Joint Distribution Committee Opening Relief Offices in Rome and Bari for Italian Jews

The Joint Distribution Committee is opening two offices in liberated Italy, one in Bari and one in Rome, it was disclosed here by Dr. Joseph Schwartz, European director of the JDC, who left today for Turkey together with Dr. Judah L. Magnes, in connection with important rescue plans.

The JDC office in Bari will care for Jewish refugees and destitute Jews in southern Italy. The office in Rome will assist Jews in the Italian capital and will bring relief to Jews in northern Italy where the bulk of Italian Jewry formerly resided and where most of the refugees will be found. “The Joint Distribution Committee is working in Italy in close cooperation with the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees,” Dr. Schwartz stated.

Steps are now being taken to re-establish the Jewish institutions in Naples and other cities in liberated Italy which were closed down after Italy’s entrance into the war in 1940, Dr. Schwartz reported. The JDC is also making grants to a number of Hachsharah projects which have been established by members of Palestine military units serving in Italy for the training of those wishing to emigrate to Palestine. Dr. Schwartz paid tribute to these units declaring that “especially in the early stages, members of the Palestine units in Italy rendered valuable service to the refugees, and even now are continuing to do what they can.”

J.D.C. AID GIVEN TO JEWS IN ROME THROUGHOUT GERMAN OCCUPATION

Dr. Schwartz revealed that Jewish refugees in Italy continued to receive aid from the Joint Distribution Committee during the occupation of Rome by the Germans. The relief was arranged through diplomatic personnel attached to the Vatican. A nucleus of the Jewish relief committee which has been functioning in Rome since 1933 still exicts and continued operating throughout the German occupation, Dr. Schwartz said. He emphasized that the JDC will continue to explore all immigration possibilities for the refugees in Italy and will provide for them during their stay there.

Estimating that there are about 9,000 Italian Jews and about 2,000 refugees in Rome, the majority of whom fled there from southern France when the Germans took over this territory from the Italian occupation authorities, the JDC representative said that many of the refugees are old and sick and show the effects of being confined in one camp or another during the last five years.

In southern Italy, Dr. Schwartz estimated, there are 3,000 Jewish refugees, most of whom are stateless, although a substantial number of them are Yugoslavia. About 600 of them have already emigrated to Palestine. Efforts are being made at present to secure additional immigration certificates for those desiring to go to Palestine, and to find emigration possibilities for those who do not want to or are not able to proceed to Palestine. Dr. Schwartz expressed the hope that President Roosevelt’s plan to admit 1,000 refugees from Italy to the United States for the duration of the war will cover some of these stateless Jews, or others who cannot be repatriated at present.

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