Berlin (Jun. 20)
(J. T. A. Mail Service)
The towns in Southern Bulgaria which suffered in the earthquake still present a terrible picture of devastation, Dr. Serper of Sofia, a member of the Jewish Consistory of Bulgaria, who is now on a visit here, said in a report he presented at a gathering of Jewish Press representatives and others held at the Berlin offices of the Joint-Ica Reconstruction Foundation. Dr. Bernhard Kahn, the European Director of the Joint Distribution Committee, and Dr. Noel Aronovici, General Secretary of the Reconstruction Foundation were present.
The towns of Philippopolis, Tchirpan and Stara Zogora, which have large Jewish communities, he said, are in ruins. It is impossible to start rebuilding the houses which were destroyed because the earth is not yet quiet. The population is camping out in tents in the open fields, where they are safe from the falling ruins. It is not possible to start rebuilding the houses before the autumn so the sufferers should be able to have a roof over their heads before the winter.
Rebuilding the houses, Dr. Serper said, would not be enough to put things straight. The Jewish population of these towns had for the most part lived by trading and they were now completely ruined. The Jewish communities in Northern Bulgaria are doing everything they can within the limits of the general relief work to help the earthquake victims. There are about 45,000 Jews in Bulgaria, of whom more than 20,000 live in Sofia. The second largest community, Philip-popolis, the spiritual and cultural centre, has about 7,000 Jewish inhabitants. The catastrophe in Southern Bulgaria has shaken the whole of Jewish life in the country. In Philippo-polis two synagogues, two schools and four large loan houses of the community, which had contributed considerably to the communal budget were destroyed. The children are being taught in the open fields. Religious services are held in the open air. The school in Tchirpan was levelled to the dust. The synagogue alone remained standing. In the small town of Stara Zogoro, 40 Jewish families had been completely ruined.
The Jews of Bulgaria, Dr. Serper said, hope that the Joint-Ica Reconstruction Foundation will provide them with a system of credit co-operative aid to enable them to carry on their reconstructive work.