Bucharest (Jul. 20)
(By Our Bucharest Correspondent)
What does the Bratianu government mean for the Jews? No one here has forgotten the anti-Semitism of the Bratianu Governments of the past, and it is recalled that Profssor Anghelescu, the “hangman” of the Jewish schools, is also a member of the new Bratianu Government. Then there is one other member of the new cabinet, the editor of the anti-Semitic daily, “Universul,” M. Stelian Popescu, whose inclusion does not hold much hope for the Jews. It remains to be seen whether the promises made by the government to the Jewish leaders will be fulfilled.
The king is dead and the country is full of ominous rumours about the plans of the Crown Prnce Carol in Paris to organize a Fascist movement to seize the Crown by blood and iron. The whole groundwork of Roumania is unstable, and the general uncertainty of things adds as always to the precariousness of the Jewish position.
There is a feeling of depression and anxiety among the Jews, and the new decrees issued in both the cultural and the economic spheres make matters still worse for the Jews. All the efforts of the Jewish schools to obtain permission to hold examinations in the language of instruction, Hebrew or Yiddish, have failed. And Dr. Lupu, who was only the other day the leader of the Democratic Peasants’ Party and has become, today a Liberal Minister, has not been long in letting the Jews know how he stands. Do the Jews think that I have entered the Government for their sake, he has asked? Not a single Jewish teacher has been passed for the coming school year, and only a few days ago an order was issued to close all the Jewish schools in Bessarabia on the ground that they are not up to the standard required by the Ministry of Education. Thousands of Jewish students are not allowed to take their examinations. and their fathers have no mind to take up their case because they are themselves in a terrible plight. They are groaning under a load of heavy taxation. The Tax Commissions in the new provinces declare that they mean to get the last penny out of the Jews. Shop after shop is closing down and the tax collectors say that that is what they want. They want to raze the Jewish towns and build up Roumanian towns on their ruins.
The recent census returns now issued show what way the wind is blowing. There is no attempt to deny that the figures leave been deliberately falsified with a view to making it appear that the Jews do not constitute as important an element in the Roumanian population as is generally thought. Kishinev, for example, which has a population of a quarter of a million-half of them Jews-figures on the census returns as having a population of only 120,000, with a Jewish population of 45,000. Czernowitz, with its 200,000 inhabitants and 70,000 Jews is returned as having 107,000 population with only 42,000 Jews. The intention has been to Roumanianise the towns, even if only on paper. The ex-Minister of the Interior. M. Goga, while he was still in office, declared in Parliament that after the census new regulations would be issued on the basis of the returns. He would not at the moment say what they would be but they would make clear the fighting policy of the Government. He could say, however, that the foreign elements, and especially the parasitical population (Jews) would be dealt with as being harmful to the interests of the State.
And although Goga has fallen, his teachings still live. One of his pupils, the Mayor of Kishinev. M. Theodorescu, has found a new method of dealing with the Jews in his town. With the consent of the Municipality, he has enforced a new metre tax on the small shops in the market-place, the result of which is that a shopkeeper who pays 10,000 Lei annually in rent for his shop will now have to pay four or five times as much. The Jewish traders raised an outery against this order, and went to the Municipal Building while the Council was sitting in order to send in a delegation to plead with it. Instead of hearing their case, the Mayor telephoned the Military and told the Commander of the town that there was a Jewish revolt and that armed Jews were storming the Municipal buildings. The gendarmes were called out and fourteen Jews were arrested. Of course, no weapons were found on them, only the keys of their shops. Nevertheless, all fourteen have been handed over to the Military Court (Kishinev is still under martial law) and they are in danger of being sentenced to two years imprisonment. The Jewish Councillors left the sitting in protest against the action of the Mayor. The anti-Semitic Press has, of course, seized upon the occurrence and is using it as agitation material. The Averescu paper, “Indreptarea,” reports the incident under the following heading: “The Beginning of the Revolution: Kishinev Municipality Stormed by Jews.”
“Wine in fermentation.” That is the title of a new book of essays recently published by the ex-Minister of the Interior, M. Goga, the spiritual father of the Roumanian antisemitic movement. In this book he argues that the Roumanian student movement is only the wine of Roumanian Nationalism in fermentation, and he declares that he looks to it for the coming of a greater Roumania. And although the seven fat years of the Averescu regime have passed, the seeds of hatred which have been implanted in the youth are bearing fruit. Only within the last few days there have been new antisemitic disorders in Jassy and Kluj. Jewish heads have been split by the students, and windows in Jewish houses and shops have been smashed. For the time being the Cuzist movement is dead. But one never knows whether the Government may not resurrect it. The political situation at the moment is dominated by the question of the dynasty, and this is overshadowing the antisemitic movement for the time being. What will happen afterwards no one knows.
Old wine in new bottles! That is what the change in the Roumanian Government really denotes. The Jews have nothing to expect from the change. There seems to be no prospect of any improvement in the Jewish situation. The Government and the authorities. busy with other things, may not have time now to exert fresh pressure against the Jews, but antisemitism remains the dominant motive in the Government’s internal policy and at any moment it may become active again. It hangs menacingly over the heads of the Roumanian Jews, and because the sword does not fall at once, life is no less unbearable because of the thought that it may fall tomorrow, or the day after.