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U.S. Reporters Relate Horrors Visited on Jews

September 17, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

With the German official news bureau proposing the “removal” of the Polish Jewish population from Europe, the horrors visited upon the Jews as a result of the Nazi invasion are described in the accounts of American correspondents in and near the area of hostilities.

Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, American Ambassador to Poland, accused Germany of bombing open cities in a cable to the State Department in which he listed, among other incidents, “the destruction of a sanatorium, involving the death of ten children, in the woods near Otwock.” (The bombing of the Jewish sanatorium was first reported in a J.T.A. dispatch from Warsaw – JTA NEWS SEPT. 5).

A Berlin dispatch to the New York Times quoted a “special report” of the German News Bureau emanating from Nazi-occupied Polish territory as suggesting a “solution of the Jewish population from the European domain would furthermore, in the long view, definitely bring a solution of the Jewish question in Europe nearer. For this is just the Jewry which, through its high birth rate and in spite of existing differences between the two groups, has continually established the large numbers of Western Jewry, whose birth rate is small.”

The Times dispatch added: “How, however, the ‘removal’ of Jews from Poland without their extermination can halt the alleged ‘strengthening’ of Western Jewry is not explained.”

Otto D. Tolischus, Times correspondent who was allowed to visit the German armies in the field in Poland, reported in his dispatch that 50 Jews were shot in the Polish border town of Wieruszow and the whole center of the town was gutted. The correspondent added that this story could be duplicated in many towns of western Poland.

A German sergeant in Wieruszow gave this explanation: “When the first German troops had passed here, everything was quiet because the Polish Army had retreated. Suddenly from that clump of trees over there, franctireurs opened fire. We lost 21 men then. Afterwards we found 50 Jews hiding behind the trees. This is a town of 6,000, and 4,000 Jews. They shot at us.”

“What did you do with them?” he was asked. “Shot them, you bet,” was the reply. “And the town?” “Oh our artillery peppered incendiary shells into it and it went up in smoke.”

The price for German casualties. Tolischus said, “is paid mostly by the Jews, for Jews form the majority of the urban population in the town in the battle area, and also own the principal business establishments in the centers of these towns. Wherever such a town is destroyed, they are the principal losers and today the survivors sit on the ruins and weep.”

The Associated Press correspondent in Lwow reported: “The panic is particularly acute among the Jewish community of 100,000. In shell scarred synagogues the Jews began their New Year celebration with prayers for rain to halt the Germans.”

Wallace R. Deuel correspondent of the Chicago Daily News with the German Army in Poland, reported: “Throughout the occupied area the Jews have been rounded up and put to work at hard labor filling in anti-air raid trenches and repairing roads and bridges.”

A New York Times correspondent at the Polish frontier cabled that among the refugees seeking entrance to Rumania were “1,000 Jewish refugees waiting at Sniatyn for permission to cross into Rumania, while the Jewish community at Cernauti is arranging transport for them and their children, who have already arrived.”

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