1,200 Jewish Refugees Arrested in Italy Will Be Placed in Custody of JDC

The 1,200 Jewish refugees detained by Italian authorities aboard the 1,000-ton motor schooner “Fede” following their arrest on Friday as they were preparing to sail for Palestine will be placed in the custody of the Joint Distribution Committee, it was reported here today.

Benjamin Brook, JDC representative in Italy, and Dr. Umberto Nachon, Jewish Agency representative here, are already in the southern town of La Spezia, where the Jews were arrested. The Palestine office here has received a wire from the refugees, with an appeal that it be forwarded to President Truman and Prime Minister Attles, in which they warn that if they are not permitted to enter Palestine, they “will sink the ship and drown with it, because we have reached the last stage of despair.”

It is not expected here that any official action will be taken against the refugees. The only charge which could be placed against them is illegal possession of Allied stores, since each is understood to have had a ten-day supply of Allied rations.

Three non-commissioned officers who were detained in connection with the affair are reported to have been members of a Jewish military unit, which as part of the British forces had been ordered south from Udine. British circles here believe that refugees were loaded onto the trucks which brought them to Le Spezia while the convoy as traveling southward.

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