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Economic Distress in Poland Drives Jews to Suicide, Six Cases in One Day

August 17, 1931
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The suicide epidemic in Poland, which has been causing alarm in Polish Jewry for many years, took an upward turn this week, spreading consternation in many quarters when it was learned that no less than six cases occurred in Warsaw today, all on account of economic difficulties.

Jacob Mortkowicz, one of the largest publishers in Poland, fearing the collapse of his business, shot himself. He was 64 years of age, and a man holding an important position in the life of the country. Messages of condolence have been received by his family from members of the Government and from the leading writers of the country, whose works he had published.

Chaim Leser, who although he was only 32, was one of the biggest cotton merchants in Poland, gassed himself when he found that his business was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Daniel Edelbaum, 55 years of age, fomerly a big hosiery manufacturer, hung himself.

Felicia Lowengrub, whose husband once had one of the largest stores in the Marszalkowska Street, took her life by gas poisoning.

Felicia Balaban, 20 years of age, one of the few Jewish women in Government employment, who was dismissed on August 1st, on account of economy cuts, drank poison, and is now in hospital in a dying condition. She had been working in the Spirit Monopoly Department of the Government. She was an only child, and the sole support of her aged parents.

Rebecca Fischmann, 24 years of age, who had been unemployed for a long time, and had been reduced to destitution, took poison.

The suicide epidemic among the Jews of Poland and especially of Warsaw, attributed to the difficult economic conditions in the country, has been causing alarm for years. It was particularly virulent in 1925, when the Rabbis preached sermons in the synagogues against the suicide epidemic and the Warsaw Rabbinate issued an appeal to the Jewish population to have faith in better times. There was one day in that year when there were 32 Jewish suicides in Warsaw in one day. The Polish Rabbinate in its effort to stem the suicide epidemic, called upon the Jewish public not to participate in the burial of suicides and declared that suicides would be buried outside the cemetery limits.

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