MOSCOW (Jul. 25)
After three years of sufferings under the German and Rumanian armies, hundreds of Jewish families liberated when the Russian Army captured the Rumanian city of Botosani were enabled today to resume contact with their friends and relatives in the United States through the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
A list of Botosani Jews who have relatives in the United States, compiled by the Moscow correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, has been cabled to New York with the permission of the Soviet authorities. The list includes families many members of which have been massacred. It also includes fathers and mothers who have not seen or heard from their children in America since the outbreak of the war. Also women whose husbands emigrated from Botosani to the United States many years ago and who lost contact with them after Rumania entered the war on Germany’s side. There are also brothers, sisters and other close relations, many of whom were believed to have been killed or massacred during the pogroms which the German-Rumanian armies carried out in Rumanian cities.
To bring these people in contact with their relatives in the United States, the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency made a special trip to Botosani where he spent several days interviewing Jewish leaders and talking to the men, women and children who remained alive after three years of constant terror.
JEWISH COMMUNAL INSTITUTIONS REOPENED IN BOTOSANI
Botosani is typical of the many small Rumanian cities which have predominantly Jewish populations. The Jewish community maintains a primary school accommodating 1,200 pupils, two high schools, a Talmud Torah, a free communal kitchen, an orphanage – which today houses 163 children whose parents died in Transistria, a dispensary, a hospital and three homes for the aged. These institutions had been closed down by the Rumanian authorities.
At the orphanage, the JTA correspondent saw many children who have no surviving relatives anywhere in Europe. Their only living relatives are in the United States, Canada, Palestine, England or South America. These children have lived through such horrible experiences that death does not seem to have any significance for them. “Where are your parents?” one six-year-old child was asked. “Dead,” he replied calmly, “dead like everybody else.”
Spokesman for the city’s Jews is Marcus Groper, a former manufacturer of toys, who is president of the Jewish community council. He reviewed the hardships which the Jews of Botosani underwent from 1938 when Alexander Cuza, notorious anti-Semite, was named premier, until the town was captured by the Red Army. Although the Cuza and the present Antonescu regimes introduced many repressive anti-Jewish measures, the worst period for the Jews began following the German attack on Russia.
From June, 1941, the Jews were stripped of all rights. They were deprived of their property, of the right to work and many were sent to slave labor. Heavy taxes were levied on them, their land was confiscated, and professionals, including doctors, were barred from practicing.
ANTI-JEWISH LAWS STILL ON BOOKS, BUT NOT ENFORCED
Although these anti-Jewish measures still remain on the books officially, since the Soviet Government has pledged not to interfere in the internal administration of non-Russian territory occupied by its troops, they are no longer observed.
Thousands of Rumanian Jews were killed by the Germans and other thousands were deported to Transnistria, the section of the Ukraine which was occupied by Rumanian troops. Although the situation of the Jews improved slightly after the Nazi defeat at Stalingrad and the bombing of the Ploesti oil fields in Rumania by the Allied air force, their position remained hazardous until last June 23, when the German and Rumanian forces evacuated the city. With them went the entire civil administration.
In an attempt to chaos the chaos which followed the retreat of the civil and military authorities, the Jewish community council organized a special police detachment consisting of 150 Jews and 50 non-Jews, Mr. Groper revealed.