Jewish Leadership of Slovakia Tries To Save its Jewish Communities

(August 27, 1942)


Excerpt of Letter from Gisi Fleischmann to He-Halut Headquarters in Geneva, August 27, 1942:


...In your last letter, you asked us to provide a draft budget. Even today I cannot offer you a detailed draft. Only here can we decide on the manner, the purpose, the modality, and the magnitudes [of expenditures], and every decision must be made at once; otherwise, everything will collapse. Unfortunately, we will not be able to consult first, and most important, unfortunately, we will not be able to wait. Trust us! I am not acting autocratically; I have an excellent staff of workers who strive boldly and relentlessly to carry out this important work despite all the dangers. Like me, they are imbued with a sense of responsibility not only toward our comrades here but also toward you, because we know that if we can make it possible to save 20,000 [Jews], it will be thanks to you above all.

Therefore, it is extremely hard to draw up a permanent budget. We know you cannot do everything. We ourselves, who have offered up our last drop of blood, wish to provide the greater share. The fear that thousands will perish gives us the strength and courage to do the impossible, and we ask you to stand at our side by assisting us. We are convinced that you will provide unreservedly what you have pledged.

As you requested, we shall adjust ourselves to “natan” only.

(1) Therefore, we need first of all 100,000 "natan" for Wilhelm and 10,000 "natan" for Josef.
(2) Budget for the labor camps, according to the previous proposal.
We hope that our comrades where Blum lives will also help out. After all, they are still being allowed to breathe, thank God, and they should be doing this. We will have to do this by pooling our forces in some way so we can defy fate.

Relief for Refugees

Attached here are several letters, to which, it seems to me, further commentary is pointless. It can drive a person crazy to [ponder the fact] that this mass murder is continuing relentlessly. The reports we received last week from the couriers are unprecedented in history. I can hardly believe that we will ever see our comrades.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reporting that you have sent clothing, medicines, and food parcels, but thus far I have not received any confirmation [of this] from the Juedische Soziale Selbsthilfe [Jewish Social Self-Help Society]. I also need an official letter identifying the donor. On the basis of these, I can ask the JSS by letter whether these donated items have indeed arrived. Since correspondence cannot take place and I can write to the JSS only in an official capacity, it is best that I base myself on a committee or on people who will be noted as the donors. If in the meantime you have received confirmation that the donations have arrived, please advise me of this. As the attached letter indicates, approximately 1,200 middle-aged comrades from Vienna have died—800 of rampant starvation—in the course of one year. This letter pertains to people who were in the country a few months ago; since then, the overall situation has become several times worse. After [reading] this account, you will understand if we say, “We have to help no matter what befalls us.” And it is within our power to help!

We get fifteen Josef for one "natan," and for fifteen Josef our people there receive—not by means of Berthold, of course — eight to ten Zeviya.

We have already tried various methods and recruited various couriers. Some methods are expensive; others are less so. We have used them all and have already sent 300,000 Josef. However, we cannot continue doing this, and even less can we remain in one place, because our lives here will be purposeless and incomprehensible if it becomes impossible to help our wretched comrades. The matter is now well organized. Several special people who were deported from here to there are stationed at every deportation point of which we know. They are given a certain sum for distribution; how much depends on the case. Afterwards, these people, whom we trust, give us signed receipts from the recipients. Of course, the organization is still in its infancy; it has to be expanded. If we are given the means, we will accomplish great things.

Sixty thousand have gone! Twelve Zeviya is the price of one kilogram of bread! Please decide for yourselves how much you can pledge for this!

Transfer

Immediately after you inform us how many "natan" we shall need there, we will make the transfer. For your information, we get fifteen crowns for one "natan", and that is very good.

We cannot wait for a courier to get your answer in this matter. Please cable your reply to me, so we can make the necessary arrangements immediately. So I await your reply, which should be delivered literally at once.

Summary

Jewish population before deportations 88,000.

Deported as of August 1, current year 60,000.

No transport has gone out since our negotiations began, even though some 2,000 comrades are waiting at the assembly points. According to a decision by the Council of Ministers, which met in early August, all the Jews should have been deported by September 15, including those in protected categories (as stipulated in the Book of Laws: those who accepted Christianity, offspring of miscegenation, doctors, pharmacists, engineers, and employees of enterprises of importance in the war effort).

As the report shows, there is good reason to hope that we may stop the continued deportations if we carry out our proposals at once. It is currently impossible to determine with precision whether the deportations can be prevented altogether, but one may assume at 80 percent odds that our plan will be carried out.

Plan for Immediate Implementation

(1) Meeting the requests of Wilhelm and Josef, in accordance with our proposal.

(2) Labor camp: on this point, I must state again with emphasis that under no circumstances can any delay be tolerated here. Otherwise, our work will be incomprehensible and purposeless.

I wind up my report for the time being, fully confident that you will spare no effort to meet the requests, which in themselves are absurd. I know that we are not alone here in our fate—we are a drop in a vast ocean of tears. Since our great tragedy began in 1933, the Jews of this country have moved heaven and earth for those who approached for assistance, as long as it was still possible for us to help others. Sixty thousand of us have fallen victim thus far, and now I seek to rescue such remnants of this community as still remain here. I know you are willing to help and I know it is your life's goal to alleviate the suffering of your co-religionists, who are experiencing such difficult ordeals. I trust that you will do this in this case as well.

Source: L. Rotkirchen, The Destruction of Slovak Jewry, Jerusalem 1961 p. 227.


Source: Yad Vashem - Eclipse of Humanity