Prague Jews Revive Their Community, All Synagogues Remained Intact, Few Survivors Left

The surviving Jews of Prague today formed a committee to work out a plan for the revival of the Jewish community in this city, one of the oldest Jewish settlements in Europe. Very few of the 40,000 Jews who lived in Prague before the Germans occupied the city have survived. The committee which was formed today is headed by Dr. Ernst Frischer, Jewish member of the Czechoslovakian National Council in London, who returned from England to Prague together with the government.

The Jewish community in Brno, largeat in Moravia, resumed functioning last week. In Bratislava, a city of ancient Jewish tradition and the birthplace of the Chassidic movement, no Jewish institutions exist, since most of the Jews there and all Jewish institutions were wiped out by the pro-Nazi Slovakian government. The only historic monument of Jewish life in Bratislava that remains is a library of the Jewish community, containing 75,000 volumes.

The ancient synegogue in Prague, where, according to legend, Der Hohe Rabbi low created the Golem in the 16th century, remains intact even though German troops made their last-ditch stand around the synagogue premises. A few windows of the synagogue building are broken and many bullet marks chipped the centuries-old gray walls. All other synagogues in Prague are intact. They were used by the Nazis as warehouses for confiscated Jewish furniture and have now been cleaned out and restored. Only the Vinogrady Synagogue is largely destroyed.

A large number of the surviving Jews in Prague are changing their names and dropping their raligion in an attempt to assimilate themselves with the non-Jewish population. On the other hand, a number of Jews who had no interest in Jewish affairs before the war, are now strengthening their ties with nationalist Jews, in the hope that they may eventwally be able to proceed to Palestine.

JEWISH PROPERTY BEING RESTORED IN PRAGUE, BUT NOT IN SLOVAKIA

The problem of restoration of Jewish property is gradually being solved in Prague, but is causing great difficulties in Slovakia. This is due to the fact that while in Bohemia-Moravia all Jewish property was confiscated by Germans who have now lost their rights and are in the process of being expelled from the country, in Slovakia the Jewish property was taken over by Slovaks who now, with the exception of pro-Nazi collaborators, remain citizens and refuse to part with the property.

The two political parties in Slovakia are both dodging the issue of enforcing the restoration of confiscated Jewish property to the rightful owners. Out of opportunism, neither of these two groups dares to approach the problem vigorously before the forthcoming elections. Formally, the anti-Jewish laws have been repealed in Slovakia, but the Jews there complain that the repeal is “only on paper” and the only benefit that Jews have derived so far is that they can move about freely.

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