NEW YORK (Oct. 13)
Frans Werfel, Czechoslovakian novelist, and Heinrich Mann, German novelist, brother of Thomas Mann, were among fifteen leading European writers and intellectuals, Jews and Christians, who arrived today aboard the Greek steamship Nea Hellas from Lisbon after escaping the clutches of the German secret police with American help. Werfel and Mann both announced that they have come to America to stay, and hope to be naturalized as American citizens.
Werfel, who had several times been reported as killed or a Nazi prisoner, attributed these rumors to the confusion in France during and after the Nazi invasion.
Werfel, who was accompanied by his Catholic wife, Alma, said he had been staying in Marseille, after trying vainly at Hendaye to get permission to leave France. He, Mann, and all the other refugee writers on the ship were reluctant to discuss their experiences in France or the manner of their eventual escape. “There are still many there who are in danger from the Gestapo,” Werfel said, “and anything one says might jeopardize them.”
Thomas Mann, who has been in the United States for several years, greeted his brother and his son, Gottfried, 34, a historian, who spent some time in a French concentration camp after hurrying from Switzerland to offer his services to France in the first days of the invasion.
The refugee writers were assisted in coming to America by the Emergency Rescue Committee, a group of well-known American writers and educators which is working to rescue European intellectuals in Nazi-held territories.
Another group of refugees on the Nea Hellas consisted of 38 men and women recently released from concentration camps in Italy, who are bound for the refugee settlement at Sosua under the wing of the Dominican Republic Settlement Association.
They had originally been scheduled to sail last spring on the Italian steamship Neptunia whose departure was cancelled as a preliminary to Italy’s entry into the war. They reported that they had been very well treated by the Italian authorities and populace. Their confinement was not irksome, as they were allowed the freedom of the villages in which they were placed. They said the Italian peasants and villagers were friendly and sympathetic, and had no comprehension of the meaning of anti-Semitism. The group was sent to Ellis Island to await departure for Sosua, probably next Saturday.
Also among the 650 passengers on the Nea Hellas was Leon Kubowitzki, Brussels lawyer, former president of the Belgian Council of Jewish Societies and one of the organizers of the World Jewish Congress; Hermann Budzislawski, last editor of the Berlin paper Die Weltbuhne; Friedrich Stumpfer, former Reichstag member and editor of the Berlin Socialist paper, Vorwaerts; Dr. Joseph Moldaver, University of Brussels neurologist, who is to join the staff of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.
Professor Henri Gregoire, of the University of Brussels, who was leader of the Belgian underground opposition to the German occupation in 1914-1918, also a passenger, said that opposition to the Nazi conquerors in Belgium and France is wide-spread and becoming increasingly well-organized.
“The subversive movement in Belgium is going on just as in the last war,” he said. “It has an illegal newspaper, La Libre Belgique. Ninety percent of the Belgians are faithful to the spirit of the late King Alfred and Cardinal Mercier, who never surrendered to the Germans. No one should believe the French people have surrendered. Almost all of them are listening to the BBC broadcasts.”