Jerusalem (Aug. 20)
The first comprehensive picture of the Jewish situation in North Africa was given here today by Dr. Joseph Schwartz, European Director of the Joint Distribution Committee, prior to his departure on a ten-day trip to Turkey to study relief measures there.
All the refugees in North Africa have been liberated by now from the internment camps, Dr. Schwartz said to the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Most of them are working, and some have joined the British Pioneer Corps, while others are working for the army. Many found employment in private industries. Some of the old and physically handicapped are being assisted by local communities which are being subsidized by the Joint Distribution Committee.
“In Algeria and in Morocco,” Dr. Schwartz continued, “most of the Vichy anti-Jewish restrictions have been removed and the general economic situation there is not unfavorable. Jewish children are readmitted to the schools and Jewish doctors and lawyers have resumed their practice. Most of the Jews dismissed from civil service under the Vichy laws have now been reinstated. Many Jewish institutions and communal organizations are without any resources due to the three years of Vichy rule, thus requiring assistance until they are in a position to replenish their own resources.
“The Jewish community in Algeria is hopeful that the Jews will be fully restored to all their rights. The moral sufferings of the Jewish communities there, as a result of the Vichy laws, are very great. These communities will need temporary financial support from the Joint Distribution Committee.
JEWS IN TUNISIA SUFFERED MOST; WERE TERRORIZED BY THE AXIS
“The greatest suffering of the Jews in North Africa is noticeable in Tunisia,” Dr. Schwartz said. “Living under Axis occupation for about six months, the Jews in Tunisia were robbed by the Germans of their homes, radios, carpets, furniture, The Nazis also took 150 Jewish hostages among whom were leaders of the Jewish community. Some of them were sent to France. The Jewish communities had to furnish about 8,000 forced labors, paying each 100 francs daily and supplying them with equipment and tools. A fine of 58,000,000 francs was also imposed on the Jews by the Nazis.
“Many Jewish refugees from Tripolitania are now in Tunisia, and the JDC is making every effort to repatriate them. Many Jewish evacuees from Bizerte are also now in Tunis. About 1,300 of these evacuees live in the buildings of four Jewish schools. The local Jewish communities in Tunisia are impoverished and require immediate help to rebuild their institutions and to take care of the refugees and evacuees.”
Dr. Schwarts concluded his review by stating that Lehman’s Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation is rendering significant help to the Jews in Tunisia by providing them with food and clothing, but constructive help of a communal nature will have to be provided for them by the Joint Distribution Committee.