Brazilian Jewry is greatly disturbed over the arbitrary prohibitions of scheduled protest meetings in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo against the Nazi persecutions of Jews in Germany.
Feeling is particularly running high in Rio, where the police have in the eleventh hour not only prohibited a Jewish demonstration on March 30, but have also brutally disrupted groups of Jews who had gathered to discuss the tragic events in Germany and their bitter disappointment over the stay of their protest meeting. They were even more surprised when police and police agents, in the course of the evening and during the next day, chased Jewish guests from cafes and generally maltreated Jews on the streets.
A Jewish delegation called on the chief of police, but was not received, the explanation being that the chief was not in. Rumor has it that the cause of it all is Herr Miller, a German, who is one of the higher officials, and a friend of the chief of police. The Jews have not, however, given up the idea of calling the attention of the higher government officials to the unheard of treatment accorded them by the police. Local Jewish leaders are now awaiting a reply to a request for an audience with President Getulio Vargas and Minister of Justice Antunes Mafiel.
In Sao Paulo the police were less hostile to the Jews. There a Jewish protest meeting scheduled for March 29 was prohibited with the explanation that the local authorities could not allow any protests against Germany at the time when the new German ambassador was the city’s official guest. A promise was made, however, that as soon as the ambassador left a permit for the meeting will be granted.
In sharp contrast to the action of the police is the attitude of the intellectual world of Brazil, which sides with the Jews, as is seen from the stand taken by the daily press. The “Gazetta” compares Hitler to the medieval inquisitors of Spain and Portugal. Brazil “Nova” sharply criticizes the Nazis and denounces their denials of the anti-Jewish atrocities. Humberto Cam-pas, one of the finest Brazilian publicists, asks in the “Diario de Sao Paulo” whether Germany knows that it owes much of its present greatness to the Jews.
Also the students, who are always the fighters for freedom in Brazil, are actively participating in the condemnation of Nazi Germany, giving expression to their feelings at various meetings.
In order to understand the attitude of local authorities, one must take into consideration the enormous number of Germans living in Brazil. Many of them are trying to influence public opinion through their German newspapers by spreading denials of the anti-Jewish atrocities in Germany. A great many Germans also hold influential government positions.
Nevertheless Jewish leaders are still hopeful that they will be given an opportunity to make their voice heard against the persecutions of their brothers in Germany. They are banking on the fact that Brazilian party leaders will comply with the Jewish request because of the anxiety for Jewish votes at the new elections scheduled for May.
Rabbi Abraham J. Feldman of Temple Beth Israel of Hartford, Conn., has been elected for the third time President of the Board of Directors of the Public Library in West Hartford, Conn.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.