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U.S. Jewish Leaders Gather to Map Plans for Extensive Aid to Jews in Europe and Palestine

December 16, 1945
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Leaders from more than 600 Jewish communities throughout the United States began arriving here today to attend a three-day conference of the United Jewish Appeal at which plans for aid to Jews in Europe and Palestine in 1946 will be mapped.

The conference, opening tomorrow at the Hotel Chelsea, will be addressed by Zionist and non-Zionist leaders and will hear reports from Jewish leaders in Europe who survived Nazi mistreatment, despite spending many months in concentration camps. Dr. Leo Baeck, former Chief Rabbi of Berlin, and Joseph Rosenzaft, a survivor of the Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto, will be among the principal speakers who will present first-hand information on the position and the needs of the Jews in Europe and in the camps for displaced persons in Germany.

The Zionist speakers will be led by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. Earl G. Harrison, American member of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, who stirred public opinion in the United States with his report to President Truman on the deplorable situation of the displaced Jews, will also be one of the chief speakers. The conference will also be addressed by Edward M. Dr. Warburg and Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz, leaders of the Joint Distribution Committee, who have just returned from an extensive survey of Jewish conditions in Europe.

The urgent need for the bare necessities of life and means for reestablishing Jews in their respective countries were outlined at an interview in NYC today by Jewish leaders who arrived from Italy, Holland and Belgium to report to the UJA conference on conditions in their lands. Dr. Renzo Levi of Roms, vice-chairman of the Jewish Relief Association of Italy, spoke on the immediate needs of Italian Jewry. Dr. Salo Fleerkoper of Amsterdam, noted economist and president of the Jewish Coordinating Committee of Holland, depicted conditions of Dutch Jewry. Paul Phillipson of Brussels, leader of the Jewish community in Belgium, pictured the situation of the surviving Jews in his country.


Living in nations that had no pre-wr record of anti-Semitism, these Jewish leaders all told of Germany’s attempts to indoctrinate the people of their lands with anti-Jewish feeling. They related how these efforts succeeded in varying degrees in different countries. However, all three were united in their praise of the work done by Catholic and other non-Jewish organizations in helping the Jews during the period of Nazi occupation.

Dr. Kleerkeper told of Holland’s first political strike, in 1942, when the residents of Amsterdam stopped all public services as a protest against the anti-Jewish regulations being put into effect by the Nazis. “What started out,” he said, “as a move to help the Jews became a national event, with Dutch flags, dug out of hiding places, flying. Nevertheless, today, as a result of the combined efforts of Dr. Goebbels and a native fascist group, there are definite signs of anti-Semitism. Even among enlightened Hollanders there has been talk of a quota system, limiting the number of Jews.”

In Belgium and Italy, as well as Holland, the chief problem is that of the displaced persons, the three community leaders reported. Italy has 33,000 of them, while the other nations have almost as many. Suffering from the ravages of life in internment camps, these people all look forward to leaving Europe even though there is a possibility of their obtaining citizenship in the lands where they have found temporary refuge.

Another pressing problem, the three said, is that of the children. All over Europe, there are Jewish children who have grown up either in hiding or internment. Dr. Kleerkoper cited examples of Jewish children raised as anti-Semites, and the problem of reabsorbing youngsters who have long been separated from their families into Jewish life.

The three Jewish leaders all agreed that there must be some outlet for the uprooted Jews who feel that they cannot remain in Europe. Dr. Phillipson emphasized that if Palestine is not reopened to Jewish immigration, some other refuge must be found.

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