PRAHA (Oct. 23)
The decision of various political groups to retain parliamentary democracy in the new constitution being drafted for Czechoslovakia, as reported in newspapers, today brought relief to the country’s Jews, who felt that they would be completely lost under a Fascist dictatorship.
The plight of refugees meanwhile continued to be desperate. One Austrian exile, Albert Viola, his wife and seven-year-old child, committed suicide by taking gas last night. The Government has announced a review of all “workers to oust those workers from Sudetenland who got their jobs after May 1.
Searchlights glared throughout the night on a small wooded “no man’s land” south of Brno harboring 54 trapped Jewish women and children who had been ousted by the Germans from recently occupied Sudeten areas near Brushky, in southern Moravia, and had been refused admittance to Czechoslovak territory. Reports reaching Brno declared shots were frequently heard during the night, apparently from the German side of the wood. Onlookers expressed the conviction that the shots were fired at the refugees.
Czechoslovak officials insisted that the group comprised Austrian Jews who had previously fled to the area and therefore could not be admitted. Observers denied this, however, stating that many of the refugees had Czechoslovakian passports indicating that they were residents of the occupied territory in Moravia. Another group of 100 Jews from the towns of Mikolsberg and Pohrlitz were reported trapped near Rajhrad. The “no man’s land,” which is a kilometer wide and runs along the southern edge of Moravia, will remain neutral until the Czech-German boundary has been fixed.
Reports indicate that the Brno police were determined to carry out threats to expel 700 Austrian Jewish refugees on Oct. 27. Answering attempts to intervene for the refugees, who have no visas and no place to go, officials reportedly declared: “If they are not expelled, Brno may witness unpleasant anti-Semitic demonstrations because the man in the street is demanding a Jew-cleanup.”