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Zionism Permitted in Soviet-held Rumanian Territory; Jews Split on Community Issues

Following its policy of non-interference with local communal life in Russian-held Rumanian territory, the Soviet authorities are permitting Zionist groups there to continue their activities, it was learned here from a report in the Christian Science Monitor cabled from Botosani, a Rumanian city under Russian occupation.

The correspondent, Edmund Stevens, says that while all the 16,000 Jews in Sctosani have welcomed the Red Army as deliverers from German and Rumanian terror, “sharp antagonisms have since then developed inside the Jewish community.”

“There is an active and articulate Zionist faction, there is a wealthy upper-crust whose members hold most of the offices in the Jewish community organization, and there is a radical Communist or near-Communist group, ” the cable says. “Wealthy Jews intent on safeguarding their wealth fear and suspect communistically inclined Jews far more than they do the Red Army authorities.”

“The correspondent also states that “while the burden of persecution fell mainly on the Jewish poor, rich Rumanian Jews managed to retain a large measure of their wealth under the Axis and even some political influence.

“They achieved this in typical Rumanian fashion by bribing Government officials both locally and nationally and by going out of their way to show their “loyalty” to the Antonescu regime,” he reports. Thus the Jewish community of Botosani contributed 4,000,000,000 lei to Premier Ion Antonescu’s war chest. At the same time the Rumanian Government discovered early in the application of anti-Semitic legislation that to eliminate the Jews altogether from the country’s economic life at this juncture was to invite chaos as there weren’t enough qualified non-Jews to replace them.”

Even those provisions of anti-Jewish laws which prevented a Jew owning land or factories were evaded. in many instances by taking a Rumanian into partnership and transferring the business to his name, Mr. Stevens declares. The Rumanian served as a “front” while the Jew continued to run it as before. Such was the position in Botosani flour mills and other local enterprises. Then when the Germans and Rumanians retreated the Rumanian “owners” fled with them and the Jews stayed on and continued to operate enterprises.

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