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Backer Returns from England; Deplores U.S. Action on Refugees

George Backer, president and editor of the New York Post and president of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, arrived here on the Dixie Clipper after a seven-and-a-half week visit to England.

Interviewed by the JTA at LaGuardia Airport, Backer reported that Britain had begun to forge ahead of Germany in the air and was taking the offensive in the air war. He warned against any flagging of American aid to Britain as result of the German invasion of Russia.

Backer criticized the action of the State Department in barring visas for refugees with relatives in German territory. He expressed the opinion that the action was not warranted by the situation. At any rate, he said, there are only about 6,000 refugees of all sorts in Lisbon now. The U.S. action came as a great blow to them, he stated.

The reaction in Portugal to the German invasion of Russia was one of “relief,” Backer declared, since it was taken as meaning that Portugal was safe from invasion for the time being.

Told that Senator Wheeler had used the Russian invasion to argue against American intervention, the publisher said that “Wheeler displays enormous ignorance of what actually took place. If he is not disingenuous, then he is corrupting the facts.” Backer declared that the Nazis had invaded Russia not because Moscow rejected any demands, but because they were determined not to permit the Russian army to remain on the east. “Russia had no desire to fight,” he said.

Speaking of England, Backer praised the morals of the British people and said they had become almost “complacent” in the face of the air-raids. London’s East End, which he visited, has suffered particularly from the raids, largely because the buildings are not as strong as in other parts of the city.

Backer praised the work of the ORT in England, declaring that its schools were “doing beautifully.” He said 29 ORT students had been accepted in the British military forces, the largest group of them in the Pioneer Corps.

Backer, who left Lisbon yesterday, brought back with him a fragment of a bomb which had hit the London Daily Express building on Fleet Street. He said he had no personal experiences with bombings, except for almost falling into a bomb crater. He was met at the at the airport by his wife, Mrs. Dorothy Schiff Backer, and their young daughter.

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