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Jews in Nazi-held Yugoslavia Live Like Maranos, Chief Rabbi Alcalay Reports

The Jews in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia today live like the Maranos in the time of the Spanish Inquisition, Dr. Isaac Alcalay, chief rabbi of Yugoslavia, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today, describing life under the Nazis.

Dr. Alcalay reached the United States last week by way of Egypt, Palestine, proceeding around Africa and up the coast of South America by plane. “Although no synagogues or Jewish institutions were hit during the Nazi air attack on Belgrade, Dr. Alcalay said, “the Jewish community had prepared itself for the worst. We buried the Scrolls of the Law weeks before the bombs fell. All valuable Jewish records were transferred from the centers of Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sarajevo into the provinces in order to keep them from falling into the hands of the invaders.”

“The advent of the Nazis,” Dr. Alcalay continued, “caught up with us in the province, whither many Jewish families had escaped. But with the enemy combing the countryside, most of them took to the hills and caves. Many Jews, among them prominent public welfare benefactors, were trapped by the Nazis and shot as hostages. Before many months passed, there was hardly a Jew to be seen in the cities. The civilian population of Yugoslavia, in the face of Nazi brutality, helped Jews to vanish into the rural districts, where the sound of goose-stepping was less loud and less frequent.”

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