Stirring Scenes Mark Arrival in Palestine of Jews Liberated from Nazi Camp
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Stirring Scenes Mark Arrival in Palestine of Jews Liberated from Nazi Camp

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Tears of happiness rolling down their emaciated faces, 282 Jews who only two weeks ago were in a Nazi concentration camp arrived here today from Turkey where they were exchanged for Germans interned by the Allies in the Middle East.

Stirring scenes marked their arrival when they were met at the station by relatives and friends. The first to alight from the train was a young Jewish girl carrying a Torah which she miraculously saved from the Nazis. She held out the Torah to the others who kissed it gently as they stepped on Palestine soil.

No young men or women were included by the Germans in the liberated group. German authorities insisted that the group be composed of people aged between 45 and 60 and of children up to the age of 14. The majority of the group are Palestinians or holders of Palestine visas who had been interned first in Holland and transferred later to the Bergenbelzen camp where they were held until the exchange was arranged. Others were brought to the Bergenbelzen camp from Vittel, France.


About 4,000 more Jews, most of them holders of South American passports, still remain in the Bergenbelzen camp, near Hanover, the arrivals reported. Although they could be exchanged for interned German civilians in Latin American countries, they are gradually being deported to extermination camps in Poland. Forty of them committed suicide when they learned that they were scheduled for deportation.

Among those who committed suicide was the widow of Chief Rabbi Moses Schorr of Jarsaw. The daughter of Rabbi Schorr also attempted suicide. Reuben Cohen, prominent Mazarachi leader, died in the camp, while Isaac Katznelson, prominent Jewish poet, together with his son, were among those deported from the camp to “an unknown destination.” Chief Rabbi koretz of Salonika was still in the camp when the group which reached Palestine today left Bergenbelzen. Ninety percent of all Jews in Holland have been deported to Poland and exterminated there, some of the Dutch Jews in the group stated.


Many of the arrivals were so old and exhausted that they could not walk and needed assistance to alight from the train. Dr. Israel Taubes, who was the leader of the group, said that the sealed train on which the Jews were taken from Germany to turkey through the Balkan countries had a narrow escape when Allied bombs exploded on both sides of the train near the Bulgarian border.

Telling of their horrible experiences in the Bergenbelzen camp which the Nazis claim is “one of the most humane camps,” the arrivals said that the Nazis “did not actually kill the people in the camp, but starved them to death.” One of the arrivals gave the following account.

“They compelled us to get up before sun-rise and appear in a courtyard for inspection. If any of the internees died during the night – and an average of six to seven people died each night – the living were compelled to bring the dead and line them up in a row for inspection. The inspection lasted several hours, even in the coldest winter days, after which we were ordered to work till sunset. Kept on a starvation diet, our rations were reduced to a small piece of bread as punishment for even the smallest ‘sin.’

“As time went, our working hours were increased and the rations diminished. Had it not been for the precious assistance we received from the International Red Cross, in the form of food parcels, we could have figured out with mathematical precision the day and the hour of our death. The situation improved somewhat when the Nazis learned that our group was to be exchanged for Germans living in Palestine.”


Among the arrivals are Gertrude Van-Tyn, the head of the Jewish Relief Committee in Holland, Rabbi Lazar Dinner of Amsterdam, Prof. Albert Lefkovitz, Jacob Van Elitz, Dr. Ignatz Bergenthal, Dr. Max Plaut, last president of the Hamburg Jewish Community, Dr. James Ellenburgen, last treasurer of the Berlin Jewish Community, and other Jewish leaders from Holland and Germany.

The arrivals also include people who witnessed the deportation of Jews from Vittel. Their eyes filled with tears as they described the brutal scenes when Jews of all ages, including infants, were forcibly driven to the station and herded into sealed trains for deportation.

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