Official Commission Reports to Russian Government on Work of Settling Jews on the Land

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service)

Details of the Jewish land settlement activity in the Soviet countries are given in an official report which has been submitted by the Comzet (Government Commission for Jewish Land Settlement) to the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.

According to the approved regulations of the Comzet of November 26, 1924 (the Comzet was founded by a decree of the Central Executive Committee of the U.S.S.R. on August 29, 1924) the work of land settlement among the Jews is concentrated around the transference to agriculture of 100,000 families.

JEWISH POPULATION OVER 2 3/4 MILLIONS

According to the latest information the total Jewish population in the U.S.S.R. is at present about 2,750,000. Of this number about 450,000 live in White Russia, about 1,750,000 in the Ukraine and the remainder in the Russian Soviet Federal Republics. (The number of Jews in the Trans-Caucasus, Uzbeks, and Turkmensk Republics is insignicant.)

According to social position, 200,000 Jews are members of trade unions, including unemployed workers, (120,000 of these belong to productive unions, constituting together with their families about 350,000 souls, of whom about 130,000 are members of farming families).

The remaining 1,750,000 are artisans, small traders and people without any definite profession.

If we take it into consideration that in pre-War time the traders constituted 38.65% of the total Jewish population, people without any profession and beggars 7.16%, and that altogether 45.81% of the Jewish population were not engaged in any productive work, it will not seem exaggerated to say that more than half of the Jewish population not belonging to the trade unions and the farming class, are small traders and people without any definite profession, while the other half are artisans and craftsmen who too are in an extremely precarious position, being always on the starvation line because of constant unemployment and the beggarly pittances they earn when in work, less than 20 roubles a month. It is clear therefore, that such an economic structure of the Jewish population is quite un-adapted to the Soviet regime with its concentration and centralization of industry, and that if extraordinary measures are not taken for the transference of the Jewish population to productive labor an important section of the Jewish population will be faced with the prospect of starvation and degeneration. Such measures are necessary not only in the interest of the Jewish population but also for the purpose of putting on a healthier basis those governments and districts in which there is a preponderant Jewish population (the Ukraine, White Russia and the Western Governments), and which are also the frontier governments and districts. The decision of the Comzet to concentrate its activity on the transference to agricultural labor of 100,000 families (about 500,000 souls) must therefore be regarded as corresponding both to the needs of the Jewish population and the interests of the State as a whole.

Under the conditions for land settlement, the transferring of Jews to agricultural labor can be carried out in two ways: (a) transference to districts where they will be as compact as possible and where the land is free from the rightful claims of the local peasant population, (b) Settlement within the area of the Governments where they are now resident upon the free lands of the Government Land Fund uncultivated by the Government agricultural department.

THE PLAN

The plan of the Comzet for 1924-1925 was under (a) to transfer to the Ukraine 3,000 families and 1,000 families to the Crimea and under (b) to settle in White Russia 1,200 families and in the Homel Government 224 families, making in all, a total of 5,424 families. To carry out this plan 102,600 desiatin were allocated (about 280,000 acres), 50,082 desiatin in the Ukraine (37,483 desiatin in the Kherson region, 12,200 desiatin in Krivoyrog and 400 in the Sand Dnieper region), 40,000 desiatin in the Crimea, 10,000 in White Russia and 2,411 in the Government of Homel.

Even under the hurried conditions in which the registration of intending settlers has been carried out, about 25,000 families have registered within a few weeks, of whom 15,000 families (73,000 souls) belong to the Ukraine, and 7,000 families (35,000 souls) to White Russia, the remaining 3,000 families belonging to the other regions.

HOW MANY JEWS HAS THE LAND SETTLEMENT SCHEME BENEFITED?

In the course of the budget year (Oct., 1924, to Oct., 1925) only 4,373 families comprising 24,108 souls have benefited from the land funds allocated for the settlement of toiling Jews and covering the work of settlement in all its different branches. The area of land settled is 67,855 desiatin.

In the Kherson district, 2,241 families, numbering 12,945 souls were settled on an area of 37,482 desiatin. In the Krivoyrog district 542 families numbering 2,786 souls were settled on an area of 9,250 desiatin. In the Sand Dnieper region 158 families numbering 800 souls were settled on an area of 407 desiatin. In all, 2,941 families numbering 16,531 souls have been settled in the Ukraine on an area of 47,139 desiatin. The percentage of realization of the plan for the settlement of families on the land in the Ukraine is 95%. The percentage of land intended for settlement under the plan which has been settled is 94.1%.

In the Crimea, 305 families numbering 1,708 souls have been settled on an area of 8,320 desiatin. The percentage of realization of the plan for the settlement of families on the land in the Crimea is 30%. The percentage of land intended for settlement under the plan which has been settled is 20.8%.

In White Russia 903 families numbering 4,400 souls were settled on 9,985 desiatin. The percentage of realization in regard to the number of families it was intended to settle in White Russia is 75% and of land it was intended to settle 100%.

In the Homel Government 224 families numbering 1,469 souls were settled on an area of 2,411 desiatin. The percentage of realization in regard to the number of families it was intended to settle in the Government of Homel is 100% and in regard to the area it was intended to settle also 100%.

In all 4,373 families numbering 24,108 souls have been settled on the land on an area of 67,855 desiatin. The percentage of realization of the plan in regard to families was in all 80.6% and in regard to the area it was intended to settle it was 66.2%.

The Crimea has the smallest percentage in both respects. This is explained by the fact that under the original plan it was proposed to reserve in the Crimea 40,000 desiatin. But as the Crimean Commissariat for Agriculture protested, the plan was reconsidered by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and it was decided to postpone the transference of the remaining 31,080 desiatin till July 1926. For this reason this area of land has been excluded.

THE FUNDS FOR THE SETTLEMENT WORK

To carry out the settlement campaign of 1925, the Comzet undertook measures for finding money, etc. In addition to the funds received by the Comzet from Governmental or foreign sources, only those families were admitted to the lands who were able to contribute in the Crimea not less than 400 roubles towards the settlement, and in the Ukraine not less than 300 roubles.

As a result, it was possible to raise for the expenses of settling Jews on the land under the control of the Comzet the following sums: 400,000 roubles as a special loan for the settling of Jews on the land from the Government. 200,000 roubles opened as credit by the Central Soviet Commercial Bank. 100,000 roubles opened as credit by the Central Soviet Commercial Bank. 100,000 roubles from the special section for the reestablishment of agriculture at the Committee for aiding agriculture at the Central Executive Committee. This sum was realized by the sale of the confiscated valuables of the Synagogues. 40,000 roubles as a credit from the White Russian Village Bank to the White Russian Comzet. 20,000 roubles as a credit from the Homel Society of Agricultural Credit given to the Homel Comzet. 1,000,000 roubles contributed by the settlers themselves. About 100,000 roubles worth of timber received from the Ministry of Agriculture. 375,000 roubles received as credit in agricultural implements and live stock. 1,600,000 roubles received according to the agreement with the Agro Joint. In all 3,835,000 roubles, which gives an average of 655 roubles per family.

HOW THE MONEY WAS SPENT

The money received from the Government as well as the credit opened by the Central Soviet Commercial Bank was distributed among the settlers through the local societies of Agricultural Credit on the authority of the local Comzet as a long period credit. 280,000 roubles were loaned on a special agreement by the Comzet to the Ozet for the purchase of provisions for the settlers. The 100,000 roubles from the special section was given entirely to the White Russian Comzet.

As for the money received from the Agro-Joint, this was entirely under the control of the Agro-Joint according to an agreement officially confirmed by the Soviet authorities. The Agro-Joint carried on its activity under the general political supervision of the Comzet local representatives.

The remaining 320,000 roubles were distributed by the Central Soviet Commercial Bank with the consent of the Comzet as follows:

One hundred forty-seven thousand five hundred roubles to the Kherson district, 40,000 roubles to the Krivoyrog district, 40,000 roubles to the White Russian Comzet, 38,000 roubles to the Homel Comzet, 45,000 roubles to the Odessa district, 6,000 roubles to the Crimea. Altogether 316,000 roubles.

It is not possible yet to give an account of the money spent by the Ozet and by the Agro-Joint.

PROPOSALS FOR 1926

The programme of work is the transference of 100,000 Jewish families to agriculture. To this end, compact areas of land have been considered by the Comzet, in the Saalsk district, the Azov district and in North Crimea.

Since January 1926, the Comzet has received 150,000 desiatin in the Saalsk region. It is also taking steps to secure a compact area in the Azov district.

In 1926, it is proposed to transfer only 5,600 families in receipt of credits and 570 families able to pay the costs of their settlement.

According to the decision of the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture it is proposed to allocate for the needs of the toiling Jews during 1926 over 45,000 desiatin adjoining the already established Jewish settlements in the Kherson, Krivoyrog. Maryupol, Zaparoj and Melitopol districts in the Ukraine.

It is also proposed to obtain the 31,680 desiatin in the Crimea. In the Saalsk region it is proposed to obtain 40,000 desiatin and in White Russia 4,000 desiatin–about 120,000 desiatin in all.

For this, the Comzet proposes to draw on the following sources:

1. From the budget of the U.S.S.R. 1,000,000 roubles; 2. from the settlers themselves 1,150,000 roubles; 3. It is hoped to get from the Agro-Joint about 2,200,000 roubles; 4. from the Ica 200,000 roubles; 5. from the Ort 150,000 roubles. Altogether it is proposed to spend 4,700,000 roubles.

The Comzet then makes several conclusions in its report, among them the following:

1 The plan of the Comzet, concerning the transference to agriculture of 100,000 Jewish families is in consonance with the interests of the State as a whole and the needs of the toiling Jewish population 2. It is important that the Federal Central Executive Councils should give their attention to the problem of settling the toiling Jews, on the land and to that end should allocate the respective land areas in compact masses; they should also advance credits to the Jews who are being settled on the land, credits both of money and agricultural implements and live stock. 3. Both politically and economically it is necessary that the land settlement of toiling Jews should in the future be carried out in a more concentrated way and in more compact masses.

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