Saarbruecken (Jul. 2)
In accordance with the terms of the Versailles treaty, 830,000 inhabitants of the Saar Basin, valuable coal and iron-producing territory, must decide in a plebiscite next January 13 whether they wish to unite with France, to become a part of Germany or to remain governed by the League of Nations.
Had the plebiscite been taken three years agoâ€”or, indeed, only a fortnight agoâ€”a sizable majority would have demanded a return to Germany, but today the “nasty man” of Europe, Adolf Hitler, has succeeded in alienating the sympathies of large numbers of Saar people, with the result that the outcome is in doubt.
The population of the area is nearly all Germanâ€”by birth, education and environmentâ€”but, despite Hitler’s insistence to the contrary, the fact remains that a person may very well be a German without at the same time being a Nazi. And thousands of Saar inhabitants realize this.
If, as now seems not unlikely, the Reich fails to regain the Saar in next January’s referendum, Hitler’s popularity with the wealthy industrialists, understood already to be considerably shaken, is expected to undergo a further and sharp diminution. Meanwhile, Hermann Rochling, powerful steel magnate of Volklingen, and other Saar captains of industry are coercing their workers into going Nazi. Loss of one’s job is the whip cracked over the wage earners’ heads.
JEWS WILL VOTE “NAY”
The Jews, horrified at the sadistic persecution of their co-religionists during the reign of the Brown Terror, are, naturally, determined to vote against a reunion of the Saar with the Fatherland, although, despite assurances by the Reich to the League that no measures of reprisal will be taken against those who cast anti-German ballots, there is more than ample cause for fearing the worst.
No matter what the outcome of the plebiscite, Jewish leaders see trouble ahead for their people. As they view the situation, the Jews are bound to lose out regardless of the result of the voting.
If the Saar goes to Germany, the Jews expect the same barbaric treatment given Jews there. If the Saar remains autonomous, the Jews anticipate wholesale violence at the hands of those who will blame them.
An anti-Jewish boycott movement, secretly organized, is already under way, and the boycott of Jewish doctors and lawyers is so widespread that little if anything remains of their practices. It is believed that the instigators of the campaign are the members of the Deutsche Front.
The permanent Jewish population of the Saar is only 5,000, and this small community is hard-pressed to care for the several hundred refugees from Germany, most of them destitute.
MANY THREATS VOICED
An ominous threat was painted during the night of May 9 on the wall surrounding the Jewish cemetery here. The legend, in letters three feet high, read: “The death of the Jews will end the Saarland’s distress.” There have been many threats. Cases of actual violence, however, have been fewâ€”at least, so far as the records show.
Following the cemetery vandalism the Saarbruecken Synagogue Council warned the Jews of the Saar to regard the incident as a clear-cut indication that all illusions concerning Germany’s intentions toward the Jews must be dispelled.
Defeat of Hitler and his cohorts in the plebisciteâ€”if defeat should come for themâ€”will be accomplished in the main by the Catholics, listed in the last census as numbering 558,000. The Catholics hold the key to the situation. And they are fighting. Since the advent of Hitler, they say, they must defend their religion by being Catholics first and German afterward.
COALITION NEEDED TO WIN
It is not to be hastily assumed, however, that every Catholic will vote against Germany, as thousands of Catholics are members of the Deutsche Front, which many well-informed observers expect to marshal fairly close to one-half of the ballots despite the slaughter of storm troop leaders last Saturday. Thus, if the anti-Berlin forces are to carry the day, it is believed a coalition of the staunch Catholics, the Jews, the Marxists and the other groups which hate Nazism will have to be effected.
Max Braun, Socialist chief and leader of the separist forces, predicted several weeks ago that the area will remain under League supervision. Claims of the Nazis that they will get ninety-three per cent of the votes he branded as ridiculous. The truth, he said, is that thirty-five per cent of the voters are pro-Hitlerist, thirty-five per cent are opposed and thirty per cent are wavering.
If this analysis was accurate, the edge can now be given to the oppositionists, for the thirty per cent listed as in doubt were hardly swayed in favor of the Berlin regime by the shocking blood bath of June 30.