VIENNA (Jun. 10)
The number of displaced Jews in the American zone of Austria, where the overwhelming majority are concentrated, has been decreasing steadily during the past few months, a report to U.S. military headquarters here reveals.
Two factors have been chiefly responsible for this state of affaire — a reduction in the number of refugees arriving from eastern and central European countries and the constant migration of DP’s southward to Italy en route to Israel, particularly during the past month. It is estimated that some 1,700 Jewish refugees crossed Austria and entered Italy during the first two weeks after the proclamation of the state of Israel, May 16.
American military sources estimate that there are some 17,000 Jews in camps or in transit in the U.S. zone. The last publicly revealed figure for displaced Jews entering the zone was 346 for the entire month of April. Although the totals are not yet available for May, it is believed that Jews from Hungary, Poland and Rumania entered U.S. occupied territory in even fewer numbers last month.
American authorities have matched the data on arrivals with a report that 819 displaced Jews left Austria during April. The Americans estimate that some 120,000 Jews left the U.S. zone of Austria during the three years since the war’s end. Jewish sources place the total at closer to 150,000. The major portions of the emigrants were headed for Palestine–certainly the ones who left within the past several months.
AMERICANS’ ATTITUDE TOWARD DP MIGRATION TO ISRAEL FAVORABLE
Meanwhile, Jewish leaders here are awaiting the arrival of a representative of Israel — who is expected momentarily — to continue conferences with high American officers which were begun last week. At that time the Jewish leaders were surprised to find that the attitude of the Americans was highly favorable to the desires of the refugees to leave Austria for Israel. Although the officers limited themselves to promising “not to hinder the departure” of Jewish DP’s — the same note which has always been heard at such parleys — the Jews received the impression that the Americans ware prepared to go even further to liquidate the problem of Jewish DP’s in Austria.
It was agreed that all problems involved in the emigration of the DP’s from Austria, such as the issuance of visas, would be discussed again shortly after the arrival of the Israeli representative. The American officers indicated their willingness to arrange a meeting between the Israeli and Lt. Gen. Geoffrey Keyes, American commander in Austria. The officers also reiterated their ban against military training and warned that DP’s caught engaging in such training would not be permitted to depart.
In the British and French zones, however, new difficulties have cropped up for the displaced Jews. The British intensified their earlier bans on the movement of Jews headed for Palestine, while within the past week a number of DP’s have been halted and even jailed for several days in the Austrian Tyrol, which is occupied by the French.
A spokesman for the French Army here admitted the arrests, but asserted that they affected only “suspected persons.” Infiltrates from Germany were sent back there, he insisted, and those from southeastern Europe were turned over to the International Refugee Organization because they could not be returned to the country from which they came.
It was learned that the arrests followed action by provincial authorities in the Tyrol, which adjoins Italy. The local administration protested to the French after they learned that dozens of Jews from Germany were moving through the province.