Anti-jewish Drive Mounts in Memel; Refugees Suffer from Cold, Hunger
Menu JTA Search

Anti-jewish Drive Mounts in Memel; Refugees Suffer from Cold, Hunger

Download PDF for this date

The Nazi authorities today intensified the anti-Semitic drive in the newly-acquired Memel territory, spurring Jewish refugees to seek new homes in the United States, Palestine and European countries.

A group of Memel Jews who crossed the frontier into Lithuania yesterday after being released by the Nazis from “protective custody” were found to be in pitiable condition. Many of them were injured and a number had broken arms and legs.

One family, which had settled in Memel after emigrating recently from Germany, attempted to escape to Latvia but was halted at the border by Latvian frontier guards and was barred by the Nazis from returning to Memel. After spending 24 hours in the “no-man’s-land” the husband, wife and three children received permission from the Lithuanian authorities to remain here for two weeks.

The population of the territory was forbidden by the authorities to buy or sell Jewish property. The order was aimed at preventing Germans from purchasing Jewish property at low prices. The Memel radio station announced that Memel Jews would be forced to contribute to the $200,000,000 “fine” imposed on the Jews of Germany last December for the assassination of a German Embassy official in Paris by a Polish Jew.

M. Bertuleit, former President of Memel, stated today that the Jewish population of the territory had numbered 6,000 and Jews had owned 330 factories and industrial enterprises employing 70 per cent of Memel’s German workers. Three thousand German workers have been thrown out of work by the liquidation of Jewish enterprises, he said.

Several Jews in Memel were reported to have committed suicide.

The situation of the refugees was still uncertain. They were concentrated chiefly in small towns and were suffering from cold and hunger. A delegation of the newly-formed Jewish Refugee Committee left tonight from Kaunas to visit the towns and distribute food and clothing. It was intended to bring the children immediately to children’s homes in Kaunas.

Thousands of cables were sent by refugees to relatives in the United States asking for affidavits of support which would permit them to immigrate to America. The Palestine Office here cabled to Jerusalem requesting immigration certificates for Memel refugees.

Meanwhile, anti-Semitism increased in Lithuania proper. Nazis burned down a synagogue at the seaside resort of Heydekrug, it was reported here.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund