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Purge of Jewish Community Leaders in Vienna for Coliaborating with Nazis

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Prof. Benzion Lazar, new head of the Jewish Community in Vienna, today explained to the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the reasons for the arrest by the Russian authorities of Dr. Joseph Lowenherz and Heinrich Beinenfeld, Jewish community leaders. The two, he said, are charged with collaborating with the Gestapo in organizing the deportation of Jews to extermination camps during the Wazi regime.

“Thinking to save themselves,” he said,” Dr. Joseph Lowenherz, his assistant, Heinrich Beinenfeld and their associates faithfully carried out the Nazi orders for the selection of those Viennese Jews who were to be exterminated. They frequently shared confiscated property with the Gestapo. That is why the Russians have arrested these two. Some others of lesser guilt are still working in the offices of the Jewish Community but will be eliminated in time. Many who helped the Gestapo were in the end themselves transported to the gas chambers.”

This typical Nazi scheme of using one set of victims to persecute another was diabolically successful, the J.T.A. correspondent was told. To some extent, a schism developed within the Jewish community, and a certain amount of bitterness and distrust remains. Nevertheless, with the ending of the Hitler terror, and the imperative necessity of dealing with immediate problems, the survivors of the community in Vienna are finding ways of reestablishing their histeric unity.

“Our first task,” said Prof. Lazar, “is to bring Jews from the former concentration camps and see that they get good food and shelter. That is a huge responsibility, and it is occupying all our time and our resources. To date, we have established a Jewish hospital with 220 beds, and another with 150 beds. We have regained the Home for Aged Jews, which is now housing 600 of the former concentration camp inmates, we have another home for 100, and we have a beautiful surbuban villa for 40. We have just begun to use three hotels but we have been informed that at least one of them will be requisitioned for American troops here.

“As fast as possible, we are moving people into private dwellings. Fortunately, the Jewish Community had a certain amount of money available in this once rich community. But we are getting toward the end of our resources. Above all in importance is the fact that money busy very little and our great need is for food and clothing. Speaking practically, the Jews, like the other Viennese, are getting only bread to eat. Naturally, therefore, we hope every day for help from abroad.”

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