number of European countries, 
established a German national section in Frankfort in August, 
1954, and appointed two Jews as board members. 

"Brotherhood Week" has been inaugurated by the Society 
for Christian-Jewish Cooperation and has been celebrated for 
several years throughout West Germany and in West Berlin. In 
March, 1955, it was -celebrated in the Paulskirche in Frankfort 
after President Heuss had accepted the patronage. The meeting 
was addressed by the President of the Federal Bundestag and 


by other leading political figures, for instance, the Socialist 
Professor Carlo SchmicL 

An important movement of good will, "Peace with Israel", 
-was founded by Erich Lueth, Director of the Press Department 
of the Senate of Hamburg, and a considerable number of German 
personalities and organizations have joined the movement. 

This is the positive aspect of Jewish-German co-existence. 
However, there is also a negative side. In the first years after 
the end of the hostilities, the 9th of November the day of the 
pogroms and the burning of synagogues in Germany in 1938 was 
used as a day to remember the victims of Nazism, and memorial 
services were held in West Germany and Berlin, where Jews 
and non-Jews gathered to honor the memory of the victims 
of Nazism. Since 1950, instead of the 9th of November, the 7th 
of September has regularly been observed as the anniversary of 
the adoption of the Federal Constitution as well as "in remem- 
brance of the victims of the war and of Fascism." By this change 
the date of the burning of the synagogues completely disappeared 
and the new memorial day was observed first of all in honor of 
the basic law of the new Germany, next in commemoration of 
the German victims of the war, including those who perished 
through Allied air attacks, while the victims of Nazism were 
consigned to a third category of those to be remembered. More- 
over, by replacing the word "Nazism" with "Fascism", a further 
modification of the function of the day was effected. 

As already mentioned, Jewish cemeteries and memorials for 
Nazi victims were continually desecrated and damaged all over 
Germany and the authorities met with little success in their 
efforts to find the culprits. The words "grazing sheep and playing 
children" became a stock phrase to describe the futile efforts 
of the authorities to deal with this matter. These acts of vandalism 
are regarded as a sign that anti-Semitism in Germany has gone 
underground, but it is a very lively corpse which rises time and 
again to discomfit the optimists. 

A number of reports were published during the past decade by 
agencies of the Allied High Commissioners in Germany and by 


private, semi-official, and official agencies of the German Govern- 
ment on the basis of inquiries concerning anti-Semitisim in 
Germany. These reports even the optimistic ones show that 
the Jew is still considered an outsider by the majority of the 
German people and that as a matter of fact the Jews in Germany 
live on an island of nonunderstanding or misunderstanding 
among the majority of the German people. One has to bear 
in mind that because of the small number of Jews in Germany 
today, as contrasted with the over 500,000 Jews who lived in 
Germany before Nazism, relatively few Germans have contacts 
with Jews. It is interesting to note that the younger people 
fcave considerably less anti-Jewish feeling. The young people 
are interested in receiving information about Jwish efforts and 
achievements in Israel and the positive side of the Jewish question. 

One of the most recent reports dealing with the problem 
of anti-Semitism in the Federal Republic has been made by the 
Bundeszentrale fuer Heimatsdienst (Federal Center for Domestic 
Affairs) , an official agency of the Federal Government, in coopera- 
tion with EMNID (Institute for Public Opinion Research in 
Bielefeld) a group of statisticians and psychologists working 
according to the principles of the American Gallup Institute. 
They undertook a poll of a cross section of the German population 
to ascertain the attitude toward anti-Semitism. Questions were 
asked with regard to the general attitude toward Jews, the names 
of the most famous Jews, the attitude toward intermarriage 
with Jews, the knowledge of atrocities committed against Jews 
under Nazism, and the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis 
between 1933 and 1945. The facts which emerged from this inquiry 
are quite revealing. First, more than two-thirds of those polled 
formed their views on Jews on the basis of hearsay. Second, 
although all overtly denied that they were anti-Semitic, one-sixth 
of those polled quite frankly professed anti-Semitic feelings. 
If this percentage is representative of the entire older population, 
it would appear that from five or six million grownup Germans 
harbor anti-Semitic sentiments. Even more significant is the 
fact that 50 percent of those polled were evasive or indifferent, 


which means that, in addition to the avowedly anti-Semitic 
one-sixth, there is a considerable number of Germans in whom 
anti-Semitic feelings still exist but who apparently prefer not 
to display them openly. The fact that more than one-half of 
those polled denied having witnessed or heard (except from Jews) 
about the Nazi crimes against the Jews, and that over one-third 
of them held the figure of five million Jewish victims of Nazism 
to be a gross exaggeration must lead to the conclusion that there 
is insufficient realization among the German people of the terri- 
ble crimes committed against the Jews during the Nazi regime. 
A very important aspect of the report is that the representatives 
of the younger generation were groping for objectivity toward 
and understanding of the Jews and that they expressed the 
desire to form their own opinion and did not agree with the 
older generation, which is still under the influence of Nazi 

There is a very wide-spread inclination in Germany to 
whitewash the German people of the crimes against the Jews, 
to prove that the concentration camps did not exist as the murder 
camps they were, that the gas chambers are a propaganda inven- 
tion by the Allies and the Jews, and that the figures on the 
Jews murdered are a falsification for the purpose of receiving 
a larger amount of indemnification. Thanks to such propaganda, 
anti-Semitism is kept alive. 

There are also quite a number of publishers who are notori- 
ous for publishing anti-Semitic and Neo-Nazi pamphlets, books, 
and periodicals. 



1. Numbers, Geographical and Age Distribution 

At the end of 1948 the number of Jews in East Berlin was 
estimated at about 1,500, and in the Russian zone at 2,000. The 
principal communities in the zone were in Leipzig (350 Jews), 
Erfurt (260 Jews), Dresden (200 Jews), and Schwerin (200 Jews). 


In 1955 the best available estimates amount to 1,800 in East Berlin 
(of whom only 1,300 are membres of the Community) and 600 
in East Germany. Besides Berlin, Jews are living in the following 
cities: Dresden, Chemnitz, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Halle, Erfurt, 
Schwerin, Muehlhausen, Gera, Jena, Eisenach, and Plauen. 
In most of these places the number of Jews is very small. 

More than fifty per cent of the Jews in East Berlin are 
over 50 years old. There are about 110 children between 6 and 16 
years of age and about 50 under 6 years of age; about 170 Jews 
are between 21 and 30 years old. 

2. Economic Situation, Restitution 

After the end of the war the Jews tried to rebuild their 
economic life and found work as artisans, skilled workers, officials, 
lawyers, physicians, and in business. Among the Jewish in- 
tellectuals active in public life were: Dr. Alfred Kantorowitz, 
professor at the East Berlin University; Dr. Ernst Bloch, head 
of the Department of Philosophy at the Leipzig University; Prof, 
Dr. Georg Kneppler, director of the East Berlin Music Academy; 
Dr. Ernest Mayer, professor of musical history. There were a 
number of Jewish authors, theatrical directors, composers, and 
directors of film companies. 

A number of Jews (and non-Jews) who are recognized as 
"victims of Nazism" are receiving payment for loss of employ- 
ment, liberty, and health during the Nazi reign. However, these 
payments are acts of grace by the state and there is no com- 
prehensive compensation and indemnification legislation in exist- 
ence for victims of Nazism similar to the laws in force in West 

Soon after the war, the State of Thuringia enacted a law 
providing for the restitution of identifiable property. However, the 
provisions of this law (which was restricted, anyhow) were 
implemented to a small extent only, in favor of residents of the 
zone, and no other state in East Germany took steps .to pass 
legislation in the field of restitution. (There, the provisions of 
the German Civil Code were invoked in certain instances, but 


no return was made to absentees.) In a number of cases, real 
estate previously owned by Jews, which had been "aryanized 3 * 
under the reign of Nazism, was taken away from the Nazi owner 
and put under public trusteeship in behalf of the former Jewish 
owner. However, in most cases this real estate was not returned 
to the legitimate Jewish owner but declared "property of the 
people," i.e., expropriated in favor of the East German State. 
The hope of Jewish owners to recover identifiable property or 
assets stolen from them by the Nazis has vanished. 

Since the middle of 1952, and especially in connection with 
the events in January and February, 1953 (described below) , the 
economic and occupational situation of the Jews has gradually 

In many cases, small businessmen were forced to give up 
their shops, private ownership of which was considered not to 
be in line with the Communist policy. The former owners were 
sent to rural districts. Since most of them were physically unable 
to work as manual workers they became objects of public welfare. 
Even those still in business live with a feeling of great insecurity. 

3. Attitude of the Regime 

Officially, no anti-Semitism exists in East Germany and 
East Berlin. The Constitution of the German Democratic Re- 
public declares acts of religious and racial hatred to be crimes 
punishable under criminal law. During the first years after the 
end of the war, high-ranking officials of the Government spoke 
in public addresses of the martyr death of millions of Jews, 
and history textbooks in East German schools told their readers 
about the killing of millions of Jews by the Nazis. 

Of the members of the East German Parliament elected in 
1950, fifteen were Jews, among them the famous writer and 
prominent Zionist Arnold Zwqig, who served for several years as 
President of the Academy of Arts of East Germany; Dr. Victor 
Klemperer, professor at the University of Halle; Professor 


Karl Polaek, rector (chancellor) of the Leipzig University; 
Dr. Martin Hildebrandt, president of the Supreme Court in East 
Berlin, and the writer Ruth Adler. 

However, since 1952 in line with the anti-Jewish trials in the 
East European countries, and especially the Slansky trial an 
anti-Jewish attitude developed in East Germany and East Berlin, 
although it was not considered anti-Semitism, but called "anti- 
Zionism." Zionists whatever this expresssion meant to the 
Communist public authorities were in danger of arrest and 
punishment as enemies of the public order, and even in "lighter 
cases" they were subject to acts of economic discrimination. Many 
Jewish leaders and Jews in East German public positions who 
had lived during the war as refugees in the Western countries 
were removed from their posts and replaced by persons who 
had returned from Moscow. Secret questionnaires were reportedly 
sent by the Socialist (Communist) Unity Party to party officials 
and to leaders of workers associations to find out about positions 
occupied by Jews in cooperatives and associations. The League 
of Nazi Victims, which had protected the rights of Jews and 
non-Jews persecuted by the Nazis, was dissolved by the authorities 
as a "stronghold of Zionist and reactionary elements." A 33- 
member committee of "Anti-Fascist Resistance Fighters" was 
charged with the task of carrying on the activities of the League, 
to which most of the Jews in East Germany had belonged. 

According to reports current at that time, during June, 
1952, anti-Jewish action was gradually placed on a broader 
basis by the Russian occupation authorities and the Soviet 
secret police. Police agents were planted in Jewish communal 
organizations to find out the contacts of Jewish leaders. Jews 
who spoke Hebrew fluently were sought to attend services in 
synagogues and report on what was said by preachers and 
rabbis. During the following months, especially in December, 1952, 
several incidents of open anti-Semitism occurred. The word 
"Jew" apeared overnight on shop windows and homes of Jews. 
Jews were dismissed from t&eir Jobs, at first small jobs, then 


bigger jobs followed, until the Jews in the administration and the 
highest positions were reached. On January 4, 1953, the Central 
Committee of the East German Communist Party adopted a 
resolution in which Jews were accused of being Zionists, Trot- 
skyists, imperialist American agents, Titoists, and cosmopolitans. 
At the same time, Jews were warned by Christian German 
friends and even through clandestine calls from the East German 
police that "it is still not too late to take a long vacation." The 
East German Communist press attacked Jews as Zionist anti- 
Communist conspirators who cooperated with Czech traitors 
like the Slansky group. At the same time a number of Jews 
were reported to have been arrested and transported to con- 
centration camps. They were accused of doubting the "infal- 
libility" of Stalinism, disputing Stalin's actions or interpretations 
of Marxism, and daring to place the concept of Judaism before 
'that of Stalinism. 

In consequence, East German Jews began to flee from the 
East to West Berlin, where they were received by the authorities 
as refugees, eligible for old-age pensions, sick benefits, and 
general assistance, and greatly helped by the West Berlin Jewish 
Community. Characteristically, the first to flee were old Com- 
munist "comrades," such as Dr. Leo Zuckermann with his family, 
who, two years before, had been under-secretary and chief of the 
chancellery of President Welheim Pieck of East Germany; 
once virtual assistant president of the Communist state, Dr. 
Zuckermann had in the meantime been demoted to a minor 
juridical post in Potsdam. On January 13 and 14, 1953, eight 
heads of Jewish communities in East Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Erfurt, 
and Schwerin fled to West Berlin. By January 18, about 300 Jews 
had fled to West Berlin since December, 1952. 

On January 18, a new anti-Jewish action was undertaken 
in East Germany and East Berlin. Homes and offices of Jews 
were reportedly searched by squads of Communist police, papers 
and identity cards were seized, and Jews ordered to stay close 
to their homes. These raids reached into virtually every East 


German home of the Jewish survivors of Nazi extermination 

Significant, too, was the vilification of the Luxembourg 
Agreement between Israel and West Germany signed in Septem- 
ber, 1952. The Communist press drew a comparison between 
the Prague trials and the restitution agreement. While the former 
"unmasked the fifth column of Zionism and the Wall Street 
billionaires," the agreement between Israel and "West German 
monopoly capitalists was engineered by the Americans in order 
to help the Israel bourgeoisie and to make the Adenauer State 
and the West German Nazis acceptable for inclusion in the 
framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization," the Com- 
munist press wrote. These concerted attacks combined to make 
the position of the Jews in East Germany more unbearable. 

Stalin died on the fifth of March, 1953. Up to that date more 
than 500 Jews had fled from the Eastern zone and East Berlin, 
according to Rabbi Israel Goldstein, chairman of the Executive 
of the Western Hemisphere of the World Jewish Congress, who 
had gone to East Berlin to make an inquiry about the plight of 
the Jews in East Germany. 

After Stalin's death, the anti-Jewish attitude abated. How- 
ever, the harsh economic measures imposed at that time by 
the Communist authorities upon certain groups of the "bour- 
geoisie" and the cancellation of ration cards for self-employed 
wholesale and retail merchants, lawyers, tax consultants, apart- 
ment house owners, and hotel keepers, continued to make the 
life of Jews difficult. As a result, 90 Jews in March and 23 in the 
first half of April, 1953, fled from East Germany to West Berlin. 
Since then, there has been a steady trickle of Jewish refugees 
to the West. But inasmuch as those who remain in the East 
are mostly old, sick, and infirm and, therefore, not able to move, 
they have to bear their fate. In the meantime, the direct attacks 
and persecutions have abated and a small number of Jews 
removed from their posts have even. been reinstated in minor 
public posts during 1955. Zionism, however, is still considered 
a crime. 


4. Communal Life 

Under the prevailing conditions, Jewish communal life in 
East Berlin and East Germany is weak. The East Berlin Jewish 
Community (which was previously part of the whole Berlin 
Jewish Community) is under a Jewish Central Committee, 
separated from the West. East Berlin's rabbi is Dr. Martin Riesen- 
burger, who reports that religious life goes on without inter- 
ference. Jewish religious instruction is given in special Jewish 
classes in Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, and Erfurt. The ritual employed 
at synagogue services is generally that of Reform Judaism. 
Rabbi Riesenburger seems to be the only permanent rabbi in 
East Germany. The large Jewish cemetery at Weissensee in 
East Berlin which served until the end of 1952 as the burial place 
of the Jews of West and East Berlin, is now reserved for East 
Berlin Jewry exclusively. It is kept in good order. Kosher meat 
is being supplied to East Berlin by the Jewish Community of 
West Berlin. 

The Communist authorities have, apparently under directives 
from the new Soviet leadership, started recently to show some 
friedliness toward the Jewish Communities. The Jewish Com- 
munity of Halle rededicated its synagogue in the presence of 
Otto Nuschke, East German Deputy Prime Minister in charge 
of church affairs. One of the big synagogues in East Berlin, 
Ryke-Street, destroyed by the Nazis in 1938, was rebuilt and 
formally rededicated in the presence of Communist city officials, 
who in speeches hailed the rededication as a symbol of the East's 
attitude towards anti-Semitism. In Magdeburg the authorities 
gave a sum of money to the Jewish Community for rebuilding a 


To many observers of the Jewish scene in Germany in the 
period under review, the conclusion appears inescapable that, 
despite the intensive social and cultural activities of the Jewish 
Communities in Germany, Jewry in Germany at least in 


any numbers worth mentioning would cease to exist before 
long. Many Jewish leaders in Germany and foreign Jewish and 
non-Jewish observers regard the situation of the Jews in 
Germany as essentially hopeless. In addition, it is feared 
that Germany, on the way to become again a great military 
power, might become the center of a new wave of anti-Semitism, 
and that the Jews in Germany might have to live permanently 
on the top of a volcano. The Federal German Government in 
its above-quoted report Deutschland Heute ("Germany Today") 
stated that in spite of all new beginnings one could not speak 
of the existence of a German Jewry as it existed before 1933 and 
that the developments in the coming years would show if there 
was to be again an active German Jewry or if the Jewish 
community in Germany would die out in the space of two decades. 

In the early years after 1945, the Jews living in Germany, 
both those originally of German nationality (who lived in the 
country as German citizens when Nazism came to power) and 
those who were "DPs" (i.e., those who were carried off by the 
Nazis from their homes to Germany as forced laborers or who 
were survivors of concentration camps) generally expressed the 
opinion that the best thing for them would be to leave the 
country. The reasons why they did not do so and still remain in 
Germany are manifold: too old, too sick, and too weary to 
emigrate, incapable of facing the ordeal of building a new life 
abroad, family and health reasons, etc. Some, among them 
those who have returned from Israel, would rather risk it in 
Germany than endure the hardships of pioneers in Israel. 

There was, however, also an opposite view expressed, one 
of optimism about the future of Jewry in Germany, advanced by 
some leading Jewish personalities in the country, advocating a, 
policy of renewed Jewish integration. They pointed to a "con- 
siderable decline" of anti-Semitism in Germany, the particularly 
good attitude of German youth, as well as the increasing number 
of positions occupied by Jews in German industry and trade 
and in German life generally, and also the consistently friendly 
attitude of leading members of the Federal Government. They 


criticized those Jews who believed that it was impossible for 
the Jewish community to survive in West Germany, and 
asserted that the Jews remaining in Germany were determined 
to continue to build up an organized religious community in 
the country. A Jewish member of the West German Parliament 
stressed in 1954 the resurgence of Jewish sentiment among 
the Jews in Germany and the complementary fact that the 
Germans were eager to have the Jews back since they realized 
now what a tremendous cultural influence the small Jewish 
minority had on pre-war Germany. In spite of the still existing 
"invisible silken curtain" between Jews and Germans, this ob- 
server drew the conclusion that because of Germany's strategic, 
geographical, and cultural position in Europe, Jews would always 
be attracted to that country, and therefore he "definitely" thought 
that there was a future for the Jews in Germany. 

Other observers have taken, even in recent times, a position 
midway between the two opposite views. They maintain that 
the negative view is based on biological reasoning as discussed 
above and on the fact that because of the incapability of both 
Jews and Germans to forget what happened in the past, the wall 
between them will continue to exist; consequently, whatever 
kind of life Jews will lead in Germany, it will always be one on 
a secluded island. To them this prevailing opinion cannot be 
influenced in the opposite direction by baptized Jews or Jews 
who live apart from the Jewish community and have completely 
merged with the German population, in many cases carefully 
hiding their Jewish origin. It is interesting to note that an 
important German weekly, Die Zeit of Hamburg, which discussed 
the question whether "the German Jews feel again at home" 
in a leading article in February, 1954, and dealt with the many 
aspects of the problem, gave the article the title "Hitler's shadow 
does not cease." 

To look at the situation from the German side, it may be 
interesting to mention a study by the Press Information Depart- 
ment of the Federal Republic published in Survey of German 
Affairs of October, 1953, in which the situation in Frankfort-on- 


the-Main was described. According to the Survey, Frankfort, 
one of the largest centers of Jewish population in pre-Hitler 
Germany, now harbors only a fraction. "There is missing," the 
Survey stated, "from this group of citizens creative artists, 
patrons of fine arts, scientists, a strong element among the 
audiences at theaters and concerts." "It has become only too 
evident how this efficient city which has given new life to its 
historical activity has become, generally speaking, 'provincial* 
in the intellectual sphere, despite many individual and splendid 
achievements." This fact should 1 not be held against Frankfort: 
it is an inescapable aspect of Germany's fate, a consequence of 
the elimination of the Jewish element. "Comparable develop- 
ments are evident in other cities, especially Berlin," the govern- 
ment's organ concluded. 

This was said in October, 1953. It is interesting to note 
that the new official report Germany Today of 1955 contains 
the same statement in almost the same words. 



Since the establishment of the first Austrian Republic within 
the boundaries delineated by the Treaty of St. German (1919), 
its Jewry was, for all practical purposes, almost completely 
concentrated in Vienna. According to the last official census 
(1934) before the Anschluss, 176,000 Jews (approximately 92 per 
cent) lived in the capital, which thus harbored one of the 
largest Jewish communities in pre-Hitler Europe, while the 
other eight components parts (Laender} of the Federal Republic 
which in recent centuries had always been practically judenrein 
had an aggregate Jewish population of only 15,500. After the 
upheaval, the mass flight, the mass deportation, and the mass 
murder of Austrian Jewry during the period of the Nazi invasion 
(1938-1945), only about 2,000 survived in Austria and about 
2,000 others returned immediately after liberation, mostly from 
the Terezin camp in Bohemia. In the next few years about 2,000 
"trickled back" from Poland- and Russia, some 1,200 from Shang- 
hai, 1,000 from Israel, and about 1,100 from Great Britain and 
the United States. Some of them left again as soon as new 
emigration possibilities opened up, but the Jewish community 
was increased by a number of Jewish displaced persons who 
decided to settle in Austria, as well as by infiltrees from behind 
the Iron Curtain who came for the same purpose. Though all 
statistics of the Jews in Austria in the first postwar years must 
be taken with a grain of salt, it can be stated that there was 
a rapid rise of the Jewish population between 1945 and the end 



of 1949, when the Jews numbered about 13,750, after which, 
there ensued a decline, caused by a natural decrease and emi- 
gration which reduced their number to less than 10,000 by the 
end of 1954. It should be noted that, significantly, the recon- 
stituted Republic extended an invitation to return only to a 
very limited group of its Jewish citizens abroad whose cooperaton, 
particularly during the period of the temporary disbarment of 
Nazi followers and collaborators, was urgently needed, namely, 
to actors, writers, and "academicians" (January, 1946). Obviously, 
the Austrians were not interested in attracting any other cate- 

More than 9,000 Jews lived in Vienna at the end of 1954 y 
a number which, although small in comparison with 1938, 
shows, nonetheless, a far greater density of the Jewish population 
than that of West Berlin, a city whose attractive power and 
position under Allied occupation was very similar to that of 
Vienna. Taking as a reliable basis the number of Jews eligible 
to vote in Jewish community election, we find that in West 
Berlin, with a total population of approximately 2.4 million, 4,200 
were in this category (1955), as against 8,000 in Vienna (total 
population about 1.7 million) or, percentagewise, 0.175 and 0.47 7 

Some observers dealt with what seemed to them the extremely 
small number of Jews living in the Austrian provinces. In point 
of fact, however, the ratio of the Jewish population of the 
capital to that of the Laender appeared practically unchanged 
after the Nazi catastrophe; for, as we have seen, 91.9 per cent 
of the Jews were in Vienna in 1934 and 15,500 (8.1 per cent) 
outside the city. Twenty fateful years later the corresponding 
figures were: 9,100 (91.5 per cent) in Vienna and 847 (8.5 per 
cent) in the provinces. To be sure, the geographical distribution 
of the Jews in the Laender is no longer the same; whereas before 
the Anschluss a chain of small communities ran along the main 
line of communications from Bohemia-Moravia through Vienna 
to the South, ending at Graz (including the three largest outside 
Vienna, viz. Graz, Baden, and Moedling, the only ones with 


more than 1,000 souls each), now the center of attraction is in 
the western part of the Republic, i.e., mainly in the former 
American zone of occupation (Salzburg, Linz, etc.) and, to a 
lesser extent, in the former French zone (Tyrol, Vorarlberg). 

Writers on present-day Austrian Jewry have repeatedly ex- 
pressed regret that it is a group of overage people and that the 
number of children is pitifully small. This is undoubtedly true, 
for during the years of the Jewish catastrophe the Jewish 
children perished together with their elders, unless they could 
escape. Accordingly, the number of Jewish children in Vienna 
receiving Jewish religious instruction 4windled from about 16,900 
in 1934-35 and 15,700 in 1935-36 to only 246 in 1954, but increased 
to 290 in 1955. In 1935, a total of 2,394 children up to three 
years of age were counted among a Jewish population of 175,000; 
thus about 800 were born each year, or 4.57 per 1,000. In October, 
1949, 626 children of the same age group lived in the capital. 
The average annual birth rate was therefore 200 in a Jewish 
population of 12,700, or 15.74 per 1,000, which is more than three 
times the rate before the Anschluss. 

However, this favorable situation was short-lived and the 
most recent figures show a decline in the birth rate that 
surpasses even that of the Viennese population in general, which 
is regarded as the lowest in Europe (6.6 per 1,000). In the years 
1952, 1953, and 1954, only 103 Jewish children were registered 
with the Jewish Community, representing an annual birth rate 
of only 3.6 per 1,000. During the same period 519 persons died. 

It is difficult to arrive at reliable conclusions concerning 
the tendency to leave the Jewish fold. Inasmuch as under Austrian 
law membership in the Community is obligatory for all Jews 
unless the adoption of another faith or a declaration that one 
is an agnostic has been officially registered with the competent 
governmental authorities, exact figures are available but must 
be carefully interpreted in the light of the prevailing political 
and economic situation. The last years before the Anschluss 
can certainly not be regarded as normal hi this, respect. Thus, 
for example, during the period from 1932 to 1935, the actual 


difference between those leaving and those joining the Jewish 
Community was subject to marked fluctuations (minus 515 in 
1932^nimis 26 in 1934) . The annual average for these four years 
was 250, or about 0.14 per cent. 

For the three years 1 period 1952-1954 the corresponding 
figures were: 457 (about 5 per cent) disassociating themselves 
from Judaism and 41 (about 0.5 per cent) joining thje Community* 
The relative loss was therefore about ten times higher than 
twenty years ago. It must, however, be noted that this was 
the period of the Doctors' Case in Moscow and the Slansky trial 
in Prague and we may assume that most of the losses were 
due to the defection of Communists who tried to dissociate them- 
selves from Jewry. 


In the first years after the war, the occupational structure 
of the Viennese Jews showed considerable change in comparison 
with 1938, but it is now clearly reverting to the old pattern. 
A survey of the Community tax payers reveals the following 
instructive figures: 

1938 1949 1955 

Merchants and Artisans 52.0% 23.1% 50.2% 

Employees and Workers 31.2% 27.7% 24.3% 

Professionals and Public Servants . 9.4% 21.2% 7.2% 

(The rest of the tax payers consist of persons who live on various 
kinds on pensions.) 

All the Jews who survived the Nazi invasion and the displaced 
persons, as well as the majority of returnees and infiltrees, 
started life in liberated Austria practically penniless. A sizable 
part of the membership of the Community those overage and 
incapacitated is dependent upon public assistance and will 
obviously remain so. But, on the other hand, the economic 
rehabilitation of the Austrian Jews as a whole has evidently made 
rapid and highly satisfactory progress. It can easily be shown 


that the economic picture of Austrian Jewry is by no means a 
dark one and that it even exhibits very encouraging features. 

The percentage of today's taxpayers surpasses that existing 
at the time immediately before the Anschluss. Out of a total 
of 175,000 Jews in Vienna at the end of 1935, 48,000, or 27.42 per 
cent, had! to pay the religious tax. Fourteen years later (1949) 
and with a Jewish population of 12,700, 3,400 Viennese Jews, 
or 26.77 per cent, had to pay it; the percentage had thus practi- 
cally returned to the pre-Hitler level. (The figures for 1955 do 
not provide a basis for comparison, as meanwhile women have 
been admitted to full membership and franchise in the Com- 
munity and, accordingly, are subject to taxation. There are 
now about 6,300 or 69 per cent taxpayers, with men forming 
about 55 per cent of the total. This would put the number of 
male taxpayers at about 38 per cent.) 

This optimistic view is fully borne out by a comparison of 
those in need of assistance from the Jewish Community. The 
official report on the activities of the Kultusgemeinde, submitted 
at the end of 1936 by the Board to the electorate, stressed that 
no fewer than 60,000, or 34.3 per cent (of a population of 175,000) 
had to be assisted with Community funds. In 1949 only 1,631, 
or 12.8 per cent (of 12,700), were needy, while in 1953 their 
number had further dropped to 670, or 7 per cent (of a total 
of 9,500). The percentage of recipients of Community aid is 
thus about one fifth of what it was in 1936. 

The tremendous loss in numbers has, of course, eliminated 
any kind of legitimate Jewish influeaice on the Austrian scene. At 
the time of the German invasion, the Jews still formed about 
2.8 per cent of the total population of the Republic, and nearly 10 
per cent of -that of the capital. Now one out of every 700 Aus- 
trians and 200 Viennese is a Jew. The role of the Jews in com- 
merce and even more in industry is insignificant. In the cultural 
field, a survey on the fate of 30 Jewish university professors, is- 
sued shortly after liberation, revealed that only 6 were teaching 
again, while 3 had retired, 7 were dead, 7 "could not be located," 
and 7 lived abroad. Some high-ranking Jewish civil servants. 


judges, etc,, liad opportunities to contribute to the rehabilitation 
of the country in the early postwar years, but most of them have 
since retired or died. When recently tribute was paid to men who 
had been instrumental in reviving a free Austrian press, three 
Jews were mentioned among the six thus honored. A number 
of Jews were active in the police forces but later on dropped, 
allegedly on account of their Communist affiliation. Nevertheless, 
in 1949 there were about 300 Jewish civil servants and public 
employees among the 3,400 taxpayers of the Community (exclud- 
ing about 150 in the service of the Jewish Community itself) ; 140 
physicians and dentists (formerly approximately 3,000), and 85 
lawyers (formerly about 1,600). 

In this connection, a word about Jewish students at Austrian 
institutions of higher learning may be in place. Prior to the 
Anschluss, these schools, in spite of violent anti-Semitism and 
other difficulties, attracted a considerable number of Jews, both 
from Austria and from abroad, those in Vienna alone being esti- 
mated at about 7,000. A detailed study, issued at the end of 1953, 
shows that the Jewish postwar generation is represented by only 
228 (266 in 1949) , of whom 89 were Austrian citizens, while of 
the remainder half were Israelis and half displaced persons. 
Nearly 200 studied in Vienna, 21 in Graz, 9 in Innsbruck. A hun- 
dred and two had to work in order to continue their studies, 
while 60 received grants from the Jewish Community or from 
the Joint. Among these students there were only 18 freshmen, 
while 80 were seniors. Nearly all of them desired to leave Austria 
after graduation and this trend was clearly reflected in the 
choice of their careers (medicine, technology, and natural science 
accounting for 162, with only two law students) . 


The law regulating the status of the Jewish Communities, 
promulgated in 1890, is still in force; it recognizes only the local 
Community as an institution of public law and does not grant 


the same right to regional or state-wide Federations of Com- 
munities, which are regarded as private and voluntary organiza- 
tions. On the other hand, the communal by-laws were always 
very broadly interpreted and this enabled the Communities to 
embark on extensive cultural, social, and charitable activities. 
After the recent war the Vienna Kultusgemeinde in particular 
played a decisive role in the distribution of food and of 
assistance in cash, as well as in the general rehabilitation of 
the Jews. 

Following the liberation, Communists, who previously had 
never been represented on it, dominated the Community Board 
in Vienna, but had to yield the guiding influence to a group 
which maintains the closest ties with the general Austrian So- 
cialist Party. Vienna, from which HerzTs call went out to the 
Jewish people, is one of the very few Jewish settlements where > 
in spite of the establishment of the State of Israel, Zionism 
has suffered a marked setback since the war. At the time of 
the Anschluss Zionists formed the strongest group within the 
Board and provided the President from their ranks. Now, since 
the Community elections of November 27, 1955, they hold only 
five out of 24 seats, while 13 seats are held by Socialists, 3 by 
Communists, and 3 by representatives of Orthodox Jewry. The 
disappearance of the autochthonous and wealthy element among 
Viennese Jews is reflected by the complete elimination of assimi- 
lationist liberalism from the Jewish political scene. 

Interest in Community affairs is by no means weak, as may 
be demonstrated by the eager participation in communal elections. 
Thus, 65 per cent of the voters went to the polls in 1946, 66^ 
per cent in 1955, whereas only 50 per cent had cast their votes 
in 1932. Jewish public meetings are, as a rule, extremely well 
attended and capacity audiences of several thousands fill Vienna's 
largest halls on such occasions. 

Zionist activities were resumed immediately after liberation, 
with 50 persons in attendance at the first meeting held in 
August, 1945. The Jewish sport club Hakoah was reconstituted 
even earlier (July, 1945). Today representative groups of all 


Zionist parties participate in Zionist life, with Mapai and the 
General Zionists attracting the majority of adherents. They 
are supported by a Zionist students' association and by a branch 
of WIZO. Several Jewish periodicals, mostly Zionist, are devoted 
to the enlightenment of the Jewish public and championing of 
Jewish rights and interests. 


The last decade, with the Austrians still deeply shaken by 
their experiences during the period of total war and the collapse 
of the Nazi regime, and with the presence of the occupying 
powers, witnessed relatively few instances of openly anti- 
Jewish outbreaks, although latent anti-Semitism could be 
clearly felt in everyday life and in the practice of restitution 
and rehabilitation. Justified complaints were lodged concerning 
discrimination, at first in the distribution of food, later on 
in the granting of business licenses, and especially in the 
allocation of apartments. In Salzburg, a showing of a film, 
produced by the notorious Veit Harlan, resulted in clashes 
between Nazi-minded demonstrators and Jewish displaced per- 
sons. In several cases Austrian police were blamed for searches 
and arrests of an anti-Jewish character. Organizations in 
Western Austria tried to re-introduce the "Aryan paragraph" 
in their by-laws albeit for purely demonstrative purposes only. 
International interest was focused on the fight against the 
continued circulation of an ancient ritual murder legend by 
Catholic circles in Tyrol. 


The decimation of the Jewish population through Nazi 
persecution can be judged by the fact that Vienna's Jewish 
Community, though reduced to a small percentage, but with 
a membership fluctuating around 10,000, still belongs to a group 
of fewer than a dozen Jewish settlements (among several hun- 


dreds) which, this side of the Iron Curtain, and apart from 
.London and Paris, form the largest local concentrations of 
European Jewry today. 

In spite of the presence of a sizable group of overage people, 
new life is stirring and the establishment of sound economic 
foundations progressing. Viewed in the light of Jewish life in 
pre-war Austria the only acceptable basis of comparison the 
cohesion of the Jewish group and its participation in Jewish 
affairs may be viewed in a more favorable light than is frequently 

The recently signed treaty restoring to the country its 
complete independence and assuring its future neutral status, 
will afford many economic and cultural opportunities and may 
well contribute to an increase of the Jewish population through 
returnees from abroad. It is possible that Austrian Jewry, at 
least temporarily (the returnees will mostly belong to the higher 
age brackets), may again reach or even surpass the 12,000 mark. 
On the other hand, the end of Allied occupation in Western 
Austria may result in the migration of the few Jews there either 
to Vienna or to foreign destinations. 




The entire territory of present-day Greece was originally 
part of the Ottoman Empire. Until Greece proper gained her 
independance in 1821, an Imperial Firman prohibited the esta- 
blishment of "strangers" (i.e., members of minorities groups) 
in Athens, although small Jewish groups had lived in the Pelepon- 
nesian peninsula since time immemorial. Salonika, on the other 
hand, flourishing under Ottoman rule as one of the Empire's 
most thriving centers of commerce and shipping, harbored an 
important Jewish community, composed of Sephardic refugees 
from Spanish oppression. Ceded to the kingdom of Greece as 
late as 1913 (in the Treaty of London, ending the First Balkan 
War), Salonika became the Jewish capital of Greece. To be sure, 
its Jewish population decreased substantially: in 1905, Jews formed 
the majority of Salonika's inhabitants (75,000 out of a total of 
120,000), while at the beginning of the Second World War only 
56,000 Jews dwelled among a quarter of a million. Jewish 
Salonika's most characteristic feature was the connection of a 
sizable group of its members with the maritime trades; the city 
was well-known for its Jewish sailors, lightermen, harbor workers 
and shipwrights. The city retained its position as the foremost 
Sephardic settlement in Europe. 

Salonika's Jews worshiped in forty synagogues, named after 
famous extinct Jewish communities of Spain. Two dailies in 
Ladino served the interests of the community. Until 1928, Athens 
by comparison played a minor role on the economic scene and 



its attractive power for Jewish settlement was accordingly less 
significant. Then, however, growing industrialization created 
new opportunities; thus, 4,000 Jews already lived in the capital 
in 1939. Altogether, 24 Jewish communities with a combined 
membership of approximately 75,000 80,000 existed in pre-war 
Greece, of which Corfu, Kavalla, and Komotine had 5,000 mem- 
bers each. 


When, in October, 1940, Mussolini's armies marched into 
Greece, they met with successful resistance. Greek Jewry's 
patriotic efforts were considerable. Three thousand three hundred 
Jews joined the armed forces, of whom 35 were killed; the com- 
munity of Salonika, though faced with a critical economic situa- 
tion, contributed important sums. A Jewish army officer, Col. 
Mordecai Freigy (Fritzis) commanded one of the Salonika regi- 
ments and died a hero's death in action. One of the captured 
Albanian towns was renamed in his honor and his deeds were 
celebrated wherever Jews still lived under freedom. 

In May, 1941, however, the Nazi juggernaut rolled into Greece 
and quickly put an end to Greek independence. Salonika and the 
North became a German, and Athens and the Peloponnesian 
peninsula an Italian, zone of occupation, while other areas went 
to Bulgaria. This partition of Greece created quite different 
situations for the Jewish population in the territories concerned. 

(1) German and Bulgarian Zones of Occupation. The 
German invasion did not bring any immediate measures 
of discrimination against the Jews; they suffered, however, to- 
gether with the others, from the famine in the winter of 1941-1942. 
In July, 1942, 2,000 young Jews from Salonika were sent to 
labor camps on Greek territory, under conditions which prompted 
the Jewish Community to sign an agreement with the Germans 
which was ta liberate these slave workers against payment of the 
substantial amount of three billion drachmas (then equivalent 
to about 120,000 pounds). It is hardly necessary to add that the 


Germans took the money, but never adhered to the terms of the 
agreement. They also destroyed the ancient Jewish cemetery 
of Salonika. In February, 1943, the ominous registration of all 
Jewish inhabitants was ordered and complied with and, subse- 
quently, the wearing of the "Jew Star" was made obligatory 
and the Jews herded into three ghetto zones which, after 
the middle of March, they were forbidden to leave. 
Deportations to "unknown destinations" in the dreaded sealed 
trains started on March 14, 1943. They continued until the 
middle of May. During this time, 46,000 Jews from Salonika and 
10,000 from Macedonia were carried off. In those parts of the 
country which the Nazis had given to their Bulgarian allies, the 
Bulgarian authorities very considerate as far as the Jews of 
their own country were concerned cooperated wholeheartedly 
with the Nazi overlords. 

A sizable number of the younger Jewish generation, among 
them many longshoremen from Salonika, succeeded in joining 
the guerrilla forces in the mountainous parts of the country. 
Altogether, about 1,0001,200 Jews fought in the ranks of these 
partisans whose activities, by the way, were clandestinely directed 
for two years since 1942, by a Jewish officer of the British army, 
Brig, (then Col.) C. W. Myers. Additional Jews found refuge 
in guerrilla-controlled areas, where schools for Jewish children 
reportedly existed in the mountains, as well as a Zionist weekly. 
The guerrillas were credited with smuggling many Jews out 
of the country who escaped to Palestine, among them 900 
Thracian Jews who first fled to Turkey. 

(2) Italian Zone of Occupation. TOtoen, on March 1, 
1941, the first Nazi troops arrived at the Greek-Bulgarian 
border, about 5,000 Jewish refugees from the North fled to 
Athens. Another wave of approximately the same size fol- 
lowed at the beginning of 1943, of whom the majority found 
shelter in the capital while the remainder scattered through. 
Attica. The Italians manifested in their zone of occupation the 
same humaife attitude which did them honor also in France and 
Yugoslavia. They protected the Jews in every possible way. The 


Greek population in the old kingdom cooperated wholeheartedly 
in these efforts, encouraged by repeated appeals by their spiritual 
leader, Archbishop Theophil Damaskinos (later on, after liber- 
ation, Regent of Greece) . However, after the collapse of Mussolini's 
regime, the Germans took over in Central and Southern Greece, 
too (September, 1943), and already on October 10, a general 
registration of the Jewish population was ordered. Only 350 
complied; many others destroyed any means of identification, 
assumed Greek names, and, aided by the Greeks, went into 
hiding. However, living conditions under the occupation were 
so poor, that in Athens 250 Jews, mostly women and children, 
died of hunger. 

The Germans did not molest the Jews in Athens and Attica 
until March 24, 1944, when all known Greek Jews (1,400) were 
suddenly arrested and subsequently deported. Six hundred man- 
aged to escape. Next day all Jewish citizens of neutral states 
(Turkey, Spain) were arrested. The Turkish Jews were repatriated, 
while about 300, claiming Spanish nationality, were transferred 
to Spain after having spent several months in a concentration 
camp in Hanover, Germany. 

Reports on the fate of the deported Greek Jews which were 
pieced together after liberation revealed the following appalling 
picture: of 48,000 sent to the Oswiecim death camp in 1943, 
45,000 were exterminated on the spot. One thousand were removed 
from Oswiecim to Warsaw in March, 1944, of whom 300 400 were 
later transferred to Dachau. One hundred were sent to Melk 
on the Danube in Lower Austria, of whom 65 were found in a 
pitiful state at the end of the war at Ebensee in Upper Austria, 
in a branch camp of Mauthausen. Two hundred came from 
Oswiecim directly to Mauthausen and, later on, also to Ebensee, 
of whom only 3 survived. 


"The death rate in Athens alone,*' wrote Spyros P. Skouras 
in his capacity as chairman of a Greek Relief Committee in the 
United States in November, 1944, "was as high as 500 persons 


in a day , . . over 2 million persons . . . remain stricken with 
malaria and tuberculosis because of the lack of food and cloth- 
ing." The value of Greek currency had dwindled to an exchange 
rate of 150 million drachmas for one U.S. dollar. Simultaneously, 
the country, just liberated from the yoke of the Nazi invader, 
was torn by civil war between conservative and Communist 
elements of the population. Of the remnant of Greek Jewry who 
had escaped deportation and now emerged from hiding, no 
fewer than 1,250 families were in a precarious state without 
shelter, clothing, or food. [With all Jewish property spoliated, 
the immediate tasks of the first stage of rehabilitation seemed 
to pose insoluble problems, which were further aggravated by 
the arrival of young Jewish guerrillas who had been granted 
leave of absence in order to enable them to look for their 


It is thus thoroughly understandable that under these con- 
ditions utterly conflicting reports as to the number of Jewish 
survivors filled the pages of Jewish newspapers for a period 
of more than a year. Estimates for the whole country fluctuated 
between 5,000 and 18,000; for Salonika, between 500 and 5,000; 
for Athens, between 200 and several thousands. 

A series of circumstances caused this confusing uncertainty: 
the return from hiding was slow and gradual, reports from the 
mountainous districts on the mainland and from the Greek 
islands being difficult to assemble; while 2,000 actually came 
home from deportation, many more were originally expected to 
survive on the basis of shortlived unfounded rumors (for example, 
it was believed for some time that in Holland and Germany a 
sizable number of Greek Jews had been found) ; civil war pre- 
vented free intercourse between the areas held by the opposing 
forces; the Jews had purposely destroyed their identification 
papers during the Nazi invasion; finally, large-scale displace- 
ments and migrations within the country had taken place. Thus, 


in June, 1945, Athens numbered among its Jewish inhabitants 
only 1,500 former residents; 1,500 were from Salonika, 500 from 
Epirus, and 500 from other provincial towns. 

In July, 1945, Babbi Elie Barzilai estimated that Salonika 
contained only 800 1,000 Jews; Volos, 1,000; Larissa, 850; 
Castoria-Florina, 300 400; Corfu only 80, and Janina 40 50. In 
February, 1946, the Central Board of the Jewish Communities 
of Greece finally issued an official report on the losses suffered 
by Greek Jewry and the surviving remnant. These figures were 
called "definitive," as repatriation had by now to be regarded as 
finished. Losses of the individual communities amounted in 
certain cases to 99 per cent (Xantie in Thrace) ; Salonika had only 
about four per cent of its former Jewish population (this decline 
partly caused by migration to Athens, etc.), harboring 1,950; 
Athens Jewish community, though numerically stronger than 
in pre-war days (4,950), was virtually the reception center for 
uprooted people from all over the country; in Corfu, 185 were 
to be found. Altogether, 87 per cent of the Greek Jews had 
perished and only 10,026 survived. Amidst this disaster one 
astonishing miracle had occurred: for reasons unknown, the 
275 Jews on the island of Zante had escaped persecution; not 
a single person was missing. 

The particular circumstances prevailing in Greece had 
favored the survival of men; 65 per cent of the survivors were 
males, only 35 per cent females. One thousand and five hundred 
children were found alive, among them many orphans and 
half-orphans (3801,000) . Three hundred of the children were ill. 


The political unrest in Greece during the first years after 
liberation, repeated changes in the governmental setup, and a 
protracted economic crisis added serious difficulties to the already 
difficult task of rehabilitating the Jewish population. As a specific 
feature of the Greek scene, the tortuous way in which pertinent 
legislative measures were treated, cannot be ignored. 


(1) Restoration of Rights. This first became evident in 
the field of restoration of Jewish rights. Though it was 
announced as early as October, 1944, that "the first act of 
the Government" would consist in the abolishment of the 
anti-Jewish laws, the Regent Archbishop Damaskinos (the 
benefactor of Greek Jewry during the occupation) together 
with the then Prime Minister Gen. Plastiros pledged equal rights 
for Jews in the following January. However, when the Regent 
received a delegation from the Jewish Community of Salonika 
on February 28, 1945, he promised again the abrogation of the 
Nazi racial legislation. At the end of March, 1945, this basic 
step was taken, as all Jewish Reserve Officers were recalled to 
duty by the Ministery of War. 

(2) Rehabilitation Proper (Relief). Beset with urgent 
troubles, the Government treated even the repatriation of 
the Jewish deportees in a dilatory way. Social Welfare 
Minister Petres Levantis promised in March, 1945, the facilita- 
tion of their return, but in July of the same year Deputy 
Prime Minister Kyriakos Varvaressos declared in connection with 
the issue of repatriation: "In this country the problems of 
Jews and Christians are similar, so we plan no special treatment 
for Jews." 

Under these conditions it was already considered a most 
encouraging sign of governmental benevolence when the Governor 
General of Macedonia declared that rent would be paid for 
occupied (Jewish) community buildings in Salonika and that 
these amounts could be used for relief purposes. Thus, in the 
first period after liberation (1944-1950), Greek Jewry was com- 
pletely unable to help itself and Jewish organizations from abroad 
(mainly the Joint, the British Relief Unit, the Jewish Agency, 
and the Red Mogen Dovid) had to shoulder the heavy burden 
of rehabilitation. A Central Relief Committee was founded with 
the assistance of the Joint. An orphanage and homes for girls, 
convalescents and the aged were established, a Tuberculosis 
Association founded, and the Jewish Hospital in Salonika re- 
opened. In February, 1949, the first ORT vocational and technical 


training school in Greece started its activities. By December 1 
of that year, the Joint assumed sole responsibility for relief and 
welfare programs in Greece, to be administered by the Central 
Board of Jewish Communities. The Joint also granted 
loans for . the reestablishment of Jews in the economic 
field. In 1950, after a settlement concerning Jewish heir- 
less property had been reached with the Greek Government, 
a Foundation for Relief and Rehabilitation of Greek Jews began 
gradually to assist the Jewish communities which, until that time, 
had completely depended upon foreign aid. As a result of these 
encouraging changes, the Joint was able to end its operations in 
Greece in August, 1950, after the successful rehabilitation of 
the Greek Jews. 

The process of recovery had been slow and painful. A report 
of September, 1946, described 40 per cent of the Jewish population 
(mostly women, children, and sick people) as "absolutely needy," 
another 40 per cent (mostly remnants of the former middle class) 
as earning less than their food expenses, 15 per cent as able to 
pay for their daily food and thus partly rehabilitated, and only 
5 per cent as economically self-sufficient. A survey, published in 
August, 1947, gave the following picture of the economic structure 
of Greek Jewry: 500 merchants, 260 small tradesmen, 240 peddlers, 
320 workers, 576 white collar workers, 10 farmers, 54 civil servants, 
40 physicians and dentists, 12 lawyers, 24 engineers, 10 agrono- 
mists. At the end of 1949, substantial improvement of the eco- 
nomic situation was reported, which, however, was obviously re- 
stricted to -certain strata of .the Jewish population. As late as 
June, 1954, the Central Board pointed out that a great number of 
the survivors continued to live on a "subhuman level," with, 
families of 8-9 members crowded into one room and with a 
monthly subsidy of 2-3 U.S. -dollars. 

It should also be mentioned that the process of rehabilitation 
was locally slowed down or interrupted through a series of 
earthquakes which ravaged the country in 1953 (Zakynthos in 
the Ionian Islands), 1954 (Karditsa, Trikala, Volos), and 1955 
(Volos). Some Jews were killed, more were injured, and many 


made homeless. These disasters -compelled many of the victims 
who otherwise would have stayed, to apply for immigration visas. 

(3) Resumption of Jewish Lif&r-Zn October, 1944, the 
first religious services were held in the hastily reconsecrated 
synagogue of Athens. On the first day after the German 
evacuation, about 200 Jews warily made their way to the 
synagogue premises, followed by others from, the city and 
its surroundings. This large synagogue, built in 1938 and restored 
to its former splendor, was described by an American visitor 
in 1953 as "magnificent," though at that time only 50 persons 
attended Sabbath services. In 1951, Salonika, once the city of 
forty synagogues, had only one chapel. There was a serious lack 
of spiritual leaders, though Rabbi Abraham Schreiber (Sofer) 
of Jerusalem had accepted a call as Chief Rabbi of Greece as 
far back as October, 1947. He visited the provinces and reported 
that in Patras he found the Talmud Torah re-organized and in- 
struction given five hours a week, but there was no professional 
teacher nor shocTiet there. The miraculously saved community of 
the Island of Zante still observed! strictly all religious precepts and 
practices, and, owing to the lack of a shochet, abstained from 
eating meat. In Corfu only one (of formerly four) synagogues the 
most ancient had survived but was threatened with demolition 
in the course of the rebuilding of the town. A chazan, shochet 
and: mohel were functioning there and the Talmud Torah (with a 
woman teacher) was open. 

In 1946, two Jewish schools existed (one each in Athens 
and Larissa) with Greek and Hebrew as languages of instruction; 
they were attended by 50 60 pupils but their number was 
gradually decreasing. The total number of Jewish children of 
school age at the time was estimated at about 1,000, and 100 Jews 
attended institutions of higher learning. Athens had a Jewish 
weekly, Salonika a bi-weekly, both printed in Greek, as all Hebrew 
printing plants had been destroyed and not a single Jewish 
printer was alive. In 1947, it was reported that only few inter- 
marriages took place and that, in such cases, conversion to 
Judaism by the non-Jewish spouse was not uncommon. Seven 


years later (1954), however, intermarriage already played a far 
greater role and assimilation was, in general, on the increase. 
Lack of rabbis resulted in a general apathy to religious affairs. 
Provincial Jews, in order to attend High Holiday services, had 
to travel to the few large communities. In Salonika, this situation 
was described as "almost catastrophic," there being no rabbis, 
no kashrut, no Sabbath or holiday services in the former capital 
of Greek Jewry. The most outstanding communal building, the 
Baron de Htrsch Hospital, was requisitioned by the Government 
after its evacuation by British troops in the summer of 1950. 
Protracted and difficult negotiations about its sale commenced 
which were concluded at the beginning of 1951, with the Govern- 
ment paying the sum of $215,000 for its acquisition. 

Fifteen tons of Jewish archives and publications, carried 
away by the Germans, were returned in the summer of 1947. 

The traditional way of life was severely threatened by the 
introduction of a new Civil Code which abolished the Beth Din 
amid Jewish protests. 

Nearly all Greek Jews were Sephardim, with the exception 
of about 100 Ashkenazim. 

When still in exile in Cairo (December, 1944), the Greek 
Government had issued a decree for the restoration of the Jewish 
Communities of Athens and Salonika. More extensive and de- 
tailed regulations on community organization were laid down 
in Law #367, promulgated on June 7, 1945, which distinguished 
between "completely" and "partially" re-organized Communities 
with different forms of provisional administration and a different 
scope of authorization. A provisional Central Council of Jewish 
Communities was also set up whose tasks were defined as the 
coordination of communal efforts in the field of economic and 
cultural rehabilitation of their members, representation of Greek 
Jewry before authorities and world Jewish organizations, and 
the distribution of foreign relief contributions. Communities with 
fewer than 20 families were regarded as "inactive." The law 
was only provisional, which later prompted Greek Jewry to 
demand its replacement by definitive regulations. By June, 1945, 


eiglit Communities were in different stages of reorganization; 
by November, 1946, twelve. By'December, 1947, five were completely 
reorganized, eleven partially, and nine remained inactive. Finally, 
in April 1950, a Central Board could be duly elected by a 
Consultative Assembly of Representatives of the Jewish Com- 
munities of Greece. In October, 1951, the Central Board requested 
the promulgation of laws which would ratify the status of the 
Communities and recognize the Board as the representative 
body of Greek Jewry. Under postwar conditions the capital had 
emerged as the main stronghold of Judaism in the country. 
At the first communal elections in Athens (1946), the Jewish 
party of "Vitalists" won a majority of the seats (29 out of 50) 
and the Community's Administrative Board was composed ex- 
clusively of "Vitalists." This situation remained practically un- 
changed when the Jews of Athens again went to the -polls in 
1950: 28 Vitalists, 14 Zionists, and 8 representatives of the Jewish 
Rehabilitation Party were elected. 

(4) Restitution of Property. The destruction of all evi- 
dence of their identity and the assumption of non-Jewish 
names during the period of Nazi persecution provided ad- 
ditional obstacles to the restitution of property. * With the 
exception of real estate, little prospect of property being 
returned was held out at the end of 1944. The loss of assets, 
both individual and communal, was considerable. In Salo- 
nika alone 2,500 private enterprises had been alienated. The 
pre-war value of buildings in the possession of Greek Jewish 
Communities was estimated at 400,000 gold pounds* To be sure, 
legislative acts in the field of restitution of property were not 
lacking and two laws (#44, October 26, 1944, and #337, May 20, 
1945) concerned the "Abolishment of Anti- Jewish Laws . . . 
and the Restitution of Jewish Assets." These were followed by 
another one (#808, December 31, 1945) with more detailed regula- 
tions. The Government, however, was reluctant to intervene 
with proper energy. Moshe Shertok (Sharett) said in April, 1945, 
that the Greeks "would look into the matter," and that the 
Greek expropriation laws were still in force in Salonika (where, 


in fact, they were abolished as late as June, 1945, seven months 
after this had been done in the old kingdom). A spokesman of 
the Government, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance, 
M. S. Pesmatjoglou, confirmed Mr. Shertok's statement and 
promised abrogation of the Nazi expropriation legislation after 
the end of the war in Europe, conditional upon the creation of 
an autonomous board for the administration of heirless Jewish 
property. After another pledge of full restitution had been made 
by the same high-ranking official, jointly with the Governor 
General of Macedonia, Pesmatjoglou told a representative of 
the American Join Distribution Committee that people in posses- 
sion of Jewish assets who were reluctant to return them to 
their rightful owners, would be prosecuted. However, in November, 
1946, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that "restitution 
had stopped completely in Greece." Of 200 applications made 
at the beginning of the year, only 50 had been approved owing 
to the pressure brought upon the Government by interested 
parties. In short, Greek restitution legislation remained for 
a painful period a dead letter, though it was, on paper, a model 
for other European countries. Eventually, however, the situation 

(5) Heirless Property. , It goes without saying that even 
more difficulties arose as to the ultimate disposal of heirless 
Jewish assets, though, already in August, 1945, the Government 
had decided to transfer such properties to a special organization 
for the rehabilitation of Greek Jewry. Indeed, on January 17, 
1946, the Regent ratified a law (#846, "On the Abolishment 
of the Right of Succession of the State regarding Jewish Heirless 
Property and on the Cession of Same to a Special Body for 
Relief and Rehabilitation of Jews in Greece Who are Survivors 
of Nazi Persecution") along these lines. It was duly promulgated on 
January 26, thus making Greece the first of all countries to do so. 
This legislative act was followed, on March 31, 1946, by a decree 
implementing Law #846. But all this remained on paper only, 
being presently repealed. The Minister of Justice in another 
cabinet, Hadjipanos, promised in November, 1946, that legisla- 


tion would again be introduced which would turn over the 
heirless property to a Committee of Nine, appointed by the Feder- 
ation of Jewish Communities. Nothing, however, happened and 
Finance Minister Helmis was reported, in May, 1947, as pro- 
crastinating. Simultaneously, the Government refused to trans- 
fer heirless assets to the Jews of Salonika. In October, 1947, the 
Central Board was appointed "administrator" of heirless pro- 
perty, but, a year later, it was reported that "representations 
have now been made on the question of the recent official pro- 
nouncement . . . contradicting legislation awarding to the 
surviving remnant the property of those Jews who had perished 
in the deportation." In January, 1949, the Government imposed 
a tax of 50 per cent on heirless property, leaving the valuation 
to the tax collectors, while the three-year old law was still not 
implemented. Two months later, the Government finally "agreed 
in principle" to implement the 1946 law and shortly afterwards 
it decided to establish "within the next two weeks" the ad- 
ministrating foundation. At the same time, the tax was reduced 
to 25 per cent. On March 27, King Paul signed the enabling 
decree which was published in the Official Gazette on April 4. 
The value of the property thus restored to Jewish ownership was 
variously estimated at between 2 and 5 million dollars. In accord- 
ance with the regulations of the law, an Executive Decree was 
issued on March 29, 1949, creating a "Foundation" as a Successor 
Organization. The decree stipulated that the seat of the new 
body was to be Athens and bestowed on it the status of a juridical 
person under the supervision of the Ministers of Finance and 
Cults and National Instruction. An Administrative Council of 
Nine was to be elected by the Assembly of Jewish Communities. 
The funds transferred to the Foundation were to be used for 
assistance to, and rehabilitation of, Jewish survivors of Nazi 
persecution who were settled permanently in Greece on Septem- 
ber 1, 1939 (commencement of the Second World War). 

In November, 1949, the First "Congress" of the Foundation 
was held and the Committee of Nine elected; by that time 
branch offices of the Foundation had already been established 


in Salonika, Larissa, and Kavalla, and all administrators and 
trustees of heirless property had been ordered to hand it over. 
At the same time, though little progress was reported, 1,400 
out of a total of 2,000 pieces of property had been regained in 
Salonika and, over a period of four months, an income of $5,000 
collected. In 1951, the annual income of the Foundation was 
estimated at 17,650 pounds, of which 60 per cent were spent for 
administrative purposes. In 1952, an agreement on the distribution 
of the assets was arrived at by Greek Jewry and world Jewish 
organizations, mediated by the World Jewish Congress. In 1954, 
Jewish sources in Greece maintained that not more than 
500,000 dollars could be realized over a period of 5-7 years, after 
"ratification" through a new law, from the sale of assets under 
Foundation control. Pertinent legislation was again delayed, 
as the Minister of Finance tried to introduce unfavorable amend- 
ments, particularly a provision preventing any use of Foundation 
income or assets for the rehabilitation of Greek Jews now living 
outside Greek territory. 

The Jews of Greece also claimed ownership of a gold 
treasure, valued at six million dollars, looted by the Germans and, 
later on, recovered by the Allies. The World Jewish Congress 
intervened in this matter with the U.S. Department of State and 
the Tri-Partite Corn-mission in Brussels, which has not yet 
handed down a decision. 

(6) Migration. It is understandable that uncter conditions 
prevailing in Greece, many of the surviving Jews tried to rebuild 
their shattered lives in other surroundings, notably, of course, 
in Israel. As early as July, 1945, the newly reorganized Zionist 
Organization of Greece asked for 600 Immigration certificates 
for destitute young girls and orphaned children. In June, 1949, 
Greek Jews of military age were permitted to go to Israel. This 
permission was later on made conditional upon renunciation 
of nationality and a declaration that the emigrants would never 
again return to Greece and take all the members of their families 
with them. Thereupon, many young men of military age left, 
particularly from Salonika. Between 1946 and May 15, 1948, 982 


Greek Jews migrated to Palestine, to which must be added 1,161 
who succeeded in reaching the Jewish Homeland during the 
war years (1939-1945). According to official Israel figures since 
the foundation of the Jewish State, 1,540 Jews from Greece arrived 
there between May 15, 1948, and the end of 1949; 343 more 
in 1950, 122 in 1951, 46 in 1952, and 71 in 1953. Altogether 2,309 
had come by the end of 1955. The total number of Greek Jews 
who have immigrated to Israel since the outbreak of the Second 
World War is thus about 4,300. Simultaneously, some of them 
applied for admission to other countries; it is significant that 
they made applications for immigration visas to the U.S. as 
"displaced persons." In September, 1953, after the new American 
immigration law had been adopted, the Joint reopened its emi- 
gration office in Athens. At that time, there were still 7,000 Jews 
in Greece and many of them had expressed a desire to go to 


During the first years after the German evacuation, the 
civil war in Greece and its aftermath markedly affected the 
process of rehabilitation. As mentioned above, a sizable number 
of Jews had found a refuge and opportunities for active co- 
operation among the guerrillas who, later on, went over to the 
Communist camp. Thus, Greek Jewry as a whole was condemned 
either as "EAM sympathizers or as ELAS conspirators." They 
were caught in the political cross fire between the two factions. 
This situation was still worsened by the penetration 1 of Nazi 
racial propaganda even into the very ranks of the partisans. 
In January, 1945, many Jews were still held in Greek jails and 
British concentration camps in Africa as ELAS partisans, later 
on to be deported to the Aegean Islands. It was only in August, 
1948, that the then Security Minister Constantine Rendis issued 
a special order clarifying the position of Jews who had served 
in ELAS units; he pointed out that they should not be classified 


as Communists since, during the Nazi invasion, they were 
compelled to flee to the hills. Individual persecutions, however, 
continued: in May, 1949, a Jew, Meir Itzhak Levy, was executed 
in Larissa, following condemnation by a military court for having 
been in contact with the guerrillas. Death sentences were also 
passed on two other Jews in Volos for the same reason, and 
one was immediately executed. In this trial, there were four 
Jews among 36 defendants. The other two Jews received life 
sentences. Later on, five Jews sentenced to death and 21 im- 
prisoned on an island, were released upon condition of leaving 
for Israel and renouncing their Greek citizenship. 

It is symptomatic of conditions during the civil war that 
in December, 1948, Jewish children were systematically evacuated 
from the strife-torn areas of the Fiorina and Patras districts in 
northern Greece as well as from Thessaly. The Joint agreed 
to maintain them at the Jewish orphanage in Athens. 

On the other hand, Greek Jews gradually resumed their 
interest in the national political scene. While, in 1947, a reliable 
Greek-Jewish source maintained that Jews were not yet inscribed 
as members of political parties (with the exception of a small 
number who adhered to the Communist movement) and that 
there were no Jewish political leaders anywhere, in the general 
elections of 1951 several Jews ran for public office, but were 
all defeated at the polls. In June, 1955, the Central Board of 
Jewish Communities unanimously adopted a motion supporting 
Enosis, the Cypriotes' movement for reunion with Greece. 


In spite of the unrest in the country, the civil war, periods of 
serious economic strain, and, as everywhere in formerly German- 
occupied areas, the impact of several years of Nazi propaganda, 
the Greek people refrained, as a rule, from indulging in anti- 
Jewish activities, which were confined to minor and local 

In February, 1945, clashes occured at the universities of 


Athens and Salonika between Christian and Jewish students. 
This was followed, in the summer of the same year, by terrorist 
acts against Salonika Jews, perpetrated by an anti-Semitic and 
Fascist group, Epsilon EpsUon, by a press campaign in the paper 
Parotino Ora ("Morning Hour") and by attacks by an anti-Semitic 
leader, Kosmotopoulos, who tried not without success to stir 
up hostility against the return of Jewish assets. It goes without 
saying that Jewish partisans were also made the object of press 
attacks, as, for example, in the newspaper ElHnkos Barras. It was 
also noted that the French Institute in Athens disseminated anti- 
Jewish propaganda during the Nazi occupation and continued 
these activities after liberation. 

A report of August, 1947, stated that feelings toward the 
Jews were indifferent in Athens, but hostile in Salonika and 
Janina, as a result of the restitution issue. No anti-Jewish dis- 
crimination was observed at that time in public educaton and in 
state-administered relief. On the other hand, not a single new 
appointment of a Jew to a civil service post had been made and 
there was a trend to oust the surviving Jewish officials, appointed 
before the war. Veiled hostility was ascribed to the lower echelons 
of the administration, while the higher civil servants remained 

In 1949, what still remained of the ancient Jewish cemetery 
in Salonika was to be leveled and the tombstones used for the 
repair of the city's sea wall. Anti-Semitic leaflets were distributed 
in the same locality by an "Orthodox Organization of Young 
Christians" (March, 1949). The Jewish Community sent a delega- 
tion to the Metropolite of Salonika who told the latter that 
the group was mythical and that the Church decidedly dissociated 
itself from this kind of propaganda. During the election campaign 
of 1951 the newspaper of the Greek Rally Party, led by Greece's 
strong man, Field Marshal Papagos, attacked the return of heir- 
less property to Jewish ownership in view of alleged pressure 
brought to bear on Greek occupants of buildings subject to 


Another issue arose over regulations governing election pro- 
cedures in Salonika, issued in 1946, under which the Jews had 
to cast their votes at special Jewish polling places. Thus, for all 
practical purposes, the constitutional guarantees for a secret 
vote were abolished for the Jews. Once again, Jewish protests 
met with procrastination. Though these regulations were re- 
ported as having been abrogated in January, 1950, they reappeared 
in the new electoral law, promulgated briefly afterwards. In 
March, the 600 Jewish voters of Salonika were assigned to three, 
instead of the former two, special Jewish polling places but finally 
this discriminatory measure was abolished. In 1947, the Exchange 
Commission of the Bank of Greece refused the issuance of foreign 
travel permits to Jewish citizens. 

The treatment of foreign Jews who happened to be on, or 
to pass through, Greek territory sometimes gave reason for 
justified complaints. Thus, in the fall of 1946, and on later 
occasions, leaders of the World Jewish Congress urged the then 
Prime Minister Tsaldaris to ensure safety for thousands of non- 
Greek Jews in Greece in transit to Palestine. The following year 
governmental regulations were issued prohibiting Jews of all 
nationalities passing through Greece to leave the port or airdrome 
between ships or planes. 



In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, according to the official 
census of 1931, there lived 76,000 Jews, of whom about 47,000 
were Ashkenazim and 29,000 Sephardta The first group, com- 
prising as it did about two-thirds of Yugoslav Jewry, was mainly 
concentrated in those parts of the country which, until 1918, 
had been under Hapsburg rule: Croatia, Slavonia, the Banat, 
and Voivodina. Sephardic traditions, on the other hand, charac- 
terized Jewish life in those areas which originally had belonged 
to the Ottoman Empire: Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Mace- 
donia. Zagreb in Croatia was then the largest Jewish community 
of the country (12,300 members), with Belgrade, capital of the 
old kingdom of Serbia and. of Yugoslavia (12,000 Jews) and 
Sarajevo in Bosnia (8,100) in the second and third places among 
117 Kehilloth. Ten years later, at the time of the German in- 
vasion (1941), the number of Yugoslav Jews approximated 76,000. 

Shortly after the foundation of the Yugoslav Kingdom 
(1918), a Jewish central body, the Council of Jewish Com- 
munities, was established in 1921 and recognized by the au- 
thorities as the official representative of both Jewish rites alike, 
with only a small strictly Orthodox group keeping aloof. 

In Serbia, fun equality had been granted to the Jews in the 
Constitution of January 2, 1889 (they numbered only about 
6,500 as late as 1905), while those who were then living in 
Austria or Hungary had seen all civil disabilities removed about 
twenty years earlier. 



The economic lot of the Yugoslav Jews in pre-war times 
far from uniform: in Serbia they belonged mostly to the 
ivell-to-do middle classes; those hi Croatia, Slavonia, and Voivo- 
dina were even further ahead and played an important part in 
commerce, industry, and the professions. These Jews were the 
most modern-minded in Yugoslavia and, accordingly, assimila- 
tion was even more advanced. In Bosnia, Jews were particularly 
active in the lumber industry, but otherwise middlemen and 
traders; in the Herzegovina, they were mostly artisans and in 
a lower economic position, while in Macedonia, poverty and 
lack of education prevailed among the Jews. 

In old Serbia anti-Semitism was practically unknown, but 
with the acquisition of Croatia (1918), anti- Jewish propaganda 
also made its appearance in Serbia. 


While the existing anti-Jewish feelings might have pro- 
vided some fertile soil for Nazi Germany's large-scale campaign 
against the Yugoslav Jews in the years following 1933, the 
paramount source of pressure came from the economic domina- 
tion of Yugoslavia by the Third Reich, through the absorption 
of over 50 per cent of Yugoslav exports of armaments and other 
essential goods, and the acquisition, after the seizure of Czecho- 
slovakia, of large Czech capital investments in Yugoslavia. 

As everywhere else, foreign Jews became the first victims 
of racial indoctrination; in Feboruary, 1940, some Jewish refu- 
gees on Yugoslav soil were arrested and interned in camps 
which the local Jewish organisation had to maintain. But the 
Jewish citizens of the country, too, were soon to be subjected to 
restrictions and persecutions. In the first extra-legal period 
(July-October, 1940) state and municipal contracts were with- 
held from Jewish businessmen, the tax system was operated to 
their detriment, and Jews in official positions (about 400) were 
quickly ousted. Finally, in October, 1940, a series of decrees 
were enacted which resulted in the introduction of a numerus 
clausus in all institutions of higher learning, the exclusion of 



Jews from the wholesale food trade (state trustees being ap- 
pointed for the administration) , and their exclusion from print- 
ing plants, publishing houses, newspapers, and book stores. 

These measures were strongly protested by a sizable ma- 
jority of the Serbs which included high-ranking governmental 
officials (also members of the Cabinet), leading personalities 
of the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, and intel- 
lectuals. The progress of the war, however, particularly the 
invasion of Greece, compelled Yugoslavia to take sides openly 
and on March 25, 1941, the country became a member of the 
Axis, which was immediately followed by mass arrests of poll- 
litical foes of Germany and of many Jews. But two days later, 
on March 27, the Yugoslav people rose in indignation against the 
alliance with Germany and Italy. An anti-Axis government was 
formed which immediately suppressed anti-Semitic newspapers 
and promised the abrogation of all anti-Jewish measures. Be- 
fore this could be implemented, however, the German jugger- 
naut rolled into Yugoslavia on April 6. The armed forces of 
the country bravely resisted the invader, but were quickly de- 
feated and capitulated on April 18. Strong forces of Yugoslav 
guerrillas, however, among them a sizable number of Jews 
(about 3,000), continued the fight until the hour of liberation 
struck four years later. Many of the Jewish fighters excelled 
in combat and 12 of them became "national heroes." 

The Germans ripped Yugoslavia asunder and partitioned 
its territory into seven distinct areas. Serbia was reorganized 
under a totalitarian puppet regime and, like part of the Banat, 
was German-occupied (these areas contained about twenty-five 
per cent of Yugoslav Jewry); the major part of Croatia to- 
gether with Bosnia and Herzegovina (with about thirty-five 
per cent of the total Jewish population) was made an "inde- 
pendent" state under the leadership of the local quisling Ante- 
Pavelic; another twenty per cent of Yugoslav Jewry, living 
in the Backa and Voivodina and in a part of the Banat, now 
found itself under Hungarian rule, while the remaining- 
twenty per cent in Macedonia fell to Bulgaria. The other three 


parts originally had very few, if any, Jews (Dalmatia, parts of 
Croatia and Slovenia annexed by Italy, parts of Slovenia in- 
corporated into Germany, and Montenegro) , but that allotted 
to Italy soon attracted Jewish infiltrees from Croatia and Serbia 
who sought refuge under the more humane Italian administra- 
tion. About 5,000 of them reportedly crossed the border with 
the passive or active assistance of Italian soldiers. 

Anti-Jewish persecution in the German-occupied parts 
started with mass killings and jailings in the Banat on April 
10, 1941, even before general anti- Jewish legislation was promul- 
gated. By August 20, all surviving Banat Jews, had been trans- 
ferred to Belgrade. In October, 4,000 Jews were murdered in 
Belgrade, 2^000 more in November, and others deported to 
Poland, leaving only a local Jewish population of 250. By the 
summer of 1942, none were left there, and in the fall the Jewish 
Section of the Gestapo was closed down as there were no Jews 
within its operating area. Before the killings and deportations, 
all Jews were subjected to compulsory labor service. Moreover, 
a collective fine of 10 million dinar (at that time equivalent to 
about $200,000), payable in two instalments on June 10 and 
20, was imposed on the Jews of Belgrade. In spite of all the 
propaganda of the enemy, however, the majority of the Serbs 
remained sympathetic to their Jewish fellow citizens; the in- 
vader found collaborators only among a small group of Ser- 
bian Fascists, as well as among Volksdeutsche and the Yugo- 
slav Moslems. 

Croatia, made an "independent" puppet state of the Axis 
on April 10, 1941, quickly became the graveyard of the local 
Jews. Under the ruthless leadership of Pavelic and his army 
chieftain "Marshal" Kvaternik -(both of whom had Jewish 
wives), racial laws were introduced on* April 30, with whole- 
sale confiscation of Jewish assets already in full swing. All Jews 
under 65 years were soon interned and large groups of them 
sent to isolated Dalmatian Islands to perish there in labor 
camps. The majority of the Croatian Jews were massacred on 
the spot, with deportations to foreign destinations playing only 


a minor role in the blueprint of destruction. The State Office 
dealing with the "solution of the Jewish question," was liqui- 
dated in February, 1942, only ten months after the invasion, 
for lack of work. In May of that year, there were still 6,000 
Jews in Croatia, all deprived of their citizenship; but in the 
spring of 1943, only a small portion remained there (1,000 in 
Zagreb, of whom 400 were then suddenly arrested and deported 
during one night) , 

In the Hungarian zone, expulsions, internments, and execu- 
tions began soon, but the situation in Serbia and Croatia had in 
the meantime deteriorated to such a degree that Jews from 
there infiltrated into Hungarian territory. Later on, however^ 
wholesale massacres commenced in Hungary, too, and finally 
all the Jews both natives and refugees were enmeshed in 
the general fate of provincial Hungarian Jewry. 

The Bulgars, decent in the treatment of their own Jews, 
started persecutions in newly-occupied Macedonia, under Ger- 
man pressure, in June, 1941, The Bulgarian Government was 
only a reluctant participant, but gave full freedom of action 
to a notorious bandit, Vancho Mihaloff, leader of the dreaded 
"Black Corps," who had returned from exile in Germany. A. 
number of Jews were exiled to the Bulgarian-held island of 
Thasos in the Aegean. In 1943, deportations to Poland com- 
menced which, by the end of May, had made Macedonia. 

As already noted, the Italian zone of annexation attracted 
Jewish refugees from oppression. Those who succeeded in cross- 
ing the border were well treated. Only those without any means 
and the politically suspect were interned, but under humane 
conditions and without being subjected to compulsory labor. 


(1) The First Period: After the Liberation. It is estimated 
that some 60,000 to 64,000 Yugoslav Jews (about 80 per cent of 
the total pre-war Jewish population) perished during the four- 


year period, 1941-1945. Nearly all of the 4,000 Jewish slave 
laborers, taken along by the Germans in their retreat, perished. 
Altogether, about 15,000 survived, 13,500 of them on Yugo- 
slav soil (nearly 9,000 in local concentration camps, and 2,500 
in the Italian-occupied parts of the country). One thousand 
five hundred had been fortunate enough to reach other havens 
of refuge. 

The survivors flocked to the major cities: shortly after 
liberation (the capital was freed on October 20, 1944, but the 
last enemy forces did not leave the country before the end of 
the European war in May, 1945) , 70 per cent were concentrated 
there, with Belgrade harboring 2,300 Jews, Zagreb 2,200, Sara- 
jevo 1,400, Subotica 1,200. Sephardim and Ashkenazim now formed 
about one-half of Yugoslav Jewry each. 

The Federation of Jewish Commanities and the Belgrade 
Jewish Community started immediately their activities in the 
fields of relief and culture. Fifty-six of the 117 pre-war Kehil- 
loth were reorganized; these now included not only Ashkenazim 
and Sephardim but Orthodox and Neolog Jews as well. 

The first contact with Jews abroad was established at the 
end of June, 1945, when a delegation of the Belgrade Com- 
munity arrived in Bucharest to secure relief from the American 
Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, This step was necessitated 
by the grievous plight of the survivors: all Yugoslav Jews were 
destitute; 500 people were sick, disabled, or old. With the assis- 
tance of foreign Jewish organizations, particularly the Joint, 
shelters were opened in some larger communities and particular 
care devoted to the children. The Yugoslav Government con- 
tributed about a quarter of a million dollars, and the Jews also 
benefited from UNRRA assistance, but all this proved insufficient. 

Immediately after the liberation of the capital, all anti- 
Jewish laws were abrogated by the Government headed by 
Marshal Tito. The new Constitution of 1945 guaranteed the 
absolute equality of all citizens. In the same year, legislation 
was promulgated which made incitement of racial and reft- 


gious hatred a crime, and war criminals were prosecuted and 
duly punished. 

Already on June 12, 1942, the Yugoslav government-in- 
exile had invalidated the transfer of Jewish property to public 
corporations which was taking place under the regime of the 
German occupant. 

In Belgrade after the liberation, the homes and some of 
the plundered possessions of Jews were soon restored. How- 
ever, owing to the general economic policies of the Government 
and the difficult material situation of the country after the 
establishment of a. Communist regime, restitution did not 
amount to much. It was restricted to Yugoslav residents. In 
Zagreb after the liberation, some of the Jews who had fled and 
whose enterprises, under forced management, had worked for 
the enemy, were even judged in absentia to have been collabora- 
tors and their assets were seized and nationalized. 

The Yugoslav Jews were very eager to reconstitute their 
lives and to participate in the reconstruction of the devastated 
country, where 10 per cent of the total population had perished. 
In this respect they enjoyed the support of the Government. 
But the far-reaching changes in the economic structure of the 
country made the task of their rehabilitation extremely difficult: 
foreign trade and domestic credit had been made State monopo- 
lies, free enterprise was gone, and the new State economy did 
not provide sufficient opportunities for the reintegration of the 
Jewish element, whose abilities had been developed under vastly 
different economic conditions. To a far greater extent than in 
any other liberated European country, therefore, the major 
role of the Yugoslav Jew shifted to the field of the professions, 
a trend which later developments accentuated. 

In view of this situation, and inspired by their ancient 
Jewish traditions, Yugoslav Jews turned their eyes toward the 
State of Israel, which finally came into being three years after 
the end of hostilities in Europe. 

(2) The Second Period: Migration. It was fortunate that 
about this time there occurred the historic split between the 


regimes of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Thus Yugoslavia 
was already pursuing her own course when Israel was estab- 
lished. Tito recognized Israel as early SLS May, 1948, and estab- 
lished diplomatic relations with her in July, 1949. In accordance 
with these enlightened policies, Yugoslav Jews did not meet 
with obstacles when they began to emigrate to the Jewish Home- 
land. In April, 1946, the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry 
on Problems of Jews in Europe and Palestine had been told 
as it had also been told in Bulgaria that the majority of the 
Jewish survivors wanted to stay in Yugoslavia and that only 
2,750 wished to go to Palestine (and 550 to other destinations) . 
However, after the establishment of Israel, the situation changed 
and in the space of one year from the end of 1948 to the end 
of 1949 the majority left the country for Israel. Four thousand 
and one hundred left in December, 1948, followed by 3,000 more 
in the ensuing summer. Altogether, 8,000 emigrated, including 
non-Jews married to Jews. 

The emigrants were permitted to take with them their per- 
sonal belongings, including jewelry, but houses and lands were 
taken over by the Government. The small Yugoslav Jewish 
community collected the sum of 4,500,000 dinar which was 
used for assistance to those who left and for the upbuilding of 
the Jewish State. In the intervening years, only 300 have re- 
turned from Israel with 100 more expected to follow. The emigra- 
tion of physicians was delayed because of the shortage of medi- 
cal personnel in Yugoslavia, but permitted later. Emigration to 
Israel continues to this day. 

(3) The Third Period: After the Exodus. -In a report to the 
World Jewish Congress, the Federation of Jewish Communi- 
ties in Yugoslavia stated in December, 1950, that only 6,244 
Jews were left in the country, 1,397 of them in Zagreb, 1,180 
in Belgrade, about 1,000 in Sarajevo, and about 400 in Subotica. 
The situation remained practically unchanged during the fol- 
lowing years though, after resumption of Israel-bound emi- 
gration in June, 1951, 750 left. 

In 1954 the total of 6,750 Jews was composed of 6,250 regis- 


tered with Jewish Communities and 500 who, while keeping 
aloof from the organizational point of view, nevertheless were 
reported as participating "in certain activities of the Communi- 

Only $5 Communities remained, the others having been 
liquidated after the exodus. Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sarajevo 
were the only ones with more than 1,000 members, 7 others 
had between 100 and 400, the rest only a few families each. 

The number of registered Jews within the Federal provinces 
of Yugoslavia was as follows: 

Serbia 2,675 

Croatia 2,050 





Total 6,250 

Only 45 per cent of the Yugoslav Jews were males. The 
birth rate was not unfavorable, with 719 children up to the age 
of 10 years, among them 591 up 'to the age of 7. There were 
765 pupils and students, 181 of them in elementary and 325 in 
secondary schools, 247 undergradimte and 12 postgraduate stu- 
dents at institutions of higher learning. However, as these young 
people were dispersed over the whole country, Jewish leaders 
were faced with the serious problem of how to impart the 
Jewish cultural heritage to the younger generation. This task 
is all the more difficult as Jewish life in Yugoslavia is assuming 
more and more secular aspects, with religious observance sharp- 
ly declining. In the capital, for instance, where a young rabbi 
officiates, half of the services are being held in accordance 
with the Sephardic rite and the other half in accordance with 
the Ashkenazic rite, and it is not always easy to gather a minyan* 

The Communities, now, of course, operating under the com- 
mon political ideology of the "National Front," concentrate on 


cultural and educational work, publishing regularly a well- 
edited Bulletin and books and arranging courses and festivals. 
Yugoslav Jewry maintains a choral society which during its 
tour of foreign countries has been warmly acclaimed by the 
critics. In the educational field progress has been made during 
the last years: there are now in Yugoslavia 4 Jewish kinder- 
gartens, 3 Jewish clubs for school children, 2 Jewish college 
student clubs, Jewish summer camps with educational programs. 

All organizational activities are hampered by the fact that 
there are, now only 6,500 Jews among a total population of 
about 17,000,000. On the other hand, Yugoslav Jewry maintains 
close contacts with Jewish organizations abroad, in particular 
with the World Jewish Congress and the American Joint Dis- 
tribution Committee, with former Yugoslav Jews now residing 
abroad, and with Israel, including trips of Yugoslav Jews to 
Israel and Israeli residents to Yugoslavia. 

Within the present small number of Jews in Yugoslavia, no 
less than five categories continue to exist: (1) Those who con- 
sider themselves ethnical Jews without being members of reli- 
gious Communities. (Jews in Yugoslavia may register in their 
documents as ethnical Jews who are recognized as one of the 
nationalities in the country; according to a definition by the 
foremost leader of contemporary Yugoslav Jewry, Professor A. 
Vajs, the Jews of the country are "an ethnical, religious group 
with special needs, a special form of life, and special tradi- 
tions/') (2) Others who regard themselves as both ethnical 
Jews and members of a religious group. (3) Another category 
consists of adherents to the Jewish (or "Mosaic") religion who 
consider themselves ethnically Serbs, Croats, etc. (4) Those of 
Jewish origin who are affiliated neither with an ethnical nor a 
religious group. Finally, (5) some survivors of Jewish origin 
who do not maintain any contact with Yugoslav Jewry but are, 
nevertheless, included in the statistical surveys. Baptism does 
not play any role in present-day Yugoslavia. 

The general condition affecting the existence of Jews in 
Yugoslavia are satisfactory in every respect and there appear 


to be no problems with, regard to the relations with the authori- 
ties and the general public. 

The period since 1952 has witnessed important internal 
reforms, in the main a discontinuance of forced collectivization 
and a decentralization of the economic administration. The 
standard of living has greatly improved and the stability of 
the regime contributes greatly to this satisfactory state of 

Anti-Semitism does not come to the fore though, some anti- 
Jewish prejudices linger on among some uneducated strata of 
the population. The general atmosphere prevailing in the coun- 
try and the progress of education are regarded as guarantees 
against any relapse. There have been no purges affecting Jews 
in public office, where they are well represented. The Vice-Presi- 
dent of the Yugoslav Federal Republic (Moshe Pi jade) is Jewish* 
as are one deputy minister in the Federal Government and 
another in the Provincial Government of Serbia. One Jew sits 
in the Chamber of Deputies (for Sarajevo). The list of Jewish 
career officers in the army is headed by two generals (in addi- 
tion to three military surgeons with the rank of general), and 
there are Jews in the Yugoslav diplomatic service. 

The outstanding characteristic of Yugoslav Jewry is its 
concentration in the field of the professions and kindred voca- 
tions. According to "a survey, made early in 1953, no fewer than 
1,606 earn their livelihood and contribute to the upbuilding of 
the country in this decisive sector. They form no less than 68 
per cent of the Jews who are gainfully employed or economically 

Their vocational distribution is as follows: 

Officials in various branches of the civil service . 875 
Physicians (including those in the Army Medical 

Corps, three with rank of general) 221 

Pharmacists 41 

Veterinarians 21 

Engineers (graduates of universities), architects, 

etc.) 82 

"Technicians" (in factories, etc.) 46 


Professors at universities and secondary schools 54 

Other teatchers and intstructors 48 

Lawyers 27 

Members of other legal prof essians 33 

Judges 12 

Newspapermen and publicists 31 

Plawrights, free lance writers, artists, etc. ... 33 

Agronomists 4 

Army officers (exclusive of physicians) .... 73 

Non-commissioned officers 5 

Total 1,606 

In other economic fields, however, the Jews were represented, 
in 1954, by only 755 persons (about 32 per cent) , namely: 

Employed in or connected with the economy of 

the country 247 

Craftsmen and mechanics 231 

Miscellaneous vocations 277 

Total 735 

The Yugoslav Jws of today are thus mostly intellectuals 
and government officials and this extraordinary vocational pic- 
tureto which the negative attitude of the authorities toward 
their emigration has been, of course, a main contributing factor 
is of particular significance and assigns to this small Jewish 
community a specific role of its own. 






In the 193Q's, about 250,000 Jews lived in France, some 70 
per cent of them in Paris. Their numbers were considerably in- 
creased through the admission, after 1933, of about 50,000 Jews 
from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia; another 25,000 
came from Belgium and Holland after these countries were 
invaded by the Germans in 1940. Thus in June, 1940, about 
320,000 Jews are estimated to have been in France. 

The situation of French Jewry in 1939 was marked by a 
quite considerable depression. After the Munich Agreement, anti- 
Semitism made enormous inroads and in Jewish circles of 
Paris there was open talk of an imminent "counter-emancipa- 
tion." The situation of numerous Jewish refugees from Germany 
was particularly tragic. As the danger of war drew nearer, a 
double hostility toward these Jews manifested itself, first as 
Jewish "war mongers," and second, as Germans considered 
potential enemies, although they themselves were victims of 
German persecution. 

The internment of German Jews, during the mobilization, in 
concentration camps as "enemy subjects" ordered by the Jewish 
Minister, Georges Mandel, remains one of the shameful episodes 
of that disgraceful era. 

At the approach of peril, a fraction of native-born French 
Jews stiffened again into an attitude of disdain toward the 
mass of Jewish immigrants. They blamed these immigrants for 
all the evil, with a lack of logic and a paranoic psychosis charac- 



teristic of the anti-Semitism which these so-called privileged 
Jews manifested inside the Jewish community. The already 
extremely anti-Zionist trend rose to new heights, the Zionsts 
being accused by certain assimilated Jews of being enemies of 
England, from which salvation was expected to come. 

This uneasiness and pessimism notwithstanding, the num- 
ber of foreign Jews who joined the French army was enormous, 
even larger than in 1914. In the recruiting offices for volunteers, 
one could see hundreds of foreign Jewish -expellees, with the 
notices of expulsion in their hand, asking to be sent to military 
training camps and to the front. At the same time, the walls 
of Paris and of some large provincial cities were plastered with 
murderous anti-Jewish slogans. By that time, the "Fifth 
Column" had already been mobilized. 

With the collapse of France, a mass movement began, in 
the main from Paris and other German-occupied areas to the 
unoccupied zone. At the same time, considerable emigration took 
place, involving about 30,000 persons. Soon incarcerations and 
deportations to the East began: approximately 120,000 Jews 
were deported (of whom only about 5,000 returned after the end 
of the war). Thousands of others went into hiding or joined 
the Resistance movement. Spoliation of the total Jewish popula- 
tion was almost complete. Jewish life, at the end of the war, 
was completely disorganized and practically non-existent. 


Never before did the Yiddish proverb, Azoi vi e$ christelt 
sich, asoi yiddelt es sich ("As with Christians, so with Jews") , 
find fuller corroboration than in the present physiognomy and 
modus Vivendi of the Jews of France, both the native-born and 
the immigrants. For some years now, ever since the illusions 
were dispelled and the aspiration for a vita nuova (new life) 
was destroyed, after the shattering experience of the German 
Occupation, of the Underground, of the armed Resistance, 
French society has tended to return to the statu quo ante of 


the days before 1940, that is, generally speaking, to the system 
of compromise, of letting matters drift at a time when the 
world immediately after the war yearned to be one of firmness 
and determination. 

The Jewish community offers in many respects a sufficiently 
exact replica of this state of mind. Apart from the special situa- 
tion of the bulk of North African Jews in the metropolis, which 
is the very trying one of a sub-proletariat of unskilled workers, 
the material lot of the majority of Jews of France who sur- 
vived the storm is relatively good, and there remain only resi- 
dual traces of the distress which prevailed immediately after 
the war, with, it is true, rather numerous "relief cases," princip- 
ally of children and adolescents whose parents perished in the 
Nazi extermination camps. As for the immigrant Jews, their 
status is generally better than in the interval between the two 
World Wars, an improvement due above all to the almost total 
disappearance of the "illegalism" formerly rampant among 
them (in Paris alone, before the war, there were thousands of 
alien Jews without a residence or work permit and, on that 
account, liable to be arrested and expelled) with its inevitable 
consequences of unemployment or sweatshop labor evading all 
social legislation. The wholesale naturalization after the libera- 
tion of the majority of alien Jews who had enlisted in the French 
Army on the outbreak of war produced in this respect a normali- 
zation of the economic life of this numerically quite important 
sector of French Jewry. 

Things having returned to normal, one can note on the 
moral plane a resumption and continuation of the pre-war 
development, notably in regard to assimilation, but with certain 
modifications at once important and disturbing from the Jewish 
point of view. 

In France, the assimilation of Jews to a non-Jewish environ- 
ment is not an ideological imperative, social or civic, to which 
some conform while others resist or oppose it. In other words, 
assimilation, French style, does not occur on the basis of assimi- 


lationist ideas nor in conformity with a doctrine. This phenome- 
non, in so far as it manifests itself and is active, derives rather 
from a natural, spontaneous, unpremeditated, and above all 
more justified process than action springing from a set purpose. 
It is the famous "assimilative genius" of France which acts or, 
if you will, rages, as it were, without realizing it itself, and 
without the knowledge of those whom it molds. 

Because of this, the progressive alienation of successive 
Jewish generations from Judaism, from its religious values, from 
its culture and its emotional climate, was always in France 
rather a function of the times than a result of the will of the 
persons concerned, and it is so again in our day. In 1940, for 
example, the children of Polish Jews who had arrived in France 
along about 1929, were, as a rule, quite estranged from the 
world which still remained that of their parents. Between 1940 
and 1945, a violent break of continuity occurred in the process. 
From a matter of conscience, tradition, or spiritual choice, 
Judaism became a threatening and deadly affair. As a result, 
today the children of the newly assimilated of 1940 are, on the 
average, even less dejudaized proportionately than their parents 
were formerly while being actually more dejudaized than the 
latter. However, there seems to be a tendency to make up for 
the "lag." The tempo of assimilation is accelerating in the 
absence of what formerly constituted an obstacle, a counter- 
weight, and a compensation. As a matter of fact, until 1938, the 
successive waves of Jewish immigration Sowing from the Eastern 
countries formed successive "reliefs" which came to replace the 
"departers" in the realm of Jewish consciousness and observances. 
The almost complete cessation of Jewish immigration from 
Central and Eastern Europe is like the closing of a faucet. Con- 
sequently, the principle of emptying a bathtub operates regularly, 
in the absence of any new inflow, and the water level keeps going 
down, tending toward complete exhaustion. Such, roughly speak- 
ing, is the new development. The daily reality, however, is more 
complex and manifests itself at times under contradictory 



The negative factors making for the almost total dejudaiza- 
tion of the rising Jewish generation are manifold and active. 
Besides the aforesaid general tendency, it is necessary to point 
out many developments in this direction. For example, the 
loss of prestige by the indigenous French Jews in comparison 
with the immigrant Jews. Formerly, the assimilation of the 
immigrant Jews, their adaptation to French society, came about 
in some measure with the help of the old-established French 
Jews. In order to become "French like the others," the Polish 
Jew naturally began by becoming a "French Israelite" and, in 
this respect, his switching from a small congregation of immi- 
grants to a Consistorial congregation was tantamount to a 
stamp of approval. The official Consistoire, with its rich and 
cultured notables, filled the socially ambitious segment of the 
immigrants with awe, and its elements desired to identify them- 
selves with this social circle. Thus, complete assimilation, if not 
always avoided, was at least delayed for a generation or two. 
There was an interval of transition, and circumstances could 
sometimes turn it into a permanent delay. For a variety of 
reasons and, among other things, because during the last war 
the native-born French Jews were just as humiliated, perse- 
cuted, and deported as the foreign-born Jews, the worldly and 
social prestige of the "French Israelites" is badly shaken, and 
nowadays the assimilation of a Jew of foreign origin takes place 
directly, without anyone dreaming of borrowing the Franco- 
Jewish "gangplank.*' Because of this, the process is naturally 
accelerated and, very often, assimilation in these conditions 
means a complete break with every trace of Judaism, As a 
result, intermarriage has become widespread, particularly in the 
provinces, where at least 60 per cent of all Jewish families have 
one non-Jew among their kith and kin. In most cases, the 
Jewish men marry Gentile women while the Jewish girls are 
generally scorned. 

Another disintegrating factor must be attributed to the 


fascination which the Catholic Church has for young Jews 
devoid of any Jewish religious education and of any emotional 
Jewish experience. This disturbing phenomenon is rather new 
in France. Heretofore dejudaization took place by a withdrawal 
to the lay, a-religious world. In France, agnosticism, or even 
atheism, is not, as in other countries, the act of a nonconformist 
and somewhat subversive minority. Quite the contrary: a cer- 
tain anti-clericalism is always fashionable in official spheres 
and, more particularly, in the purlieus of political power and 
intellectual eminence, in parliamentary and academic circles. 
No social inconvenience resulting from non-membership in a 
religious community, the conversion of Jews to Christianity was 
always rare in France and represented only individual cases of 
a few intellectuals inclined to mysticism. In this respect one 
can note a change since the liberation, and Catholicism has 
an undeniable appeal for young Jews hitherto denied any reli- 
gious nourishment. The great popularity especially in student 
circles of the books of Simone Weil, a distinguished convert 
and real enemy of Judaism, is producing disastrous results in 
this regard. In addition, proselytizers especially the members 
of the Congregation de Notre Dame de Sion seem to be ex- 
tremely active in the wretched haunts of North African Jews in 
Paris. One notes quite an alarming number of conversions of 
J"ewish children to Catholicism among the families of the 
poor Algerian and Tunisian costermongers (who sell vegetables 
and fruit in the streets) of the Montmarte district. An attempt 
was recently made to check this offensive by establishing a North 
African Merkaz (center) in this district of Paris under the 
direction of Grand Rabbi Jais, himself an Algerian Jew. 

Finally, it is necessary to record another negative factor 
which is favorable to dejudaization and which arises from 
political conditions. For some years now, the so-called "Pro- 
gressive" circles, more or less under Communist influence, have 
become, in the Jewish sector, distinctly hostile to any affirma- 
tion of Jewishness. Conforming to the new "shifts" of nationalis- 
tic Communism extremely chauvinistic in France these fellow- 


travelers, who still dominate quite a large number of essentially 
liberal elements, now preach and practice the abandonment of 
any kind of Jewishness, although in the past and not so long 
ago they very often invoked it, nay, justified their entire politi- 
cal position by their concern for the protection of the Jews 
from the reactionary anti-Semites. As for the Jewish Com- 
munists properly so called, they are in process of wiping out the 
last vestiges of their belonging to the Jewish community, and 
the tiny faction of Yiddish-speaking Reds are in the rather 
unenviable position of a small ghetto relegated to the very 
rear of the large Communist ghetto, scorned if not despised by 
the "mighty" of French Communism, such as the writer of 
Jewish origin, Andre Wurmser, who makes no secret of his aver- 
sion for Judaism, and who sometimes even launches into anti- 
Semitic attacks. 

Faced with all these factors making for the loss of Jewish 
consciousness, the elements of the contrary trend seem quite 
ineffectual. Nevertheless, they do manifest themselves, though, 
unfortunately, they comprise only a tiny fringe of the Jewish 
community, a segment situated at the extreme end of the intel- 
lectual youth, without real influence or social significance. 

In this sphere of ideas, it is necessary first of all to point 
out the small nucleus of devotees, if not architects, of a Jewish 
religious revival movement which had its origin in the sad and 
sometimes magnificent days of the Occupation. In the woods 
and thickets of the South of France a profound work had begun 
with a view of elucidating the meaning of Jewish suffering. At 
Moissac, a small town in the Southeast, young boys and girls 
stemming from the movement known as the Jewish Scouts of 
France had taken the course in ethics given by an eminent 
maggid (preacher), the late and lamented Jacob Gordin, and 
from this instruction had drawn a culture and strength un- 
exampled in the modern annals of French Jewry. It was musar 
(moralism) that rose to the height of the terrible ordeal. Ex- 
haustive precepts of Jewish humanism. Many of these young 
people afterwards extended their new way by associating them- 


selves with the building of the Land of Israel. But some re- 
mained in France and constitute today the handful from whom 
salvation will, perhaps, come. In the practical sphere this re- 
duces itself to some groups and clubs comprising mainly stu- 
dents of both sexes who apply themselves to the difficult but 
laudible experiment which consists of trying to live spiritually 
as Jews in conformity with the great moral laws of Judaism 
invested and valorized in accordance with the exigent and 
difficult requirements of today. One must not underestimate 
the strength of the influence of any small spiritual communities 
like the famous center of Orsay, on the outskirts of Paris, where 
some tens of young people live in an atmosphere somewhat 
similar to the Werkleute circles clustering about Martin Buber 
in pre-Nazi Germany. 

Targoum, a periodical with a small circulation, reflects on the 
literary plane the concerns of this vanguard club, composed 
largely of young North African intellectuals. 

There is no spiritual expression of the trend of Consistoire 
Judaism. The Consistoire as such is an administrative religious 
body without an ideology, and it is on the decline. Of the 7,000 
members it still numbered in Paris at the start of the Occupa- 
tion to the great astonishment of the German authorities, who 
suspected a trick, being unable to grasp the reality of this 
numerical weakness there now remain only 3,500, out of a 
total Jewish population of a hundred and fifty thousand 1 which 
the capital contains. Even smaller is the active membership: 
only about 800 vote in the elections and about 200 attend meet- 
ings. The Consistoire has 12 synagogues in Paris and 8 in the 
suburbs; it has 20 rabbis, to be found in the larger cities. It also 
has the only French Rabbinical Seminary, where 25 youths are 
studying to be rabbis and cantors. 

In the Jewish sector of France still living formally in 
accordance with ideas born of the revolutionary emancipation, 
there undoubtedly exists greater vitality among the minority 
allied with Reform Judaism than in the circle of the old Con- 
sistoire. Under the leadership of a very militant rabbi, M. 


Zaoui, the Union of Reform Jewish Youth is not without in- 
fluence in the direction of Jewish continuity upon a small part 
of the Jewish youth of the upper middle class of the wealthy 
districts of Paris: Passy and Auteuil. It is interesting to note, 
moreover, that the present traditionalist and pro-Zionist trend 
tends to become predominant in the Reform Synagogue of 
France. This finds concrete expression in a progressive reintro- 
duction of Hebrew in the liturgy, formerly almost entirely in 
French, and in the intensive dissemination of a knowledge of 
modern Hebrew among Reform youth. In the aggregate, the 
Liberal (i.e., Reform) Jews of France are pro-Zionist, with more 
fervor than the "conservatives" of the Consistoire. 

The groupings, both juvenile and adult, of strict Orthodoxy 
and of the Chassidic rite abound in the Jewish sector of Paris, 
with yeshivas in the suburbs and in the provinces, with chapels 
scattered here and there, and even with the picturesque exterior 
representative of the Jewish Middle Ages. Paris alone has 12 
Congregations of East European Jews. These are the remnants 
of the transient elements who came to Paris in 1945-1946 and 
who remain there temporarily. The life and activities of these 
faithful stemming for the most part from the Sub-Carpathian 
areas of the former Czechoslovakia could certainly form an 
interesting subject for a study within the specific framework 
of the problem of the survival of Chassidism. However, their 
fortuitous and actual presence in France is without implication 
for the physiognomy and development of French Jewry. They 
are transplanted people who have neither the desire nor the 
possibility to take root upon the banks of the Seine. 

As for the old, native Orthodoxy, mainly of Alsatian origin, 
its role is now more important than formerly, in the days of the 
predominance of the Consistoire. Unfortunately, it is too depen- 
dent on the social composition of its elements to be able to exer- 
cise a very great influence. Access to this strictly Orthodox and 
essentially middle-class community is closed to working people. 

In all groupings there is a dearth of rabbis, particularly in 
the provinces. There are approximately 20 rabbis in Paris, ten 


in Alsace-Lorraine, and about a dozen in the rest of France. 
There is not a single rabbi for a distance of 250 miles between 
Paris and Bordeaux and the same distance between Bordeaux 
and Toulouse. Last year a plan was worked out to supply a num- 
ber of communities (Amiens, Avignon, Dunkirk, Nantes, Reims, 
etc.) with rabbis. The plan does not seem to have been imple- 
mented so far. 

Undoubtedly it is in the sphere of spiritual "external repre- 
sentation 3 *' that French Jewry can enter something on the 
credit side of its ledger, during the last period. 

In the olden days and recently, those who by reason of their 
origin represented Jewry in the academic world were agnostic 
and skeptical professors like the philosophers Brunschvig and 
Levy-Bruhl, or the Orientalist Sylvain Levi. In the end French 
intellectual society came to conceive of Judaism quite in the 
Image of these scholars, whose faith was vested only in the 
data of experimental science. Today a work such as that of Pro- 
fessor Henri Baruk, linking closely the conquests of modern 
psychology and psychotherapy to sublime principles of Jewish 
ethics and traditional Jewish therapeutics, has contributed 
enormously toward disclosing to the eyes of the best and clearest- 
thinking among the Gentiles what the late Aime Palliere called 
the "unknown sanctuary." Moreover, the adoption of a completely 
affirmative attitude toward Judaism by men who exert an 
influence upon society in the domain of sociology and politics, 
as, for example, the writer Robert Aron, author of Return to 
the Lord, underlines and almost points up the great change 
which has taken place in the intellectual makeup of certain 
French Jewish thinkers. It must not be forgotten that in the 
past, in the days of the Reinachs and Darmstetters, the "great" 
Jews of France made mention of their Jewishness before non- 
Jewish audiences only in order to emphasize the slight impor- 
tance or highly "synthetic" nature of Judaism. 

One is somewhat perplexed when one prepares to express 
an opinion about the factor of Zionism considered as such in 
relation to the tenor of Jewish life in France as a whole. The 


question might be put thus: The great popularity of Zionism 
in Jewish circles, the prestige of the State of Israel in non- 
Jewish circles, and, lastly, the fact that among the Jews of 
France Zionism no longer has any opponents can all this be 
regarded as a positive sign, disregarding a narrowly partisan 
view? By becoming popular and spreading itself out, the affec- 
tive Zionist complex has unquestionably become more blurred 
and less binding than formerly. Without indulging in polemics, 
one might nevertheless say that Zionism enables many Jews 
to neglect their Judaism while keeping a clear conscience. In 
return for the purchase of a few tickets to a banquet given in 
behalf of "Aid to Israel," and by attending the "Independence 
Day" meetings every spring, one cheaply discharges an obliga- 
tion which formerly was particularly heavy. This pessimistic 
view is very often borne out by everyday reality, which estab- 
lishes that many Zionists habitually contribute to the decline 
of Judaism by their passivity and perhaps even by their activity. 
Moreover, the alarming developments, such as the numerous 
mixed marriages, take place also in Zionist circles. Thus the 
children of leading French Zionist figures have contracted mar- 
riages with non-Jewish mates. But, on the other hand, the con- 
stant of "pro-Israelism" somehow maintains a climate of Jewish 
affectivity which, even if not very rich, is undoubtedly better 
than nothing In present conditions, given the feeble influence 
of the synagogue, Zionism, with its manifold bureaus, numerous 
officials, and continuous agitation, is still the most manifest 
"address" of Jewish existence in a country like France. It seems 
to us that it would be necessary to render French Zionism more 
organic, to see to it that it becomes truly, in so far as it is 
alive, an emanation from the thinking and the will of Zionist 
Jews in France, that is to say, that it is less ordered about and 
managed from the outside, by functionaries and envoys sent from 
Zionist headquarters in Israel. On this condition it could ful- 
fill its role of a reservoir and primary school, as it were, for 
the preservation and development of Jewish spirituality in the 
French sector of the Diaspora 


The exact number of Jews in France is unknown. It is 
estimated that about 300,000 Jews live there: probably about 
150,000 in Paris and its suburbs, approximately 10,000 in Mar- 
seilles, some 12,000 in Lyons, over 8,000 in Strasbourg, about 
7,000 in Nice, some 4,000 in Bordeaux, some 2,800 in Metz, about 
2,000 each in Mulhouse, Lille, and Nancy, some 1,700 in Grenoble, 
and the rest (about 100,000) in smaller groups in the rest of 


The Jewish organizations having their seat in Paris are 
as manifold as in any large Jewish center of activity on the 
other side of the Atlantic, and a mere enumeration of them 
would be liable to give an exaggerated idea of the vitality and 
liveliness of French Jewry. As a matter of fact, in most cases 
and particularly as regards the political organizations of Jewry- 
it is not a question of "organic" institutions springing from 
the will or aspiration of the Jews of France, but of administra- 
tive extensions to the "French branch" of Jewish movements 
international in character if not in structure. In this article 
we will only mention a few Jewish organizations in France 
which have taken root in French life or are in the process of 
becoming acclimated in it. 

(1) World Jewish Congress. The French Section of the World 
Jewish Congress is now a French Jewish group and not merely 
a "French section" of an international body whether in the 
composition of its leaders and its animating principles or in 
its activity and influence. 

In the cultural sphere, it is the only "regular" body systema- 
tically engaged in the work of spreading Jewish culture by 
means of lectures, which extend also to the small provincial 
Jewish centers, otherwise so deprived of any Jewish spiritual 
sustenance An educational service recently inaugurated en- 
deavors to disseminate and instill the universal values of the 


Jewish spirit. In addition, it stimulates Yiddish literary creative- 
ness. On the political plane, the Centre de Documentation Poli- 
tique informs the public about anti-Semetic attacks and under- 
takes the most essential defense measures. 

Altogether, we behold an activity which strives to preserve 
and develop the particular virtues of French Jewry of another 
day (that of the nineteenth century), more outspoken and 
vigilant than that of today, with, in addition, a sense of Jewish 
authenticity which was lost in the first epoch of emancipated 

(2) F.S.J.U. The Fonds Social Juif Unifie Is a financial body 
which centralizes and distributes the funds destined for Jewish 
welfare work. This is not the place to explain how it functions. 
It is essential, however, to stress that this quite recently estab- 
lished institution has replaced the moral anarchy in Jewish 
social assistance with a sound] method of unification based on 
American experience in this field. At first, the FJ5.JJJ. came 
up against the French habit of individualism ("I give when I 
please, what I plaese, and to whom I please," said the French 
Jew, and "I don't like a tax collector") ; then, little by little, it 
caught on and became the fashion. 

(3) L 'Alliance Israelite Universelle. Less powerful than in 
the past, the AJ.TL is still a French Jewish reality. It is still 
the institution which fashions the Jewish intellectual strata 
of North African origin and exerts its influence upon the Mediter- 
ranean Jewish sector, for which France is the school of the 
West and the Alliance the threshold of a culture always won- 
drous and universal. 

(4) The Jewish Community of Paris. There is no central or 
unified Jewish Community in the French capital. 

The "official Community" is represented by the Consistoire 
de Paris, with its "worship groups" (associations cultuelles). 
They provide for the current religious needs of the minority of 
the Jewish population still observing religious practices. In 
fact, the Consistoire de Paris consists mainly of the rabbis and 
the cantors (cTiazanim) who officiate at the services. The type 


of Jewish notables who used to busy himself with communal 
affairs (the askan of the old communities) has disappeared, 
except in the ultra-Orthodox circles. 

Apart from the congregations subordinate to the Consistoire 
and grouped around the principal Parisian synagogues, there 
exist a certain number of congregations whose membership is 
generally composed of persons hailing from the same town or 
region. But even on this level of association, dissensions pre- 
vail. For example, the new congregation of natives of North 
Africa, which was fooinded with great difficulty by Grand 
Rabbi Jais of Paris, ran up against dissidenee on the part of 
a group of Algerian and Tunisian Jews. Although without means, 
they managed somehow to open their own chapel in the North 
African Jewish quarter. 

The attempt made three years ago by the late Israel Yef roy- 
kin to create a large central KehiHaih of Eastern Jews virtually 
failed although formally there is still in existence a body called 
"Kehilla de Paris," which somewhat duplicates the work of 
the Federation des societes juives de France. This latter Federa- 
tion, besides many secular societies, also unites religious asso- 
ciations and congregations. 

The non-Consistorial but native-born Orthodox groups of 
"strict observance," as well as the Liberals, have their own 
entirely autonomous congregations. There are also the Sephar- 
dim (mainly those from Salonika and from Turkey) , who, while 
belonging to the Consistoire, keep up most faithfully the meaning 
and structure of the traditional Kehilloth. They represent the 
least political-minded element of Parisian Jewry and, in general, 
their impact on Jewish sentiment, when exercised, makes itself 
felt primarily in the religious sphere. 

(5) C. R. I. F. CJR.I.F. (Counseil Representatif des Juifs de 
France) , founded after the liberation as the sole Jewish repre- 
sentative vis-a-vis the outside world, still feels the effects of 
the Communist schism in Jewish life. The principle of absolute 
unity of views among aH the factions on the Jewish political 
scene when general Jewish interests are at stake, cannot be 


either maintained or applied when such cases occur as, for 
example, the Prague Trial, which caused most Jews to rally 
against anti-Semitism styling itself "progressive." Moreover, 
C. R. I., F. has had few opportunities to intervene. Neither has 
it succeeded in gaining recognition as the political representa- 
tion of French Jewry. Most of the French people have no under- 
standing of the existence of a "political" Jewry within the 
framework of France and, to them, the authorized representative 
of the French Jews can only be the Grand Rabbi of France. 


The network of Jewish schools in France is very limited. 
There are no exact figures available, but it is estimated that, 
at the most, a very small percentage of Jewish children and 
adolescents receive Jewish instruction in one form or another. 

In 1954, it was estimated that there are in France about 
40,000 Jewish children of school age, half of them in Paris. 
Of this number, 400 attend Jewish schools and 1,300 Sunday 
schools (on Thursday and Sunday) in Paris. In 1955, accord- 
ing to Tito Cohen, director of F.S.J.U. only about 20 per cent 
of Jewish children under 14 receive some kind of Jewish educa- 
tion, but hardly 5 per cent of those over 14 years of age know 
anything about Judaism. Somewhat better is the situation as 
regards Jewish youths over 18 because the student and other 
Jewish youth organizations exert a good influence upon the 
Jewish education of their members. There is a Communaute de 
la Jeunesse Juive (supreme coordinating body of French Jewish 
youth movements) which tries to create a network of Jewish 
centers in Paris and the provinces (it has received 100,000,000 
francs from the Claims Conference for a large club in Paris). 
The Communaute operates on the premise that ignorance of 
things Jewish and lack of social contacts among Jews are cniefiy 
responsible for the current drift away from Judaism among the 
youth, but that there is a widespread nostalgic desire to learn 
about Jewish history and faith. 


Efforts to expand Jewish education meet with difficulties 
also because of a lack of teachers. A Jewish Teachers' Seminary 
is scheduled to be opened this fall (1955) under the auspices of 
the Central and Paris Consistoires, Representative Council of 
Traditional Jewry, and the Fonds Social. 

Paris has two Jewish secondary schools (Yavneh and 
Mairnonides) as well as a Jewish elementary school named for 
Lucien de Hirsch. Altogether, about three hundred pupils attend 
these Jewish institutions full time. The -courses of religious in- 
struction given on days when there is no school Thursday and 
Sunday-^are likewise attended by several hundred Jewish child- 
ren in Paris and its suburbs. These very sketchy courses are 
organized by the Consistoire and generally confined to prepar- 
ing boys for Bar Mitzvah. An educational institution, subsidized 
by the Fonds Social Juif Unifie, trains monitors for Jewish 
homes for children in France and North Africa. This institu- 
tion, which is a boarding school whose students are nearly all 
of them holders of scholarships, is only in its initial stage, with 
thirty pupils receiving a secondary Jewish education. 

Jewish religious instruction is very little developed. In only 
a few secondary schools do the Jewish pupils receive instruc- 
tion by a rabbi once or twice a week. 

The city of Strasbourg has a luxuriously appointed Jewish 
secondary school, the Akiba School, with all the latest improve- 
ments, This school began to operate with an enrollment of forty. 
Today it is attended by two hundred pupils. 

Apart from the Alsace and Lorraine provinces, where Jewish 
life has always been more intense and better organized than 
in the interior of France,* there is very little to report, if we 
leave Paris out of consideration. In Marseilles, second largest 

* The Jewish communities of Alsace and Lorraine, called 
"concordatory communities," are subsidized by the State, as are, 
in these provinces with a special status, the Catholic and Pro- 
testant Churches. For this reason, and because of the traditional 
religiosity of the Jews of Alsace, Jewish life there is infinitely 
richer and more compact than in the rest of France. 


city in France with a very large Jewish population of North 
African origin, a few score children attend the Talmud Torah 
installed in the synagogue. Almost the same situation prevails 
in Nice and Lyons. There is virtually not&ing doing elsewhere. 
As regards free educational fare intended mainly for adults, 
Paris is well provided while in the provincesAlsace and Lor- 
raine excepted there is virtually none. In Paris there are on 
the average four or five Jewish lectures every night. Yet the 
attendance is rarely large and, except for the lectures organized 
by youth groups or by the Union of Jewish Students, the average 
age of the listeners is depressingly high. One sometimes gets the 
impression that it is a gathering of aged and superannuated 

We have already mentioned the educational lectures ar- 
ranged by the Educational Department of the World Jewish 
Congree. Apart from this, a Jewish People's University is con- 
ducted by the Federation of Jewish Societies of France, with 
numerous lectures in French and Yiddish, exhibitions, and con- 
certs. Under the auspices of a very dynamic, forceful and mili- 
tant rabbiRabbi David Feuerwerker a free debating club 
the Circle du Marais has been active for several years. Situated 
in one of the most beautiful squares in Paris, the Place des 
Vosges where the Victor Hugo Museum is located, the club, 
where the discussions are sometimes stormy, is one of the live- 
liest and most picturesque spots in the Jewish quarter of the 
French capital. It is like Hyde Park, with more spirit. 

As against this Parisian liveliness, the provinces remain 
very lethargic, always with the exception of the city of Stras- 
bourg, second metropolis of French Jewry. 


In the years 1946-1950, Paris became the Jewish spiritual 
center of Europe. A large number of Jewish organizations were 
created, newspapers, several dailies and a dozen weeklies and 
monthlies (in Yiddish and French) of different trends were 


established, as well as several libraries. Weekly Jewish meetings 
and lectures were arranged and the communal and cultural 
life of Paris became richer from day to day. Unfortunately, 
during the last 3-4 years, all these activities have slowed down 
very considerably. One of the main reasons for the weakened 
pulsation of Jewish life is the stoppage of new immigrants and 
the emigration of the bearers of the movement, refugees from 
Eastern Europe, to Israel and overseas. Another reason is to be 
found in the stabilization of Jewish life, which, as detailed above, 
contributes to assimilation rather than to the strengthening of 
Jewishness among the old and new residents. 

Despite the slowdown of Yiddish creativity, seven books 
appeared in 1953, and the same number in 1954, while the first 
half of 1955 produced three books. A salient feature of this 
activity is its diversity: among the books published in this 
period are poems, novels, and short stories, Jewish history and 
research into the Chur'ban period. However, it must be noted 
that this quite considerable literary creativity is a result not 
so much of the needs of the reading public, as of the devotion 
of the writers themselves, who feel an urge to create and to 
bring their creations to the public. 

Besides the writers, several Jewish organizations are also 
engaged in spreading Jewish literature and culture among the 
public in Paris, as well as in the provinces. Among these orga- 
nizations are the People's University of the Federation of Jewish 
Societies in France, Arbeiter Ring, the Kulicz Library, and, as 
already mentioned, the World Jewish Congress Cultural Com- 

In the field of Hebrew literature the output has been rather 
meager. The principal organization in charge of promoting 
Hebrew is the French section of Brit Ivrit Olamit. In 1955, a 
first effort was made to publish a Hebrew periodical, Shvilim. 

While the creativity in Yiddish and Hebrew has been carried 
on by immigrants from Eastern Europe, indigenous French 
Jewry has been active in the field of literary and scholarly 
work in French. The nestor of these French Jewish writers Is 


Edmond Fleg. Mention should also be made of Henry Bernstein 
and Pierre Gascar (both authors of stories and essays on 
Jewish themes), A. Chouraqui (known for his contribution to 
the history of Jews in North Africa), Mannes Sperber (a Jew 
of East European descent formerly living in Germany) who 
writes in French on historical and contemporary problems. 

There are three Yiddish dailies: Unzer Wort (Poale Zion), 
Unzer Stimme (Bundist), Naje Presse (Progressive); two week- 
lies, Zionistische Stimme (General Zionists), and Vnzer Weg 
(Mizrachi). In addition, there are six fortnightlies, fifteen 
monthlies, one quarterly, and several irregular periodicals, both 
in Yiddish and French. Of these publications mention should 
be made of the monthly Kium. Dedicated to literature, culture, 
and social problems, it is the only Yiddish periodical in Europe 
on a high level which continues the old tradition of East Euro- 
pean publications. Among the other Yiddish publications men- 
tion should be made of Folksgesund, a popular periodical de- 
voted to hygiene and medicine. 

The more serious publications in French are Droit et Liberte 
<a fortnightly established by the Jewish Underground in France 
during the war) devoted to problems of Jewish life; La Revue 
du Fonds Social Juif Unifie (a quarterly devoted mainly to 
problems of French Jews, their history, and communal life) ; 
La Vie Juive (a bi-monthly published by the French Section of 
the World Jewish Congress). 

There are also a few publications in the provinces, devoted 
mostly to local problems. 


The statistical data in this respect should be considered with 
great caution. They represent, at best, approximations. Now and 
then enormous errors occur. 

In order to avoid approximations, let us abstain from giving 
any figures and limit ourselves to a general survey. 

The French Jews occupy a very important place in com- 


merce, wholesale and retail, particularly in the following lines: 
textiles, ready-to-wear clothes, hides and skins, leather goods, 
millinery, jewelry. The proportion of Jewish physicians is like- 
wise very large, the majority of them being sons of immigrants 
(first French generation), mainly from Rumania. 

Approximately the same situation exists in regard to 
lawyers, yet with a marked preponderance of native-born Jewish 

Similarly, there are many Jews teaching in secondary or 
higher schools, in the press (where frequently the Jewish origin 
of the journalists is unknown, due to pseudonyms; however, 
the publisher of a French paper with the largest circulation,, 
France-Soir, is a Jew of Russian origin who does not conceal it, 
Pierre Lazareff ) ; also in the movies and radio. There are fewer 
Jews in banking and heavy industry than before the war. Among 
the immigrants, the predominant occupation is retail business, 
and handicraft, as well as import and export. There are more 
Jewish technicians than before the war. 

The number of salaried Jewish workers is diminishing, that 
of small employers increasing. There are more Jewish civil 
service workers in the low and intermediate categories than 
before the war, due mainly to the immigration of Algerian Jews 
(of French nationality) who supply an important number of 
post-office employees, elementary school teachers, and officials- 
in central and local branches of government. 

On the whole, the range of Jewish occupations is in the 
process of expansion and "Jewish specialization" in the voca- 
tional sphere is diminishing, although certain industries (ready- 
to-wear, leather goods) still remain almost exclusively in Jewish 
hands in Paris. 


On the whole, this problem may be regarded as liquidated. 

The despoiled Jews were treated like all the others who had: 

suffered war damages. To the extent that the spoliations could 


be proven, restitution was effected by ordinary administrative 
methods, without special provisions. It goes without saying that 
all the Jewish functionaries who had been ousted by the Vichy 
regime were reinstated. The difficulties which arose or are still 
arising in certain instances, are special cases and quite rare. 


The category of "Jewish refugees" n? longer exists in France, 
although there are a certain number of Jewish political refu- 
gees from the countries behind the Iron Curtain. They some- 
times resort to Jewish social organizations but, on the whole, 
are taken care of by special bodies charged with the problem 
of refugees from Communist countries. A certain number of 
stateless Jews (formerly of Russian and Polish nationality) still 
maintain formally the status of refugees. However, their actual 
position is the same as that of other alien residents in France, 
and they have the right to and the possibility of work. In case 
of married people with small children, naturalization may be 
easily obtained}, 

From the Jewish point of view, there is actually no refu- 
gee problem in France. 


In so far as they have not left for Israel or transatlantic 
countries, the Jewish orphans of deported parents have been 
sheltered or brought up in Jewish children's homes, mainly 
of the OSE and the OPEJ (Oeuvre de protection de Penfance 
juive). Many of these children are finishing their apprentice- 
ship in the ORT trade schools. 

The Finaly Affair focused attention on the painful fact of 
"the children lost to Judaism," removed from their own com- 
munity by overzealous Christians who saw in the Hitler cata- 
strophe a divine device for "the salvation of the Jews/' There 
is absolutely no doubt that other Jewish children are now living 


in France in Catholic religious institutions, in convents, as well 
as in private homes. In the absence of any elements of a "scan- 
dal," as in the Finaly Affair, it is difficult to do anything about it. 
The Jewish reactions in the course of the Finaly Affair, and 
the efficacy of these reactions, due to the intervention of the 
French Section of the World Jewish Congress, have surpassed 
expectations, considering the numerical weakness of French 
Jewry. A second "round" consisting of systematic detection of 
Jewish children hidden by Gentiles, baptized, and brought up in 
the Christian faith, would meet with very strong resistance on 
the part of the clergy, and would undoubtedly not be counten- 
anced by public opinion. It is improbable that such an action is 
envisaged by the Jewish organizations in France in the fore- 
seeable future. 


It is very easy to form an opinion of French anti-Semitism 
in its present phase. The period of relative fear, when the anti- 
Semites did not dare to profess themselves such, is now over, 
and wide liberty prevails in this respect, despite the protests and 
appeals for suppression coining from alarmed Jewish circles. 

The term "restoration" is applicable in this sphere as in 
others. The salient feature of French anti-Semitism is that it 
always manifests itself in critical situations. Just now there is 
no real situation tending to activate or mobilize the anti- 
Semites. Under the government of Mendes-France, one could 
fear very disturbing developments, bearing in mind the atmos- 
phere which prevailed at the time of the Popular Front, under 
the government of Leon Blum. However, the experience was of 
very short duration and, in this sphere of ideas, the situation 
did not have time to ripen. 

On the whole, militant anti-Semitism flaunts itself less 
than before the war. One feels that a bad conscience and a. 
vague feeling of guilt still restrain some persons. Nevertheless, 
a more or less pronounced hostility toward Jews still obtains: 


among a very large number of people, especially among the 
middle class and members of the liberal professions. Only sel- 
dom does one encounter manifestations of anti-Semitism among 
the common people. The Alsatian peasantry generally lives on 
good terms with the country Jews, a small number of whom are 
still to be found in the villages and market towns situated be- 
tween the Rhine and the Vosges. 

As in the past, one now sees again in the small Alsatian 
towns Catholic peasants who have come to market take advan- 
tage of the occasion to attend the Sabbath service at the syna- 

There are two weeklies in Paris with a circulation of about 
ten thousand which openly espouse anti-Semitism. They are 
Aspects de la France and RivaroL In the aggregate, the readers 
as well as the editors of these papers consist of former "col- 
laborationists" who were put in prison after the liberation. The 
"Movement for the Protection of the Middle Class," founded 
and led by Poujade, until recently an obscure agitator from 
the provinces, added to its invectives against the prevailing 
fiscal policy a thick admixture of anti-Jewish demagogy. His 
success in the recent elections creates a menace for the Jewish 
situation whose real gravity can-not yet be properly evaluated. 

A curious development finds expression in the growing 
disaffection of Jews with the organizations which claim to be 
fighting anti-Semitism. The LI.CA. (Ligne Internationale contre 
I'Antisemitisme International League against Anti-Semitism), 
once so powerful, has lost three-fourths of its members. A 
similar movement under Communist control vegetates while 
waiting for its demise. On the juridical plane, the World Jewish 
Congress endeavors to counteract the anti-Semitic propaganda. 


In conclusion, and in order to sum as briefly as possible 
the present situation of French Jewry, it is fitting to state the 


1. Of the several hundred thousand Jews living in metro- 
politan France, only a small minority (in my estimation, about 
5 per cent) is psychologically and practically in a position to 
express in some manner its sense of belonging to the Jewish 

2. This phenomenonJudaism become a minority concern 
among Jews is not due to the Hitler catastrophe, nor the result 
of the destruction, but is a continuation of an already very old 
trend, aggravated in particular by the stoppage of immigration 
from the East, by the termination of the movement of succes- 
sive "reliefs." 

3. The philanthropic and welfare activities of French Jewish 
organizations, or of organizations operating in France, activities 
relatively important, are liable to mislead those who turn to them 
in order to get an idea of French Jewry. It must not be for- 
gotten that social assistance, relief, loans, vocational retrain- 
ing, etc., are not administered by Jewish organizations in France 
on an ethnic basis, nor on that of religious affiliation. Many of 
the "relief cases" are Jews only as relief recipients and will 
cease to be Jews the moment their case is straightened out. 
The Jewish situation is very hazy in France, 

4. The assembly of notables, founded by Napoleon and 
called Consistoire, is ceasing to play an important role in the 
religious and spiritual life of professing Jews in France. There 
exists as yet no other force to supplant the Consistoire and its 
conservative spirit. However, a new state of mind is manifest in 
the efforts at renewal, especially noticeable in the circles of 
young Jewish intellectuals, where one observes an impressive 
rehabilitation of Jewish religious values within the framework 
of the great problems of the times. This trend has so far had 
no repercussion on the Jewish masses. 

5. One must not consider the problem of the development 
of French Jewry from the viewpoint of "reconstitution," but 
of constitution and organization, which it has never known 
since the great expulsion in the Middle Ages. The Jewish com- 
munity of France is not to be "refashioned," since it has never 


yet been fashioned in the modern manner. The extermination 
of one-third of the Jews of France constitutes, from a human 
point of view, a tremendous drama. But it must be said, how- 
ever cruel this paradox may sound, that this barbarous annihila- 
tion hardly affected the French Jewish spiritual community as 
such because it was in every way on the road to decline, which 
was quite evident before the Hitler catastrophe, throughout 
the period of prosperity and well-being. It is proper to regard 
the Jewish community of France more as an "underdeveloped 
country," from a spiritual and organic point of view, than as a 
devastated land. 

In all these appraisals, an exception must be made as re- 
gards Alsace, where the situation is quite different. In Stras- 
bourg, Jewish life is more vigorous than before the wan The 
militant Orthodoxy, headed by Grand Rabbi Deutsch, has as- 
sumed the leadership of the community and applied itself to an 
organic fusion of the native and immigrant elements. The 
Jewish scene in Strasbourg resembles much more the Frankfort 
of the past than it does the Parisian Jewry of today. 



In 1940, there were approximately 140,000 Jews in Holland 
of whom approximataly 110,000 were native-born or had settled 
in the country before 1933, and about 30,000 German and 
Austrian refugees who had come to Holland from 1933 on. 
Of the total of 140,000, some 80,000 lived in Amsterdam. Only 
about 5,000 were Sephardim, the rest Ashkenasim. 

The local Jews played a considerable role in politics, economic 
life, art, science, and literature. Many of them were deeply 
assimilated and the vast majority was well integrated economic- 
ally and socially into the life of Holland. Many Jews were engaged 
in second-hand and street trade; there were also many artisans 
(diamond industry) and workers in various branches of manu- 
facturing. The higher strata were mainly engaged in commerce 
and, to a lesser extent, in the professions. 

During the war, about 110,000 Jews were deported from 
Holland. Of these no more than 6,000 returned. Thus, at the 
time of the liberation, there was only a fraction of the Jewish 
community left in an exhausted and plundered country. Some 
thousands of war orphans were staying with foster parents. 
The Jews who had remained in Holland emerged from their 
hiding-places, the majority finding themselves without a home, 
without possessions, without their businesses, and without any 
income. The Jewish capital which had either been handed over 



or requisitioned, had been put under the trusteeship of so-called 
banking institutions, and this trusteeship developed into an 
administrative apparatus engaged in theft, during the severe 
war winter of 1944-1945. 

And all this took place in a country whose entire population 
had been brought to the verge of physical and economical ruin, 
not only due to the occupation years, but especially due to the 
winter of starvation which followed the unsuccessful autumn 
offensive of the Allies after the battle of Arnhem. 

The Jewish population, which had constituted an essential 
part of the Dutch people for centuries, found itself in a completely 
different position. Before 1940, Jews could be found in many social 
classes of the Dutch people and sharing all the feelings charac- 
teristic of each social group, such as group-consciousness, 
solidarity, mutual ties, social differences from other groups, etc. 

The war had practically destroyed all this. The Jewish com- 
munity shrank to a small group. Of the communities, especially 
those outside the large towns, there were only solitary members 
and parts of families left. 


Viewing the situation in the light of such a catastrophe, 
it is striking how rapid and effective the social and spiritual 
recovery of the Jewish group has been. Looking back, one can 
perhaps say that a positive factor lay in the very circumstance 
that not only the Jews but the whole Dutch population were 
faced with the task of reconstruction. Because of this, the Jews, 
in their primitive houses and scanty clothing, handicapped 
in business, and shocked by the war, were no exception in the 
pattern of Dutch life. On the other hand, it was necessary that 
all strength be combined. 

With amazing dynamic energy, idealism, and self-confidence, 
the work was tackled. Already in the winter of 1944, when the 
Netherlands had been liberated below the Rhine, a number 
of Jews who had stayed in that district, or who had been in hiding 
there, or had returned, laid the foundations for a co-ordinating 


committee. It was the special duty of this committee to handle 
the work in the social field together with all war-relief organi- 
zations and the Joint. It is remembered with appreciation that 
the British Jewish Relief Unit, under leadership of Miss Erica 
Lunzer, was among the first to commence relief work here after 
the liberation. To all who worked during that period, the memory 
of Miss Pinsky the Joint representative so tragically killed 
in an air crash will be unforgettable. 

Still another factor made for quick recovery. Since way 
back, the Jewish community in the Netherlands was organized 
in Kehilloth (congregations) which were linked together in a 
national organization. Next to this group there existed a Sephardic 
group and a small Liberal group. The administrative unity and 
organization of the Jewish congregations contributed much 
toward the simplification of the recovery. 

Even though the war had no serious harmful effect on the 
Jewish spirit, this does not mean that the events did not 
produce drastic spiritual consequences. The fact that during a 
number of years, Jews and non-Jews, no matter how bound 
together they were by their common lot in an occupied country, 
were still obliged to follow each his own way, caused the Jewish 
group to become severed from close association with the life 
of the Dutch people. 

The Dutch people, to whom the Jewish fellow-citizen had 
always been a completely familiar person and a friend, now 
became " Jew- conscious," as it were. Though unable to speak 
of concrete anti-Semitism, one can say that the Jew as such 
is more conspicuous than in the past. 

On the other hand, the Dutch Jews learned to know the 
relativity of their position, as a result of the misfortune which 
had befallen them. Next to the help offered by strangers, there 
were disiUusionments as far as friends and protection were 
concerned, and this produced a feeling of being strangers. In 
the ten-year period since the war, this feeling expressed itself 
in the form of a need for emigration, which went far above the 
normal group percentage. 



Besides attracting a very important group of Zionists, the 
founding of the State of Israel also attracted a number of Jews 
who were actuated by a sense of solidarity, the desire for adven- 
ture, or by a sense of despair of their own country. For many 
of them, the anguish caused by the actual and figurative heaps 
of ruins in Holland was too overpowering. This state of mind 
greatly promoted emigration also to other lands, especially to 
overseas countries, whenever there arose fear of a European 
war or danger from the Russians. Since the liberation, about 
3,200 Jews have emigrated to Israel (some of whom have returned 
to Holland). About 5,000 have emigrated to other countries. The 
emigrants came largely from provincial towns, bereft of spiritual 
guidance and material means. The exodus still continues and 
it is believed that among the annual number of about 50,000 
emigrants from Holland, some 300 are Jews, of whom about 
20 per cent go to Israel. It is said that many heads of families 
were registered for emigration at the end of last year. 


(a) The Children. About 4,000 children were given into 
the custody of non-Jews before the deportations. The survivors 
received their children back. As far as the approximately 2,000 
war orphans staying with foster parents were concerned, im- 
mediate action was necessary. In an organization in which were 
represented the many different trends in the field of child 
welfare (I'Ezrath Hayeled), everything possible was done to 
bring children back within the circle of the Jewish community. 
One had to fight against a great deal of misconception, and 
there was a great deal of opposition. In addition, there was a 
strong desire on the part of some opponents to engage in pro- 
selytizing work. 

In the end, of the 1,056 Jewish war orphans, 358 (171 boys 
and 187 girls) remained in a non-Jewish enviroment, most of 


them being now under the guardianship of their non-Jewish 
foster parents; the rest are in non- Jewish orphanages. 

The case which has now become known the world over, 
namely, that of Anneke Beekman, who, ten years after the war, 
is being kept hidden by her Catholic foster mother, supported 
by Church authorities, is a tragic page in the history of the many 
sacrifices which Dutch people were willing, in spite of everything, 
to make in behalf of the Jewish child. 

Now, ten years later, the work for Jewish children is fully 
organized and directed from a central point. All institutions for 
the normal child have been combined into one organization. An 
expert staff is attached to the main office as well as to the 
Children's Homes, working according to the case-work system. 
A great difficulty remains in finding Jewish superintendents 
for the Homes. There is still an acute shortage of Jewish personnel. 

The work for the abnormal child has also been organized 
on a completely scientific basis. 

(b) Social Care. Apart from the care of the children, it 
was necessary, immediately after the liberation, to provide for 
Jewish families and individuals. There was need of both economic 
and spiritual rehabilitation. Out of the work initiated by the 
J.C.C. (Jewish Co-ordinating Committee), there developed a solid 
institution of modern Jewish social work which now has an 
extensive field across the whole of the Netherlands. The fact 
has been established, however, that in the great majority of cases 
where there still are social difficulties, the origin can be traced 
to war circumstances. In Amsterdam, there are a Jewish hospital 
and two homes for the aged. In The Hague, the home for the 
aged was in 1954 removed to larger quarters accommodating 58 
persons. In spite of all the trials and tribulations, it is amazing 
how dynamic the Jewish spirit is, and how relatively slight 
the spiritual consequences of the tragedy and sorrow experienced 
have been. 

Besides the work of the foundation known as "Joeds Maat- 
scfiappelijk Werk" (Jewish Social Work), which succeeded the 
JCC) which embraces a very large number of organizations, there 


Is the pastoral-social work of the Ashkenazic Congregation in 
Amsterdam, and to some extent elsewhere, as well as the 
medical-social care given by the office dealing with difficulties 
in Jewish family life, etc. This care comprises visits to the sick, 
contribution of gifts, as well as extensive psychological help 
and financial assistance, 

(c) Care of the Aged. The problem of the large group of 
elderly persons who had survived and who were quite alone, 
was an urgent one immediately after the first general emergency 
relief had been given. In this field, pre-war Dutch Jewry had 
won wide respect, and with the same devotion it was possible to 
create various residences for elderly people. This does not alter 
the fact that much still remains to be done in this direction. 

(d) Reconstruction 'of Jewish Institutions. The Dutch Jew- 
ish communities tried to rebuild and reconstruct the communal 
institutions which were destroyed during the Nazi period. One 
of these institutions was the Jewish Historical Museum, first 
opened in February, 1932. The Nazis removed its contents, and 
after the war only a quarter of the collection was recovered. 
The museum was reopened in July, 1955, in the building of one 
of the smaller municipal museums of Amsterdam. The Great 
Sephardic Synagogue in Amsterdam which needed renovation 
as a result of wear and tear has been restored with the assistance 
of the Municipality. In 1954, a new synagogue was consecrated in 
Rotterdam, and, as said, an old-age home in The Hague. 


There are no exact demographical figures regarding the 
Jewish community. The reason for this is that many Jews do not 
register in the census as being of the Jewish faith: in the census 
of 1947, only 14,000 declared themselves Jews by religion. It is 
estimated that the total number of Jews in the country is 
between 20,000 and 28,000, the most probable figure being 22,000. 
About 15,000 of them were born in Holland (this figure is based 


on an assumed total of 20,000 in the whole of Holland), while 
the rest stem from Germany and Eastern Europe. Among these 
are about 2,400 Jewish refugees who were granted asylum be- 
tween 1933 and 1939. Two-thirds of them were naturalized early 
in 1952 and most of the remainder thereafter. 

The majority of the Jews live in the larger cities: Amsterdam 
(11,000 to 13,000), The Hague (about 1,700), Rotterdam (900), 
Arnhem, Utrecht, and Groningen (about 400 each). As for the 
rest, there is a sprinkling of Jews living in various places which 
were formerly parts of a Kehillah. 

Formerly flourishing Jewish communities are reduced to 
small numbers. 

The Sephardim have practically disappeared and number 
at present about 900 souls only. Many of them are Ashkenazic- 
born wives or even husbands of Sephardic spouses, as well as 
the children of Sephardic-Ashkenazic marriages. 

Another phenomenon of great importance is the almost, 
complete absence of a younger generation, those between 25* 
and 35 years. The majority of Jewish youth were exterminated 
by the Nazis and those who survived emigrated either to Israel 
or elsewhere. There is also a marked preponderance of women 
over men. 

The Jewish community was reduced not only by emigration 
but, to some extent, also by conversion to Christianity and inter- 
marriage, particularly immediately after the war. 

From this situation arises the fact that, whereas before the 
war practically every Dutchman knew of Jews and the Jewish 
customs from first-hand experience, today there is already a 
Dutch generation to whom the Jew is a theoretical being. 


The economic position of the Dutch Jews is generally good.. 
It is true that the rehabilitation and restoration work proceeded 
slowly and was attended with many difficulties. But this does not 
alter the fact that after much effort on the part of the Jews, and 


after many skillfully conducted legal procedures, a large part 
of the stolen properties were returned to their Jewish owners. 

The. heirless property was transferred to a special organi- 
sation and the banks were ordered to pay considerable amounts 
to indemnify for the securities stolen by the Germans. 

Despite this recovery, the Dutch Jews do not play the role in 
the economic life that they did before the war. A case in point is 
the diamond industry, which before the war was almost exclusively 
in Jewish hands, but at present is overwhelmingly in Gentile 
hands. As a result of the changes in the economic position of the 
Jews, a vocational retraining process is under way, which is 
reflected in the existence of 25 ORT courses for adults. In many 
cases vocational retraining is undertaken with a view to emigra- 
tion overseas. 

The fact that the Netherlands was the first European country 
able to dispense with the greatly appreciated help of the Joint, 
was made possible by the complete success of a Dutch United 
Appeal, The Centrale Financiering s Actie (Central Fundraising 
Drive) collects annually approximately 500,000 guilders. This 
may be onscidered a generous sum if one takes into consideration 
what is given for Israel over and above this amount. 


(a) Spiritual Expression. The spiritual imprint of all this 
work is positively Jewish and national. There is a united Zionist 
organization in which Misrachi, General, and Leftist Zionists 
.are joined together. Notwithstanding the tension that this 
.sometimes produces, the system does have great advantages. 
The work for the young is very intensive. There are youth groups 
for those in the ages of 6 to 20. During the summer months there 
are camps and seminars for youths of every school of thought. 
"With these activities, the shortage of leaders is felt all the more 
keenly. Again and again the best go to Israel. On the other 
liand, the work is inspired by emissaries from Israel who replace 
one another from time to time. 


(b) Youth Movement. The Youth Movement performs an 
important and urgent task. For many young folk living outside 
the large towns, it is their only Jewish contact. In this connection 
it is worth noting the activity as regards teachers. The situation 
at the moment is such that every Jewish child, no matter where 
in the Netherlands, can receive tutoring, if so desired. 

Among the older youths, too, a lot more studying is done 
than in former days, and in some cases the knowledge of Hebrew 
is above the average. 

In this connection mention must also be made of the Zionist 
activity among the student youth. While in other countries 
complaints have often been heard that study and intellectualism 
estranges the youth from Judaism, one can say that here the 
very fact that many young people go to university, tends to 
make them conscious of their Jewishness. There is an important 
shift in the direction of study. Among those attending institutions 
of higher learning, the technical and medical students now pre- 
dominate as against the great number of law students in former 
days. It is apparent that fields are sought which offer greater 
Israel or international opportunities. 

One of the unfulfilled Jewish wishes in the Netherlands is 
the erection of hostels for Jewish students. A newly-established 
Hillel Foundation by the Dutch B'nai B'rith is an attempt to 
supply this need somewhat. 

(c) Zionism. The positive aspect of the changed circum- 
stances is the Zionist, or better still, the pro-Israel attitude 
of the average Dutch Jew. The above-mentioned "aliyah" of a 
large group of Zionists, among whom were many meritorious 
older and younger leaders, meant a considerable sacrifice on the 
part of those remaining behind. The Collective Israel Appeal 
raises half a million guilders for Israel yearly. Moreover, large 
amounts are invested in Israel directly or via Israel Bonds. 
Practically every Dutch Jew has relatives or friends in Israel,. 
and the percentage who have visited Israel, at least once, is 
very high. The whole of Jewish life here is imbued with Israel 


It is assumed that about 10 per cent of the Jewish population 
is organized in the Zionist movement, which comprises 28 units. 
The number of registered Zionists has diminished as a result 
of emigration and death (by about 400 since 1951). The largest 
organization is in Amsterdam, with a membership of 927 at the 
end of last year. 

(d) Assimilation and Disintegration. As against this Zion- 
ism which for many has meant the preservation of the Jewish 
way of life we find disintegration, which is equally the result 
of the uprooting caused by the war. Many Jews, young as well as 
old, stood quite alone and at a loose end after the war. They 
found no Jewish family circle or ties, no Jewish groups, and 
stood lost in the non-Jewish population. Mixed marriages are 
the result thereof, and growing baptism, though the latter in 
smaller measure. 

Many a young girl, finding herself in a situation where she 
met few or no Jews, has contracted a mixed marriage, no Jewish 
mate being available. 

(e) Religious Affairs. Next to the Ashkenazic Dutch Jews 1 
Congregation (Nederlands-Israelitisch KerJcgenootschap) there 
exists a small Sephardic congregation in Amsterdam (with about 
900 members) and, nominally, in the Hague (40 Portuguese Jews) , 
as well as a Liberal group (with about 300 members, mostly 
middle-aged former German Jews). The Dutch Jews' Congregation 
is a national organization in which all the Kehillot are linked 
together. As in the past, it is on an Orthodox basis, although 
this does not mean that the members live in accordance with 
Orthodox precepts. However, the majority of Dutch Jews prefer 
unity to religious differentiations. The Dutch Jews' Congregation 
has congregations in 60 localities as against 150 before the war. 
The Sephardic congregation was hard hit by the deportation 
of its members during the Nazi occupation. The Portuguese Jews 
were let alone, promises being dangled before them in a treacher- 
ous manner that they would be exchanged for people from 
abroad. Suddenly, however, they were arrested en masse. Because 
they were confident of their position, only a few had gone into 


hiding. The small number who returned, are active and zealously 
maintain all their old institutions, among them the world- 
famous Portuguese Synagogue. 

The Liberal group, originally founded by German immigrants, 
has been more active during the last year, and there is more 
debating over the issues of Orthodoxy vs. Liberalism. 

Religous life is confined mostly to the large cities (for in- 
stance, Amsterdam has six synagogues), though one may add 
that the average age of the persons attending divine services 
is low. It is noteworthy that there are always a number of young 
people present, and one can certainly not say that it is the 
grandfathers who uphold the remnants of the old Judaism. 
On the contrary, it is exactly among the young families and 
youth that there is the desire for an active religious life. However, 
of the estimated 13,000 Jews in Amsterdam, only 6,000 belong 
to the Jewish congregations. In this field far more could be 
done if only there were more rabbis and religious instructors 
available. It appears to be exceptionally difficult, however, to 
attract people from abroad, although the Netherlands offers an 
attractive field for active and ambitious teachers. 

The Ashkenazim have three rabbis in the whole of Holland 
and the Sephardim one. Most of the synagogues in the country- 
side have been sold and converted into churches, factories, schools, 
museums, etc. 

After the first needs for social assistance had been attended 
to, more attention began to be given to the pastoral work, 
especially during the last years. The Liberal group as well as 
the Congregation endeavors to reach the large numbers who, 
being alone in a non-Jewish environment, no longer lead a 
Jewish life nor can they find their way to doing so. 

(f ) Jewish Education. Much has been done by Dutch Jewry 
to promote Jewish education among the young, through religious 
classes (traveling teachers give instruction in the smaller com- 
munities weekly or fortnightly) and schools. The program, how- 
ever, has been hampered by a shortage of teachers. In the schools 
Hebrew plays a prominent role. In Amsterdam there is a Jewish 


Day School with an enrollment of 200 and a kindergarten with 
140 children. In the Talmud Torah (afternoon school) about 80 
children between 8 and 17 years of age receive a strictly Jewish 
education. Amsterdam also has a Jewish secondary school (the 
only one in the country) with 100 pupils. The Hague has a 
Jewish kindergarten. The Rabbinical and Teachers Seminary 
is open again, but for evening classes only, and at the moment 
courses are given only for those studying for a teacher's degree. 


Dutch Jewry, ten years after the liberation, is an economic- 
ally sound community, and positively Jewish and pro-Israel 
in spirit. Social work is conducted along modern lines and has 
at its disposal many institutions covering various sections. In 
general, one is internationally-minded and conscious of the 
relativity of the position of the Jew in the Golah. Notwithstanding 
the ties of love for Holland and complete loyalty as citizens, the 
strong feeling of Dutch chauvinism which was manifest before 
the war, has practically disappeared. 

Despite these gains, Dutch Jewry, compared with its pre-war 
status, not only has diminished in numbers but its social com- 
position and religious and cultural contents have fundamentally 
changed: the large Jewish masses have disappeared and there 
are also few intellectuals or professional persons among the 
remaining Jews. 

One has tried to put the memory of the occupation years 
behind one. Many have sought their fortune elsewhere. Those 
who have remained find themselves faced with the cultural 
problem of how they and their children can share as much as 
possible in the spiritual Jewish renaissance of the times. 



Before World War II, the Jewish population of Belgium 
was put at 65,000 to 90,000. The number of Jews in the principal 
cities and towns was estimated as follows: approximately 30,000 
in Brussels, 55,000 in Antwerp, 2,000 in Charleroi and Liege, 300 
in Ghent, and 50 in Namur. 

The great majority of these Jews (over 90 per cent) were 
recent immigrants and had not yet acquired Belgian citizenship. 
Most of them were small merchants or artisans working chiefly at 
ready-to-wear and leather goods, the last-named industry having 
made great progress in Belgium thanks to them. Moreover, in 
Antwerp the Jews played an important role in the diamond 
industry. As for the professions, they were relatively little repre- 
sented among the Jews, at least among those who immigrated 
after World War I. 


While the German troops were invading Belgium (May, 1940), 
a large number of Jews (nearly 45,000), along with hundreds of 
thousands of Belgians fleeing the invader, sought refuge in 
France. Part of them returned to Belgium after the French- 
German armistice (June, 1940) ; the others, remaining in France, 
shared the fate of the Jews of France and were deported via 
Drancy, only a handful succeeding in escaping overseas. 



Although anti-Jewish measures had been introduced im- 
mediately after the occupation, deportations did not commence 
until July, 1942. They began by striking at the foreign Jews, the 
Belgian Jews being spared thanks to the intercession of Queen 
Elizabeth and Cardinal Van Roey with General von Falkenstein, 
who was the head of the German civil administration for Belgium 
and Northern France. Nevertheless, on Hitler's orders, the pro- 
mise not to maltreat the Belgian Jews was not kept and one 
night in September, 1943, the Belgian Jews knew in their turn 
the meaning of deportation. 

By the end of the war, 27,000 Jews of Belgium (10,382 men, 
9,987 women, and 4,363 minors under 16 years) had been deported 
to Auschwitz in 26 convoys spread over the period from April 8, 
1942 to July 31, 1944, after having been interned for varying 
lengths of time at the Dossin Barracks in Malines, which 
served as an assembly center for Jews seized in the course of 
roundups. One thousand one hundred and ninety-six, or less 
than one person in twenty, survived and were repatriated after 
the war. 

During the occupation the attitude of the Belgian population 
toward the Jews was generally very friendly and helpful. No 
doubt there were collaborators and Nazi sympathizers among 
the Belgians, who in certain regions assisted in the roundups 
of Jews, but the greater part of the population disapproved of 
the anti-Jewish persecutions and many a time lent its aid to the 
Jews by helping them to flee and offering them shelter. 

It is fitting to point out the role played by the Catholic clergy 
in rescuing Jews, the monasteries often offering refuge to the 
latter and especially to Jewish children, more than 2,500 of whom 
were saved in this manner. The Resistance organizations them- 
selves also made a splendid contribution to this rescue work. 
Cooperating with the Jewish Resistants (Committee for the 
Defense of Jews Armed Jewish Resistants), they provided 
numerous Jews with hiding places, forged identity and ration 
-cards, thus enabling them to hide and to escape deportation. 

As regards more particularly the activity of the Armed Jewish 


Resistants, it is fitting to call attention to the remarkable feat 
they performed in attacking a convoy of deportees which had 
left Malines for Auschwitz, thereby assuring the liberation of 
more than a thousand persons. 

Finally, let us stress the valuable cooperation given to this 
rescue action by the Belgian authorities and particularly by 
most of the local governments. It is specially due to the ill will 
which these authorities manifested toward the orders of the 
German occupant that a number of anti-Jewish measures re- 
mained dead letters. 


Immediately after the end of the war the number of Jews 
in Belgium was estimated by Le Matin (Brussels) at 19,950. Of 
this total, approximately 1,500 were in Antwerp, about 15,000 in 
Brussels, some 1,200 in Liege, some 400 in Namur, and 150 in 
Ghent. However, the Bureau des Information Juives of Belgium 
estimated the number of Jews in that country in April, 1945 at 
22,500, of whom only 2 per cent were Belgian citizens, while 40 
per cent were of Polish nationality, 30 per cent of German and 
Austrian nationalities, 18 per cent were citizens of various other 
countries, and 10 per cent were stateless persons. After the 
cessation of hostilities, 1,196 Jews returned from deportation, 8,000 
came back from France, Switzerland, England, and other countries 
of refuge, and 2,360 Jews who had not lived in the country before 
the war (displaced persons from Germany) settled in Belgium. 
Accordingly, at the beginning of 1946 the number of Jews in 
Belgium was put at about 32,000. 

In the ensuing years the Jewish population was increased by 
returnees and immigrants, although until 1951 particularly, in 
1947 and 1948 the emigration to Israel and the United States 
was considerable in relation to the number of Jews living in 
the country, involving 5,000 emigrants. After a period of adjust* 
ment to the economic life of Belgium, emigration soared again 
with the outbreak of the Korean war and the resulting fear 


of a third World War. At that time 8,000 Jews registered for 
emigration to Israel and the United States, and 300-350 Jews 
left Belgium every month. Altogether, 12,000 Jews left the country 
in the postwar years, about 1,245 of them for Israel. 

During the first five years after the war, immigration went 
on simultaneously with emigration and the Belgian Government 
hospitably offered the possibility of a haven, though a temporary 
one, to Jewish displaced persons. As late as 1950 the Belgian 
Government responded favorably to the request of the Inter- 
national Refugee Organization to grant disabled persons, without 
distinction as to nationality or religion, who were living at that 
time in DP camps, a permanent haven. In all, 6,000 Jewish 
displaced persons were admitted to Belgium, but 4,500 emigrated 
to other countries. 

The exact number of -Jews in Belgium at present is not 
known. In 1951 HIAS estimated the Jewish population of that 
country as high as 45,000. According to the Israelitische Wochen- 
Uatt of Zurich, there were 35,00040,000 Jews in Belgium at the 
end of 1949, of whom 7,0008,000 had come to the country after 
the war. Michel Salomon, in his article "In the Lands of Benelux," 
(Jewish Frontier, February, 1950) put the Jewish population of 
Belgium at 40,000, while, according to a writer in the London 
Jewish Chronicle Supplement (June 19, 1953), the estimated 
number of Jews in Belgium was only 25,000, of whom 15,000, or 
60 per cent, were to be found in Brussels. On the basis of the 
figures cited above, it may be assumed that the present Jewish 
population of Belgium does not exceed 30,000. 


Before the war, about 5.5 per cent of the Jews of Belgium 
possessed Belgian citizenship. 

This small proportion of Belgian citizens among the Jewish 
population was not due to any discrimination against Jews, but 
actually to the rigid and restrictive legislation governing the 
acquisition of Belgian citizenship. The latter requires, as a con- 


dition, total assimilation to the morals and mentality of the 
population of the country, which has the effect of putting ob- 
stacles in the way of obtaining Belgian citizenship the fact, for 
example, that a foreigner frequents schools or organizations 
of a "national" character, that he has economic and social con- 
tacts solely or mainly with compatriots of his country of origin, 
that he has a poor knowledge of the languages of the country, etc. 

The methods of applying this condition of naturalization 
have greatly changed for the better so that an increasing 
number of children of alien Jews have become citizens and the 
proportion of citizens among the Jewish population has con- 
siderably increased since the war; and although one cannot 
establish it with certainty, it would seem no exaggeration to 
estimate this proportion at present at 20 or even 25 per cent 
of the Jewish community. 

Nevertheless, it is a fact that three-quarters of the Jews 
of Belgium remain aliens, without mentioning that this pro- 
portion must be appreciably still larger among adults. Now, 
if Jewish citizens of Belgium enjoy the same rights as other 
Belgians, there being no discrimination against them, whether in 
public employment or in private enterprise, the same is not true 
of alien Jews. The sojourn, work, and, in general, professional 
activity of aliens in Belgium are as a matter of fact strictly 

It win readily be perceived that, caught in the toils of this 
regulation, the alien Jew, as an alien, can pursue his professional 
activity only with difficulty and is all too often forced to forego 
certain profitable ventures because of failure to obtain the 
necessary permission from the proper authorities. The situation 
is all the more difficult because the Jews generally work for 
others as well as for themselves in trades where unemployment 
and competition prevail (mainly ready-made garments, leather 
goods, furs). 

As soon as the regulation concerning work cards for aliens 
was instituted (a regulation established in 1939, but not enforced 
until 1946), the Council of Jewish Associations, a World Jewish 


Congress creation of that time in Belgium, intervened and 
sought to have special treatment accorded to Jews in this 
matter. That intervention failed, for it ran into two obstacles: 
the impossibility of envisaging discriminatory treatment in 
favor of a racial or religious group, and the danger of establishing 
a precedent which other national groups might invoke and 
which might practically render the regulation inoperative. 

The special situation of Jews stemming from Germany, 
Austria, and Italy who after Hitler's accession to power, and also 
after the war, sought refuge in Belgium, was particularly difficult. 
These Jewish refugees were at first regarded as citizens of those 
countries and, therefore, treated as "alien enemies." Their pro- 
perty was sequestered, their bank accounts blocked, and they 
could not carry on any business. Commencing April, 1945, such 
Jews were considered "non-enemies"; after an investigation of 
their "moral integrity," they received a certificate of good 
conduct (certi float de civisme) which did away with the 
restrictions imposed on nationals of former enemy states. They 
were relieved of the obligation of reporting periodically to the 
police and of compulsory residence. But the general regulations 
concerning the custody of enemy property remained in force 
until May, 1947, when legislation was enacted for the return of 
property sequestered under prior ordinances. 

Property belonging to such Jews was, as said, sequestered by 
the Government and restoration depended on proof that they 
were victims of the German occupation and that their behavior 
toward Belgium was irreproachable. Jews who could produce a 
certificate of "non-enemy" affiliation or who (or members of 
whose families) had served with the armed forces of the Allies 
or participated in the Resistance movement were automatically 
entitled to this "privilege." 

It was not until February 25, 1952, that the Belgian Ministry 
of Justice declared that Jewish refugees from Germany would 
no longer be considered German nationals, thereby putting an 
end to the special measures against Jews coming from Germany, 

Foreigners who were granted only temporary residence in 


Belgium on the basis of a transit visa are the most unfortunate- 
of all. They receive periodically notices from the Police of 
Foreigners reminding them that they must be sure to leave the 
country within a short time. 

In practice the police usually do not take any steps to deport 
them. Jewish organizations, notably HIAS, intervene when de- 
portation threatens and the police postpone it for some months. 
In the case of 5,000 Jews who had come to Belgium "illegally," 
the Emigration Office granted a stay of some months, basing the 
decision on the ground that the cooperation of HIAS was 
"guarantee that the matter is in good hands." 


When the remnants of Belgian Jewry emerged from hiding 
or got back to Belgium, repatriated by the Belgian authorities 
from the countries (chiefly France, England, Switzerland, Spain) 
to which they had fled during the German occupation, they were 
confronted with the agonizing problem of finding dwellings and 
business premises. Those which they had possessed before the 
war were as a matter of fact occupied by new tenants, whether 
the latter had occupied them in good faith or, in less common 
cases, had come into possession of these premises through the 
favor of German authorities to whom they had rendered some 

The problem was all the harder to solve because, as a result 
of the destruction caused by bombardments to buildings and 
the rush to the large centers by people from small country towns, 
an acute shortage of dwellings and business premises prevailed 
generally in Belgium. This no doubt explains why in 1945, when 
at the intercession of the Council of the Jewish Community of 
Brussels, the burgomasters of the Brussels area launched an 
appeal to the population to give temporary shelter to Jews who 
had lost their former quarters, the appeal met with little response. 

The Government, therefore, had to intervene and on 
March 12, 1945, a decree was issued which authorized those whom 
the German occupation had forced to abandon their homes or 


business premises to claim reinstatement in these places, and 
that even against bona fide occupants. These arrangements were 
incorporated in their entirety in the law of July 29, 1947, on the 
extension of leases which Parliament passed in order to cope 
with the effects of the housing shortage. 

Restitution of property alienated during the German oc- 
cupation was at first left to the general laws of the country. 
However, civil law proved inadequate to deal with most cases 
because it lacked the presumption of duress, i.e., the law put 
the burden of proof on the former owner. 

The Council of Jewish Associations of Belgium and the World 
Jewish Congress made many demarches and intercessions with 
a view to the preparation and promulgation of a law which would 
establish the necessary presumption. On April 19, 1947, the 
relevant law was promulgated, enabling many Jews, victims of 
German spoliation, to regain their property which had been 
transferred to third parties. 

The problem of the property of those Jews who perished 
without leaving any heirs has not been solved to this day. At 
first the Government intended to sell at auction the movable 
property of Jews who had died in concentration camps or whose 
fate was unknown. Owing to the protests of Belgian Jewry, 
which urged that in cases of established death where no heirs 
existed, the property be transferred to the Jewish community, 
the measure was rescinded, but the desired transfer did not take 

The Government was of the opinion that such transfer was 
against the law (the latter provides that intestate successions 
to which there are no heirs revert to the State) and that to 
make special arrangements in favor of the Jewish organizations 
would create a dangerous precedent. Nevertheless, the authorities 
showed themselves extremely broad-minded in the appraisal of 
claims to the inheritance by successional candidates, and it would 
seem that the largest part of the property held back by the 
State has found an owner among the more or less distant relatives 
of the missing Jews. 


A particular problem was presented by the restitution of 
diamonds plundered by the Germans. During the first two years 
of the occupation, the Germans looted 940,000 carats of diamonds 
in Belgium. After the end of the war, the American Army found 
in Goettingen, Germany, 15 bags containing 167,000 carats of 
the stolen gems, valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, 
which were handed over to the Belgian authorities. The surviving 
diamond dealers formed a syndicate to trace the stolen stones 
and safeguard the rights of the lawful owners. 


The process of reintegration into the economic life of the 
country had a very slow start and was attended with enormous 

About 80 per cent of the Jews were without homes, furniture, 
and clothing. Their state of health was very poor. A medical 
examination of 3,000 families, comprising 6,100 individuals, showed 
that 1,899 persons, or 31.13 per cent, were ill and unfit for work. 
This ratio was true for the total Jewish population of Belgium. 

During the first two years after the war, from 8,000 to 10,000 
Jews lived on relief. Needy Jews, Belgian citizens and those who 
had resided in the country for more than ten years, received 
doles from the municipalities. 

On the other hand, within the limits of the law on the status 
of a political prisoner and those having a rightful claim on him 
(February 26, 1947), a certain number of deported Jews or those 
having a rightful claim on them (spouse or children) benefited 
from indemnities and reparation payments sufficiently large 
to provide them a springboard for economic rehabilitation. If 
the number of Jews benefiting from this status was limited, it is 
because the status of political prisoner was granted only to 
Belgians; a foreigner could obtain it only if he proved that his 
deportation or internment by the Germans had been the result 
of his political activity in the Resistance movement. Thus foreign 


Jews deported solely for a racial reason, as well as those having 
a rightful claim on them, were excluded from the benefits of 
this status. As regards the latter, however, an exception was made 
for Belgian-born children of deported aliens, who on that account 
could acquire Belgian nationality by opting for their native 

The same limitations appear in the law on compensation 
for war damage to possessions. 

Although few Jews benefited by these laws, the Ministry 
of Reconstruction, according to an estimate of The Jewish 
Chronicle (London), distributed to needy foreign Jews nearly 
thirty-four million francs (about $243,000) over and above the 
eighteen million francs it bestowed upon Jewish orphans and 

Those Jews who could not obtain help from the Belgian 
authorities were taken care of either by the International' Refugee 
Organization or by the Jewish relief organizations such as the 
Joint Distribution Committee and the Aid to Jewish War Victims 
(Aide aux Israelites victimes de la Guerre, AVIG for short). 

The Government's assistance was not confined to charitable 
measures. It also provided for the cultural needs of the Jewish 
communities, paid the salaries of Jewish teachers and rabbis, 
on the same basis as to other religious congregations. Some 
municipal councils provided funds for the repair of synagogues 
damaged by the Germans and for the resumption of religious 

During 1945-1946 seven ~ canteens subsidized by the Joint 
served meals to 12,000 persons. Toward the end of 1946, two of 
the canteens were closed because the situation had improved. 
The Joint also distributed clothing and household goods and 
granted monthly subventions to 5,470 persons. Little by little the 
situation began to improve. In 1948, the Joint assisted only 
3,000 people financially. The decline was due not only to the 
economic improvement, but also to the fact that by this time 
the number of persons holding transit visas had decreased while 
the number of those entitled to public aid had increased. The 


.stabilization of the economic situation in Belgium commenced 
in 1950; this had a favorable effect on Jewish life: in Brussels, 
that year, only 320 children and 80 aged persons living in a 
.special home had to be supported while cash relief was given to 
2,800 people. By 1952 the situation of the Jewish workers and 
merchants had improved and they could more easily find jobs 
.and business opportunities. The food situation had also grown 
better and the health of the Jews nearly approached that of the 
.average Belgian. The Jews engaged mostly in the diamond, 
-clothing, leather, and fur industries, as well as in the wholesale 
.and retail trades. 

At present the economic situation in Belgium is not too good. 
The percentage of the unemployed among Jews is relatively 
.higher than among natives because of the slight number of 
: Belgian citizens among them, and because aliens labor under 
the handicaps described above. There is a crisis in the clothing, 
.leather, and fur industries, in which Jewish workers constitute a 
-considerable majority. In the diamond industry, where 3,800 
^Jews (out of a total of 4,500) are now employed, there are many 
unemployed because the majority of these shops suspend their 
-operations for several weeks or even months. 

In order to nelp Belgian Jews adjust vocationally to the new 

^ economic conditions, OET in 1946 established a branch in Belgium 

.and opened trade schools there. Similarly, the Jewish Colonization 

Association resumed its vocational training program for Jewish 

youth and granted loans to needy Jewish artisans. The latter 

manifested their self-reliance and ability to adapt themselves 

to the altered economic situation by starting to organize 

cooperatives as early as 1945. Thus there was established a tailors' 

-cooperative which contracted to work for the Allied Armed 

Forces. Later some 450 small artisans and businessmen were 

-organized in a union which operated on a mutual aid basis. 

Unskilled women workers set up a cooperative for the manufacture 

of cleansing powder. 

The Belgian Government, and particularly the Municipality 
rof Antwerp, was very much concerned to restore the Belgian 


diamond industry, the center of which was Antwerp, and in 
which the Jews had played the leading role. Although during 
the war non-Jews had filled the places previously occupied by 
the deported or emigrated Jews, the Belgian Government feared 
lest the Jewish jewelers who had settled in other countries- 
should become competitors of the Belgian diamond industry. 
A representative of the Belgian Government visited England 
at the begining of 1945 and tried to organize the return of the 
Jews who had fled Belgium. The Municipality of Antwerp took 
steps to assist the Jewish residents of that city in the recovery 
of their property rights and also in overcoming the anti-Jewish 
sentiment which was strong after the liberation, especially when 
the question of returning Jewish property arose. In the ensuing- 
years a considerable number of Jewish diamond dealers and 
polishers returned to Antwerp, which, notwithstanding that this- 
industry has also developed in Israel, Holland, New York, London,, 
and even Brazil, continues to play a leading role in the inter- 
national diamond trade. 


(1) Religious Life. As the most accepted estimates indicate, 
numerically Brussels and Antwerp are in the order named the 
two largest centers of Belgian Jewry. 

Let us underscore at once that the Jewish community of 
Antwerp seems more cohesive and homogenous than that of 
Brussels. It is so from a geographical point of view, for if the 
Jews of Brussels have since the war manifested a tendency to 
scatter all over the Brussels aggregation (the chain of auto- 
nomous localities comprising Greater Brussels), the "Jewish 
quarter" of Antwerp still exists where it was situated even before 
the "Nazi purge," namely, near the central railroad station 
and more particularly in Kiviet and Pelicaan straat, those streets 
which are so typical of a traditional Jewish atmosphere such 
as one does not find in Brussels today. It is the same with 


respect to mental habit, for in its overwhelming majority the 
Jewish community of Antwerp is very much attached to religious 
orthodoxy, whereas in Brussels liberalism prevails which is 
conducive to a certain religious indifference, something that is 
virtually unknown in Antwerp. The mere fact that the Jewish 
community of Antwerp has six synagogues at its disposal, not 
counting the many places of worship which are open only on 
major holidays, while that of Brussels possesses only two, shows 
significantly the distance which separates the two communities 
with respect to the observance of the Jewish religion. Let us add 
that the cities of Liege, Ostend, and Arlon also possess their 
synagogues, while in the small Jewish centers, such as Namur 
and Ghent, places of worship exist only on the High Holy Days. 

Generally speaking, moreover, not more than a thousand 
persons among the Jewish poulation of the country are enrolled 
in the religious congregations and regularly pay them their 

Seventeen rabbis, all of them of foreign birth (the recruiting 
of ministers of religion being difficult locally) direct the Jewish 
communities and congregations of Belgium. Under the Belgian 
law concerning ecclesiastical matters, they receive a salary 
from the Government. 

(2) Organizational Activity. If Antwerp may be considered 
the center of Jewish religious life in the country, although the 
seat of the Central Jewish Consistory (Consistoire centrale 
Israelite), the official organization linking together 24 Jewish 
Communities, is in Brussels, it is the capital which constitutes the 
center of Jewish political and cultural life, especially since the 
end of the war. 

In fact, it is Brussels that is the headquarters of the 
Zionist Federation of Belgium, an organization around which 
practically the entire national Jewish life of the country revolves. 

Established by representatives of all Zionist parties (in 1952 
Brussels numbered 800 Mizrachi, 1,000 Mapam, 650 Mapai, 1,200 
General Zionists, and 1,200 Zionists unaffiliated with any party) , 
the Zionist Federation carries on an activity which extends far 


beyond the strictly political domain. Besides numerous demonstra- 
tions, mass meetings, lectures which it organizes all over the 
country to promote the realization of its Zionist objectives, the 
Federation performs a meritorious task in the sphere of in- 
struction in Hebrew, the Jewish education of youth, preparing 
young people for immigration to Israel (beginning with 1945 
hachshara camps were set up under its aegis) . Every year, 
it organizes summer camps for children and vacation trips to 
Israel for youth; it has established a Hebraists' club as well 
as Hebrew courses, and in addition subsidizes Jewish schools. 
Finally, the Federation publishes fortnightly a French-language 
periodical, which, since 1951, has been the only Jewish publication 
in the country. 

It is mainly owing to and around the activities of the 
Zionist Federation that an intense national Jewish life goes 
on in the country, despite the far from favorable conditions 
which Belgium offers for its development. 

To be sure, there are other Jewish political organizations in 
Belgium, but their activities tend to decline from year to year, 
as is the case with the Bund-Union of Jewish Socialists, or to 
lose every national Jewish trait, as is true of Solidarite Juive, 
an organization of an anti-Zionist and assimilationary spirit with 
extreme leftist tendencies. 

Let us point out that after the war an attempt was made to 
coordinate the activities of the Jewish organizations of the 
country. On April 26, 1945, a general meeting of representatives 
of all Jewish organizations voted to form a central body in 
Brussels to be known as Conseil des Associations Juives de 
Belgique (Council of Jewish Associations of Belgium) and to 
affiliate it with the World Jewish Congress. This coordinating 
body existed for two years, but after the general situation had 
improved, some organizations were of the opinion that each of 
them should have an opportunity to pursue its own objectives 
independently, and the Council was accordingly dissolved. At- 
tempts were also made to create such a coordinating body in 


Antwerp and to have both bodies cooperate, but this never 

Belgian Jewry also tried to forge new links with world 
Jewry. Affiliation with the World Jewish Congress, reinstallation 
of a B'nai B'rith lodge, organization of a Zionist Month as early 
as March, 1945, convocation of a European Mizrachi conference,, 
establishment of Belgian branches of CRT and OSE, these 
are some examples of the activities of Belgian Jewry in its. 
effort to serve the common interest of all Jewry. 

(3) Welfare and Cultural Work. In the field of social as- 
sistance, a number of Jewish welfare societies, the most important 
of which is Aide aux Israelites victimes de la Guerre (Assistance- 
for Jewish War Victims), are grouped together in a central 
organization, Centrale des Oeuvres sociales juives, and conduct 
coordinated activities with a view to assuring the Jewish po- 
pulation of a modicum of well-being. The role of these societies- 
was particularly important in the first years of the postwar 
period, during which they contributed effectively to the economic 
and social rehabilitation of the survivors of the Jewish community 
of Belgium. 

A great effort is being made within Belgian Jewry in behalf 
of Jewish education for the young. 

In Antwerp there exist two Jewish Day Schools attended 
by 1,000 pupils (the Tachkemoni School and Yesod Hatorah). 
Besides, not far from Antwerp, in the small town of Cappelen, 
there is a Talmudical academy. 

In Brussels there is a Jewish Day School, FEcole Israelite (150- 
pupils), as well as three afternoon schools: that of the Orthodox 
Jewish Congregation, that of Mapam (I. L. Peretz School) , and 
that of the Arbeiter Ring (Bund). 

All these schools together are attended by 295 children in 
the ages of 6 to 14 years, an inadequate number if one remembers- 
that the total number of Jewish children in this age group- 
is estimated at 1,200-1,500. 

As for youths of 12 to 18 years, whose number in Brussels: 
is estimated at 2,000, they receive no Jewish education, if one- 


leaves out of account the efforts made by the Zionist Federation, 
other than that which is imparted to them weekly by the classes 
in Jewish religion and history (45 to 90 minutes a week) estab- 
lished by the State at intermediate and high schools under the 
provisions of the School Law. It is under the same law that the 
Jewish schools receive subsidies from the State, subsidies which 
liave just been reduced in accordance with a new law reducing 
the State's subventions for religious instruction, a measure which 
a, few months ago provoked Catholic demonstrations of protest 
in the country. 

Jewish young people can obtain a national education within 
the five Zionist Youth Movements with an aggregate membership 
of 275, and the Youth Groups of the B'nai B'rith (50 to 75 mem- 
bers). Finally, the Maccabi groups (200 members) bring together 
Jewish devotees of sport. 


Next to Denmark, Belgium enjoys the distinction of holding 
:first place in the matter of saving Jewish children from the 
.Nazi barbarians. They were placed with Catholic families and 
in Catholic institutions. Of particular interest are the activities 
of Father Andre, who took care of some 40 children and brought 
them up in a Jewish national and even Zionist spirit. 

The return of the children, especially of orphans, to Jewish 
surroundings was a very delicate task, because in a great many 
cases the foster parents had done their best for the health and 
morale of their charges and become strongly attached to them. 
Moreover, the children themselves had lost all memory of their 
families and religion. But there were few cases where relatives 
or Jewish organizations met with resistance on the part of 
the Gentiles in reclaiming the children. There was no proces 
celebre in Belgium like the Finaly Case in France. The majority 
of the Catholic clergy was against the forcible retention of 
Jewish children in a Christian environment. The general opinion 


of the clergy was that in such a delicate question the welfare of 
the child should play the decisive part and in many cases it 
intervened in behalf of relatives of the orphans when they 
asked foster parents to return their Jewish charges. 

The Belgian courts also assisted in the return of Jewish 
children to Jewish surroundings. As early as December, 1945, 
the Vice President of the Civil Court in Brussels ruled that- 
children whose parents had been deported and did not return 
within a considerable period of time should be placed in the 
custody of a legal guardian at the request of their surviving 
relatives. In his ruling the judge stressed the desirability of 
restoring Jewish children to their traditional environment and 
condemned the attempts of foster parents to prevent such a. 

The most recent case was tried on August 7, 1955. It con-- 
cerned a Mile. F. Herard, a Catholic school teacher, who in 1943 
adopted a two-year-old Jewish boy after his parents had been 
murdered by Nazis in Antwerp, baptized the child, and changed 
his name. Some time ago, the boy's uncle learned of the fate 
of his nephew and instituted proceedings for the "restitution 
of the boy's identity." The court awarded to him the custody 
of his nephew. Mile. Herard hid the boy in a clinic, where he 
was found and returned to his uncle; the woman was arrested. 

The return of Jewish children from non-Jewish homes started 
immediately after the liberation. In Januray, 1946, there still 
were 435 Jewish children with Gentile foster parents, but at the 
end of that year, there were only 82. During the same period 131 
children returned from non-Jewish institutions to Jewish families . 
or hostels. At present, all but a few Jewish children have been 
restored to Jewish surroundings. 

Jewish organizations took care of orphans who remained . 
without relatives. In March, 1955, the Association to Aid Jewish, 
War Victims opened a new orphanage in Brussels for 80 children . 
and adolescents whose parents had been deported by the Nazis... 



This cursory survey of the situation of Belgian Jewry may 
leave the reader with a pessimistic impression about its future. 
Such an impression would be wrong, however. 

Unquestionably, the Jewish community of Belgium suffers 
from the ills which afflict a large number of Jewish communities 
in the Diaspora: assimilation (especially of the youth), mixed 
marriages (a fairly common occurrence in Brussels, but almost 
unknown in Antwerp) , etc. All these ills, however, are not beyond 
remedy and one should not exaggerate their gravity. 

In reality, Belgian Jewry is quite alive, but it has assumed 
-a wholly new aspect compared with what it was before the war. 
Whereas formerly it consisted mainly of foreign Jews stemming 
for the most part from Eastern Europe and nourished at the 
Tery sources of the spiritual heritage accumulated in the ghettos, 
it is becoming more and more a community of Jews rid of the 
alien's complex and who, living in a traditionally liberal country 
where anti-Semitism manifests itself only sporadically and in 
mild forms, do not feel, like their forebears, the need of affirm- 
ing their Jewish consciousness in a spectacular manner. 

This consciousness nevertheless exists and the broad masses 
which gather at the public meetings arranged by the Jewish 
political organizations of the country constitute a living proof 
of it. If the Jews of Belgium attend synagogue less, if they 
manifest a tendency to rid themselves of certain Jewish traditions 
which in modern life hamper their existence, they continue none 
the less to visit one another, to manifest their traditional 
solidarity in daily life, and what is most important, to take a 
keen interest in Jewish affairs. 

In this respect the existence of the State of Israel plays a 
major role, as everywhere else, in the survival of Jewish con- 
sciousness among the Jews of Belgium, and we could cite in 
this connection numerous cases of persons who in everyday life 


seem quite estranged from everything Jewish but nevertheless 
manifest on all occasions, sometimes in a very discreet but 
substantial way, their attachment to that which justly seems 
to them Jewry's most precious possession: Israel. 

Thus Belgian Jewry remains quite alive but has assumed 
new forms and bases its Jewish consciousness upon the concrete 
values of its time. It is up to the Jewish organizations and 
institutions of the country, while adjusting to the new reality r 
to foster within the Jewish community an awareness of these 
values and thereby assure the continuity of Belgian Jewry. 



In the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a small country but 
'one that is rich in and proud of its democratic institutions, the 
number of Jews had risen from 3,144 in 1935 to about 5,000 by the 
beginning of 1940 as a result of arrivals from the Saar and 
refugees from Hitler-dominated lands. The ancient Jewish com- 
munity which had been reconstituted in 1791 in the wake of the 
French Revolution, was preparing to celebrate its 150th an- 
niversary in the modern era, when the German armies invaded 
the tiny country on May 10, 1940. 

In the night of the invasion 700 Jews fled from the capital 
;and country towns, while another 400 were evacuated by French 
troops from the mining district of Esch-sur-Alzette. There re- 
mained about 3,900 Jews, in utter anguish and terror. A wave 
of arrests and suicides followed when the VDB (Volksdeutsche 
Bewegung Popular German Movement) emerged from under- 
ground and stepped up the persecution of the Jews. 

When, on August 7, 1940, the rule pf the military was replaced 
t>y a civil administration, the entire body of anti-Jewish legisla- 
tion of the Nazis was promulgated in Luxembourg on September 
5, 1940; the possessions of the Jews were declared "Volksver- 
moegen," they were eliminated from economic <and social life, 
and Jews up to the age of 58 (later up to 70 and over) were 
assigned to forced labor in quarries and in the building of roads 
and express highways, and ghettoized in communal quarters. 

Simultaneously, a policy of expulsion and deportation was 



put into effect. The Grand Rabbi and the Consistory took steps 
to evacuate the community to the West. During the period from 
August 8, 1940, to October 15, 1941, five convoys with a total 
of 689 Jews were sent off in the direction of Portugal with over- 
seas destination, while approximately 2,000 more were taken 
in groups of 20 to 50 illegally over the demarcation line at Dijon 
to the temporary saftey of unoccupied France, and another 200 
were moved to the relatively better climate in Belgium. 

The possibility of evacuation ended on the 15th of October, 
1941. Those remaining after that date were deported and fell 
victim to the "Final Solution." In the period from October 16, 
1941, to April 6, 1943, two transports brought 396 Jews to the 
Ghetto of Lodz, one transport took 24 Jews directly to Auschwitz, 
and three transports brought 309 Jews to Theresienstadt. Oil 
the 7th of April 1943, Luxembourg was "judenrein." 


After the liberation of Luxembourg by the United States 
armies in the fall of 1944, about 70 Jews emerged from hiding; 
their 'number was soon increased by returnees from Belgium, 
France, Switzerland, and Italy. A newly-formed Consistory, with 
Israel Cerf as president, reconstituted the basic services of the 
community. After the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany 
in May, 1945, the number of Jews was augmented by 35 survivors 
of the extermination camps in Poland and of Theresienstadt. 
Shortly afterwards, the return of Luxembourg Jews from the 
Western Hemisphere set in. Thanks to these homecomers from all 
parts of Europe and America, the Jewish population rose steadily, 
to reach the number of approximately 1,200 in 1955. 

This, then, is the balance sheet of the tragedy suffered by 
Luxembourg Jewry at the hands of the Nazis: 1,400 perished 
in the gas chambers of the extermination camps in Poland or 
in Theresienstadt, half of whom had been deported directly from 
Luxembourg, while another 700 had been deported from Southern 
France by the agents of the Vichy regime or by the Nazis after 


their occupation of the Free Zone in November, 1942; 2,500 chose 
to remain abroad, about 500 in the neighboring countries of 
Western Europe and over 2,000 in the United States and in 
various countries of Latin America, where they had found a 
new home. 

In 1946, the Consistory, led by Edmond Marx, embarked 
upon the difficult task of reconstruction. The legislation enacted 
by the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies for restitution to and 
rehabilitation of the victims of Nazi persecution, helped the 
Jews to re-integrate themselves into the economic and social life 
of the country. Under the guidance of the first postwar Grand 
Rabbi, Dr. Joseph Kratzenstein, but especially since 1949 with the 
active cooperation of his successor, Dr. Charles Lehrmarm, the 
religious, cultural, and philanthropic institutions were rebuilt. 
At the same time, some of the rural communities, particularly 
those in Esch and Ettelbruck, arose from the ashes and recreated 
the foundations of Jewish life. 

Soon a network of organizations made its appearance. The 
"Ezra" was reconstituted and resumed its work of aid and 
sheltering. The Jewish Society of Ladies became again active in 
the field of charity and mutual assistance. A Home for the Aged, 
the first in the history of Luxembourg Jewry, was established 
in 1954, thanks to the initiative of Dr. Henri Cerf. Social and 
cultural life found a platform anew in the Society of Young 
Jewish Men. Alert to its great tasks in the domain of Jewish 
culture and adult education, the Jewish Consistory of Luxembourg, 
which is a constituent member of the World Jewish Congress, 
created a Cultural Section within its administration to organize 
lectures and to establish a library. A Luzembourg branch of 
B'nai B'rith was founded. 

To link Luxembourg more closely to the Jewish State, its 
consolidation and growth, a number of Israel-oriented organi- 
zations display great activity, among them the United Israel 
Fund, the Friends of the Hebrew University, the Religious Front 
(Hazit Datit), the Luxembourg Branch of the Wizo, and "Adama," 
a pioneering group of college students. 


Jewish life received signal impulses when the synagogues 
in Luxembourg, Esch, and Mondorf, rebuilt with the help of the 
JState, were rededicated in 1953 and 1954. 

Yet, Luxembourg's Jewish community is far from having 
recovered from the losses suffered at the hands of the Nazis. 
Numerically, it has shrunk to about one-fourth of its pre-war 
.size. And Jewishly, it is in grave danger because of a lessening 
of the religious spirit, widespread non-observance of Jewish 
traditions and particularly of kashrut, inadequate Jewish educa- 
tion of children and youth, indifference, assimilationary trends, 
- an alarming increase of mixed marriages, and outright apostasy. 
In the 150 years before the rise of Hitlerism, the Luxembourg 
Jewish community was again and again threatened by similar 
tendencies. But the gaps that desertion opened in the structure 
of the community were always closed by the influx of Jews 
from the east, mainly from Germany and Poland, who in 1939 
^constituted about three-fifths of the Jewish population. Today, 
this hinterland exists no longer as a reservoir of Jewish regenera- 
tion, neither for Luxembourg nor for other countries of Western 
Europe/ In the future, the Luxembourg Jewish community can 
rely only on its own resources for survival. Aware of their long 
.history in Luxembourg, the Jews of the Grand Duchy may find 
in themselves, in cooperation with the neighboring Jewish com- 
munities and in the building of bridges to reborn Israel, the 
-strength to overcome the temporary decline and to resume a 
lull Jewish life. 


Before the last war, Norway had a Jewish community of about 
1,400 souls, mostly second-generation immigrants from Russia, 
Lithuania, and Poland. The 1920 census listed 1,457 Jews, of 
whom 852 lived in Oslo, 268 in Trondheim, and the rest in a 
number of smaller places. In 1940, the total was 1,359. Despite 
their small number, the Norwegian Jews maintained an organized 
Jewish life, had a youth center, and published a Zionist monthly 
(in Oslo). 

During the war, the Nazi invaders deported the majority 
of the Jews (714, of whom only 13 came back), but between 
400 to 500 succeeded in escaping to Sweden and a few to England, 
while some remained in hiding. Seven hundred and fifty perished. 
After the war, Norway admitted several groups of DPs, aggregat- 
ing 'about 600 (about 300 in 1947 and 1948 and about 250 in the 
years 1949-1953) mainly tubercular cases (from Foehrenwald, 
Austria, and Italy) , with the JDC providing financial aid for the 
expansion of rehabilitation services in Norway for these Nazi 
victims. However, not all of these immigrants remained in Norway; 
about 300 emigrated to Israel, U.S.A., and Canada. As a result, 
there are at present about 800 to 1,000 Jews, although some 
recent estimates go as high as 1,200. At the end of 1953 (before 
the arrival of the latest DP groups), the number of Jews in Norway 
was put at 836, most of whom live in Oslo (about 500) and 
Trondheim (about 140). The rest are scattered in small groups* 
some of them consisting of not more than 6 to 8 persons; these 
are mostly the new immigrants. Since the largest part of those 
who perished at the hands of the Nazis were children and. 



adolescents, there are practically no Jewish youths outside 

With the end of the war, most of the surviving Jews returned 
to Norway. The returnees were promptly given back their pro- 
perty and they set out to rebuild their communal life. 

Most of the Jews (about 80 per cent) are members of the 
Jewish congregations to which they pay a tax, fixed in proportion 
to their income. The Oslo congregation comprises also the Jews 
living in the vicinity of the capital. On April 1, 1955, the Oslo 
Community counted 260 members (heads of families) . Its budget 
amounts to about kr. 75,000 ($10,500) annually and it has received 
legacies totaling kr. 381,000 ($54,000). Its leadership consists 
mainly of truly observing Jews. 

Most of the Norwegian Jews observe kashrut, although all 
kosher meat, with the exception of fowl, is imported from 
Denmark (shechitah has been prohibited since 1929). Contrary 
to the situation in the other Scandinavian countries, there is 
almost no intermarriage in Norway. The reason lies mainly 
in the deep and warm Jewish sentiments of the majority of the 
Jews. Despite their small number, the Jews of Norway possess 
a Zionist organization, a B'nai B'rith lodge, and a JNF committee. 
The younger generation is deeply interested in Israel and Zionism, 
with a positive approach to Jewish affairs generally. The "Jewish 
Touth Organization" is the most active Jewish body in Oslo, 
with about 200 members aged 16 years and over. A peculiarity 
of this organization is that there is no upper age limit so that 
a large number of the members are over fifty years old. The 
organization maintains a Youth Center in Oslo. 

In the whole of Norway there exists ^a single synagogue 
(Orthodox) in Oslo (a prayer house also exists in Trondheim, 
replacing the synagogue which was destroyed in 1942 by the 
Nazis). Because of the small number of Jews, services are held 
there on Sabbath and holidays only. The Norwegian Jews have 
only one rabbi (in Oslo), who frequently travels around the 
country to provide religious guidance to the country Jews. He 
is also the only teacher in Hebrew classes, which in 1954 were 


attended by 23 pupils ranging in age from seven to 13 years. 
There is no Jewish publication (except a brochure published by 
the Youth Center in Norwegian about general Jewish problems) 
and very litttle contact with the outside Jewish world, except 
for the Youth Organization, which is a member of the Scandi- 
navian Jewish Youth Federation, which this year held its 30th 
annual convention. The Youth Organization maintains a country 
place which serves as a summer camp and a winter week-end 
cottage; it organizes study groups, lectures, annual balls, and 

The Jews of Norway, including the new immigrants, are 
economically quite well off. The majority are employed in the 
retail trade (mainly clothing and linen); practically none is 
employed in industry, banking, or insurance, and only a few 
in the arts (music, painting). 






From the following pages, dealing with the postwar situation 
of the Jews of Italy, a picture emerges which in all important 
respects cannot be compared with the present-day Jewish scene 
hi other areas which were also occupied by the Nazis. Although 
Italian Jewry, too, suffered cruel losses through German atro- 
cities committed on Italian soil as well as in the death camps 
of Poland, only a minority was deported and perished. Con- 
sequently, not a sigle Jewish community in Italy has disappeared 
completely and, as a rule, all major Jewish charitable and cultural 
institutions have resumed their activities. Reintegration into 
the Italian economy was comparatively smooth and thus did 
not pose the problem of vocational readjustment. Changes in 
the Constitution and in the governmental setup were far-reaching 
but did not affect the social and economic structure of the % 
country, as was the case in the Iron Curtain countries. Jewish 
emigration, both during the period 1938-1940 (from the intro- 
duction of racial laws to Italy's declaration of war) and after 
the war, was limited, while, on the other hand, the number of 
Jewish refugees who made their permanent home on Italian 
soil before and after the conflagration, was not so large as to 
result in a dominant influence of the newcomers on the Jewish 
scene in Italy. 

Italian Jewry lived in more than a score of communities 
aggregating about 45,000 Jews, the great majority of whom ob- 
served the Italian and Sephardic rites. Settled in Italy partly 



since time immemorial, partly since the Spanish expulsion, they 
enjoyed full equality after the emergence of the united kingdom 
of Italy. The same situation prevailed in the areas acquired by 
Italy from the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. 
The rise of Fascism did not significantly change this favorable 
picture for a period of more than fifteen years. Mussolini, who 
regarded himself as the foremost theoretician of his regime, 
personally rejected repeatedly Nazi racism in the most outspoken 
terms. After Germany and, later on, Austria fell under Nazi 
domination, thousands of Jews from these countries found 
refuge on Italian soil and were magnanimously assisted by the 
indigenous Jews, who created a special body for refugee relief 
(DELASEM, Delegazione Assistenza Emigranti E~brei) . It was only 
the decline of Italian power after the strains caused by the 
Abyssinian campaign and the Austrian Anschluss which subjected 
the country to ever-growing pressure of Nazism and forced it 
to yield to German demands for the introduction of anti-Jewish 


The first anti-Jewish decrees of the Fascist regime were 
promulgated on September 5, 1938. They ousted Jews from all 
public schools, excluded them from the liberal professions, and 
authorized the police to prevent their participtation in certain 
economic activities, such as peddling. The impact of these 
measures, which came as a particularly heavy blow to a Jewish 
community so completely integrated into its milieu, caused a 
wave of emigration. Five thousand left between 1938 and 1940, 
1,000 from Trieste alone, where obviously the feeling of insecurity 
was stronger than in the old parts of the kingdom. Italy's 
belated entrance into the war, after the collapse of France, 
caused additional strains for its Jewish population. In June, 1940, 
all Jews of foreign nationality and also a number of Italian 
Jews were arrested and sent to (Italian) concentration camps. 
(Some of the Italian Jews were subsequently released.) Excluded 

ITALY 263 

from the armed forces, Jewish citizens were drafted for com- 
pulsory labor service; at the same time, Jews were denied access 
to public recreation facilities. It is significant, however, that in 
April, 1941, 6 7,000 persons, most of whom, in all probability, 
were Jewish, crossed the Italian border from Yugoslavia, thanks 
to the cooperation of members of the Italian armed forces. 
This humane attitude was fully in accordance with the lenient 
treatment of the Jews who found themselves under Italian 
occupation in France, Yugoslavia, and Greece. By and large, 
the situation remained unchanged until the fall of Mussolini in 
the summer of 1943 and the temporary partition of the kingdom, 
with the South occupied by the Allies and under the jurisdiction 
of Marshal Badoglio's Government, the North and the central 
parts, including Rome (which, unfortunately, harbored the vast 
majority of all the Jews in the country) held for a crucial 
period between 9 and 19 months by the Germans. Hitler lost no 
time in setting up a puppet regime, nominally headed by Mussolini 
whom a Nazi commando had rescued from his place of con- 
finement in the mountains near Rome. After a brief stay in 
Germany, he was returned to the German zone of occupation 
as a virtual prisoner of the Third Reich. Now a mere tool in Nazi 
hands and surrounded by a gang of Italian extremists, who 
called themselves the government of the new Fascist Social 
Republic, Mussolini accompanied and sanctioned the anti-Jewish 
fury of the German occupant with legislative acts intended to 
copy completely Hitler's racial policies. 

On November 1, 1943, an assembly of Roman Fascists de- 
manded the immediate detention of all Jews. After this prelude 
the Fascist Party Congress in Verona got into the act and on 
November 17 adopted a draft of a Republican Constitution which, 
in Article 7, declared that "Jews are foreigners who belong to 
an enemy nationality." The next step was a Police Order, broad- 
casted by Radio Rome on November 30, which stipulated that 
all Jews were to be sent to concentration camps and that all 
Jewish property was to be requisitioned and used for the benefit 
of the victims of Allied air raids. Simultaneously all offspring of 


mixed marriages, though hitherto recognized as Aryans by 
existing Italian racial laws, were to be placed under special 
police supervision. On January 31, 1944, Mussolini's Official 
Gazette published 95 "causes" for the introduction of anti-Jewish 
laws and announced the promulgation of "model legislation, 
based upon the German racial laws." Confiscation of all Jewish 
property was made permanent and two decrees, signed by the 
Duce, regulated its administration, which was entrusted to 
EGELI (Ente di Gestione e di Liquidazione ImmobiUare) , that 
was set up by Royal Decree of March 27, 1939, No. 665, to ad- 
minister the estates of Jews in excess of those permitted them 
to own according to the provisions of Royal Decree No. 126 
of February 9, 1939. 

Meanwhile the Germans who had invaded Italy on Septem- 
ber 8, 1943, sprang into action themselves. Mass arrests and 
deportations to Polish death camps started; camps in Fossoli 
di Carpi and Salsa Maggiore served as assembly centers before 
deportation. On October 16, 1943, 1,024 Roman Jews were arrested 
in one day, followed by another 1,067 within seven months. 
Altogether, 8,360 Italian Jews were deported, of whom 7,749 
were killed in Auschwitz; and Birkenau alone. Anti-Semitic 
outbreaks were rampant in Northern Italy and Jews were tortured 
in Italian jails (particularly in the notorious S. Vittorio Prison 
in Milan) and killed in that area. The Germans demanded 
and receved a ransom of 50 kilos of gold from the Jews of Rome, 
which was rapidly collected among the Jews of the city. Jewish 
community libraries and treasuries were looted and many 
Italian synagogues were destroyed or damaged. Over seventy 
of the 320 hostages, murdered by the Nazis in the Roman Fosse 
Adreatine, were Jewish. 

That the Germans and their Fascist henchmen did not 
succeed in completely liquidating Italian Jewry, was due to the 
resistance of the vast majority of the Italian population against 
the Nazi and Fascist oppression and the spontaneous and mag- 
nanimous assistance extended to the victims of racial persecution. 
At the risk of imprisonment and even death, men and women 

ITALY 265 

in all walks of life sheltered and fed Jews, irrespective of 
nationality, and aided them in escaping from the country. Ten 
years after liberation, on April 17, 1955, the Union of Italian 
Jewish Communities awarded twenty-three gold medals to men 
and women who had distinguished themselves in the rescue and 
relief of Italian Jews. (Seven medals were awarded posthumously 
to martyrs, executed or perished in prison.) The moving citations 
accompanying these awards reveal the truly popular support 
of these humane endeavors by all strata of the population: four 
Catholic priests were among those thus honored, a Presiding 
Judge, a General of the Carabinieri, civil servants, lawyers, 
artisans, and peasants. The members of the Resistance Move- 
ment, operating in the North, were especially requested by their 
commanding officers to use every opportunity to free Jewish 
prisoners at points of concentration after the Badoglio Govern- 
ment had broadcasted an appeal to the Italian masses still 
under enemy occupation to help the Jews in every possible way. 


About 34,000 confessing Jews (0.08 per cent of the total 
population) including some 3,000 "old" refugees (who had come 
before the outbreak of the Second World War) lived to see the 
hour of liberation of all Italy. Only 47 Italian Jews returned 
from deportation abroad while 139 more were found in Italian 
camps. Conversion to Catholicism had taken a heavy toll, amount- 
ing to 2,000. (The case of Israel Zolli, a native of Galicia, who was 
Chief Rabbi of Rome and Head of the Rabbinical Seminary, 
attracted worldwide attention.) The Jewish Community of Trieste 
alone, where the Jews felt insecure, lost in this way 1,000 out 
of its 5,000 pre-war members during the period of persecution. 
Up to November, 1947, only forty-one persons had returned to 
Judaism, but the trend of returning to the Jewish fold continues. 

The composition of the Community of Rome at the end 
of the war (October, 1945) was as follows: of about 12,500 
members, 10,000 were Roman Jews, 500 came from other Italian 


towns, 1,000 were "old" refugees, and another 1,000 recent ar- 
rivals from beyond the Alps. 


These newcomers belonged to the first wave of Jewish 
displaced persons who made their way to Italy as a stepping 
stone for a later resumption of their migration to other destina- 
tions, notably to Palestine. They had started to cross the Italian 
border, mostly from Austria, already in May, 1945, immediately 
after the liberation of the northern part of the country. By 
August of that year their number had increased to 15,000, which 
included many natives of the Baltic States, Slovakia, Hungary, 
Rumania, and Greece, though the overwhelming majority was 
composed of Polish Jews (who, at the beginning of 1947, formed 
no less than 79 per cent of the Jewish displaced persons in 
Italy). Refugee camps were established by the military occupation 
authorities as well as by UNRRA, the latter alone sheltering 
6,000 Jews already in November, 1945. In addition, training camps 
for prospective immigrants to Palestine (hachsharot) were set 
up, of which 16, with 2 3,000 participants, were in operation in 
the fall of 1945, exclusive of two special youth centers. (Only 58 
Italian Jews were, at that time, in the hatfisliarot} The Jewish 
displaced persons in Italy organized themselves, shortly after 
their arrival, in an efficient way. They did much to improve 
conditions in the camps, which during the first period after 
liberation were unsatisfactory in many respects, and they in- 
stituted a network of cultural and educational activities of a 
high calibre. Thus they were able to hold their first conference 
in Rome as early as November, 1945, and intervention by the 
Unione, supported by world Jewish organizations, led to the 
formal recognition of their presence in Italy by the Government, 
which declared its readiness to issue residential permits to them, 
provided they were furnished with the means of livelihood and 
their stay was not prolonged oeyond the time necessary to 
prepare for the resumption of their migration. At the beginning 

ITALY 267 

of 1947, their number exceeded 20,000, ot whom 10,000 were 
in seven UNRRA camps (6,000 in the North, 1,000 near Rome, 
3,000 in the South), 7,500 in Kibbutzim, and 4,000 living outside 
of camps. By that time between 8,000 and 9,000 had already 
left the country. The number of hachsharot on Italian soil 
had risen to 65. The establishment of the State of Israel quickly 
emptied the Italian refugee camps. At the end of October, 1948, 
only 5,000 remained, and in the spring of 1951 "the Italian DP 
Problem was solved," as far as Jews were concerned. About 2,000 
hard-core cases, however, remained permanently and are being 
taken care of by Italian Jewry and foreign relief organizations. 


Meanwhile Italian Jewry put its house in order with remark- 
able speed and vigor. All Jewish Communities enjoyed official 
recognition from the Government, administered autonomously 
their affairs, and were members of the central body, the Unione 
della Comunita Israelitiche Italiane in Rome. The legal status 
and functions of the Unione had been defined by two Royal 
Decrees (Nos. 1731 and 1561), issued under the Fascist regime 
on October 30, 1930, and November 19, 1931, respectively. All 
the rights of the Unione and its 23 member Communities 
were now restored and they resumed their activities, first under 
commissioners appointed by the Government from the ranks 
of their members, but soon under the guidance of duly elected 
officers. The Italian Communities have retained their right to 
levy taxes on their membership, and their income has more than 
trebled since liberation. The Ministry of the Interior exercizes 
a certain control, restricted to budgetary and financial matters 
only, and also must ratify the elections of Community presidents. 
Since the war, women have been admitted to the policy-making 
bodies of the Unione and of the individual Communities. All 
Community officers are freely chosen in democratic elections 
and the Unione holds regular congresses attended by delegates 
from all afilliated Communities. 


A survey, issued by the Unione in October, 1946, revealed 
that eight Communities had a membership of more than 1,000 
members each (Rome: 13,000; Milan: 5,300; Turin, Bari, Florence, 
Trieste, Leghorn, Venice) ; nine Communities had an enrollment 
of between 2001,000. while the rest had fewer than 200 con- 
gregants. The figures for 1955 show certain limited fluctuations: 
some Communitiies, including Rome and Florence, reported losses, 
while others, such as Milan and Turin, gained several hundred 
members. A characteristic feature of Jewish communal life in 
Italy is the so-called sections: small Jewish groups which, 
though officially recognized and maintaining their own houses 
of prayer, are affiliated with one of the larger communities. In 
1955, nine such sections were listed, linked to six parent bodies; 
their membership ranges between 50 and 150. It should be noted 
that during the period of the short-lived independence of Trieste 
as a Free City, the local Jewish Community was formally outside 
the Unione though it continued to keep close contact with 
Jewish life in Italy. The communities in the areas ceded by Italy 
after the last war (Abbazia, Fiume) no longer exist today. 


The first Jewish religious services in liberated Rome were 
held on June 16, 1944, only nine months, though crucial ones, 
after the Nazis had closed the synagogues on September 9, 1943; 
however, clandestine services had been held in Rome throughout 
this period in the Jewish Home for the Aged. All the other com- 
munities resumed public worship without delay in several places 
in temporary premises. Bombings and destruction by Nazis and 
Fascists had caused serious damage to Italian synagogues, many 
of them of great antiquity and of the highest artistic and historic 
value. Those in Turin, Bologna, and Leghorn were totally de- 
stroyed, while those in Florence, Ferrara, and Padua needed 
extensive repairs, Italian Jewry turned to the Government with 
the request for adequate assistance in the reconstruction of its 
places of worship. This request was first turned down, as the 

ITALY 269 

laws provided only for financial support for the repair of 
Catholic churches. Protracted negotiations with the competent 
authorities, however, resulted in a change of policy; through 
the "Act for the Reconstruction of Buildings of non-Catholic 
cult/' (Decree Law of April 17, 1948, #736) , the legal obstacles 
were removed. Most of the destroyed synagogues have since been 
restored or completely rebuilt. The new synagogue of Milan 
was dedicated hi May, 1955, that of Bologna in the fall of 1954. 
The five ancient and beautiful temples of Venice were restored 
with the help of the American Joint Distribution Committee. 

In 1955, a total of 41 places of worship served the needs 
of the Jewish community, namely, 36 synagogues and five halls 
of prayer (Oratories), of which about one-third each are devoted 
to the Italian, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi rites. 

For some years after the war, religious life suffered from the 
lack of spiritual leaders. Remedy, difficult in all countries formerly 
under Nazi occupation, posed a still more serious problem in 
Italy in view of the language requirements. By and large, how- 
ever, much progress has been achieved in this field, too; of the 
twenty-three full-fledged Italian communities in 1955, fourteen 
had rabbis and two a Capo Culto; seven remained without 
spiritual guidance, among them, however, only one major com- 
munity (Florence). 


Italian Jewry had always devoted its best endeavors to 
Jewish education, and Talmud Torah institutions could be found 
in nearly all communities. After the introduction of the Fascist 
discriminatory laws, a complete educational system, comprising 
kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools, was rapidly 
built up and is today, after the interruption of the era of persecu- 
tion, in full operation. The educational needs of the rising 
generation are at present (1955) served by twelve kindergartens 
with an enrollment of about 360, eight elementary schools 
with 1,000 pupils and 55 teachers, four secondary schools, at- 


tended by 250 students taught by a staff of 85, and sixteen 
Talmud Torah classes with more than 600 pupils. Special mention 
ought to be made of the Marco Falco School in Milan which 
was established at the time of anti-Jewish persecution and now 
has 180 pupils and a staff of 60 excellent professors and teachers; 
it provides twenty courses covering all branches of the Italian 
school system. The famous Rabbinical Seminary which formerly 
had its seat in Florence, has now been reopened in Rome and 
-has been placed under the supervision of the Chief Rabbi of the 

In addition, a network of Jewish youth circles, recreational 
camps, Boy Scout groups, spirt clubs, etc., has been set up, and 
a special periodical, Hatikvah, is published for juvenile readers. 

Adult education is by no means neglected. Already in 1946, 
the Unione established a Department of Culture and Education, 
under the guidance of the noted scholar Dante Lattes, which 
serves as the center for manifold cultural activities all over the 
country. Delegates from all communities attend conferences 
on cultural problems, devoted to the revitalization of Jewish 
values. On the occasion of the High Holidays spiritual leaders 
of Italian Jewry broadcast appropriate addresses. 

One year after the war, six weeklies were already being 
published, among them two in Yiddish for the benefit of the 
Jewish displaced persons. While the latter have now been dis- 
continued, the Italian Jewish community with about 35,000 
members is being served in 1955 by eleven periodicals, among 
them such noted organs as Israel, the scholarly Rassegna Mensile 
d'Israel, and the Bulletins of the Jewish Communities of Rome 
and Milan. The output of valuable Jewish books is remarkably 
high there are five Jewish publishing houses with some of the 
publications sent in installments to every Jewish home in the 

Much attention has been given to the preservation of Jewish 
cultural treasures and historic religious objects and to the 
prevention of their arbitrary dispersion through acquisition 
by purchasers from abroad. Feelings of closest solidarity with 

ITALY 271 

their brethren in Israel have, however, induced Italian Jews 
to donate and transfer some of their cherished possessions to the 
Jewish State, such as ninety ancient Torah scrolls and even 
the Ark and other movable parts of the old synagogues of 
Conegliano Veneto and Padua, the latter erected in 1548. In 
January, 1954, the Unione appointed a commission of five experts 
"to save the cultural, ritual, and artistic patrimony of Italian 
Jewry." These scholars will register all such treasures in the 
possession of Communities and individuals and will suggest 
measures aiming at the prevention of their dispersion or sale. 
It is encouraging to note that the priceless manuscripts of the 
Library of the Rome Synagogue were recovered after the war, 
.some having been hidden in public libraries. 


The harassing experiences of the era of persecution and the 
'establishment of the State of Israel have made a deep impact on 
the souls of Italian Jews. In the now remote past, while Italian 
Jewry was characterized by a firm adherence to its ancestral 
heritage, the great majority kept for a long time aloof from 
Zionist activities and from other expressions of solidarity with 
the Jews of other lands. The emergence of Hitlerism wrought 
remarkable changes and, courageously challenging the restric- 
tions imposed by the Fascist regime and its ideology, the Unione 
was among the founders of the World Jewish Congress. After 
liberation, the hearts of the Jews of Italy went out to the 
struggles and achievements of their brethren in Israel; from 
May 15, 1948, until the end of 1953, 1,547 of them settled in the 
Jewish State. Zionist activities were renewed with enthusiasm 
and on a far greater scale than ever before, the Jewish displaced 
persons in Italy having separate Zionist bodies of their own. 
Today all Jewish periodicals devote much space to events in the 
Jewish State. 

It may also be mentioned that another link with Jews in 
other lands was formed in 1954, when the first B'nai B'rith 
Lodge ever to be established on Italian soil was founded in Milan, 



(a) Comparative Easiness of Rehabilitation in Italy Jewish, 
rehabilitation met with few obstacles in Italy, where an atmos- 
phere of genuine cooperation prevailed. Difficulties arose in the 
period after liberation which had to be patiently overcome with 
Jewish assistance from abroad, but they stemmed to a large ex- 
tent from the economic crisis from which Italy suffered as a re- 
sult of its having been a theatre of total war, with its principal 
centers at the mercy of the German invaders. These difficulties 
were not man-made; in fact, the resilience of the Italian people 
from the racial propaganda of Nazism and moribund Fascism 
was truly astonishing. The language of reports emanating from 
spokesmen of Italian Jewry and observers from abroad alike is, 
therefore, without parallel in the postwar history of European 
Jewry. Already in November, 1945, they speak of "living conditions 
becoming gradually normal"; and in 1947, the general situation 
of the Jews was termed "extremely satisfactory," Jewish re- 
integration "proceeding smoothly" and the re-establishment of 
their position taking place "with astonishing speed." It was thus 
with understandable gratification that a prominent represent- 
ative of Italian Jewry could point out already in the spring of 
1951, in reply to an inquiry from abroad, that his fellow- Jews 
were "now able not only to pay their own way, but also to send 
considerable amounts ... to Israel." 

(b) Relief and Health Services To be sure,, the first years 
brought many hardships to those miraculously saved from an- 
nihilation, and without foreign assistance Italian Jews would, 
at that time, have been unable to care properly for the sick and 
the aged, for children and those temporarily without a livelihood. 
It was possible to reopen, without undue delay, most of the 
charitable institutions which, to some extent, had been a feature 
of all Jewish communities in Italy; the Jewish hospital in Rome, 
when it resumed its activities in December, 1945, was described 
as the "last Jewish institution to be returned." Homes for the 
aged, maternities, children's shelters, orphanages, and public 

ITALY 273 

canteens soon served again the needs of Italian Jewry, and 
their number was augmented by new additions, created by the 
Joint, the World Jewish Congress, and other organizations. Until 
1946, DELASEM, with Joint support, continued its beneficial 
activities lor Jewish refugees. Its activities were subsequently 
taken over by the Umone. 

At this writing (1955), there are in operation one hospital, 
three OSE ambulatoriums (the well-known Jewish sanatorium 
in Merano is presently closed), four homes for the aged and 
convalescents, eight children's shelters and orphanages, and 
one maternity. Charitable organizations and burial societies 
exist in practically all communities save two or three numerically 
insignificant ones. One thousand families, mostly in the old 
Jewish Quarter of Rome, are still on relief, and programs have 
been instituted aiming at their vocational re-training and 
ultimate re-integration into the economic life. The Joint, ORT, 
and OSE have, as everywhere else, made signal contributions 
in the field of postwar rehabilitation of Italian Jews. 

(c) Restoration of Rights. Both the Government and Parlia- 
ment of Italy cooperated in providing the necessary legis- 
lative measures for the restoration of personal and property 
rights of the victims of racism. Altogether about half a hundred 
acts were promulgated which undid the wrongs of the Fascist 
era or dealt with questions arising from the persecution, such 
as the declaration of death of missing deportees. Some of them 
concern wholly, others partly, the victims of racial persecution. 
In August, 1943, immediately after the fall of Mussolini, the 
Badoglio Government abolished all anti-Jewish legislation in 
the territory under its control. It also released all arrested 
Jews, as far as they were Italian nationals. As, however, very 
few Jews were in the South of Italy, these measures were, by 
and large, of a demonstrative character only. Finally, a Royal 
Decree on the Restoration of Jewish Rights (No. 25) was signed 
on January 20, 1945, followed, later on, by a number of legislative 
acts which added implementary regulations or covered special 


categories of reinstatements. By the end of 1946, the restoration 
of Jewish rights had been accomplished. 

(d) Restitution of Property. On the same day (January 20, 
1945), another Royal Decree (No. 26) was signed, laying the legal 
foundation for the recovery of alienated Jewish property. In 
view of the attitude of the majority of the Italian people, as 
well as of the comparatively short period of the prevalence of the 
confiscatory policies of the Fascist Republic, Aryanization did 
not play the same important role as in other countries under 
Nazi occupation; consequently, hostility arising over restitution 
did not poison the atmosphere as it did in other European lands, 
even in some with old liberal traditions. In a few years the 
problem of restitution was solved. 

(e) Heirless Property. Though, fortunately, not too many 
Jewish families had been completely annihilated, there were 
compelling reasons of justice for the demand that the property 
of Jews who had perished without heirs as a result of racial 
persecution, should not escheat to the State but be used for 
purposes of Jewish rehabilitation through the authoritative 
body, the Unione. In this particluar case, involving the waiv- 
ing of the rights of the Treasury through special legislation, 
protracted negotiations with the Government by the Unione 
and representatives of foreign Jewish organizations were neces- 
sary, but the leaders of the Italian Republic recognized, at a 
very early date, that these claims were justified. Finally, Legisla- 
tive Decree No. 364 was signed on May 11, 1947. (There was a 
special decree in Trieste.) It stipulated that the estates of Jews 
who died as a result of racial persecution after September 8, 1943 
{date of the German invasion) were to be transferred without 
compensation to the Unione on the basis of individual decrees by 
the Minister of Finances and of the Treasury, the latter being 
considered as valid title for changing the entry in the Register 
of Deeds and for the transfer of the properties in the official 
cadastre. The Union was to present these claims within two 
years from the ratification of the Peace Treaty or from the 

ITALY 275 

declaration of the presumed death of the person whose estate 
was concerned, if such declaration was made after the ratification. 
(It should be mentioned in this connection that the Unione 
maintains a Tracing Service in Rome.) 

(f ) Economic and Political Situation of the Italian Jews. A 
report of the Unione, issued in October, 1946, gave an instructive 
picture of the economic reintegration of the Italian Jews. It was 
pointed out that most of them were small businessmen or salesmen 
with many others active in the professions. There were also some 
civil servants and employees of banks and insurance companies 
and only a few industrialists and independent bankers 
or insurance executives. (There is a Jewish Cooperative 
Bank in Milan.) Pew Jews were journalists, while some of them 
pursued a military career. Italy had only a handful of Jewish 
craftsmen and no Jewish agricultural workers. 

According to their economic status, sixty per cent were 
in the low income brackets, thirty-five belonged to the middle 
class, 4.85 were well-to-do, and only 0.15 per cent could be 
considered as rich. 

The re-employment of Jews posed certain difficulties until, 
at the end of 1951, a law was promulgated for the benefit of this 
category of victims of the Fascist regime, including the racial 
persecutees. They had to be xehired by their former employers 
and could not be dismissed for one year. At present the integration 
is complete, except for those still on relief. 

Today, Jews occupy positions in the civil service and in the 
armed forces (including the Army Chief of Staff, General 
Georgio Liuzzi) , while some of them are members of the Senate 
and the Chamber of Deputies. The emigration of Italian Jews 
is now negligible and a number of them have returned from 



It would be astonishing, if anti-Semitic manifestations had 
completely disappeared in a country where some people still 
long for the days of Mussolini. A number of dailies, periodicals, 
and pamphlets indulge sometimes in anti-Jewish attacks, in- 
cluding German-language papers in the Alto Adige (the former 
South Tyrol) . Others are regular publishers of anti- Jewish articles 
which have found their way even into a children's magazine. 
Some members of the nobility and ultra-nationalistic circles are 
described as hostile toward the Jews. The Jewish Quarter of 
Rome was the scene of an attack by some 200 Fascists in April, 

The new Penal Code, now in the process of drafting, will 
contain clauses denning as crimes any acts or propaganda which 
incite racial or religious hatred. 


In 1870 there were in Denmark 4,290 Jews (Sephardizn and 
Ashkenazim) who represented the old settlers. Owing to as- 
similation, few marriages, intermarriages, and the small number 
of children, their number had decreased to 2,100 by 1931 and 
to 1,500 by 1945. After 1905 East European Jews immigrated to 
Denmark. As a result, there were in 1921 in Copenhagen (that 
city contained 99.2 per cent of the total Jewish population of 
Denmark) 2,729 indigenous Jews, 2,988 recent immigrants from 
Russia, and 158 other immigrants. Later, there were added 
some refugees from Nazi Germany. Soon the new immigrants 
were integrated into the life of the country and subjected to the 
same assimilative process as the "old" inhabitants. Significant 
in this respect is the percentage of mixed marriages: among 
the old inhabitants the percentage was 48.2 at the turn of the 
century, and about 60 in 1945; among the newcomers it was 
2.1 in 1921 and almost 23 per cent in 1945. 

Although the Germans invaded Denmark in April, 1940, they 
did not take stringent action against the Jews at once because 
they wanted to maintain good relations with the Danes. In 
September, 1943, however, an order was given to deport the 
Danish Jews. With the help of the Danish people all but 450 Jews 
succeeded in escaping to Sweden; the deportees were sent to 
Theresienstadt and treated as "privileged" inmates. Almost all 
of these returned to Denmark after the war. In Sweden the 
Jews were supported by means of a loan granted by Sweden to 
Denmark, which was later cancelled. 



There are no official statistics available, not even on the num- 
ber of Jews in Denmark. It is estimated that the Jewish population 
is between seven and eight thousand; 99 per cent of them live 
in Copenhagen. It was only in Sweden that a true idea of the 
number of Jews and Jewish children was obtained, because all the 
refugee children attended the same schools and were regarded, 
as belonging to the Jewish sector; the Aryan Danes were all 
adults. Further on we shall return to the children and their 

All of the Jews who fled to Sweden came back. The return 
was planned and executed by the Danish Government in the 
best manner. But it may be safely said that there was a certain 
displeasure among the general population at the return of the 
Jews. The thought that the Jews were not so bound up with. 
the country and could or would remain where they were, had been 
ever present. That was partly the reason why many Danes had. 
appropriated the Jewish property entrusted to them and were 
disappointed when the legal owners came back. Protracted 
litigation was necessary to recover the fictitiously disposed-of" 
factories, workshops, or stores. But there were also many who 
had watched over the property of their Jewish neighbor or 
friend with such sacred zeal as to arouse admiration. The Govern- 
ment, on its part, did everything to alleviate the situation. It 
granted aid, paid compensation for any damage suffered, and, 
provided a roof over the heads of those who could not regain, 
their dwellings. And a? always happens in Denmark, everything 
was set in order again. Despite the differences in origin, there 
is on the whole a friendly relationship between the various, 
sectors of the community. Most of the leaders are assimilated 
Jews, but the President of the Community is also the President, 
of the Magbit (fund-raising agency for Israel). 

One of the reasons why everything soon ended well was the 
tremendous shortage of labor. But it would be exaggerating to> 
say that the Danish Jews had by their departure left a void, 
in the country's industrial apparatus. As everywhere else in the- 
Diaspora, they did not occupy such essential positions in the- 


economy as to make them indispensable. Both the old residents 
and the newcomers belong for the most part to the middle class. 
We will cite a few figures. The figures are for the year 1949 
and cover those who paid taxes to the Jewish Community, that is, 
gainfully employed persons. To be sure, there was also a small 
number of Jews who were not affiliated with the Community, 
but this would hardly affect the picture. 

Following is the occupational distribution of the Jews of 

Occupation Number 

1. Wholesalers 288 

2. Wage workers 196 

3. Self-employed artisans 158 

4. Salaried employees 119 

5. Traveling salesmen 47 

6. Lawyers 35 

7. Physicians 28 

8. Engineers 27 

9. Officials 21 

10. Dentists 7 

11. Architects 6 

12. Others 91 

Total 1,023 

The table calls for an explanation. First of all, in the six 
years since 1949, there has been an addition of several physicians, 
lawyers, dentists, etc. But it can be said with absolute certainty 
that the economic structure of Danish Jewry has not thereby 
changed in the least. Perhaps the wage-earning element has 
grown a shade smaller because the material lot of the Jews has 
been good and it has been possible to have the children educated 
for intellectual occupations. 


Now, what does the table tell us? Let us take item 1: 
Wholesalers. This category includes also managing directors and 
a couple of small bankers. The overwhelming majority, however, 
are wholesalers. The designations are arbitrary. Under this 
heading come not only merchants, but small and medium-sized 
manufacturers; however, they are all on the same economic 
level. This category comprises both recent and old elements. 
The majority of the managing directors belong to the old- 
established families. But they are seldom found in large con- 
cerns. There was a time when such concerns were in Jewish 
hands; but as a result of intermarriage they have passed into 
the hands of non-Jewish heirs. Some still retain their old 
firm names. 

Category 3 ("self-employed artisans") consists entirely of 
East European Jews who have pursued their trade (mostly 
tailoring) and prospered. This group ranges from very small 
workshops to larger ones, or even to small factories. 

Category 12 ("others") includes a couple of musicians, some 
three journalists, and several decorators, retailers, etc, most of 
them of East European origin. Category 2 ("wage workers") con- 
sists almost entirely of East European Jews. Nor are all of them 
exclusively wage earners, the majority being small or larger 
artisans who employ labor. 

As may be seen, the economic basis of the Jews is not a 
firm one, the economic conditions being described as not "too 
easy." Four-fifths of them are employed in industries which 
are the first to be hit by a depression. And the fifth part, which 
does engage in manual work, is also employed in these light 
industries. (Incidentally, this element is steadily diminishing.) 
Besides, the Jew generally finds it difficult to obtain a job in 
time of depression, as we know only too well from the years 
before the war. In general, very few Danish Jews are really 
wealthy, but none is really poor. 

Let us glance at the demographic situation. 


Following is the distribution of children of school 
age (5 15 years) : 

Children of old-established families 60 

Children of East European immigrants who ar- 
rived at the beginning of the century .... 288 

Children of mixed marriages among old-estab- 
lished and recent East European immigrant 
families 371 

Children of recent German Jewish immigrants 
(Hitler refugees) 60 

Total 779 

After the return from Sweden, the situation became, so to 
speak, normal again. The Caroline School, the only Jewish 
day school in Denmark (recognized and subsidized by the State), 
which this year celebrated its 150th anniversary, is attended by 
220 children, 20 of them of mixed parentage. (In case of a 
civil marriage, the law requires the couple to state to what 
religion the children born of the union are to belong if husband 
and wife belong to different religions and do not want to recounce 
them.) If husband and wife opt for the Jewish religion, the 
children may attend the Jewish School. The religious school (a 
supplementary institution) has an enrollment of 160. Of this 
number, one half are from the Jewish School and the other 
half from the public schools. In other words, three hundred 
children receive some Jewish instruction. Some 15 children of 
mixed parentage attend the public schools. Thus, subtracting 
the half-Jews, it follows that over a hundred purely Jewish 
children receive no Jewish instruction whatever. This would 
not be so bad. The trouble is, however, that the 6,0007,000 
Jews have not more than 400 children of school age if we leave 
out the half -Jews. Thus, considering the minus of the half-Jews 


and the excess of deaths over births (thus far, only 10 to 40 a 
year, but which is steadily making inroads because the East 
European Jews, who came to the country in the opening years 
of the century, were nearly all of the same age) one can 
calculate mathematically when Jewish life will cease to exist 
in Copenhagen and there will remain only a Jewish cemetery, 
as is the case in many other cities of Denmark. Those cemeteries 
are cared for by the Jewish Community of Copenhagen. The 
last one, the Jewish Cemetery of Copenhagen, will no doubt be 
cared for by the State, with the Danes' sense of piety and as 
a historic memorial to the Jewish element which the course of 
history had once brought to their shores, which had infused 
fresh and precious blood into their nation, but which, despite 
its tenacity, eventually had to go under because such is the fate 
of small minorities. 

Nevertheless, we must beware of writing off Danish Jewry, 
One now senses a certain uneasiness in the community over this 
state of affairs. And it is precisely among the young, both the 
children of the new immigrants and those of the old-established 
families, that this is noticeable. The older generation of as- 
similated Jews is shocked by this unrest, which is assuming ever 
more distinct forms, with demands for a more Jewish education 
at the school and a stronger Jewish cultural life. Part of this 
youth is also ready to fight to have the teaching of Yiddish 
at the school continued in an intensified form. (In the last 2& 
years, children of parents who wanted it have received two 
hours of instruction in Yiddish a week.) It is hard to say what 
will come of it. A large part of the Danish Jews who are affiliated 
with the Jewish Community are but weakly attached to it. 
They will strongly react against the new tendencies. They are 
an important element materially. They are also held in esteem 
by the outside world. These facts will have to be reckoned with 
in the forthcoming struggle. This will weaken the striking power 
of the challengers who in the "Assembly of Delegates" (a kind 


of Jewish Parliament) could already muster a majority for a 
more clear-cut national line. 

There are two Jewish periodicals in Denmark: one, a monthly, 
published by the Community and the other by the Zionist 

The Great Synagogue in Copenhagen with a seating capacity 
of 1,000 persons is half empty on Saturdays but filled to over- 
flowing on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 

The community maintains two large and two small old-age 
homes with a total of about 100 inmates. 

There are also a number of other Jewish organizations in 
Copenhagen. One is the association of Jewish artisans with 
about 350 members; its main functions are of a social nature, but 
it also participates in cultural affairs. Another organization is 
the choral society esablished in 1912, and an amateur theatrical 

Much has been heard in the Jewish world about the ban 
on Sheohita in Denmark in September, 1953 and about the repeal 
of the ban a year later. It will be of interest to the Jewish public 
abroad to hear a more intimate account of the matter. 

Strictly speaking, the question had always been, though 
latently, before the public. There had been no lack of "humani- 
tarians" who championed the cause of the animals to be 
slaughtered for meat. The matter was particularly delicate be- 
cause Shechita had long since been prohibited in Sweden and 
Norway, where the animals must be stunned before being 
slaughtered. Nevertheless, the ban came like a bolt from the blue. 
It is customary in Denmark that in every question at issue one 
first takes up the matter with the interested party, listens to 
its views, and gives it a chance to champion its cause. Yet in 
this case, involving a tenet of a recognized religion, the authorities 
did not consult anyone but issued a decree, and that was that. 
This procedure deeply offended every Jew in the country. 


Furthermore, the President of the Jewish Community and the 
Chief Rabbi who went to intercede with the Ministry of Justice, 
came back utterly humiliated. Twice the President of the Com- 
munity, who weighs every word most carefully, stressed in his 
report to the Assembly of Delegates that "we were given a 
positively unfriendly reception!" These highest representatives 
of Danish Jewry, both members of distinguished families the 
rabbi is a brilliant orator who through his radio and personal 
appearances is known throughout the country had certainly 
never dreamt that some petty bureaucrat would take the liberty 
of receiving them uncivilly. It hurt that such a thing could 
happen in Denmark. Further interventions, with a statement by 
a world-famous Danish physiologist on a previous occasion, and 
another by a present professor also a Dane attesting to the 
humaneness of the Jewish religious mode of slaughtering animals 
for food, fell upon deaf ears. The question arose whether it would 
not be advisable to test the ban in the courts. The lawyers who 
were consulted said that the case would be lost. It may be assumed, 
however, that it was not the juridical aspect which was decisive 
but the fear that a lawsuit might antagonize public opinion. The 
spectre of anti-Semitism haunted the Jewish leaders. 

But, as always happens in Denmark, the matter ended satis- 
factorily. That government, which consisted of members of the 
Peasant and Conservative Parties, was succeeded by one composed 
of Social Democrats. One could reason with them. The ban was 
temporarily suspended. And when a casting-pen was imported 
from England, the ban was abolished for good. Naturally, this 
happy consummation did not come about so easily. The full 
cabinet had several meetings on this question before it was 
finally decided. In this connection, people mention with deep 
gratitude the name of the prematurely deceased Prime Minister, 
Hans Hedetoft, whose attitude to Jewish questions and to Jewry 
was always one of deep sincerity and good will. 

The victory for Shechita was clinched with the help of hogs. 
Stunning had already begun to be employed in their slaughter. 


As is well known, pork is Denmark's biggest export article. Well, 
complaints began to come in that the pork was not free of blood, 
that it spoiled quickly, that people did not want to buy it. 
It goes without saying that the method of stunning was discon- 
tinued at once. 


When the war ended, there was, despite the frightful extent 
of the Nazi and Fascist slaughter of European Jewry and the 
memory of the survivors 7 own sufferings, a strong desire among 
many of the latter to rebuild their lives not only as individuals 
and members of families but also as organized national groups, 
and to assist in the reconstruction of the nations among whom 
they had dwelled so long. In fact, it did not take long before 
those who had been deported or had fled or lived in hiding 
began returning to their shattered homes with the firm intention 
to build a new future. Not infrequently, however, the reception 
given them by the majority of the population was anything but 
friendly. In the East, where the ingrained anti-Semitism fully 
survived the horrors of the Nazi anti-Jewish persecution, the 
Jewish survivors were often met with hostility which in certain 
countries often culminated in serious bodily assaults. In the 
West,, where the population became Jew-conscious through the 
Nazi persecution, the problem of Jewish property, which had 
passed into the hands of the non-Jews, represented a serious 
stumbling block to a return to "normalcy." 

As a result of the delicate Jewish position in the East, 
the mood soon changed. The political situation there, where 
Communist influence grew from day to day, contributed signally 
to the change. The Jews who just began to integrate themselves 
into the life of their respective countries were faced with a new 
challenge, politically, economically, spiritually, and organiza- 
tionally. The attractive power of Palestine, strong as it was, 
became much stronger through these new developments, and, 
later, through the struggle for the country's independence and 



the establishment of the State of Israel. In consequence of these 
negative and positive influences, a large part of the survivors 
and returnees (particularly Polish Jews from the Soviet Union) 
began to leave their countries, first in small and then in growing 
numbers. At first they went to Allied-occupied Germany, Austria, 
and Italy. Later they left these temporary abodes or went directly 
from their homes to Israel, to other overseas countries, and to 
some West European countries. Many a community in the East 
(Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland) which, though considerably 
reduced in numbers, was still viable, became reduced, through 
emigration, to a veritably insignificant group. Whatever remained 
there and in the other countries (Rumania, Hungary), became 
cut off from the general stream of Jewish life and from their 
brethren in Europe. There was also emigration, though on a 
smaller scale, from practically all other countries. Thus, European 
Jewry was once again, within the span of a few years, reduced 
by hundreds of thousands. Worse yet, it was split into two parts 
with practically no contact between them. The "Iron Curtain" 
which had descended upon Russian Jewry after the end of the 
First World War, and which had contributed so signally to the 
weakening of European Jewry at that time, now shut off the 
largest traditional Jewries still in existence. The significance of 
the exodus and split for the postwar development is obvious and 
requires no further explanation. 

An analysis of the articles on the 16 countries contained in 
this volume leads to the following general conclusions. First, 
the postwar development was far from uniform in the various 
countries. There is a small group of countries where postwar 
life is not much different from that before the catastrophe. To 
this group belong the Jewish communities of Denmark and Italy; 
they suffered comparatively few losses in life and the dislocations 
that took place during persecution were overcome in a com- 
paratively short time. France is in a class by herself: it is the 
only country which harbors today almost as many Jews as it 
did before 1940, but about one-third of the Jews have changed: 
this pre-war part of the Jewish population was annihilated by 


the Nazis and replaced by newcomers. There is no need to explain 
that, as a result of this change and the experience during the 
war and occupation, French Jewry is today different from 
what it was before, although old patterns of integration into the 
French mode of life and economy are becoming more and more 
evident. In Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and (partly) Norway 
the majority of the Jewish population was annihilated, and the 
losses have not been filled to any appreciable degree. Despite the 
good general climate, democratic society, and equal opportunities 
for the Jews, there is no comparison between the pre-war and the 
postwar situation: these are orphaned communities struggling 
hard to maintain their heritage and identity, handicapped by the 
harrowing experience of the past and by small numbers. In 
Germany and Austria very small remnants of once large and 
flourishing Jewish communities are struggling for their lives. 
In both countries the few and overage original Jews have been 
joined by some immigrants from the East but their numbers are 
probably insufficient to play the role of invigorators, let alone 
bearers of a new future. In all the countries behind the Iron 
Curtain the same pattern is evident: the survivors, as said, were 
greatly reduced by emigration, while the steam-roller of the 
Communist regime has, for all practical purposes, brought an end 
to organizational, cultural, religious, and institutional Jewish 
life. Whatever still remains of it, is passing through a period of 
inertia, regimentation, and adaptation to the system of a mono- 
lithic state. In Greece and Yugoslavia, the communities have 
been reduced by annihilation and emigration to such an extent 
that only insignificant numbers remain, with few prospects for 
the future. 

The Nazis and Fascists succeeded not only in annihilating 
the vast majority of European Jewry, but also in sapping its 
national roots far beyond the numerical decline. The foremost 
victims were children and young people. As a consequence, prac- 
tically a whole generation was lost: children survived for the 
most part only if they succeeded in finding a hiding place, and 
this involved small numbers only. The Nazis also put at* the 


top of their annihilation program the Jewish leaders and in- 
tellectuals. Consequently, in the whole of Europe there is today 
a dearth of Jewish intellectual and organizational leardership. 
The acute lack of spiritual leaders and teachers makes it im- 
possible to educate the small number of youth in Jewishness 
and to instill in them a consciousness of and attachment to 
Judaism. There is also little creative Jewish work owing to the 
disappearance of the bearers of this work, either by death 
or emigration. The two great forces in Jewish life of Europe 
before 1933 the traditional Jewry of Eastern Europe and the 
progressive Jewry of Central Europe are no more. These develop- 
ments, coupled with the smallness of the communities, lead 
practically everywhere in the West to a rising tide of assimilation, 
which cannot be expected to be stemmed by new arrivals, rich 
in Jewish cultural and religious traditions, because these elements, 
as said, were annihilated and whatever survived of them was 
separated from the rest of Europe by the Iron Curtain. 

The picture is somewhat brighter in the economic field. 
Despite extensive spoliation and slow and only partial recovery 
of spoliated assets, the Jews have by and large succeeded, in the 
countries this side of the Iron Curtain, in reintegrating themselves 
into the economy of their respective countries. The widespread 
economic sufferings and hardships after the war have by now 
been generally overcome. About 30,000 Jews are still listed on 
Jewish relief rolls on this side of the Iron Curtain, but compared 
with the total Jewish population, and the situation ten years 
ago, this is not an excessive percentage, particularly if we 
bear in mind that a considerable part of these Jews are recent 
immigrants from the East. The picture is different in the 
East: restitution did not amount to much there from the very 
start; in addition, under the Communist system property lost 
its value anyhow. Vocational readjustment meets, particularly 
in Rumania and Hungary, with serious difficulties and poverty 
among the Jews is still rampant. 

To round out the picture, it must be noted that the reduction 
in numbers could not but seriously affect the role of the Jews 


in their countries of residence. Nowhere (with the possible ex- 
ception of France, Italy, and Denmark) do they play, whether in 
the economy, politics, or culture, a role even approximating that 
of the pre-war days. The reduced rate of Jewish creativeness 
and initiative affects the whole of the country no less than the 
Jewish community itself. 

' Some of the problems with which the Jewish communities 
were faced immediately or soon after the end of the war have 
since been solved. There is no longer any problem of restoration 
of "legal rights," or of Jewish displaced persons or refugees, or 
of the legal status of missing persons, or of repatriation or re- 
settlement. These were not exclusively Jewish problems, although 
the Jewish stakes were high, and the normalization of the general 
life contributed to their solution as it did to the problems of the 
devastation by war acts and occupation, the general displace- 
ment of population, and the disruption of law and order through 
the Nazi and Fascist onslaught. However, the basic problem, 
one that is purely Jewish the question of national survival is 
far from having been solved. 

Since 1954 a new factor in the rehabilitation of the Jewish 
communities this side of the Iron Curtain has emerged: the 
funds provided by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims 
Against Germany, amounting to millions of dollars a year. 

Ten years is not a sufficiently long period after the upheaval 
of a world war, the unprecedented slaughter of millions of 
Jews, and the division of Europe and the world into two camps, 
to prognosticate on the quo vadis of European Jewry. The present 
situation is not too promising. However, with certain positive 
forces at work, in some of the countries at least, we need not 
necessarily despair of the future. 


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