Jews Suffer in Europe’s “no-main’s-lands”; Thousands Held in Isolation Camps

Christmas, with its severe frosts, found thousands of unwanted Jews suffering in “no-man’s-lands” of Central and Eastern Europe’s frontiers and other thousands marooned in isolation camps in the countries bordering on Nazi Germany. Jews were quartered without shelter in open fields and ditches at twelve or more points along the German, Slovakian, Hungarian, Polish and other frontiers. Refugees, held in fifteen concentration camps in Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands after expulsion from Germany, were not permitted to mix with the local populations.

a survey made by the Paris office of the joint distribution committee and other central relief organizations painted a harrowing picture of the suffering of the Jewish outcasts. Some of the “no-man’s-lands” sprang up as result of the Reich’s merciless expulsion of Jews, but most of them were caused by the alterations in frontiers which followed the Munich agreement.

Germany, Hungary and Poland refuse to admit Jews whom Czechoslovakia is expelling on the ground that they are residents of territories ceded to these countries. Efforts of Jewish organizations, the International red cross and the league of Nations high commission for German refugees to obtain admission of these unfortunates into one country or another have so far been generally unsuccessful.

Thus, held between frontiers, Jews live amid indescribable misery in such “no-man’s-lands” as that near the Polish border town of Szbonszyn and those on the Reich-Czecho, slovak-Hungarian, Czech-Polish and German-Lithuanian borders. Most of these camps are hemmed in with barbed wire while the refugees within carry on their lives with a frosty sky for a roof, ill-clad and fed with whatever the resident Jews of the border towns can provide.

Especially tragic is the situation of 300 Jews living in the “no-man’s-land” ten kilometers from Bratislava, Slovakia, and also 350 refugees near Duna ska-Streda on Hungary’s border. They were driven from Slovakia and refused admission into Hungary. They live in scanty huts roofed with cornstalks and they dig pits to shelter their children, some of whom are only a few months old. The ailing among these refugees, including cases of frost-bite, hemorrhage and stomach trouble, are not admitted into hospitals but are held in barbed-wire-enclosed furniture vans on the spot and live on food delivered by Jews from Bratislava.

Similarly precarious is the plight of smaller groups scattered in various no-man’s-lands along the German-Czecho frontiers. Sixteen families marooned near Louny, Sudetenland, live in ditches along the roads, sheltered in tents and sleeping on straw supplied by the red cross. Intervention with the Czech Government to obtain their readmission failed. In the pilsen region an unascertainable number of Jews live in an opening between the frontier barriers in two “no-man’s-lands” near Manetin and Domzlice, with a haystack as their only shelter. Near Bran, 128 Jews live under similar conditions, while more than 200 German and Austrian refugees expelled from Czechoslovakia have found shelter in an abandoned factory in Ivancice.

On the Czech-Polish frontier, in the vicinity of Maerisch-Ostrow, about 1,700 Jews of Polish origin, now declared stateless, have received deportation orders from the Czech Government but have so far not been admitted to Poland.

Freezing in cattle trains are about 1,500 Austrian Jews who the Nazis shanghaied into the railway cars for transportation to China via Poland and Siberia. The cars are sealed, as a Polish condition of permitting them transit through Poland.

More fortunate is the fate of 650 Jews in an isolation camp at Merplaz and also 750 in a camp at Marneffe, both in Belgium, where barracks were provided by the Government, while heating and food were guaranteed by Jewish organizations. The situation is somewhat the same in a dozen camps in Switzerland, where about 900 persons are maintained by local Jewish organizations. Another camp exists at Hook-of-Holland, with the Jewish community forced to deposit with the Netherlands Government a 500,000-guilder guarantee of maintenance for the refugees in the camp, which has a capacity of 1,500.

NEXT STORY