LONDON (Sep. 8)
Many Jewish families were homeless today and scores of Jewish merchants were ruined after Hitler’s most violent air attacks on London last night, the brunt of which was felt by London’s eastern and southern districts.
A considerable proportion of the air raid casualties, estimated at 400 killed and more than 1,000 seriously wounded, were residents of London’s largest Jewish district, in the East End, which received several high explosives and hundreds of incendiary bombs.
In one section of the Jewish district almost every other street has been roped off due to damage done to buildings. Demolition squads were busy today roping off weakened buildings and removing debris. Numerous Jewish families, carrying all the belongings they could salvage, trudged off in search of new shelter.
Household possessions were piled near dwellings which were deemed unsafe, guarded by sad-eyed Jewish residents.
The district’s usual Sunday activity was absent today with the traditional Sunday markets sparsely attended.
Virtually the only activity was that of workmen clearing up the damage, making temporary repairs and checking up on casualties. Most of the Jewish families were obliged to eat cold luncheons today, due to temporary interruption of gas service.
Many were badly shaken by last night’s experience. A large number filled a shelter in a disused warehouse early this afternoon, bringing food, blankets and other supplies with them.
Air Raid Precautions officials and police commented on the absence of panic, even at the height of the attack when spectacular fires lit up the entire district. When electricity failed temporarily, plunging the shelters into darkness, the occupants cheered each other by singing songs.
A tour through the district today revealed an unforgettable scene. Possibly 500 incendiary bombs had been dropped at random into the district, many of which found their
The Jewish community contributed 25,000 pengoes ($5,000) for 500 blankets, and 500 shoes. Railway authorities however, refused to transport these supplies to the nearest terminus. The Jews were obliged to hire trucks to carry the supplies direct to camp.
In many camps, the wealthier Jews took up collections to buy clothing for their poorer comrades. When Budapest Jews applied for permission to take up a public collection, however, the authorities refused on the grounds it would give a bad impression if the Jews were better clad than Gentiles. According to circles close to the Government the Jews will be kept in camps as long as mild weather lasts and outdoor work is possible. Later in the autumn when it is too cold to work the Jews will be discharged but will be called upon again in the Spring to build roads, bridges and railways in the new Transylvania territory, where the Government is unable to pay for private construction work.
It was reported that Jews recently were drafted for labor in quarries and in salt mines where there is labor shortage as a result of constant mobilization. When authorities received protests against employing lawyers, bank executives and other professional men for such types of work, they replied it would create bad blood if Jews were not mobilized at a time, when a million Gentiles were in the army.
The policy of segregating Jews in labor camps is not popular among certain sections of officialdom as well as the Jews themselves. It was reported that Count Stephen Bethlen, former premier and leader of the Conservative bloc, advised Premier Paul Teleki in a three-hour conference on Friday against the policy on the grounds it would ultimately wreck Hungary’s economy.
It was understood that Bethlen repeated the warning yesterday in an audience with Regent Nicholas Horthy at Gogollo.
The main objection of Jewish circles to the labor mobilization is that it is contrary to the Rearguard Defense Act of last May. According to this law, in time of war or “imminent danger” every person from 14 to 70 years, without regard to sex, must “perform work for the defense of the realm in accordance with his or her mental and physical capacities.” The law further requires that in every type of work, persons must be selected as far as possible on the basis of their training and experience. In the opinion of the Jewish community, the mobilization of businessmen and professionals, most of whom are old men, for physical labor is contrary to the spirit of these two provisos.