140,000 Jews Face Blitzkrieg in Nazi Invasion of Yugoslavia, Greece

Another 140,000 Jews were brought under the threat of Nazi Blitzkrieg today as the German armed forces pressed their invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece.

First of the cities to feel the effects of Nazi terror from the air were the Yugoslav cities of Belgrade and Sarajevo and the Greek seaport of Salonika, which have relatively large Jewish populations. Salonika has 50,000 Jews, most of them concentrated in one section. Recent reports from Salonika said adequate air-raid shelters had been built in the Jewish quarter, which bore the brunt of the early Italian raids, and that the Jews were facing the German invasion calmly.

There are about 75,000 Jews in Yugoslavia and 65,000 in Greece. Last week, in expectation of the German invasion, a large number of the 12,000 Jews of Zagreb–largest Jewish community in Yugoslavia–had evacuated into the interior, spurred by anonymous telephoned threats in German to Jewish leaders that there would be a wholesale clean-up of Jews once the German forces entered.

Efforts had been made to evacuate as many as possible of the 5,000 Jewish refugees concentrated around Zagreb before the German invasion. More than 1,000 refugees had been marooned in an abandoned factory in Shabac after two years of efforts to emigrate to Palestine. Of these, 230 had succeeded in proceeding towards Palestine via Turkey before the zero hour struck. The refugees had been supported by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Belgrade with the assistance of funds from the Joint Distribution Committee.

One of the side effects of the Yugoslav-German break was the scrapping of plans to ship matzos from Yugoslavia to Jews in German-occupied Poland. The arrangement had been worked out by the Federation of Jewish Communities and was to be financed by the JDC. Instead, it was arranged to send matzos from Hungary and Slovakia since there had been no railway communication between Yugoslavia and German territory for a fortnight before the invasion began.

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