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Property Worth $17,000,000 Falls to Nazis in Memel; All Jews Evacuated; Temples Wrecked

March 24, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jewish property valued at $17,000,000 has fallen into Nazi hands in Memelland, it was revealed today along with an official announcement that not a single Jew remained in the territory taken from Lithuania as it was occupied by German troops. The last of several hundred remaining Jews, together with numbers of Lithuanian citizens, were evacuated a few hours ago on the last six trains to leave Memel before the occupation.

Meanwhile, violence had broken out in Memel, rioters demolishing three synagogues and smashing the windows of Jewish homes. Yesterday afternoon Nazi storm troopers occupied the premises of the Jewish Community and other Jewish organizations in the city of Memel and other towns in the territory. The Memel authorities turned over the Ohel Jacob synagogue to the Nazi organization. The synagogue will be turned into a home for storm troopers.

A majority of Memelland’s 5,000 Jews had succeeded in emigrating in the period following the Munich pact. Only 500, most of them employee of Jewish factories and enterprises, remained until the last minute, leaving for Kaunas today. A few, however, are reported to have been arrested by storm troopers.

Jewish property left in Memelland includes some of the territory’s largest tobacco, textile and chocolate factories as well as many houses and large wholesale enterprises. Attempts to rescue a portion of Jewish-owned merchandise failed when storm troopers stopped loaded trucks on the way to Kaunas. A number of Jewish industrialists and merchants, moreover, sustained heavy losses because of previous delivery of goods to Memel.

Although it was announced officially that no Jews were left in Memelland, it is known that a number still remain, having been held for some time on what are believed to be false charges. These include Jewish merchants charged with tax evasion and doctors accused of performing illegal operations. It is believed they will be sent to concentration camps.

A majority of the Jewish refugees have come to Kaunas and to Shavli, a smaller number camping in the border town of Kretyngen. The Kaunas Jewish population has been deeply impressed by the developments but hopes they will be restricted to the Memel district. Nevertheless, a number of British Jews left Kaunas for England yesterday.

Tear gas bombs were thrown by unknown persons during a performance of a Yiddish picture at a theatre here, breaking up the show.

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