Prague (Jul. 9)
Surviving Jews in the Sudeten area of Czechoslovakia – who are German-speaking and who always registered as of German nationality – are somewhat apprehensive about whether they will be exempted from the confiscation of property, expulsion from the country and other reprisals that almost certainly will be visited upon the Sudeten Germans by the Czechoslovak Government.
Jewish leaders, however, told a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent today that they are confident that fair treatment will be given the Sudeten Jews and that they will be allowed to become full citizens of Czechoslovakia.
Another ticklish problem, these leaders said, is securing the return of confiscated Jewish property. This will be comparatively simple in Bohemia and Moravia where the property was taken over by Germans, who are going to be expelled, but in Slovakia, the property is now in the hands of Slovaks, who, from all indications, will not give it up without a struggle. Government experts are now at work seeking a solution of the problem.
The majority of the 2,000 Jews now in Prague – survivors of the pre-war Jewish community of 45,000 – and another 7,000 elsewhere in Bohemia and Moravia have been stripped of most of their assets and are dependent on relief. A small amount has already arrived from the Joint Distribution Committee, via Stockholm, including milk, jam and other foodstuffs, but much more is urgently needed, particularly fats. Money is apparently not as important at present as supplies.
RELIEF COMMITTEE FLOODED WITH INQUIRIES FROM ALL OVER WORLD
In addition to relief work, the Jewish community in Prague is attempting to handle a flood of inquiries from all over the world concerning the fate of individual Jews. “The Jews here have been in practically all the concentration camps, and through them we are able to trace many,” Dr. Thomas Berman, assistant secretary of the community council, said. “However, ninety percent are either dead or untraceable.”
According to Dr. Kurt Wehle, a lawyer who is secretary of the council, less than ten percent of all Czech Jews survived. Dr. Wehle, who is one of the few survivors of Oswiecim, said that latest available statistics indicate that most of the 5,000 Jews in Bohemia and Moravia who were married to non-Jews have survived, and about 3,000 to 4,000 others were liberated from concentration camps and have returned. These are the only survivors of the 75,000 Jews who lived in the two provinces before the war.
Strangely enough, the synagogues and other Jewish relics and buildings here fared much better than the Jewish population. This correspondent toured the former ghetto area today accompanied by Cpl. Lawrence Luskin, an American soldier whose home in Brooklyn, and Salamon Komlos, a Slovakian Jew who has just arrived in Prague on Buchenwald.
We saw the ancient Jewish cemetery overgrown with weeds and bushes but the cavestones were unscathed, except by the centuries. The famous old synagogue is still the Gothic museum piece it has been for 700 years. Inside, prayerbooks were on their stands and candlesticks were in their appointed places. The historic Jewish own hall is undamaged, and now houses the Jewish committee. Even the famous clock with Hebrew characters was not damaged.