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Jews in Flight As Hitler Takes over Memel; Anti-jewish Drive Pressed in Czech Areas

The few thousand Jews remaining in Memel were added to day to the stream of Europe’s refugees as the pre-war German territory was returned to the Reich by Lithuania.

Dispatches from Kaunas said hundreds of Jewish families from Memel were converging on the Lithuanian capital. The Memel correspondent of the Berliner Zeitung reported that trains leaving the territory were crowded and the roads were jammed with all kinds of vehicles filled with Jewish refugees headed for Kaunas. One report said German storm troopers had halted the flight of Jews and other refugees from the territory.

Actually, the number of Jews in Memel when it was surrendered to Chancellor Adolf Hitler was comparatively small, since a gradual exodus had been in progress since the Munich agreement last September. Before Munich the Jewish population of the territory was approximately 6,000. By the end of 1938 it had decreased to about 5,000. Hundreds more began to leave as Nazi anti-Semitism and agitation for return to Germany were intensified, and the number of Jews had dwindled to about 3,000 by the early part of 1939.

Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic campaign continued in the German-occupied areas of former Czecho-Slovakia. The Prague newspaper Venkov, former organ of the Czech Agrarian Party, demanded introduction of the Nuremberg Laws in Bohemia and Moravia since “true friendship and economic cooperation with Germany is impossible as long as the Czechs and Germans have different ideas on the Jewish question.”

The Association of Czech Shopkeepers in Prague was reported to be preparing signs reading “Aryan Business” for distribution to non-Jewish shops and advised its members that it would be to their interest to display these signs.

Neutral observers in Prague, according to Havas News Agency, estimated that well over 10,000 persons had been rounded up by the Gestapo in Bohemia and Moravia, despite an official statement that no more than 600 had been taken into custody since German occupation. Most of the persons were detained for real or suspected leftist tendencies, these observers said. Most of the arrests reportedly were made on the basis of a “blacklist” prepared by Konrad Henlein’s Sudeten German Party over a number of years.

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