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Over 4,000,000 Jews Start 5700 in Areas Under Nazi Rule or Bombardment

September 17, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

More than 4,000,000 Jews inaugurated the Hebrew New Year in war-beset countries the majority of them trembling under Nazi terror in the Reich, in German-occupied Polish territory and in the thickly populated towns of the Polish territory under bombardment.

While the fate of the Jews in Germany cannot be accurately established, it is reliably reported from Zurich, Switzerland, that the authorities in Vienna have issued an order restricting the Jews to certain hours in entering food stores, with the intention that any rationed food supplies available should be acquired first by “Aryans,” while the Jews will be able to get only what is left, if anything. This act of the Vienna authorities, considered here as the first Nazi step toward condemning the Jews to starvation, will it is feared, be emilated by other cities in the Reich.

What is happening to the Jewish population of Nazi-occupied Polish towns is even worse and reaches hardly imaginable proportions. Acting as conquerors, the forces of occupation levy “contributions” from the Jewish population, imprisoning local Jewish leaders and rabbis as hostages for payment and keeping all Jews under especially strict surveillance as “pro-Polish” and “anti-Nazi” elements after confiscating everything possible.

Isolated from the rest of the world and living under martial law, the Jews in these areas exist as though in a huge prison, not permitted to gather in groups of three or more nor to attend synagogues, even during the approaching. High Holidays. Fearing for their lives they hardly know what the morrow holds for them. Facing prospects of starvation, they watch all foodstuffs, including flour and cattle, being confiscated by the Nazis, either for military use or for shipment into the interior of the Reich.

The devastation which the German invasion has visited upon Polish Jewry is marked also in the as yet unconquered areas of Poland, where Nazi aviators apparently select Jewish sections as special targets for aerial bombardment, as was the case in Warsaw. Latest information from Poland tells stories of Jewish mothers and school children heroically joining in the defense of Warsaw, Przemysl and Lwow by digging trenches under aerial bomberdment.

The Polish Jews, instead of using their synagogues for holiday services, have converted them into refugee homes in the “safe” zones to which thousands have been evacuated as well as into aid centers for wounded soldiers in the war zones. Virtually no synagogues will be used for prayers this New Year.

Tens of thousands of Jewish families who fled from western Poland are sheltered in Wilno, Rovno, Luck and Pinsk and in other cities and townships which are considered safe. The synagogues and schools are crowded with these unfortunates. The majority of them have lost all their possessions and many of them, in the rush to escape, were separated from close relatives. Thousands of these refugees have relatives in America who could help them, but they have not sufficient funds to cable their whereabouts and the activities of American relief organizations have been temporarily interrupted.

The Warsaw rabbinate issued a call to all religious Jews in Poland to add to their daily prayers ten verses of psalms praying for the victory of the Polish army, certain that while it is practically impossible for Jews to gather in synagogues for holiday services they will pray individually, some in their homes, some — the war victims — under the open sky.

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