Berlin (Oct. 21)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service)
Plans for possible moves to be taken to solve the Jewish question in East European countries, particularly in Russia, were formulated by Dr. Paul Nathan, president of the Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden, in an interview with the representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency here.
These suggestions are discussed in a book by Dr. Nathan, “Das Problem der Oestjuden” which is to appear shortly.
While praising the work of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in carrying on the work of land settling, Dr. Nathan expressed the opinion that this measure will not solve the question in its entirety. The existence of an East European Jewish problem is neither a purely Jewish nor a purely Polish or Russian one, he stated. When five to six million people are closely pressed together in an environment which is unbearable because of its economic conditions and partly because of political conditions, then there exists a diseased spot on the body of small Europe. Of course this spot is not dangerous to this entire part of the world, but the immediate environment cannot remain totally indifferent and cannot ignore the problem.
“The question of the East European Jews created by the Russia despotism which dates back to the time of the crusaders must be removed if healthy reconstruction is to begin. If the Jewish question in Eastern Europe cannot be solved through emigration it must be brought nearly to solution within the boundaries of the Russian state by transmigration. The Soviet Union, beginning at its western frontier and ending at the Pacific Ocean, is very thinly populated. There is room for many millions on condition that not only the fertile lands of European Russia, but also the urban settlements in European Russia, as well as the plateaus and the towns in Asia are taken into consideration. It would be a mistake if the mass of Russian Jews or its overwhelming majority would be transferred into agriculture. The work must be distributed. Only those who have a special inclination and capacity for agricultural work should be diverted into this channel. It would be senseless to eliminate from this relief program those who could be employed as workers in the factories or in the mining districts and, as a third category, merchants, when the merchants can become a useful and necessary element in the Russian economic fabric,” he said.
“The colonies created by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee seem to be wisely located and conducted, holding promise of good development. Nevertheless. a certain number of these colonies are too near the western frontier and here is where the danger lies. No one knows whether a new European war in which Russia will be involved is near or far. Such wars are within the limits of political possibility and when they come, the Jewish colonies will again be subjected to the dreadful fate of the Jewish settlements which were burned and destroyed and forced to be evacuated. A wiser policy would be to place these colonies in the interior of Russia, more to the East. In this respect the Soviet government must be prepared to agree to such a direction in the solution of the Jewish problem.
“To make a practical suggestion, I believe it would be necessary, with the consent and the assistance of the Soviet government, to send an expedition to Russia, which would determine to which towns the Jewish transmigrants could be wisely directed. The expedition would also investigate those stretches of land which could be given by the Soviet government for the settlement of the Jewish peasants. When this preparatory work is done, the carrying out of the plan could begin.”
Dr. Nathan added that the task of financing this expedition could be undertaken by German Jews.