21 JANUARY 1938, Page 19


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] Sta,—The writer of the article on " The Rumanian Experi- ment " in your issue of January ritth says that it is an exaggera- tion to describe M. Goga's first measures " as anti-Semitic, as heralding an era of oppression of ' a defenceless minority '."

The measures already carried out include the suppression of three democratic newspapers in Bucharest and of four papers in Czernowitz, the withdrawal of free railway passes from no Jewish journalists, the dismissal of several Jewish doitors and lawyers holding public positions, the dissolution of the Distom Company (which had a large proportion of Jewish employees), the prohibition of a Jewish theatrical company to act in Rumanian theatres, the prohibition of Jews to employ Christian women servants under the age of forty, and the closing of Jewish bookshops and libraries in Bessarabia. The measures that are threatened include : the confiscation (under the disguise of nationalisation) of factories belonging to Jews and the suppression of their right to work ; the abolition of liquor licences granted to Jews ; the disbarring of 1,5oo Jewish lawyers ; the revision of the naturalisation granted to all Jews since 1918 ; and the expulsion of 50o,000 Jews.

If this programme cannot be described " as anti-Semitic, as heralding an era of oppression of a defenceless minority '," it will be necessary to find new definitions for " anti-Semitic " and " oppression." It is probably because Anti-Semitism conveys some other meaning to your correspondent that he writes : " There is hardly anywhere any active anti-Semitism." So far as the term is generally understood, the measures already' adopted afford ample evidence of active anti-Semitism, while the projected legislation certainly furnishes testimony of at least passive anti-Semitism seeking to become active.

Not only does your correspondent try to minimise the anti- Jewish character of M. Goga's Government, but he appears to condone their policy. He seems to regard it as a heinous offence that the Jews " acquired controlling positions out of all proportion to their strength in many industries, businesses and professions." What wrong have the Jews, as Rumanian citizens, committed by being successful in their various voca- tions ? Have they thereby done any harm to the country ? And if they have achieved " greater prosperity and a better standard of living than any other single class of the community," a position which, if true, they owe to their capacity, industry, and frugality, are they to be prevented from exercising their abilities by a law that will violate Rumania's obligations under the Minorities Treaty ?

Your correspondent's comment on the withdrawal of the railway-passes from Jewish journalists seems to hint at some- thing sinister. Surely they were not enjoying a right or privilege that was withheld from the members of other faiths and races. If any one of them abused the right or privilege, his case, like that of a Christian journalist in similar circumstances, could easily be investigated. If scores of Nazi newspapers can be established in Rumania, and the members of their staffs (besides those of the previously existing papers) be allowed to retain their free railway-passes, is this also an indication that there is no active anti-Semitism ?

In stating that " Anti-Semitism in Rumania has as yet been dangerous chiefly to Gentiles," your correspondent betrays a remarkable lack of acquaintance with the oppression that the Jews have suffered since the War (not to mention their persecu- tion before and during the War). Has he not heard of the Jewish student Fallik killed in the Czernowitz law-court, of the many murders committed by Lieutenant Morarescu, of the terrible outrage at Soroca ? Does he know nothing of the con- tinued persecution of the Jews at the Universities and of the tens of thousands of " Stateless " Jews ? These are but a few illustrations, which can easily be multiplied, of the intolerable conditions that embitter the life of the Jews in Rumania.—