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$100,000,000 Drive for European Jews and Palestine Proclaimed by U.J.A. Conference

December 17, 1945
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A drive for $100,000,000 in 1946 to aid the Jews in Europe, and to finance the development and settlement of Palestine, was adopted here today at the national conference of the United Jewish Appeal, which opened last night at the Hotel Chelsea, with more than 600 Jewish leaders from all over the country participating.

Speakers at the conference, among whom were Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Paul Baerwald, honorary chairman of the JDC, Earl G. Harrison, American member of the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees, Dr. Joseph Schwartz, JDC European director, and Eliezer Kaplan, treasurer of the Jewish Agency, stressed that 1946 will be a critical and decisive year, and one that will decide the fate of Jewry for many years.

Dr. Weizmann, in his address, expressed great satisfaction that all the Jews in America are united on one thing: the need to bring to Palestine the maximum number of surviving Jews from Europe.

He charged British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin with attempting to prejudice the findings of the Anglo-American commission on Palestine, and accused certain British and American statesmen of trying "to drive a wedge between Jews and Zionists," But, he added, the national conference of the United Jewish Appeal gives concrete evidence of a strong unity among American Jews which cannot be broken by any efforts to create disunity. He said that the Jews were so strong and firm in their united will to build Palestine that they would shatter any wedge driven into them.


"One would be tempted at this stage to ask those statemen who are responsible for affairs in England, and, perhaps, in this country why they are so keen on trying to find differences between Jews and Zionist," Dr. Weizmann said. "Is it because they love the Jews so much in distinction from the Zionists, or is it for a specific purpose? To provide an answer to all the questions speculated by great governments, and by great embassies, in and out of this country, I would like to say: Yes – we are united. We are as much united as any other people are united on great questions.

"Are the parliaments of America and England united on all problems? It is easier for them to give the appearance of unity, because they live in one country, and speak one language, but in ideas, in ways and means, they are certainly more disunited than we are today at this conference. I would like those statemen now to try to drive wedges between one section of Jewry and the other. We are made of tough material, and the wedge is bound to break before it has achieved its purpose."

"I am happy about the cooperation existing between the JDC, the Jewish Agency and other groups." he continued. "With the exception of a small group of people, those followers can be found in Philadelphia and Houston, we are fairly unanimous." impressing the conviction that the Jews have a terrible struggle before them in Palestine, the Zionist leader predicted that they will emerge victorious.

"We have been accused," he added, "of trying to get ahead of the queue. At the same time, we have been asked to leave some Jews in Europe in order that they may give their brains and ability to the upbuilding of Europe. Suppose some of the surviving Jews remain in Europe, and contribute to the upbuilding of the European countries, will some not say later that they got ahead of the queue?" He concluded by pointing out that Palestine is today the only country where Jews can begin life anew is dignity.


In a stirring address, Dr. Schwartz pictured the plight of the Jews in the European countries which he has just visited, and told of the wave of Jews fleeing Poland, Slovakia and Hungary into the American zone of Germany. "Jews from Poland and after Eastern European countries," he said, "are on the march, and they know where they are going. They are going to Palestine, and nothing will stop them."

Discussing the situation of displaced Jews in camps in Germany, Dr. Schwartz said that "Jews must be evacuated from these camps, and there is only one place to where they can be evacuated, and that is Palestine. A quick and effective evacuation must take place. Unless that is accomplished, neither the JDC, nor the UNRRA, nor the American Military Government will be able to deal with the problem of the displaced Jews. No power in the world will keep them in the camps. They will begin to go, to cross frontiers, and they will create problems for friendly governments." He emphatically denied a report published in the American Jewish Congress Weekly which charged JDC representatives with encouraging displaced Jews to return to their native lands. "There is no truth in that accusation," he said.

Reporting on the position of the Jews in Poland, the JDC director said that very few aged Jews were left alive by the Nazis, and only eight rabbis have survived. He predicted that 100,000 Polish Jews may return to Poland from Russia, but emphasized that the life of Jews in Poland is being made very difficult by anti-Semitic groups that are constantly terrorizing the Jewish population, and against whom the Government is powerless.

In Hungary, he continued, the situation of the Jews is even worse than in Poland and in the camps for displaced persons in Germany, as far as food is concerned. The JDC is the only agency feeding 90,000 Jews in that country. About 45,000 of them receive food in soup kitchens in Budapest, and another 45,000 are fed in the same fashion in JDC canteens in other cities. Of the less than 200,000 surviving Jews in Hungary, about 120,000 are on JDC relief.

Hailing the close cooperation existing between the JDC and the Jewish Agency in the work of rescuing Jews from Europe, Dr. Schwartz said: "The JDC finances the emigration of Jews to Palestine, and is prepared to continue to finance such emigration. The job this year is to save the remnants of Israel."


Mr. Harrison, describing the situation of the displaced Jews, deplored the fact that the American people refused to believe all the strocities and brutalities committed by the Nazis against the Jews. He appealed for the maximum aid to the JDC and also to those agencies enabling displaced Jews to go to Palestine.

At the same time, he stressed that be could not look upon Palestine as the only place of refuge for displaced Jews. Some of them, he said, will want to come to the United States. The National Refugee Service, he pointed out, will continue to be seeded in the future to ease the adjustment of these new immigrants.


Mr. Kaplan stressed that $53,000,000 will be needed in 1946 for various phases of work in Palestine. Of this $43,000,000 must come from the United States through the United Palestine Appeal. In Palestine, itself, he reported, the Jews will contribute, each month, two days income for expansion and rescue activities. He called upon the Jews in the United States to do likewise.

Warning that the Jews of Palestine are determined to bring into the country "certificated" as well as "non-certificated" Jewish immigrants from Europe, the Agency treasurer said that Palestine can absorb all the Jews from Europe who wish to come there, "The Yishuv," he said, "is willing, ready and able to defend the Jewish right to immigration."

A moving address, which brought tears to the eyes of all those present, was delivered last night by Joseph Rosenzaft, a survivor of the Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto, and chairman of the Jewish committee at the Bergen-Belsen camp, who spoke in the came of 80,000 displaced Jews in the American, British and French zones in Germany. The appealed to American Jews to transfer all the displaced Jews from Germany–if possible to Palestine, and declared emphatically that "the soil of Germany and other parts of Europe is drenched with the blood of Jews, and the survivors are determined never to return to their former homelands, but to continue their struggle to find a new life in Palestine.

"We want an opportunity," he pleaded, "to begin life anew, but we can achieve that only with the generous help of American Jewry. We come to you in the firm conviction that you will not let us down. We can no longer live in the past; we must have something to look forward to, if we are to survive these days."


In describing the conditions of the Jews in the displaced persons camps, Zosenzaft said that their present situation has become "extremely dangerous," because of complete lack of coal, coupled with an acute shortage of food, clothing and medical supplies. "Unless the Jews of the United States embark on a program of unprecedented magnitude to-help feed and clothe the displaced Jews, and to bring a maximum number of them to Palestine, their hopes will be replaced by bitterness and complete frustration," he warned. Mr. Rosenzaft praised the work of the JDC, and called for more generous support by American Jews to help the JDC expand its activities in the camps.

Dr. Salo Kleerkoper of Amsterdam, another Jewish survivor of the Nazi occupation, who is the chairman of the Jewish Coordinating Committee of Holland, reported that there are only 30,000 Jews left in his country. He spoke of their needs, and emphasized that the anti-Jewish propaganda which the Nazis planted in Holland is still manifesting itself. He also reported that although the Dutch Government has re-established Jews on a status of equality, they are finding great difficulty in regaining their lost property, and in obtaining adequate relief and rehabilitation for survivors.

Opening the conference, last night, Mr. Baerwald delivered the keynote address. He pointed out that 1946 would be a crucial year for the Jews in Europe because they face then the accumulation of all the tragedies that were visited on them since Hitler came to power. He emphasized that American Jews have a paramount obliga- tion to help in the reconstruction of Jewish life throughout the world through a unified effort in behalf of the United Jewish Appeal.

"We have come to this extraordinary conference, bearing the weight of a tragedy that is so deep and personal that it weights on almost every hour of our daily lives," the JDC leader said. "In all Europe today, apart from the Soviet Union, there are but a scant million and a half Jews alive. They are the survivors. They are those left from the nearly seven million Jews who once lived and knew the joys of normal decent life."


Edward M. M. Warburg of New York, chairman of the JDC, called attention to the prompt need for help, and declared that in seven months the hopes that the stateless and displaced Jews had on V-E Day have been turned into despair and frustration. He pointed out that Jews in Poland are fleeing at the rate of 200 a day from the anti-Senitic outbreaks in that country, and seeking shelter in the American zone, where they think they will receive fair treatment. He said this causes overcrowding that is sure to continue as long as there is an exodus from Poland, for as soon as the military moves one group out, another larger group replaces it.

Although conditions in the American zone in Germany have inproved since last summer, when Mr. Harrison inspected the camps and made his report on the deplorable conditions under which nearly 100,000 Jews were forced to live, Mr. Warburg said their problems are by no means near a solution. He declared the Jews have no balanced diet, and after years of systematic starvation they cannot recover health and strength on a regimen consisting principally of bread and potatoes. The final solution, he said, lies in emigration and in finding new homes for the displaced and helping them build their lives anew.

At the evening session today, the conference was addressed by Paul Phillipaen, vice president of the Association of Jewish War Victims in Belgium, Dr. Abraham Granovsky, chairman of the board of directors of the Jewish National Fund; Leo Herman, of Jerusalem, general secretary of the Keren Hayesod; Major Judah Naidich, former chief U.S. Jewish chaplain in the European theater and former adviser to Gen. Eisenhower on Jewish affairs; and Dr. Renzo Levi, of Rome, vice chairman of the Jewish Relief Association of Italy.

Dr. Levy revealed that more than 17,000 homeless Jews, many of them fleeing from persecution in Poland, have crossed into Italy in a desperate effort to get to Palestine and they are in great need of assistance.

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