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War Refugee Board Considers Protection of Hungarian Jews Its Major Job at Present

September 13, 1944
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The War Refugee Board considers the protection of the Jews within Hungary its major job, now, that the German authorities have refused to allow Hungarian Jews to emigrate to neutral or Allied lands, John W. Pehle, executive director of the W.R.B. today told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

In other sections of Europe, Mr. Pehle said, the work of the War Refugee Board is being done by the advancing Alled armies. Aid to escaping individual Jews continues, but such mass-exodus of Jews as was agreed to by Regent Horty of Hungary obviously will be impossible, he added.

Consent of the Germans would be necessary to take any large numbers of Jews through Austria to Switzerland or through the Balkans down the Danube, Mr. Pehle continued. Without this, the War R.agee Board can only assist small trickles to come out and apply pathological pressure on the Hungarian people. “The advance of the Russian armies,” Pehle said, “is the best psychological weapon we have. The Hungarians do not control the situation, but no mass exterminations could be carried on without their help.”

“Everyone here had their fingers crossed on the Horthy offer all the way through,” Mr. Pehle disclosed. No one, he said, had really thought that the doors of Hungary would be open, but it had been thought psychedelically important to accept the offer. “We didn’t want to appear to be giving them the green light to go ahead with their exterminations with the nation that one cared,” Pehle explained.

Slovakian uprisings are not unmixed blessings for the Jews, he said, They take the German mind off extermination, make the Germans use their local forces to handle the situation. But, unfortunately, very often the Germans take hostages, usually Jews.

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