Sliac, Czechoslovakia (Sep. 4)
The Czechoslovak Government is taking steps to prevent ill-treatment of Jews in Slovakia, President Eduard Benes yesterday told a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent who interviewed him in this countain resort where he is vacationing. At the same time, he emphasized that all Jews who wish to leave the country will be allowed to emigrate.
“We do not hide the fact that a kind of anti-Semitism exists in Slovakia,” Mr. Benes said. ” It is unfortunate, but it is a fact. Our Government is now applying messures to stop it. I do not approve of anti-Semitism in any form,” the President continued, “but one must try to understand the historical reasons why it developed in Slovakia.
” The Slovaks were subjected by the Hungarians for many centuries and developed strong national feelings, During that period of foreign domination the Jews in Slovakia were generally identified with the Hungarians – they spoke Hungarian or German. On the other hand, in Bohemia and Moravia Jews were assimilated and considered Czechs, and there there is no anti-Semitism. When the German policy of persecution of Jews swept over Europe some Slovaks responded with the same ancient prejudices.”
Asked to comment on reports that restrictions had been imposed on the emigration of Jews from Czechoslovakia, Mr. Benes replied emphatically that there were not any such restrictions, and that he knew of no instances of Jews being denied the right to emigrate.
“On the contrary,” the President added, “Jews who want to move to other lands should have free opportunity to do so provided there are places where they will be accepted. Zionism in some form or other seems to be one of the best solutions of the problem of where Jews are to go who for various reasons do not want to remain in their original homes.”