LONDON (Jun. 26)
Trustworthy Prague sources reported today that scenes reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition were being enacted almost daily in the Nazi “protectorate.”
The dread days of the Inquisition were being brought poignantly to mind particularly on Friday nights and the Sabbath, when hundreds of Jews, fearing to attend their synagogues because of constant threats of arson and bombings, congregate in secret cellars for the Sabbath services.
The worshippers arrive singly or in couples in order not to arouse attention. This precaution was made necessary by the recent arrest of a “minyan” in Maehrisch-Ostrau as an “illegal” assembly.
The cellar services proceed amid constant alarms, the frightened congregations saying hushed prayers and departing stealthily. Despite the danger of arrest, these congregations do not lack worshippers. On the contrary, a strong religious revival is noticeable among the younger generation of Jews as a result of the Nazi terrorization.
Following a threat of bombing, the famous Altneu Synagogue in Prague has been closed. Jewish inhabitants of the district have organized night watches to give the alarm in view of the danger of fire spreading if the synagogue is put to the torch, as scores of synagogues have been throughout the “protectorate” in recent weeks.
Information received from Maehrisch-Ostrau reveals that the recent synagogue burning there was carefully arranged in advance. A few days before the fire, the beadle received an anonymous letter warning him to vacate his flat because the synagogue was to be set ablaze. When the beadle brought the letter to the local police he was advised not to ignore its warning.
A delegation of leading Jewish citizens then appealed to the mayor asking him to protect the synagogue. The mayor, declaring that “these people mean business,” refused to take any action. Any policemen trying to prevent destruction of the synagogue, he said, would be killed or hurled into the flames.
Unable to secure protection for the edifice, the Jews removed the Scrolls of the Law and other sacred objects from their synagogue. Crowds came to enter it for the last time and moving scenes were witnessed when elderly worshippers had to be removed forcibly.
The following night incendiaries applied the torch and the synagogue was completely gutted.
The Czech population, meanwhile, is reported highly alarmed by Protector Konstantin von Neurath’s decree for “Aryanization” of Jewish property in view of the possibility that the process will be applied to Czech businesses since the decree applies to all enterprises having Jewish directors. The executive committee of the National Assembly, which enjoys rights of a quasi Parliament, held a special meeting to consider the decree. It was decided to send a delegation to Czech Premier General Elias to seek assurances that the decree would not apply to Czech firms.