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Closing of Balkan Escape Route to Jews Scored by Hirschman at UJA Meeting

Ira A. Hirschmann, former special representative of the War Refugee Board, said today he was “shocked” to learn that the refugee escape route from the Balkans through Turkey to Palestine had been closed, and urged that this action be challenged with “conviction and spirit.” He spoke at a meeting of the 1945 Council of Organizations of the United Jewish Appeal at the Hotel Biltmore.

Addressing approximately 1,000 representatives of Jewish fraternal and benevolent organizations in New York City, Mr. Hirschmann said: “I am shocked to learn that the frontiers from the Balkans and Turkey to Palestine have been closed. All of the machinery for bringing out these persecuted and molested people was set up by Ambassador Steinhardt and the War Refugee Board when I was in Turkey. Only last week I received a letter from my assistant, Herbert Katzki, in Istanbul stating that from the middle of October, when I left Turkey, to the first part of December 2,000 of those whom we had started on their way last August had come through to Palestine. The conditions in the Balkans beggar description and it is somebody’s responsibility to see that these people have a chance to move into safe territory where they can be secure and nourished.”

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