45,000 Jews Face Starvation As Rumanian Government Hinders Relief

Though nocturnal raids by armed bands of Green Shirts looking for money are less frequent than before, Jewish leaders in Bucharest and other Rumanian centers are being constantly harrassed by raids by Iron Guardists now incorporated in the so-called “communal police.”

The object of the current raids apparently is to demoralize Rumanian Jewry and to make sure that they are unable to form any effective organization for their own defense. The Guardists have not found it necessary to look for “hoarders” since all Jews who had any money have long since been forced, in one way or another, to give it up.

The day before this correspondent left Bucharest Dr. William Filderman, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Rumania, was visited by secret police and questioned for eight hours. He was not arrested but the police sacked his office and carried off several filing cabinets full of documents.

There was nothing incriminating in the documents according to democratic standards. As most of the documents dealt with the cases of individuals who had filed protests against arbitrary actions taken by the Iron Guard, it is likely that their names will be listed and they will be punished for “defeatism,” “economic sabotage” or some other such convenient charge.

It is significant that no Jews have been arrested on charges of “Communism” since the protest by the Soviet Legation two weeks ago. But the charge of “Masonry” serves the Guardists’ purposes just as well, as is indicated by the Hews from Bucharest today that another group of Jews has been arrested for precisely this “crime.”

The magnitude of the problems the Rumanian Jews are facing is presently indicated by the fact that there have been three presidents of the Bucharest Jewish Community in the last month. The situation to be faced is now so exacting that no less than two leaders have given up in despair.

Meanwhile, Rumania’s 175,000 remaining Jews are facing a long hard Winter with no relief in sight. On the contrary, persecution is continuing and every week several thousand more will reach an end of whatever resources they have been able to fall back on heretofore. Jewish leaders estimate that 45,000 Jews–one fourth of the total in Rumania–are literally facing death by starvation and that unless something happens the number will be doubled by Spring.

In view of the fact that the Iron Guardist Government is doing everything possible to prevent the Jews from organizing their own relief the only hope for thousands is to be herded into labor battalions where at least they will be given sufficient food to keep from dying of starvation.

Such labor battalions have already been organized in many towns. In Brasov Jews of all social classes have been put to work repairing the earthquake ruins. One of them is a prominent doctor and a colonel of reserves in the Army Medical Corps. In Ploesti, even women and children have been incorporated into labor gangs to clean snow from the streets.

In certain towns of the Bihor district, bordering the Hungarian frontier, all Jews have been evicted from their homes and are now being used as “slaves” to perform any manual labor deemed necessary.

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