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Billion Mark Fine, Ban on Business Received with Apathy by Reich Jews Faced with Famine

Numbed by terror and despair, German Jewry today received the sentence of economic death imposed by Field Marshal Hermann Goering’s “vengeance” decrees with something akin to apathy.

The billion-mark ($400,000,000) fine means the loss of one eighth of German Jewry’s total fortune according to the Nazis, or one-half according to neutral observers. Yet the fine and ban imposed on Jewish business seem momentarily less important than the imprisonment of 35,000 to 50,000 Jews and the approaching threat of famine unless steps are taken to relieve the distress among women and children who have lost their breadwinners.

Although arrests continued in a minor fashion today and the Jewish front was quiet, the police closed down the sole branch of the Berlin Jewish Community which had been functioning since last Thursday, thus cutting off the last thread between the city’s 150,000 Jews and the organization which had been supporting at least a third of them.

The dangerous condition of the sick and aged has been intensified by refusal of the authorities to release imprisoned Jewish doctors. Berlin’s principal Jewish hospital, which has several hundred beds, is being served by only six doctors. Not a single doctor is left in the orthodox Jewish hospital and a similar situation prevails in the provinces.

At Caputh, near Potsdam, a Jewish orphanage was closed down without notice, the children being herded to the door and left to shift for themselves. Most of them walked toward Potsdam to find asylum among Jewish families. A Jewish institution at Lehnitz, housing several hundred children, adolescent in training for emigration, and aged, was shut down and its occupants scattered.

Suicides are surpassing the numbers in Vienna in the dread days after Anschluss. Bank accounts at Essen already have been blocked and will probably also be blocked elsewhere. Overnight, most of Berlin’s cafes and restaurants put up signs informing Jews they were not wanted. Hundreds residing in pensions have no place to eat since Jewish restaurants and cafes have been closed.

Propaganda Minister Goebbels’ statement that Jews would be able to continue in business in a limited sphere was taken to indicate that a sufficient number of shops would be permitted for Jewish needs. Although the Goering decrees did not refer to Jewish manufacturers, it was believed that only a few to supply Jewish shops would be permitted.

A cursory survey revealed that the collection of the huge fine and repair of damages to Jewish property would achieve almost total confiscation of Jewish wealth. According to neutral observers, the fine takes half of the Jewish wealth and the damages a substantial part of the remainder. The wealthier Jews already have been informed that they will have to bear the burden for small shopkeepers unable to pay.

Although Goebbels declared that no physical ghettos were planned for Jews, it was learned today that a series of unofficial and other measures were expected, including special railway compartments for Jews, ban on Jewish baptisms and designation as Jews such “Aryans” as refuse to divorce Jewish spouses.

It was indicated, meanwhile, that Israel’s Department Store, one of Berlin’s largest merchandising establishment, will shortly be reopened under a Nazi commissar.

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