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Refugees from Belgium Reach Paris, Tell of Bombings

May 20, 1940
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Groups of Jewish refugees from Belgium began reaching Paris today. Today’s arrivals were estimated at several hundred, consisting chiefly of Polish Jews coming from Antwerep, but also including German emigres, most of them penniless and some of whom crossed the frontier on foot under German bombardment and machine-gunning by planes.

The refugees had no difficulty in entering France, but those holding Reich passports stamped with the letter “J” (Jew) were separated from the others by French frontier officials to be interned, as has been done with German refugees in France.

The refugees, who included an official of the Jewish Relief Committee in Antwerp, gave gripping details of their experiences in Belgium.

A radio broadcast reported last night that Nazi planes had bombed a steamer loaded chiefly with Jewish refugees enroute from Holland to England. The passengers, according to the report, were largely German Jews who had been living in Dutch refugee camps.

All Jewish organizations joined with the American and Belgian Red Cross units in efforts to aid the refugees pouring in from the Low Countries. Special hostels and soup kitchens were opened by the Federation of Polish Jews, which also helped place many of the refugees in private homes, while representatives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the HIAS-ICA Emigration Association conferred on how best to continue refugee emigration work under the circumstances.

Permission has been given to alien physicians, for the duration of the war, to practice in France, it was announced today. The concession is intended chiefly for Polish, Dutch and Belgian refugees, but interested medical circles in Paris expect that Jewish refugee doctors from Germany and Austria may also benefit from it. Special individual authorization may be granted them after investigation of each applicant. Meanwhile, German Jewish physicians are interned along with other refugees.

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