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JDC Reports Czech Jewish Tourists Seek Help; Hias Also Offers Aid

The Joint Distribution Committee reported that 42 Czech Jews applied for assistance today to JDC offices and associated agencies in Austria and West Germany, the first to do so since the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Samuel L. Haber, JDC executive vice-chairman, also reported that the applicants were among the thousands of Czech tourists who found themselves outside their country when the Soviet takeover occurred.

He said many were apparently awaiting further developments before deciding to ask for welfare, migration and medical assistance. He declared that it was probable that the Czechs, as tourists, had enough money to carry on for at least a limited period before needing financial help. He added that all JDC offices and cooperating groups throughout Europe had been instructed “to provide emergency and other help to any Czech Jew who applies, just as thousands of Hungarian Jews received such assistance” after the 1956 revolt. He estimated there were about 15,000 Jews in Czechoslovakia. The JDC has had no program there since 1948, shortly after the Communist takeover when the JDC was asked to end its program.

HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, announced today that it was ready to assist all Czech Jews able to leave Czechoslovakia or who were outside its borders when Soviet bloc armed forces moved in. Carlos L. Israels, HIAS president, said the agency would help Czech Jews who want to resettle in the United States or other western countries. He added that the Czech crisis “poses a new and unforeseen challenge to our agency and we are prepared for it.” Gaynor I, Jacobson, HIAS executive vice-president, reported many calls to HIAS from anxious relatives of Czech Jews.

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