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Surviving Jews in Belgrade Rebuilding Cultural and Religious Life Destroyed by Nazis

The Jewish community of this city is slowly rebuilding its cultural and religious life despite the fact that four years of German occupation reduced Belgrade’s Jewish population from 12,000 to about 800 a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent who arrived here from Rome this week has found.

Both of Belgrade’s synagogues were destroyed and all of its rabbis have been killed, as, indeed, were all the rabbis of Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, services are being held regularly Friday and Saturday, with two laymen of the community in charge.

Dr. Friedrich Pops, for 35 years president of the local Jewish community and for the past 19 years head of the Yugoslav Union of Jews, is still an active leader. All during the German occupation Dr. Pops hid in the heart of Belgrade in the home of a Serb Christian family. A bearded, white-haired old man, he talks cheerfully of the reconstruction of Jewish life in Yugoslavia where the National Liberation Committee has already restored full citizenship rights to the Jewish population.

Hundreds of Belgrade Jews are in Marshal Tito’s army, or are still in Albania, Italy or German territory. In the four months since the city was libertal, many families have struggled back here from hiding places throughout Yugoslavia. The homeless are being cared for in a temporary rest camp established at the headquarters of the Jewish community.

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