The Jewish Pack-to-the-land Movement in Russia; Will the Jews Stay on the Land?

The attitude of the sceptics with regard to the Jewish Dack to the Land Movement in Russia is discussed in the Yiddish Communist daily here, the “Emess”.

The Jews will not stop on the land the sceptics say, it writes. At the first opportunity, they tell us, the Jews will go back to trading. This is a question which cuts at the root of the whole movement. Let us see, therefors, what an authoritative non-Jew has to say on the subject.

The head of the Agricultural Department for the District of Odessa, M. Tcherbakov, has been investigating the conditions among the Jews who have come from various parts of the Soviet Republics to take up agriculture in his district. He has visited practically all the settlements and studied conditions on the spot. He is concerned with the question purely from the technical point of view as an expert on agriculture. In his report submitted to his Department, he says:

“Conditions among the Jewish transmigrants on the land in the Odessa District are highly critical. They are suffering extreme want. They are the most poverty-stricken section of the land-working population, and they have other than material difficulties to contend with. Yet there is no panic among them; no feeling of despair. On the contrary. They are hard-working people, and have already achieved a great deal. They have come to work on

the land as a permanency. It is not a passing phase with them. I have seen them at work. They love the land, they do their work with greater devotion and diligence than the peasants. The collective settlements of many of these transmigrant groups are already despite the difficulties, among the fairest and most productive in their district. It is hard to believe that these are all people, until very recently spent their lives in a huckstering atmosphere as peddlers, shopkeepers, middlemen and artisans. They have acclimated themselves completely to the peasant type. Their whole concern is the land. I cannot imagine that they will ever leave it.

“The peasants in certain places are not altogether sympathetic with the Jewish transmigrants. Some are even hostile to them. It is the old feeling of prejudice against the Jews. They fear the Jews will not till the land with their own hands, but will want to exploit the peasants. It is a prejudice which has been fostered by the counter-revolutionaries who see the land which they hoped would one day go back to the land-owners, distributed among the poor Jews who are devoting themselves in earnest to a life of toil on the land. I am convinced that the Jews are settling down to agriculture in a spirit which leaves no doubt that they intend to remain on the land always.”

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