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7,000 Jews Remain in Yugoslavia, Jewish Community Head Reports

Out of 80,000 Jews who lived before World War II in present-day Yugoslavia, only 7,000 remain, according to Dr. Jacques Confino, chairman of the Jewish community in Belgrade and prominent Yugoslav writer, who is visiting Warsaw.

Only 10,000 of the pre-war Yugoslav Jews remained living after World War II, Dr. Confino said in an interview with the Yiddish daily, Die Folkshtimme. Many of these were saved from annihilation by the Nazis when Yugoslav partisans liberated them from an island in the Adriatic Sea where they were guarded by Italian fascists. Later, about 3,000 of them left Yugoslavia, most of them going to Israel.

Under the chairmanship of Dr.Albert Weiss, a professor at the Belgrade University, the Jewish community of the country is well organized, said Dr. Confino. He reported that a vigorous cultural program, with great emphasis on Yiddish literature, is conducted throughout the country under the auspices of the Federation of Jewish Communities.

One of the features of the Federation program is a special series of schools, vacation camps and publications for the youth. For the general Jewish population, the Federation publishes annually a Jewish almanac which, according to Dr. Confino, includes the pick of Yiddish literature, poetry and art from Jewish authors and artists. Recently, a Jewish history was published, written by Dr.Solomon Calderon, secretary of the Federation.

There is very little anti-Semitism in Yugoslavia, Dr. Confino declared, and the government enforces strictly laws which forbid anti-Semitism. A few years ago, he reported, a Yugoslav who was convicted of insulting Jews drew a heavy penalty from the court at Subatitsa.

Jews in the country who are in need receive government aid. The Joint Distribution Committee also conducts a program in Yugoslavia for the aid of the aged, ill and orphans.

As an illustration of official attitude toward the Jewish community, Dr. Confino reported that, recently, the Yugoslav army turned over to the Jewish community in Zagreb a fine building which is now used as a home for the Jewish aged. Buildings for use for activities on behalf of Jewish children, he said, have been given to the Jewish communities in Belgrade, Sarajevo and Zagreb by the municipalities of those cities.

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