Anglo - American
Committee of Inquiry, 1946
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Following WWII, an Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry was sent to Palestine to study conditions there and report to the UNO regarding the nature of a desirable settlement. The US motivation for forming this committee was to help resettle the 250,000 displaced Jewish refugees in Europe. President Truman and US Jews hoped to settle 100,000 of them in Palestine, especially since US domestic pressure precluded allowing a sizable number of Jewish holocaust survivors immigrants into the USA.
Chapter 2 and two appendices to the report relate to the condition of European Jewry after WW II, and the numbers of Jews killed in the Holocaust. They form a striking summary of the massacre of European Jewry by the Nazis in WW II and the hopeless condition of European Jewry after the war.
The main report is given here: Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
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1. We are required in paragraph 2 of our terms of reference "to examine the position of the Jews in those countries in Europe where they have been the victims of Nazi and Fascist persecution, and the practical measures taken or contemplated to be taken in those countries to enable them to live free from discrimination and oppression, and to make estimates of those who wish or will be impelled by their conditions to migrate to Palestine or other countries outside Europe".
2. In order to fulfil our task within the allotted period of 120 days and on account of the urgency of the problem, we divided into subcommittees, which between the 8th and 28th February, 1946, visited the American, British and French zones of Germany and Austria. Subcommittees also visited France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Greece and Switzerland. Circumstances did not permit us to go to Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria or the Russian zone of Austria, and we did not visit the Russian zone of Germany after we were informed by the Deputy Commander of the Soviet occupation forces that in that area there was no special Jewish problem.
3. There are about 98,000 Jews from other countries-displaced persons-now living in Germany, Austria and Italy, and a small additional number scattered throughout the countries of Europe. We found that the majority of these Jews in the American and British zones of Germany and Austria were living in assembly centers, once known as "camps", where accommodation and maintenance were provided by the military authorities. The Jewish occupants of these centers are not all "displaced persons," that is to say, persons outside their national boundaries by reason of the war. Since the end of the war there has been a very considerable movement of Jews into the American and British zones of Germany and Austria. It is estimated that, so far, some 30,000 have come from Poland. There has also been some migration, though on a smaller scale, from Rumania and Hungary; this shows signs of increasing. Since we left Europe there has been a slight restriction in the movement of migrants generally, but the possibility that there may be a considerable increase in the months to come must be borne in mind.
The officer commanding the American forces suggested the following as the reasons for the movement into the American zone of Germany: the expectation of generous treatment, the probability of finding relations there, the special activity in America on behalf of Jewish relief, and the feeling that the American zone was on the shortest route to Palestine. Detailed information covering the position of Jews in European countries is given in Appendixes II and III.
4. The nature of the accommodation of displaced Jews differed widely in character. In some centers barracks were used; in others, huts, hotels, apartment houses and cottages. For example, in Hohne, commonly referred to as Belsen, in the British zone of Germany where 9,000 Jews were accommodated, the buildings were barracks formerly occupied by a unit of the German Army. At Bindermickel, in the American zone of Austria, flats built to house workers in the neighboring Gloering factory had been taken over, and in the south of Italy entire seaside villages had been made available for that purpose.
5. In the American and British zones, where the bulk of these persons were found, they were accommodated in separate centers from other displaced persons, or segregated voluntarily within a center. The maximum of self-administration is encouraged and there is usually a center committee which is responsible for directing group activities and for dealing with complaints. In many centers the occupants have their own courts for dealing with offenses and their own police.
6. UNRRA has taken an increasing part in the relief and rehabilitation of these Jews. In the autumn of 1944, it began to operate in Italy, and in February, 1945, took over administrative responsibility for the larger centers in the south of Italy. In the summer and latter part of 1945, it was assisting the Army in the American zones of Germany and Austria. At the end of February last, UNRRA assumed responsibility for the internal administration of Hohne and it now administers other centers in the British and French zones of Germany and of Austria.
Most centers in the United States zones are now operated by UNRRA teams as agents for the Army, which provides the accommodation' food, clothing and medical supplies. Voluntary agencies specially concerned with Jewish persons have been invited by military authorities and UNRRA to give assistance and the American Jewish Joint Distribution (committee, the Jewish Agency, and the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad now have representatives in the centers. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee provides specialists to assist with health, welfare and other services such as the supply of Kosher food, clothes, and material for spiritual and educational life. The Jewish Agency furnishes rehabilitation and resettlement services, particularly in regard to problems concerning projected emigration to Palestine.
7. We saw many conditions in the centers that might be criticized, owing to circumstances which were not always within the power of the military authorities to improve. There were lack of furniture, unsatisfactory cooking arrangements, overcrowding and a shortage of beds and bedding. We have no doubt that many of these conditions have been remedied and we saw evidence of the wholehearted effort of our authorities to do everything possible toward the well-being of these unfortunate people. Nevertheless, at the best, most of the centers could not be more than the place in which the occupants were given shelter, food and clothing. While everything possible was being done for their physical needs, there was little that could be done to improve their morale and relieve their mental anguish. Coming from the horrors of Nazi persecution, it was evident that they still felt themselves outcasts and unwanted.
It is perhaps unfortunate in some respects that nearly all of these settlements were in enemy territory. The displaced Jews see around them Germans living a family life in their own homes and outwardly little affected by the war, while they, usually the last surviving members of their families, are living still, as it seemed to them, under restrictions.
8. On the whole, having regard to the many problems with which they have had to contend, we feel that military authorities, UNRRA, and the various relief organizations concerned have every reason to be proud of what they have done to succor these remnants of Nazi persecution. In particular, we would like to pay our tribute to the men and women who are working so often in such depressing circumstances to alleviate the sufferings of these unfortunate people.
9. In the cold print of a report it is not possible accurately to portray our feelings with regard to the suffering deliberately inflicted by the Germans on those Jews who fell into their hands. The visit of our subcommittee to the ghetto in Warsaw has left on their minds an impression which will forever remain. Areas of that city on which for" merry stood large buildings are now a mass of brick rubble, covering the bodies of numberless unknown Jews. Adjoining the ghetto there still stands an old barracks used as a place for killing Jews. Viewing this in the cold grey light of a February day one could imagine the depths of human suffering there endured. In the courtyards of the barracks were pits containing human ash and human bones. The effect of that place on Jews who came searching, so often in vain, for any trace of their dear ones, can be left to the imagination.
When we remember that at Maidanek and Oswiecim and many other centers a deliberate policy of extermination, coupled with indescribable suffering, was inflicted upon the Jews, of whom it is estimated that certainly not less than five millions perished, we can well understand and sympathize with the intense desire of the surviving Jews to depart from localities so full of such poignant memories. It must also be understood that this happened in what were regarded as civilized communities.
10. There can scarcely be a Jew in Europe who has not suffered in greater or less degree either himself or herself or by the loss of relatives. Many non-Jews of all nationalities also suffered in the concentration camps and many of them died. This must not be forgotten. We are concerned in this report with the living survivors of European Jewry. We could harrow the feelings of those who read this Report by repetition of accounts we received of German frightfulness. We do not propose to do so. We wish to present a picture of the general situation as we saw it. Few of the older people survived; not many children, for special efforts seem to have been made to destroy them. The majority of the children who survived are orphans. The majority of the remaining survivors are young and middle-aged people. The latter escaped death only by their strong physique enabling them to sustain either the ordeals of forced labor in concentration camps, or the privations accompanying hiding. The young people have had little or no education save that of cruelty. It is not too much to say that they all owe their lives to liberation by the United Nations.
11. These Jewish survivors have not emerged from their ordeals unscathed either physically or mentally. It is rare indeed to find a complete Jewish family. Those who return to their old homes find them destroyed or occupied by others, their businesses gone or else in other hands. They search for relatives, frequently undertaking long journeys on hearing a rumor that one has been seen in another part of the country or in another center. Such was the system of the Germans that it is difficult for them ever to establish the death of their dear ones. They are faced also with very great difficulties in securing the restitution of their property. In Germany and in Poland, which were often described to us as "the cemetery of European Jewry," a Jew may see in the face of any man he looks upon the murderer of his family. It is understandable that few find themselves able to face such conditions
12. In Poland, Hungary and Rumania, the chief desire is to get out, to get away somewhere where there is a chance of building up a flew life, of finding some happiness, of living in peace and in security. In Germany also, where the number of Jews has been reduced from about 500,000 in 1933 to about 20,000 now, and most traces of Jewish life have been destroyed, there is a similar desire on the part of a large proportion of the survivors to make a home elsewhere, preferably in Palestine. In Czechoslovakia, particularly in Bohemia and Moravia, and in Austria, the position in regard to the reestablishment of the Jewish populations is more hopeful. The vast majority of the Jewish displaced persons and migrants, however, believe that the only place which offers a prospect is Palestine.
13. Whatever the previous position in life of those in the centers, from a judge in Memel to a young man who by reason of years of persecution has never been able to earn his livelihood, there is the widespread feeling that they have been brought to the same level of mere existence and homelessness. The first sense of happiness, following release from concentration camps and slave labor, has passed. Now they are conscious only of the constraint of their camp life, even though it is under new and more favorable conditions.
14. Work to them is associated with concentration camps and slave labor. Their aim then had been to do as little as they could to assist their persecutors, and now they are unwilling to engage in any activity which is not designed to fit them for a new life in Palestine. Even though they have spent a considerable time in a center, they still regard themselves as merely in transit to that country and, generally speaking, show little willingness even to assist in improving the conditions in which they are living. Often their days are spent in aimless wandering around. On the other hand, wherever facilities are provided for practical training for life in Palestine they eagerly take advantage of them.
15. We were deeply impressed by the tragedy of the situation of these Jewish survivors in the centers and by the tragedy of their purposeless existence. Many months have passed since they were freed from Nazi oppression and brutality, but they themselves feel that they are as far as ever from restoration to normal life. We consider that these men, women and children have a moral claim on the civilized world. Their pitiable condition has evoked a world-wide sympathy, but sympathy has so far taken the form only of providing them with the bare essentials of food, clothing and shelter. It seems to them that the only real chance of rebuilding their shattered lives and of becoming normal men and women again is that offered by the Jewish people in Palestine. Even though many might be glad to join relatives and friends in other countries, the doors of those countries at present appear to be closed to them. They are resentful because they are prevented from going to Palestine. In the meantime, as time passes, the new ties between those who are sharing this common frustration become stronger and, obsessed by their apparent rejection by other peoples of the world, their firm desire is to remain together in the future. It is this sense of cohesion, born of common suffering, which doubtless accounts for, if it does not wholly excuse, the firm resistance offered to proposals by competent bodies to remove young children to happier surroundings in other countries for careful rehabilitation. Men and women are marrying in the centers in increasing number, and, together with other members of the center communities, they wait with growing impatience for the time when they can go to the only friendly place they know.
16. If, as we hope, our recommendation for the authorization of immigration certificates is accepted, the great majority of the Jewish displaced persons whose situation requires urgent action will be provided for and it will be possible to achieve the desirable end of closing the Jewish displaced persons centers and thereby discourage the further migration of Jews in Europe. Jews have wandered through Europe almost as they wish, from center to center, zone to zone, and country to country. Such movements have added to the difficulty of tracing relatives, as has the practice, acquired by some during the war, of using various names. They have also imposed a heavy burden on the authorities who have constantly had to improvise reception arrangements. Stabilization will give sympathetic governments a better opportunity of implementing national schemes of resettlement and will encourage the Jews themselves to give more careful consideration to such opportunities. Moreover, the resources of the Allied military authorities are limited and it is necessary that their commitments in connection with refugees be reduced.
17. We have also been asked to examine "the practical measures taken or contemplated to be taken in those countries to enable them to live free from discrimination and oppression". The governments of the countries we visited expressed their opposition to anti-Semitism, but this is a poison which after years of infection takes time to eradicate. We hope that their efforts will be successful. We would urge also that the United Nations should exert all possible pressure in Germany and Austria to eliminate all trace of discrimination against Jews or resistance to their rehabilitation.
18. Further, a most important practical step that can be taken to assist the Jews in Europe who wish to remain is to secure the speedy restitution of their property. We realize that there are difficulties, but nonetheless we do not think that all that is possible is being done. Some governments have passed the necessary legislation; others are about to do so or have just done so. Many months have passed since the war has ended and from our inquiries it appears that only a few Jews have yet recovered what is properly theirs.
Further, we think that the governments of the countries where the Jews were persecuted should themselves provide assistance in the reestablishment of those Jews who seek to remain. This assistance might take the form of providing property in lieu of restitution.
19. Taking into account the possibility that an improvement in the economic and political conditions in Europe may affect the attitudes of those who now see no hope of reestablishing themselves in their countries, we estimate that as many as 500,000 may wish or be impelled to emigrate from Europe.
As described by many witnesses, a factor which has greatly increased the urgent, indeed frantic, desire of the Jews of Europe to emigrate is the feeling that all doors have been shut to them and that there is no exit.
We feel that our recommendations both in regard to the authorization of certificates for admission to Palestine, and in regard to the relaxation of immigration laws generally as an emergency and humanitarian measure, will not only bring succor to those to whom certificates are granted but also in great measure relieve the feelings of urgency with which the Jews look beyond Europe. They will be encouraged either to resettle themselves in Europe, if that is possible, or wait patiently in their respective countries until their time has come to leave.
1. In 1933, according to the Census, there were in Germany 499,682 persons of the Jewish faith of whom 400,935 were of German nationality. Between 1933 and 1941 around 300,000 persons were able to emigrate to other countries, though many must later have been overtaken as a result of the successive Nazi conquests.
2. There are now, according to our information, about 74,000 Jewish displaced persons, including migrants, in Berlin and the American, British and French zones of Germany.* Of these, about 52,500 are accommodated in the centers, the remainder living outside. In the British zone, out of approximately 11,700 in centers, 9,000 are at Hohne. In the American zone, they are distributed in a number of centers, of which our Sub-committee visited nine.
3. Of the non-German Jewish population, 85 per cent are Poles; the remainder are mainly from the Baltic States, Hungary and Rumania.
4. In addition to displaced Jews, there are about 20,000 native Jews surviving in Germany. Evidence was presented to us to show that German Jews, freed from concentration camps or slave labor, are faced with great difficulty in finding a place again in the life of the country. Few of their communities still survive. For example, of a community of 4,500 in Stuttgart, only 178 remain, among whom are only two children.
While it is the firm policy of the military governments to eradicate all forms of Nazism, and priority is given to Jews and to other persecuted persons in respect of housing, food, clothing, etc., the German Jews are still naturally apprehensive of the future when those Governments will no longer be there. Anti-Semitism is traditional in Germany. In some German circles there is much shame and a desire to make recompense, but in-others there is a feeling that, now that the synagogues and all traces of Jewish life have been destroyed (only one rabbi survives in all of Germany), no attempt should be made to recreate Jewish life and so give rise to the possibility of a repetition of past events.
5. The Jews themselves feel that, most of their children having perished, their future in any case is dark. The more highly educated, particularly some of the professional Jews with whom we talked, appeared to have an interest in the building up of the communities, and are willing to stay and help. We suspect that this movement is developing, but we recognize that a few unfortunate incidents might well produce something of a panic and induce a change of attitude. The great need appears to be the restoration of property and financial help so that they may make a livelihood. Their lack of means adds greatly to their unwillingness to attempt to stay in Germany even when they are among friends. In Bavaria the German State Administrator for Jewish Affairs has a keen realization of the important part played by the Jews in German commerce and industry. He made it clear that there was a real intention to give all possible encouragement to Jews to reestablish themselves. Unless, however, greater opportunities for employment can soon be found, it seems probable that few of the German Jews will wish to remain in the country.
6. It is estimated that when Hitler invaded Austria in 1938, there were about 190,000 Jews residing in the country. Excluding displaced persons and migrants, there are now some 4,500 in Vienna and an additional 2,500 in the American, British and French zones.
We were informed by members of the Government that it was the Government's desire to rehabilitate all Austrians on a basis of full equality and without discrimination; and that the Government welcomed Austrian Jews, like other persons, irrespective of religion, who wished to take part in the rebuilding of the country. We were shown a letter addressed to the Government by a group numbering 1,000 Austrian Jews in Palestine and Egypt who wished to return.
7. Many of the Jews in Vienna are in receipt of assistance. The economy of the country was disrupted by the war and its recovery is not facilitated by the division of such a small land into four zones and Vienna into five sectors. It seems probable that this division of control is partly responsible for the delay in the promulgation of laws for the restitution of the property, without which it is most difficult for Jews to reestablish themselves. Some anti-Semitism still exists among the general population. The fact that Jewish displaced persons are in receipt of higher rations than the surrounding population, and that, for instance, at Bad Glastein they are housed in some of the best hotels, tends towards a local feeling of hostility to them. This is reflected upon Jews who are living outside the centers.
8. There are centers for Jewish displaced persons in both the American and the British zones of Austria. In the American zone there were in February approximately 5,600 occupants and on the first of April, 7,000. In the British zone in February there were 819, and on the first of April, 1,019. About 73 per cent of the 8,000 were Polish Jews. The number in the British zone last November was in the neighborhood of 5,000. Partly owing to the activities of the Jewish Brigade of the British Army, a considerable number succeeded in crossing the Italian frontier, though the total number who have crossed since last summer is not assessed at more than 8,000. Later the Jewish Brigade were withdrawn and the frontier controls tightened.
9. In Vienna converge two streams of migrants, one from Poland and another from Hungary and Rumania. From Vienna the migrants usually continue westwards through Enns and Salzburg to the American zone of Germany. On arrival in Vienna, the Jews are taken to transient centers. When some members of the Committee visited one of them-the Rothschild Hospital-an American officer told them that 150 Hungarian Jewish children and 90 Rumanian Jewish adults had arrived by train from Budapest the day before, and explained that the American Army authorities allowed the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to collect Jews in Hungary and to organize their arrival in groups.
10. The Vienna Area Command operates transient centers for Jews at the Rothschild Hospital and the Strudelhofgass, through which 3,085 Jews passed in December last, 3,229 in January, 2,443 in February and 1,150 in March. Transient centers were also opened at Enns and Salzburg in the American zone.
While at first endeavoring to check the flow of migrants, the American authorities felt impelled by humanitarian considerations to accept all who had arrived, after much hardship, at the border of the zone
11. We found that the Jews were sent by train from Vienna through the Russian zone to Enns and left a day or so later by lorries for Salzhurg. They arrived in groups of 200. In the Salzburg transient camp which we visited, there was accommodation for 250, and we were told that the officer responsible had given instructions that the number was to be kept at that figure. The period of residence at this camp was limited. The camp was run under military supervision by a number of Jews and they called out the names of those who were to move on The flow through this camp was at the rate of 2,000 a month. The officer in Vienna got reports from the transient camp as to the extent of the accommodation available from day to day and, having regard to those reports and the way in which Jews were accumulating in Vienna, he authorized the dispatch of a certain number to the American zone and provided the group with a pass which would take them through to Salzburg.
This showed quite a different practice from that adopted in the British zone, where efforts were made to prevent unauthorized migration. We pointed this out, and we have now been advised that the practice in the American zone has been changed and that it now accords with that followed in the British zone. This, we believe, is all to the good. Though on occasions Jews still arrive in Vienna in substantial numbers by train, their onward movement is no longer being facilitated. These migrants now receive the same ration as the ordinary Austrian civilian, 1,200 calories a day instead of the former ration of 2,300 to 2,400 a day when they were treated as "persecuted persons" In addition, however, they continue to receive parcels of food from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which amounts at present to about 400 calories a day.
12. When there was constant movement, it was obviously easier for the military authorities to transport the migrants in groups on trains and trucks from Vienna, since failure to supply transport would not have stopped their progress to the American zone of Germany The new policy, however, seems to be right in reducing the pressure upon certain areas and in deterring Jews, unless there is compelling reason to the contrary, from complicating the solution of the problem by irregular movement.
13. With a pre-war Jewish population of just under 10 per cent of the total,* the Jews constituted 27.3 per cent of the inhabitants of the cities and towns and only 3.2 per cent of the rural population. When Poland was partitioned in 1939, it is estimated that the territory occupied by the Germans was inhabited by 2,042,600 Jews, while that which came under Soviet rule contained 1,309,000.
14. We received conflicting information as to the extent of active anti-Semitism in Poland before the war. There is no doubt that it existed and was accompanied by economic discrimination against the Jews. A document supplied to us by a Jewish organization, however, states that before the war "Polish workers and most of the peasants generally refused to play the anti-Semitic game and the workers in particular often defended the Jews against their assailants." The development of nationalization, state enterprise and cooperative societies in Poland before the war not only led to the narrowing of what had been the normal field for Jewish activity, but, owing to racial feeling and competition for a living, led also to the gradual elimination of Jews from the industries taken over.
This in pre-war Poland resulted in an overcrowding of the professions and other occupations still open to private enterprise in which the majority of Jews had been employed.
15. We received a number of accounts of Polish participation in the German campaign of extermination of the Jews. Intense German propaganda was directed to inflaming the Poles against them and it would indeed be remarkable if it had been entirely without effect on some individuals. In view, however, of the strong opposition of the Poles to anything emanating from the Germans, we doubt whether the propaganda did much more than keep existing anti-Semitism alive.
Except for the closing sentence, we think the position during the war is stated with fair accuracy in the following quotation from the document referred to above: "In the defense of Warsaw and other cities the-Jews participated and fought side by side with the Poles and a better understanding between the two peoples seems to have been evolved during the Polish campaign. However, it was reported that when the Germans first occupied the country some Polish anti-Semitic groups collaborated with the Nazis in their. anti-Jewish policies. This was limited to relatively small groups of young people . . .The majority of the Polish people refused to collaborate with the Nazis on any score including that of anti-Semitism . . .
When the Jews, facing a desperate situation, decided to resist the complete destruction of the ghettos with arms, the Polish Underground Movement provided them with weapons. Thousands of Jews according to reliable reports have-succeeded in escaping the ghettos and have fled to the small towns and villages. The peasants are reported to have hidden them from the German executioners and a general feeling of solidarity with the Jews is prevailing throughout the country". The penalty for harboring a Jew was that all the inmates in the house in which he was found were shot.
16. It is impossible to secure accurate statistics in Poland today but it is estimated that only 80,000 of the former Jewish population of 3,351,000 are now there. In our view, based on information obtained from a number of widely different sources, the vast majority of this number now want to leave Poland, and will, if they can.
17. Their reasons for leaving are many and cogent. In our view it is not correct to say that at the present time "a general feeling of solidarity with the Jews prevails throughout the country." The contrary appears to be the case. Indeed, there seems to be a very considerable measure of hostility: among the population towards the Jews. In a country ravaged by war, perhaps more so than any other, with its economy disrupted, the Jews and Poles are competitors for a meager livelihood. The laws -give Jews the right to claim property that once belonged to them or deceased relatives, but the exercise of that right against the Polish possessor is in itself a cause of hostility. Indeed, stories were told of Jews being deterred from claiming what was lawfully theirs by threats to their personal safety.
18. Throughout the country there is a high degree of lawlessness. We are satisfied that the Government is doing what it can by the passage of legislation to destroy anti-Semitism but, until the rule of law is restored, the enforcement of its mandates must be both spasmodic and ineffective. We have referred to the-narrowing effect in pre-war Poland of nationalization and state enterprise on Jewish economy and there is a danger that the present regime, while preventing anti-Semitism so far as it can, may by its policy in other fields restrict the area of Jewish activity. There are many Signs of inflation, few of expanding private business. Jews occupy prominent positions in the Government and a number are employed in the civil service and police. This of itself appears to be a cause of hostility towards the Jews, since responsibility for unpopular actions of the Government is attributed to them.
19. In addition there was the elimination by the Germans of the whole foundation of Jewish life and culture, confiscation of their funds and property, the destruction of their synagogues and the obliteration of their cemeteries. For Polish Jews there are so many reminders of their suffering and of the death of their relatives, that to start again in Poland must indeed be a most formidable task. In the small village of Lowicz there were formerly about 3,000 Jews. Now there are only 20. This village is no doubt typical of countless other villages and cities throughout Europe. Such a Situation cannot fail to be disheartening and distressing to a returning Jew, often the sole survivor of his family. The desire must be intensely strong to pick up the threads of lye again elsewhere-where opportunities appear more favorable, where he will not be surrounded by a population inclined to resent his presence, and where he will not be perpetually reminded of past events.
20. Before the war Zionism in Poland was strong and a large number of Polish Jews migrated to Palestine.* Political Zionism with its demand for the creation of a Jewish State is strong among the Jewish survivors. Accounts of life in Palestine given before the war are remembered and rendered doubly attractive by contrast with the ordeals they have endured. These accounts are repeated now and play their part in inducing the Jews to set out on the road to Germany which is believed to lead to Palestine. Many Jewish organizations are now operating in Poland and a Jew who is homeless will normally make contact with them. If he wishes to leave Poland he will in all likelihood be advised to express his preference for Palestine. In association with others it becomes a fervent wish fervently expressed. But without propaganda or personal influence, there are, as we have indicated, sufficient reasons for Jews to wish to leave Poland and go to a country where they can be assured of sympathy and help.
21. In addition to the Polish Jews now in Poland, those Poles and Polish Jews now in the U. S. S. R. can, under an agreement entered into between the two Governments "withdraw from Soviet citizenship" and return to Poland. Some have already arrived and responsible officials declare that a further 800,000, including about 150,000 Jews, are expected to come. It appears to be the general view that the majority of the Jews returning will not wish to remain in Poland. Some however, may settle in the lands taken over from Germany, and we gathered that this would be welcomed by the Polish Government, although it is stated that no obstacle is placed in the path of Jews who wish to leave.
22. In view of this information and the possible departure of the majority of the 80,000 referred to in paragraph 16, up to 200,000 Jews may wish to leave the country and Poland consequently must be regarded as one of the chief possible sources of mass migration. Movement across the "green border", that is to say, through the woods and forests on the frontier in the southwest, is facilitated by the terrain and by the inadequacy of frontier controls in territory only lately brought under Polish administration.
23. UNRRA is operating in Poland and we believe that if it were allowed to provide reception centers, especially to assist those returning from the U. S. S. R., mood suffering would be prevented and perhaps a stabilizing influence introduced.
24. In what was inevitably a fleeting visit, some of us saw part of the work which the International Red Cross in Warsaw is doing to trace the fate or whereabouts of Poles and to supply information to inquirers at home or abroad, meager as it may often be. There is no special section for Jews but the work is largely concerned with them. We feel that this merciful work it greatly handicapped by the inadequacy of premises, equipment and stair. The Central Jewish Committee has a similar office.
25. The existence of an organization deliberately facilitating emigration was not established, but it seems probable that a kind of "grape vine" or underground system has come into existence whereby the emigrating Jew is passed on from hand to hand on the way out. We felt great concern lest this migration increase into an uncontrollable flood, leading to much suffering and chaos in the countries of passage, but information obtained since our visit indicates that there has been at least a temporary reduction in the flow. The two main routes that were followed at the time of our visit, both ending in the American zone of Germany, were through Berlin and through Vienna, Linz and Salzburg.
26 Before the war France had a Jewish population of about 320,000. It is estimated that there are now about 180,000. Although about 80,000 of these are not French nationals, the overwhelming majority are permanent residents now coming within the refugee or displaced persons categories. In February, some 40,000 Jews were in need of varying forms of relief largely supplied by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The French Government provides some assistance for the 5,000 who have returned out of the 120,000 deported. Another problem is presented by the substantial number of orphaned Jewish children who are now being cared for in most instances by private agencies. It is understood that there are some 20,000 recent refugees to whom France may be unable to extend the right of permanent residence. At present, this group is handicapped by difficulty in securing permits to work or travel.
27. Through Czechoslovakia must pass the other main stream of Jewish migrants on their way to Vienna. Before Munich, the Jewish population of Czechoslovakia totalled some 360,000. By September 1939, mainly as a result of emigration, the Jews within pre-Munich boundaries numbered but 315,000; about 80,000 in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia; approximately 135,000 in Slovakia, and around 100,000 in the Carpatho-Ukraine.
28. From the Czech provinces perhaps an additional 10,000 succeeded in emigrating after the outbreak of the war, thus escaping the fate of many thousands of their relatives, friends and neighbors left behind. About 68,000 entered concentration camps; only about 3,000 survived.
About 10,000 Czech Jews have returned; 2,500 or so from the countries in which they found temporary refuge, many of them as soldiers in the Czechoslovak armies. There are also 6,000-8,000 Jews from the Sub-Carpathian Ukraine who regard themselves as Czechoslovak citizens, so that there are roughly 16,000 registered Jews in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. It is estimated that in addition there are probably 3,000-4,000 unregistered Jews.
Following the liberation of the country, all anti-Jewish laws and decrees were voided. All compulsory transfers of Jewish property were declared null and void under a Presidential Decree of May 1945, but the process: of restitution is still in its initial stages Economic rehabilitation is thus not yet accomplished.
Nevertheless, the Council of Jewish Communities were confident that in due course Jews would take their place in the life of the Republic, and that as intelligent and diligent people they would be a useful and valuable element in the community.
29. Of the 135,000 Slovakian Jews, some 40,000 had already been lost to Hungary under the Vienna Arbitration in 1938. The usual rigid anti-Jewish measures were introduced during the war. Five thousand more Jews managed to leave the country and of the remaining 90,000, 72,000 were deported; a further 10,000 escaped to Hungary and 8,000 went into hiding or fought as partisans, of whom 3,000 were killed.
Eight thousand returned from deportation, 10,000 from territories restored by Hungary and 7,000 from countries where they had served as soldiers or in other capacities so that with the 5,000 survivors of partisan activity and those emerging from their hiding places, there are now only 30,000 left of the original 135,000. Of this 30,000, only 24,000 now profess the Jewish faith. The balance, in the belief that it might save their lives, accepted conversion. It is thought that most of them will revert to Judaism.
30. As a result of six years of Nazi education and propaganda and partly on account of fear of having to restore to Jews property on which their livelihood may now depend, anti-Semitism and hostility to Jews is evident. The policy of the State in facilitating cooperative enterprises renders it difficult for Jews, no less than others, who were in retail business to gain a footing. The granting of business licenses is often subject to conditions as to knowledge of languages and possession of capital which the Jews cannot meet.
31. There are many, particularly in Slovakia, who wish to emigrate. Zionism was always strong there and it is estimated that at the present time 60 per cent of the Jews wish to leave. This number is likely to diminish if and when the restitution of property enables them to become established. In the Czech provinces several hundred young Jews organized in the "Hechalutz", which is a Zionist organization for training young persons for life in Palestine, are determined to go there. There are 230-300 orphans whose relatives abroad desire to take care of them. In Czechoslovakia, the majority of the survivors have during the Nazi persecution lost all their near relatives.
32. The Government and leaders of intellectual movements are repudiating fiercely the ideology of anti-Semitism as incompatible with the principles of a civilized nation. In consequence, anti-Semitism is likely to diminish, and if this is accompanied by restitution of property, we think that a considerable number, including many who now profess a desire to migrate, will decide to remain in the country in which they were so deeply rooted.
33. We have been obliged to base our report with regard to these countries solely on documents and on such evidence as we were able to obtain from outside their borders. 3
34. In 1939, Rumania had a Jewish population of around 850,000. We were told that today, within the country's present borders, there are 335,000 the largest Jewish community in any European country. During the war all the German racial laws were put into effect. Many thousand of Jews were killed and most of those who survived were forced to do slave labor. Few retained any of their possessions. Their re-establishment in the economic life of the country presents great difficulties. For example, throughout the war Jewish youth received no technical instruction, and the attitude of the non-Jewish population is unfriendly.
In November, 1945, 50 per cent of Rumanian Jews were unable to make a living and were receiving assistance from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
The Government, we understand, sympathizes with the Jews and has passed laws providing for the restitution of their properties and rights, but their enforcement meets with similar difficulties to those met elsewhere. The dispossession of the present occupants from what they have begun to regard as their own homes and from the businesses on which they now depend for their livelihood encounters inevitable resistance. Enforcement of the laws which has commenced is in itself a cause of hostility towards Jews and, as in Poland, the presence of Jews in the Government and in the police creates a certain amount of hostile feeling against the Jewish community.
35. It is impossible for us to form any reliable estimate from the information we have received of the number of Jews who wish or will be impelled to leave Rumania but there are indications that many wish to do so. In the Regat, less affected by deportations, a larger proportion will doubtless wish to stay. Indeed, we have heard that from the country as a whole, some 150,000 have already made formal application for Palestine certificates.
36. In the territory that is Hungary today there were in 1939 about 400,000 Jews. This was a country whose people suffered severely from deportations. It is estimated that there are now about 200,000 Jews of whom 90 per cent live in Budapest.
While some Jews occupy Government positions and some we are told are profiting on inflation and the black market, the lot of the vast majority is shown by the following figures: in 194S, 77 per cent of all the Jews in Budapest were in receipt of clothing relief from Jewish organizations; 46 per cent received food; 66 per cent money; and 14 per cent help towards payment of rent. There is no legal discrimination against them, but owing to the failure to implement Government decrees, many Jews who lost everything have received little by-way of restitution.
Our information is that there has been a sharp rise in anti-Semitism. Propaganda in this direction has been carried on for 25 years and is still continuing. Efforts to recover property have the usual repercussions. Participation by Jews in the Government and their membership in the secret police cause the same reaction as in Poland.
37. All these factors and the deterioration of the country's economy have led to the conclusion that only the thoroughly assimilated, the older people and the Jewish Communists and Socialists will wish to remain, that is to say, 30,000-40,000 or less than 25 per cent of the Jewish population.
38. As in Poland, the chief desire seems to be to get out. The United States appears to be the first choice for immigration, but as it is appreciated that under the existing laws large-scale immigration there is impossible, between 50,000 and 60,000 Jews have expressed a wish to go to Palestine. They feel that better opportunities exist for immigration from military zones and consequently many hundreds of Hungarian Jews are still outside of Hungary and many are making their way into the American occupied zones of Germany and Austria.
39. We received evidence that both in Rumania and Hungary Zionist organizations are active, and that the movement westwards is well directed by those who received first rate training in illegal activities during the war. Their organizations have been kept intact and now form part of the Hungarian and Rumanian Central Jewish Committees. On these Committees the Zionists appear to have the controlling influence and non-Zionist bodies now seem to accept the necessity of large scale emigration while doing what they can to improve conditions for those Jews who wish to remain. Funds for relief are supplied by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. They are paid to the Jewish Central Committees in each country, and as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee cannot place any representatives east of Vienna, there is little, if any, control over their expenditure.
40. In Bulgaria, compared with other countries, the number of Jews who died as a result of Nazi persecution was small. There are now some 45,000 Jews in the country as compared with 50,000 in 1939. They were subjected to the whole range of discriminatory legislation, confiscation and forced sales of property and compulsory labor service. Again, though such legislation has been repealed, the position of Jews compares badly with that of other citizens and the machinery for securing restitution of property is cumbersome and slow.
There is, it appears, no anti-Semitism in Bulgaria, but in common with those who do not like the present regime, all non-Communist Jews desire to leave the country. The majority, apart from those benefiting from support of the Government, are impoverished and embittered. They desire to emigrate to any country where there is a possibility of a fresh start. Twelve thousand of them have registered for emigration to Palestine, but on our present information it appears doubtful whether they will be afforded facilities for leaving.
41. Of approximately 75,000 Jews in Yugoslavia before the war, it is estimated that about 11,000 remain. Their economic condition does not, it is believed, differ from that of the other inhabitants of the country and their attitude towards emigration appears to depend on their political outlook and not on fears of anti-Semitism of which no evidence exists. It is thought that about 2,750 Jews wish to emigrate to Palestine and 550 or so to other countries, chiefly to the United States.
42. The present Jewish population appears to be in the region of 46,000, of whom 30,000 are native Jews with regard to whom no special problem arises. There are some 6,500 non-Italian Jews in the four principal centers in the south of Italy under the administration of UNRRA, and in other parts there are further centers containing about; 5,500. An additional 4,000 non-Italian Jews are said to be existing precariously in various cities.
The center at Santa Maria di Bagni consists of the whole village set aside for the purpose by the Italian authorities. Once a summer seaside resort, the villas occupied by 2,000 non-Italian Jews are not unattractive, though badly lacking in furniture.
The reception given to our Sub-committee there was similar to that at many other centers in Germany and elsewhere visited by our members. Six hundred to seven hundred of the community marched in military fashion carrying banners. A cohort of small children marching in pairs carried a banner with the slogan "Down with the White Paper." Clearly the demonstration was not spontaneous, but carefully organized.
One group of young men, who it was said represented the more turbulent section of the community, carried a banner to the effect that the Committee was "an insult to the Jewish nation". Usually at other centers the banners demanded free immigration into Palestine, a Jewish State. "The end of the White Book". (sic)
The Sub-committee also visited another settlement on the coast in pleasant surroundings, Santa Maria di Leuca, containing nearly 2,000 non-Italian Jews, the majority of whom, as at the other camp to which reference has been made, were young people. The night was spent there and the next morning it was found that seven tires of the Committee's cars had been cut. Such unfortunate incidents are mentioned merely as evidence of the intense feeling against remaining in centers even in attractive surroundings and of the almost fanatical love for Palestine.
43. The Italian Government and people are friendly to these non-Italian Jews. But Italy in her present economic condition cannot assimilate them even if they wished to remain within her borders. There is no desire on the part of Italian Jews to emigrate.
44. We have referred to these people as non-Italian Jews for it is impossible to classify them as displaced persons and migrants. The majority of them have made their way over the frontier into Italy and regard the country only as a point of departure for Palestine.
45. In Greece there are some 10,000 Jews-survivors of a prewar population of 75,000. Of the largest community of 56,000 at Salonika, only some 2,000 survive. During the Nazi occupation, the great majority of Jews were deported, a few remained in hiding. The survivors are now scattered over the country. The largest communities are in Athens and Salonika.
Fundamentally, there is no anti-Semitism. Practically all Jewish property was confiscated, however, and though legislation directed to restitution has been enacted, the process will inevitably be difficult and may complicate relations between Jews and the surrounding population.
There are acute economic difficulties. About half of the Jewish population is in receipt of assistance. A lack of balance in the small communities, where the majority of the survivors are men, adversely affects the prospects of family life. The estimated number of potential emigrants ranges up to 50 per cent, depending upon the estimator. Much will depend on the progress of economic recovery.
46. The pre-war Jewish population was 90,000. It is now 33,000, of whom 6,000 are German and Austrian refugees and 2,000 are recent immigrants. The authorities are helpful to the Jews and the status of the German and Austrian refugees has been legalized. There is no tendency to large-scale emigration.
47. The pre-war Jewish population, including refugees, was approximately 150,000. There are now some 30,000, including 6,000 refugees of German, Austrian and other nationalities. Although granted temporary asylum, these refugees have not yet been given rights of permanent residence. The attitude of the Dutch Government is helpful to the Jews and there is no evidence of any strong desire to emigrate.
48. In Switzerland, a country which provided asylum for some 35,000 Jews, mostly from France and Italy, there are now about 10,500 Jewish refugees, 24,500 or so having returned to their country of origin or residence.
The policy of Switzerland has bean to afford temporary refuge and to allow transit. In addition, it is indicated that some 4,000 of these refugees may remain if funds are provided for their support, but that it cannot absorb the others.
* From 1922 to 1929. some 46 per cent of Jewish immigrants to Palestine were from Poland. After 1933, this percentage declined due to the increased Immigration from Germany caused by Nazi persecution. During the four years 1936 through 1939 German and Austrian immigrants, representing only a negligible percentage for the earlier period, increased from 30 to 57 per cent of the total, The proportion of Polish to total Jeremiah immigrants declined from 41 to 11 per cent. Back
|Country||Total||Total||Native||Refugee and displaced||Nationality of refugee & displaced|
|Albania||200||300||50||250||Mainly Austrian and Yugoslav|
|Austria||a 60, 000||15, 000||7, 000||8, 000||73% Polish; 11% Hungarian; 6% Czech and 6% Rumanian|
|Belgium||90,000||33,000||25,000||8,000||Mainly German, Austrian & Polish|
|Czechoslovakia||b 315,000||c 65, 000||c 60, 000||6, 600||Mainly Polish; some Hungarian|
|France||320,000||180,000||150,000||20,000||Mainly German, Austrian & Polish|
|Germany||d 215, 000||94,000||20,000||74,000||85% Polish; 5% Hungarian; 4% Lithuanian, 3% Rumanian|
|Holland||150,000||30,000||24,000||6,000||Over 80% German & Austrian|
|Hungary||e 400,000||f 200,000||f 200,000||----------||----------|
|Italy||50,000||46,000||30,000||16,000||75% Polish; 7% Rumanian; 5% Czech; 5% Hungarian|
|Poland||3,351,000||g 80,000||g 80,000||------||------|
|Rumania||h 850,000||i 335,000||j 320,000||15,000||Mainly Polish|
|Total (Table A:)||6,015,700||1,153,106||1,000,600||152,000||-----------|
|Country||Total||Total||Native||Refugee and displaced||Nationality of refugee & displaced|
|United Kingdom||340,000||350,000||300,000||50,000||90% German & Austrian|
|Soviet Union||13,560,000||2,665,000||2,600,000||165,000||150,000 Polish; 15,000 Hungarian|
|Sweden||7,600||19,500||7,600||12,000||Mainly Polish, German & Austrian|
|Switzerland||26,000||28,600||18,000||10,500||Mainly Polish, German & Austrian|
|Total (Table B)||3,930,600||3,071,600||2,833,000||238,500||-------------|
|Total (Table A)||6,015,700||1,153,100||1,000,600||152,500||------------|
|Total for Europe||9,946,200||4,224,600||3,833,600||391,000||-------------|
*The figures in this column include refugee as well as native Jews.
a In 1937, the Jewish population of Austria was approximately 192,000. By the outbreak of the war, the emigration of over 100,000, together with persecution and deportations had reduced the number to some 60,000.
b The figure refers to the Jewish population within pre-Munich boundaries, when the Jews of Czechoslovakia numbered about 360,000. By September 1939, due mainly to emigration, the number had fallen to approximately 315,000.
c Does not include such Jewish survivors as have remained in the Carpatho-Ukraine, the territory now in the Soviet Union.
d According to the census of June 1933 the Jewish population of Germany totaled 499,682. By September 1939 the emigration of something over 200,000, Persecution and natural population decline had reduced the number to around 215,000.
e The figure refers to the Jewish population within pre- Munich boundaries.
f These figures do not include an estimated 15,000 prisoners of war now in the Soviet Union who are expected ultimately to be repatriated.
g These figures do not include an estimated 150,000 Polish Jews in the Soviet Union, to whom the option of repatriation has been made available.
h Inclusive of the Jewish population of Bessarabia and Bukovina, which are now in the Soviet Union.
i Does not Include an estimated 40-45,000 survivors of Bessarabia and Bukovina. The pre-war Jewish population within present Rumanian boundaries was approximately 520,000. Included in the 1916 figure of 335,000 are 40,000 formerly residing in the two ceded provinces.
j Includes the 1939 Jewish population of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, estimated at about 250,000.