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30,000 Jews Held in French Camps, Bruno Well Reports

September 23, 1940
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Holding out North and South Americas as the only hope for the Jews of Europe, Dr. Bruno Weil today described the desperate situation of Jews in unoccupied France, 30,000 of whom were in concentration camps when he himself was freed August 28 after three months at the Le Vernet camp.

Dr. Weil, former head of the Zentralverein and legal advisor to the French Embassy in Berlin for twenty years, arrived in New York aboard the Atlantic Clipper from Lisbon Saturday.

The camp at Le Vernet was a “special” camp, he said, and was known throughout France as “the worst of them all.” Citizens of 34 nations were imprisoned there, most of them without ever being given any explanation. “Only a few have been released” he added, and many of those “have been retaken, especially the women.”

In Toulouse he declared, the police arrested many women released from other camps because there was not enough food to go around. At present Jews are imprisoned in camps at Le Vernet, St. Cyprien, and Gours, former Spanish refugee camps as well as at many smaller places.

Most tragic plight of all he said, was that of the Jewish people of Alsace Lorraine who either fled their homes when the territories were evacuated by the French and have not been allowed back or were ordered out within twenty four hours of the Nazi occupation. They were allowed to take no money and “practically none of their belongings.”

The most important task, he said, is to get these people out of the camps or many of them “will die during the winter because there is no food little medical help no heating systems. Half of them must die if they must spend the winter in the camps.”

Americans have helped much he went on, but almost none of the food sent to the camps by the Red Cross ever reached its destinations. The plight of the poor people is even worse, he said because they have no one to bring them to America.

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