Jews in Europe Face Crisis Because of Inflation and Mass Flight Leavitt Reports
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Jews in Europe Face Crisis Because of Inflation and Mass Flight Leavitt Reports

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Fresh and continuing movements of Jews across Europe, coupled with spiralling inflation in nearly every country on the continent, are causing a crisis among Jewish survivors and are impeding assistance efforts in their behalf, it was stated today by Moses A. Leavitt, executive vice-chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee, who returned Monday from a ten-week survey of the conditions in Europe.

Mr. Leavitt reported at a press conference that 5,000 Rumanian Jews are in an unorganized, panic-stricken flight from famine, fear and inflation in their native country, crowding the roads and refugee centers of Hungary and Austria. He stressed the danger that thousands more may be on the march in the near future.

"I met these Jewish men, women and children en route to the west from Rumania," he said. "Old people, youths, babes in arms — all were in flight, owning nothing but the rags on their backs. Their plight is beyond description. The principal help which they receive at present is coming from the JDC, whose capacities are being strained to the utmost in an effort to clothe, house, feed and administer medical care to these wanderers."


Approximately 3,000 Rumanian Jews have reached Vienna on their flight through Eungary and Austria, Mr. Leavitt revealed. But because the U.S. Army is unable to aid newcomers entering after April 21, 1947, responsibility for providing full maintenance for the group has fallen to the JDC, he reported. Many are being cared for in the Rothschild Hospice, which the Army has turned over to the JDC to care for the newcomers, he said. The JDC is spending $1,500 per day for food alone for the refugees, Mr. Leavitt disclosed.

The JDC official described two other movements of Jews in Europe which, he pointed out, are also necessitating the JDC to provide extensive help which is straining the Committee’s capacity as a voluntary agency. "Each month sees 1,500 Jews from the DP camps of Germany and Austria come into France, and a similar number into Italy," Mr. Leavitt said, and the JDC must feed, clothe and house them.

Spiralling inflation in every European country in which the JDC operates is making relief needs much greater and at the same time is substantially increasing the cost in dollars of JDC aid, Mr. Leavitt pointed out. "In every area of Europe today we must spend far more than we anticipated at the beginning of the year, when the 1947 JDC budget was drawn, to maintain the same level of services."


The most serious emergency problem in Europe today remains the situation confronting the Jews in the displaced persons’ camps, Mr. Leavitt emphasized. He reported that the Jews in the German and Austrian DP camps are closely following the investigation of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine. "They are holding their breaths in the hope that the investigation will yet result in some escape for them from the oppressive atmosphere of the camps to Palestine," he said. "At the same time, the deterioration of morale in the camps is so great that it is almost a physical thing."

Turning to the brighter aspects of the European picture as they affect Jewish survivors, Mr. Leavitt told of the "remarkable comeback" which the remaining Jews of Poland have made in recent months. The Polish government has been most cooperative in helping the JDC reestablish the shattered life of Jews in Poland, and Jews are working in factories, in mines and on farms, particularly in Silesia, in a courageous effort at reconstruction, he said.

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