New York (May. 23)
The French Government has recognised the Hias-Ica is the official body for Jewish migration and has permitted the organization to name representatives to the Special Screening Committees at all French frontier stations and ports to check on repatriates, it was reported here today by Dr. James Bernstein, European Director of the Hias-Ica Emigration Association who just arrived from Paris.
Addressing a press luncheon, Dr. Bernstein emphasized that “the importance of a Jewish representative on such a committee is obvious,” since there are many Jews among the repatriates, “In principle the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has agreed to the return to France of all former residents on condition that every individual use be investigated by the Screening Committees at the frontier stations,” he declared, adding that the Hias-Ica is now operating in twenty-two localities in France with a central office in Paris.
“The Hias-Ica was successful in obtaining important concessions from the French authorities with regard to the granting of exit visas, which at this time is rather the exception than the rule,” Dr. Bernstein said. ” On the whole it is estimated that the great majority of the Jewish population in France, principally that in the provinces, desires to emigrate; half of them to Palestine, and the other to the Eastern Hemisphere, chiefly to the United States. But so far there are only 2,000 certificates for Palestine available and the United States Consulates are not yet permitted to handle applications for quota immigrants. We hope that this situation will change after the return of the chief of the Visa Division to Washington from his inspection tour of liberated Europe.
“As to the contention that anti-Semitism is rampant in France, there is no denying that it exists in some parts and that it was greatly accentuated during the occupation. The impatience of some Jewish political circles for immediate restitution of Jewish property aggravated that feeling, but it cannot be truthfully said that the French people as a whole are anti-Semites. The fact that tens of thousands of Jews were successfully hidden for many years bespeaks the ocoperation of their non-Jewish neighbors, and that, as well as the tender care given by non-Jews to Jewish children as reported by eyewitnesses, convinces me that after the chaotic war period is over, the Jews will find France a worthwhile country to live in, ” Dr. Bernstein declared.
Reporting on Hias-Ica activities in Belgium and in the Balkan countries, Dr. Bernstein said that “emigration from Rumania is not yet possible, but preparatory steps are being taken by our office in Bucharest for the time when visa and transportation facilities will again be available.” In Bulgaria, he stated, many contradictory decrees concerning the restitution of property and other rights for the Jews “created a situation where the great majority of Bulgarian Jews would gladly leave the country, in many instances for Palestine; but not only the necessary certificates are not available, but the formalities anent obtaining passports are more complicated now than under the occupation.”