PRAHA (Mar. 9)
Czecho-Slovakia was hesitating today on the verge of enacting anti-Jewish legislation, caught between German and Slovak pressure for measures against the Jews and fears that such laws would hurt Czecho-Slovak trade with the United States. A so called “Jew-law” has already been prepared, it was reliably reported, and there is considerable pressure from the German authorities and the anti-Semitic autonomous Government of Slovakia for its enactment by the Praha Government.
On the other hand, the Government fears that the promulgation of such measures would have a disastrous effect on exports to the United States, which already have suffered considerably in recent months, and would jeopardize the success of the Czecho-Slovak exhibition at the New York World’s. Fair.
(Assurances that no measures against the Jews were planned were given by the Czecho-Slovak Government in January to Joseph S. Rosenberg, of New York, who visited Praha as representative of 57 American importers to warn that anti-Semitic discrimination would lead to an American boycott of Czech goods.)
The German and Slovak pressure for enactment of sweeping anti-Jewish legislation throughout Czecho-Slovakia on the model of the Nazi Nuremberg laws is being strongly resisted by many Cabinet members, led by the Minister of Commerce, who has frequently warned his colleagues that such legislation would have a highly detrimental effect on this country exports, on which, he said, the revival of the new Czecho-Slovakia depends. The warning was repeated as recently as this week’s Cabinet session when the Commerce Minister replied to ministers who were prepared to comply with German and Slovak demands.
Meanwhile, the Slovak Government is proceeding with plans to introduce anti-Jewish measures in the autonomous province. It was officially stated, following Monday’s meeting of the Bratislava Cabinet, that, after consideration by the Cabinet, a draft of the proposed “Jew law” was turned over to the Premier’s legal department for final editing. The proposed measures are now the subject of protracted negotiation between the Praha Government and Bratislava, the latter insisting that anti-Jewish measures be introduced on a nation-wide scale, rather than for Slovakia alone.
Well informed Government sources conceded that, despite opposition, a national anti-Jewish bill would go through. They said, however, that it would not be based on the Nuremberg racial principles, but on economic and social principles. The law would have the effect of limiting Jewish participation in the professions, trade and commerce to three per cent — the asserted proportion of Jews in the population. In some professions and in State and municipal employment the Jews would be barred altogether. Enactment of such a law, Jewish quarters said, would be a severe blow to the country’s 250,000 Jews and would deprive tens of thousands of their means of livelihood.
Since March 1, many Jewish employes of municipalities have already been dismissed and Jewish officers in the army and Jewish professors in universities eliminated. Jewish physicians, who constitute 11 per cent of the medical profession, have been barred from health insurance practice. The medical faculty of the Czech University in Praha has announced that it is indefinitely closed to Jews. Meanwhile, the Lawyers’ Chamber is pressing for severe restrictions on Jewish attorneys and elimination of Jews who received their diplomas from German universities in Czecho-Slovakia.
At the same time, the revision of citizenships, affecting all Jews naturalized since 1917, has gotten under way. Those deprived of citizenship automatically become “stateless” and lose their right to work, falling into the category of those who might emigrate within six months or face internment in concentration camps.
The Government press is devoting considerable attention to the New York World’s Fair, hoping for greater markets in the United States for Czech goods. At the same time, however, the Striberny newspapers, largest chain supporting the Government, are conducting a violent anti-Jewish campaign, with many other newspapers following their lead.
The problem of “stateless” Jews, especially those from Germany and Austria, was discussed today by representatives of the Government’s emigration department and Senor Cruchilio, envoy of the Dominican Republic who has arrived here with an offer to admit an unlimited number of Jewish refugees on condition that they pay $100 each for visas and buy land. Senor Cruchilio is understood to have suggested the purchase of land belonging to his brother, General Cruchilio, for $300,000. Government and Jewish circles are exercising the utmost caution with regard to the proposals, awaiting the report of an American experts commission recently dispatched by the Roosevelt Advisory Committee on Refugees to survey settlement possibilities.