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New Berlin Decree Puts Great Added Financial Burden on Reich Jews

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Informed quarters here expect that the already unbearable financial burden of the German Jewish community will be increased enormously by the new Berlin decree setting up a single Jewish organization, designed to make Nazi control of Jewish life simpler and to speed up its liquidation.

While the principle of internal autonomy is outwardly preserved, there is little doubt that the Gestapo will exert enormous pressure behind the scenes. The decree merely marks official recognition of the Reichsvertretung’s reorganization plan adopted last year. Several provisions, however, change the intended voluntary character of the reorganization to a compulsory one following the Nazi “fuehrer” principle.

While the Reichsvertretung plan provided for coordination of the work of Jewish communities, with organizations being dissolved as their work was completed, the decree introduces the principle of compulsory membership of individual German and “stateless” Jews. Jewish communities, with the Berlin community perhaps the only exception, will lose their independence and become merely branches of the Reichsvereinugung, as the new organization is to be called, to execute official inspired orders.

The Berlin community, it is believed, will retain its independent character with minor modifications. Only a few large communities are left with sufficient number of children of school age to make possible the maintenance of a Jewish school system. Secondary vocational schools will be maintained only in Berlin, Frankfort, Breslau and possibly Hamburg.

The decree abolishes public subsidies for Jewish schools and public buildings will no longer be put at their disposal. Jewish teachers lose the status of public officials and will be obliged to work at greatly reduced salaries. The edict’s provision that Jews may attend only Reichsvereinugung schools brings to an end the practice of sending children to such foreign schools here as the American School, hitherto largely attended by Jewish pupils.

Provisions of the decree forcing the Reichsvereinugung to take over maintenance of needy Jews will, it is estimated, increase the Jewish welfare budget by nearly 200 per cent.

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