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Yehuda Bauer: My Brother's Keeper

A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939

[Holocaust preparations in Europe and resistance without solution of the situation]

The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1974

Transcription with subtitles by Michael Palomino (2007)



Chapter 5. Prelude of the Holocaust
[B. Destruction of the Jewish existence in Romania 1929-1939]

[5.15. General JDC work in Romania: Kassas]

Generally speaking, much of the work of JDC in Romania was done by the Reconstruction Foundation loan kassas, whose influence in Poland has been discussed. In fact, with the Polish loan kassas in the throes of a crisis between 1933 and 1937, much attention was devoted to the Romanian kassas, and large sums (p.212)

were invested in Romania.

(End note 75: In 1934 the foundation invested $ 36,820 in Poland and $ 156,349 in Romania. In 1935, $ 137,500 was invested in Romania; in 1936, $ 220,000)

The number of these kassas grew, until they reached 81 in 1938. Over 52,000 individuals were registered with them; together with their families, this embraced over 25 % of the Jewish population in the country, and thus the kassas became a popular and extremely helpful prop for the shaky Jewish economic situation. They charged only a nominal rate of interest and extended loans that averaged about $ 70 for relatively long periods of time.

As in Poland, this helped small Jewish merchants and craftsmen to withstand temporary setbacks, made it possible to purchase essential equipment or horses for transport, and aided them in their hard struggle against growing competition. A large proportion of these kassas operated in Bessarabia (39 in 1938), the most poverty-stricken area in the country.

Free Loan kassas existed in Romania as well. However, contrary to the situation in Poland, these never became popular. Only 15 such institutions operated in 1935, and their number did not increase in later years.

[1937: Romania coming into a good economic situation]
It should be stressed that, except for regions such as Bessarabia, Romania recovered from the effects of the world economic crisis quicker than did her neighbors. By 1937 she had achieved a budgetary surplus, and exports were rising.