NEW YORK (Sep. 28)
The Hitler policy of persecution and extermination of the Jews of Europe has reached such a critical stage that “emergencies on a scale staggering the imagination” will unfold when relief workers enter the liberated countries of Europe on the heels of the victorious United Nations’ armies, Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz, European chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee, predicted today during the course of a report before 2,000 leaders in Jewish life at the Hotel Astor.
“It will be the kind of emergency that will not wait for the formulation and carrying out of carefully laid plans,” Dr. Schwartz said. “I am not convinced that the time has already come or will arrive in the very near future when we will be freed of the necessity of acting on an emergency basis,”
Dr. Schwartz pointed out that, in his opinion, the Jews of America will find themselves confronted with emergency situations that will far exceed the current financial resources of the J.D.C. “Throughout the five years of war the J.D.C. has been in direct contact with the Jewish refugees in all of the occupied countries of Europe,” he reported. “Our relief activities in most of those places have not stopped for a single day. We have been sending relief into Slovakia, into Rumania, into Hungary, even into Poland, throughout the days of occupation. Through Switzerland alone, for the occupied countries, we have expended about $6,000,000 under war conditions, with all of the difficulties and with all of the complicated although necessary regulations of the Treasury and State and other governmental departments.”
“Many of us have been hoping secretly that when the war was over and the situation became clear, we would find that the tragedy was not as great as we had imagined it, or as it had been described,” Dr. Schwartz continued. “I am afraid, however, that we are going to be disappointed in that hope, that we are going to discover that the Jewish communities of Europe are in ruins; that we are going to find a country like Holland which had a Jewish community of 140,000 reduced to some 15,000 or 20,000 Jews. That is the kind of thing we are going to find in Western and Central Europe. I do not have to explain to you the tragedy we are going to find in Poland. This is unfolding daily. In Poland, when all of these cities famous in Jewish history and lore become liberated, we shall probably find Jewish communities reduced to remnants. That is the situation we must be prepared for; because we shall be called upon to deal with those who remain on an emergency basis. We shall be called upon to deal with those situations quickly and effectively.”
Preceding Dr. Schwartz’s address, the assemblage heard from Otto M. Schiff, chairman of the Jewish Refugee Committee in London, and Rabbi Jonah B. Wise, vice-chairman of the J.D.C. Paul Baerwald, chairman of the J.D.C., opened the meeting and introduced Monroe Goldwater, chairman of the New York City United Jewish Appeal. who presided. Greetings were sent to the meeting by Governor Herbert H. Lehman, director general of UNRRA, and by John W. Pehle, executive director of the War Refugee Board.