Sofia, Bulgaria (Oct. 1)
(By Our Sofia Correspondent)
That the Fascist movement in Eastern Europe and the Balkans has been made into a vehicle primarily for anti-Semitic acts is but further evidenced by the anti-Jewish excesses in Bulgaria. In this respect Bulgaria is keeping pace with Roumania and Hungary.
The most recent incident of importance occurred here on the eve of Yom Kippur, Sept. 17, when the Jewish worshippers in the chief Sephardic synagogue of Sofia were attacked by a group of hooligans belonging to the Fascist “Rodna Zastchita,” whose mission it is to do no less than exterminate the Jews and Socialists. Of course, as in Hungary and Roumania, the Bulgarian Fascists regard Jews and Socialists as one and the same thing. The attack on the Sephardic synagogue took place at 8 o’clock on the evening of Sept. 17. The Jewish congregation was at prayer when a rock crashed into the synagogue through one of the windows. This was followed by a regular volley of stones and missives which seriously injured a number of the worshippers and caused great confusion. The bombardment was accompanied by abusive anti-Semitic shouts from the hooligans. Some of the young Sephardic Jews, outraged by the procedure, made for the exit in order to repel the attack of the Fascists. The rabbi, however, raised his hand and forbade anyone to leave the synagogue. At that moment, a rock flying through the window struck the rabbi on the head and the venerable leader of the congregation sank down bleeding. The young Jews then rushed out and dispersed the hooligans, who “heroically” retreated as soon as they saw that the Jews knew how to fight.
This incident is not alone. Only recently a group of officers of the Bulgarian army attacked the head of the Jewish Consistory: beat him brutally and warned him that the Jews would be exterminated if they protested against the excesses. Moreover, a number of respectable Jewish citizens have been arrested on the alleged charge that they are conspiring against the government. They are kept in dark prison cells and subjected to indignities. In back of this is the Fascist influence which stops at nothing; which has, for instance, caused the imprisonment of the national Bulgarian poet a non-Jew. Strashimirow, because he dared to protest against the murder of his brother.
Bulgarian Jews are complaining that the government is allowing the Fascists full sway and takes no measures to protect the Jewish population. That the attack on the Sephardic synagogue and a number of other incidents of a similar nature occurred after the assertion of the Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Burow that further anti-Jewish excesses would be suppressed, is regarded as a particularly discouraging sign.
AMERICAN COMMITTEE ON RELIGIOUS MINORITIES PROTESTS LOAN TO ROUMANIA
The American Committee on the Rights of Religious Minorities has protested to American bankers against a loan to Roumania until there has been an improvement in the treatment of religious minorities in that country. Prominent American Jews, including Louis Marshall, Dr. Stephen S. Wise, Henry Morgenthau and Bernard M. Baruch, are members of this committee.
“The American Commission on Minorities, composed of distinguished representatives of the Roman Catholics, the Jews, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, the Reformed and the Unitarians, with a combined membership in this country of 24,000,000 souls,” the Boston Christian Register states, “has made it known to influential American bankers that it protests against any largess in the form of a loan to Roumania until the cry of the co-churchmen in that land is heard, and not only heard but heeded.”
It has been charged by American religious organizations that 4,000,000 Saxons, Magyars and Jews, who compose the minorities and who were placed under the sovereignty of Roumania, have suffered severe persecution and injustice.
Arthur J. Brown is president of the committee.