Menu JTA Search

News Brief

Download PDF for this date

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service)

Michael Kalinin, president of the Socialist Soviet Republics, in his address before the Ozet conference stated:

“This Conference is perhaps one of the most characteristic features of the Soviet Republic. In any of the bourgeois states such a Conference–a conference of Jews, peasants–could be hardly possible. It is, I repeat, a conference only possible in the Soviet Union. What does that mean?

“It means, first of all, that the Union of the Soviet Republics is in no way a sovereign State of one or another nationality. It is not a Union embodying the Constitution of Old Russia; it is a Union wherein all the peoples of Russia are part and parcel. In the Soviet Union every nationality must be given its place. If in the U. S. S. R. there had been a number of peoples who did not find a place in this Union, who would not feel themselves as a nationality, who would not feel themselves citizens of the Union in the full sense of the word, who would not consider this Union their own native country, then the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics would, according to its inner meaning, not be the real brotherly Union of all the peoples inhabiting it. This Conference of the Jewish farmers is then the real confirmation of the existence of our Union where each nationality possesses its own national integrity.

“The Jewish nationality has experienced in Old Russia and in the rest of the world the greatest persecution. And if we had not by force compelled the Jewish masses to live in one certain place a considerable part of the Jewish population would have been properly assimilated in the old Czarist Russia.


“Czarism really desired such an assimilation, but by its tactics it did everything in its power to prevent it from materializing. Intending to annihilate this nationality by outlawing it and by depriving it of all political rights, Czarism has really succeeded in confining it to one territory and in preserving its national prejudices. The Soviet Government, on the other hand, has no ground whatever for annihilating, assimilating, or in any way destroying this or any other nationality.”

(Kalinin then proceeded to give a definition of the difference in the policy of the Soviet government and that of other governments as he sees it. The Soviet government is a class government and represents a proletarian dictatorship, while the other governments, he said, although they are also based on the domination of a certain class, don’t admit it, he said).

“When we come to the consideration of the tasks of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics with regard to the toiling masses inhabiting the Union, then these tasks could be summed up as the giving of the maximum of benefits to the toiling population of the Union of whatever nationality and of making it possible for all the creative powers within the Union of any nationality to develop to their utmost and of the removing of every kind of oppression: economic, political and national, for national oppression in its essence is nothing but economic oppression.

“Since it is a question of removing every kind of oppression then the first thing we have to keep in mind is how to contrive a means for the removal of this oppression. It is one thing to declare oneself willing to remove a certain inequality, and another to bring it into realization. The October revolution has proclaimed the full equality of rights of all the peoples inhabiting the Soviet Union, the right of each of them to consider themselves citizens of the Union, the right to occupy any position in the Government from the lowest to the highest rung, in short, full equality of rights in all the branches of social and economic life. But the fact that a certain right is granted does not necessarily mean that it is actually enjoyed. You know that the October revolution which liberated all the peoples of the Soviet Union including the Jewish population has on the one hand, liberated the Jewish people, and on the other greatly hit it as I have recently explained it in an article concerning the Jewish question. I repeat it hit the Jewish people, for the October revolution has in its first phase of civil strife destroyed–for a time at any rate, the very foundation, not only of the well-being, but of the very existence of the Jewish population, namely, the artisan industry. This was a tremendous blow to the Jewish impoverished masses of the small towns, a blow that fell on them in particular. This is why we say: that to proclaim a thing is quite different from doing it. Now, however, we are considering steps how to realize this proclamation, how to make it an every day fact.


“During the nine years of the existence of the Union of the Soviet Republics a whole series of independent Republics has been created as well as of national territories. Peoples who in Czarist Russia had to a certain degree lost their identity have reappeared. It is very natural, therefore, that the Jewish population, being alive and on the whole quite educated, politically and socially conscious because of the perpetual struggle it had to wage for its existence, could not but assert itself, could not but strive to find its national place within the Soviet Union. And in connection with this I would like to say that anti-Semitism which is rampant literally in all the bourgeois countries is–in those countries–a phenomenon, the existence of which can be understood. If in Czarist Russia anti-Semitism was based on the privileges enjoyed by the Jews who were allowed to leave the Pale, in the sphere of, let us say, commerce, where their keen competition and rivalry with the Russian capitalists had provoked it,–such anti-Semitism does still exist all over the world based on evy, on the desire to preserve one’s privileges–the privileges of the bourgeoisie in face of a rival. This is why anti-Semitism can be explained in the bourgeois countries. Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Socialist Republics is on the whole also based on those old prejudices. It is chiefly found in the cities among the middle-class intelligentsia.

“Our peasants and workers cannot be deeply or greatly affected by anti-Semitism. This anti-Semitism is not born within them, but is instilled in them from without.


“Who instils this anti-Semitism? Why is the Russian intelligentsia now even more anti-Semitic than during the Czarist regime? This is quite natural. During the first days of the Revolution the educated and the half-educated Jewish population of the towns joined the Revolutionaries. As an oppressed nation which was never allowed to take part in the Government as a nation, which could not even have its own policemen, it naturally was thrown into the revolutionary movement and took part in the Government of post-revolutionary Russia. A large number of Jews occupied the posts of Commissars, Assistant Commissars, and other officials. It was for the first time in a period of over a thousand years that Jews were not only business men, musicians, doctors, etc., that is to say, not only occupied themselves with the pursuit of the free professions but took an active part in the Government and in the Army. At the time when a considerable part of the Russian intelligentsia was frightened off the Revolution, just at that moment the Jewish intelligentsia threw itself head-long into the Revolution, filled it with more people than was expected compared with the numbers of the Jewish population and began to take an active part in the Revolutionary organs of Government. It is because of that that anti-Semitism is growing.

“But for the Jewish people as a nation this phenomenon is of great importance and I must say of a negative rather than a positive character. When in one of the factories I was asked: Why are there so many Jews in Moscow? I replied: If I had been an old Rabbi suffering in my soul for the Jewish nation I would have anathemised all the Jews who went to Moscow to occupy Soviet posts, for they are lost to their own nation. (laughter, applause). In Moscow, the Jews mingle their own blood with Russian blood and they are lost to the Jewish nation from the second and at most from the third generation. They are transformed into ordinary Russians.


“It seems to me that that movement which took hold of a considerable part of the Jewish intelligentsia and still the wider strata of the Jewish impoverished masses, namely, the “back to the soil” movement, has in the first place been caused by the economic necessity, by the desire in one way or another to fortify its economic foundations, but I must say that if we consider this question from the ideological point of view from the national point of view, then I, at any rate, assume that under this movement, there is concealed a powerful subconscious movement–a movement to preserve its Jewish national character. It seems to me that this movement is one of the forms of national self-preservation.

“In contradistinction to assimilation and the utter loss of national characteristics threatening every small people deprived of the possibility of national development,–the Jewish masses have developed a feeling of self-preservation, a struggle for their nationality. Undoubtedly the organization of agricultural communes, the organization of a peasant agricultural state is in the given circumstances perhaps one of the best means of preserving the Jewish nation as a nation. As the basis of this movement is, as I have said, an economic one, the Government of the Union of Socialist Republics does not intend to preserve the Jewish nation independent of its own desire by settling the Jewish town and village impoverished masses on land and by creating Jewish villages. I must declare openly that the Soviet Government has no such aim in view and for a simple reason: the Government considers this question from the practical point of view. We see that the Jewish impoverished masses are suffering, that it is necessary to find for it some sort of economic solution. The land settlement, therefore, is just such an economic solution for the Jewish impoverished masses. The Government, however, realizing that the Jewish land settlement is at the same time a factor for the strengthening of the Jewish nationality does in no way interfere with it. The Soviet Government helping the Jewish as well as any other nationality with all the means in its power (these means are, of course, very slender) and wishing to realize the economic tasks with regard to the re-establishment of the well-being of the Jewish impoverished masses, fully realizes the importance of this solution for the preservation of the Jewish nationality.

“The successes achieved by the Jewish land settlement movement are not great as yet, but then you could not expect anything else. You realize that the creation of a national agricultural civilization for a people who has never occupied itself with agriculture is in its essence a tremendous task. In order to organize, let us say, a farm it is necessary to spend no less than a thousand roubles if we consider all the expenses. Agriculture, too, is one of the things which require a certain time to show results. It is a great mistake to expect success from the Jewish settlers who have had no time to settle down properly. To do so means to be ignorant of the elementary facts of agriculture.

“I do not doubt that a considerable number of the Jewish urban population will be at first disappointed at not getting immediate success in their new work on the land. It is natural for many people who settle on land prompted by the desire to preserve and to strengthen their nationality to become disappointed when they meet with great difficulties and comparatively small results. We have to keep in mind that great tasks require great efforts. Without that no great results are possible.


“The Jewish people is faced with a great task–the preservation of its nationality. It is for the realization of this great task that it is necessary to transfrom a considerable part of the Jewish population into a compact peasant agricultural population numbering at least hundreds of thousands of people. Only under such conditions can the Jewish masses hope to further preserve its nationality. The Jewish people is indeed faced with a tremendous task which will require for its realization the utmost application on the part of the masses unaccustomed to agricultural work, for the work of the townsmen is different from the work of the peasants.

“Large sums of money will in the first instance be required. The Government has to think of the great number of peasants belonging to other nationalities awaiting trans-settlement. There are the Ukrainian, Russian, White Russian and other peasants who will have to relinquish their land in order to settle somewhere else. Even if half of these peasants were to be satisfied the Government would have to expend sums to the amount of hundreds of millions of roubles. This the Soviet Union is absolutely not in a position to do. This is the reason why the Soviet Government assigns comparatively insignificant sums of money for the settlement of the Jewish peasants on the free lands. It endeavors, however, to give the Jewish peasants such portions of land which by their climatic and other conditions are in accordance with what the Jewish population is accustomed. Not without reason has it thought of Crimea and the southern parts of the Ukraine. Those are the places which most of all conform to the habits of the Jewish population. These places are not better than those where we are settling the peasants from the other parts of the Soviet Union, from White Russia, Central Russia and the Ukraine. Our enemies and the anti-Semites are quite in the wrong in trying to show that we are giving the Jews the best lands. We know very well that those lands are not only not better, but are, both with regard to their soil and climatic conditions, much worse and demand much labor for their development.

“The Soviet Government could not have afforded to settle Russians on these lands–at present Russians, Ukrainians and White Russians are being settled on lands in tens of thousands–and if they have decided to settle them in Crimea they would be able to settle instead of tens of thousands only a very small number, because by having to spend much money it would have to limit itself to a small number of settlers.


“With regard to the settling of Jews in the Crimea, there were two favorabue conditions. On the one hand, we have in the Crimea and around Crimea lands suitable for Jewish settlement with regard to the climate, but demanding great expenditure of capital for their development, the Soviet Government not being able at present to carry out this plan wholly relying on its own means. But the Soviet Government on the other hand has nothing against the Jewish settlers (in the national sense of the word) receiving assistance even from Jewish capitalists, outside Russia, for within the borders of Russia we have got rid of the Jewish capitalists (applause). Not physically, but what we did was to liquidate their capital and this deprived them of their influence. But having got rid of the Jewish capitalists we do not intend to get rid of the Jewish nationality and it is in this point that the interests of two diametrically opposed points of view meet–the interests of the national preservation of the Jewish masses and the national feelings of the Jewish capitalists outside Russia, who are conscious of their sins against the Jewish people, they being capitalists and enjoying their wealth not being able to sleep peacefully knowing that the people akin to them in blood are suffering, are in agony. In the same way as the Russian landowners, or at any rate, a part of them, felt responsible for their serfs, the Jewish capitalists are feeling responsible for the impoverished and suffering masses of their own people, perhaps in a smaller degree because in the capitalist world of today there is less sentimentalism than in the feudal world. Still, this feeling does not allow the Jewish capitalists to sleep peacefully and even compels them to consider seriously their responsibility for the Jewish people. When this national feeling is awakened in the Jew, the desire to preserve his nationality, it is natural for a number of the Jewish capitalists outside Russia to desire to aid and assist the Jewish land settler. This is where a common sphere of interests is created. Many, of course, might be disposed to suspect: they do not understand how the Soviet Union, denying the very existence of capitalism and fighting against every capitalist influence in Russia, should allow the Western Jewish capitalists to assist the Jews in Russia. To this I would only say the following: Very often in the bourgeois parliaments we find the Communists voting together with the extreme reactionaries, let us say, against the Government. The aims of the two are different. The cause that makes them vote together is different, but they find it possible to vote together. The same is happening in Russia. The Union of the Soviet Republics respects every nationality. It cannot help respecting them. Our Government would not have been a Soviet Government if it had not helped the self-preservation of the national feelings of every small people within the U. S. S. R. Only on this condition, I repeat, will each nationality consider the Soviet Union as its native country.

“The Jewish population of Russia who have lived for thousands of years in Russia are only now finding their native country. As I have already written before, when the Jewish capitalists are deserting us and carrying on a hostile propaganda against us we do not care, but I consider that it would be absolutely inadmissible from the point of view of the Soviet regime that the Jewish toiling masses should desert us in search of happiness elsewhere (loud applause).


“Comrades, I hold that the Soviet Union should be the fatherland, ten times a more real fatherland for the Jewish masses than any bourgeois Palestine (loud applause). For, Comrades, what can Palestine give them? It can hold in store for the Jewish toiling population nothing but exploitation until a Soviet Government is established there, but when such a Soviet Government will be established there, we do not know. But there is something else to be considered. Is it really probable that a population which has lived for thousands of years in our Western and South Western districts should still possess any organic physiological or any other connection with Palestine? Nothing of the sort.

“It sometimes happens that some sort of absurd prejudice becomes general. It is clear to everybody that it is a prejudice and still it exists. Such a prejudice is that the Jews are not Russians in Russia in the sense of belonging wholly to the Russian State, but the Jews live in Russia as long as the Ukrainians, Poles and to some extent even as long as the Russians themselves, and yet we find this prejudice still in existence among the Russians as well as among the Jews.

“The Jews who live from generation to generation in our Southwestern Governments helped to develop Russian civilization. They were exploited together with the Russians, they had no fatherland, they were pariahs, they were forced to live lives which isolated them from the rest of the population. I think that it is a very middle-class prejudice to think that the Jews have to look for a fatherland elsewhere, that they have no place in Russia. One cannot look for an artificial fatherland. One cannot create a fatherland artificially. One has to create it there where compact masses of population are living, and to make it a real fatherland it has to be fought for. The October revolution fought for and gained not an ephemeral, but an actual and complete fatherland. The Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics is such a concrete fatherland for the toiling Jews as well as for the toiling masses of all the other peoples of the Union. And this is why the Jews as sons of the Soviet Union enjoying the full equality of rights have to create their life here. All the rest is but an illusion capable of giving satisfaction to one or another individual man, capable of engaging the minds of ten people or so, but never capable of satisfying fully the Jewish population numbering millions of people. If the Jewish population is in search of a fatherland, it must be found for it within the Soviet Union. (Applause). The welfare of the Jewish people, the welfare of the Jewish toiling masses, cannot be separated from the welfare of the Russian worker or the Russian peasant (applause). It is common to all. And this is why we are not afraid of national oppression. We cannot be afraid of it, for how can the Jews be our rivals, the Jews who have settled on the unsuitable lands in the Crimea? No. Whom are they depriving of anything? Whom are they competing with? They can only create new material wealth, increasing by it the power of the Soviet Union.


“Comrades. What do we see now? At present small Jewish territorial units are being created. These units are very small, infinitessimally small, but sometimes the small contains in itself something great. We have to admit that the Jewish villages and settlements, the Jewish districts, are still very small in numbers, but for the Jewish nation they are of the greatest importance. The Jews possess not much of their own country yet, but there already exist Jewish districts, there is already a Jewish territory, the foundation is already laid. Before the Jews had only very few fortunate ones who owned land as a favor from the Czars, as Baron Ginsberg, for instance, but these were only individual men and they owned the land in consequence of a favor which could be withdrawn any moment. Today the Jewish masses transformed into land workers and possessing their own territorial units, not in consequence of a favor from one or another man in high position, but because of their own right which they obtained in the struggle, together with the workers and peasants of our Union (prolonged applause). This is where the difference lies. Today the Jews who settle on land have the full right to do so, for they obtained it by fighting together with us, it is therefore quite natural that when they do settle they feel themselves citizens of the Soviet Union in the full sense of the word.

“Comrades, we are here today attending the first All-Russian Conference for the settling of Jews on land. I do not doubt that many of you are naturally prone to idealize and exaggerate the effect of the agricultual work which you are organizing. This is not a bad sign. Anyone who thinks that to exaggerate at such a moment is harmful, is mistaken. It may harm the practical activities if the leaders are exaggerating within themselves, but I repeat it does no harm to the workers themselves. It is necessary that they should understand that they are not only agriculturalists or that agricultural work is mechanical and requires no training, a work that occupies one every day in the year, but it is also necessary that this work should instil in them the spirit of satisfaction.

“The Jews who are now settling on land are depriving themselves of a primitive but still, more or less civilized town life. In a certain degree they become roughened and there is a danger that they might coarsen as a result of this agricultural work. This is why I say that engaged in this agricultural work, the Jewish peasant must not forget that he is fulfilling a very important national mission and that the Western capitalists who help the Jewish people are really in a certain degree desirous by their donations to gain for themselves in the other world a place beside Moses. For, Comrades, if they believe in nationality, if they value nationality, if they believe ever so little in religion, then they must consider that in the other world they would be asked: Where have you been when the Jewish people created for itself, built up and forged for itself a Fatherland? I think, Comrades, that we are not accepting charity from the Western capitalists from the Joint and other organizations. We are taking what is due to us, considering the salvation of their souls (laughter, applause). Certainly, if we are helped, we shall pass through the preliminary difficult period the quicker, but even without that assistance, I can openly declare in the name of the Soviet Government, that in any case the Soviet Government could not withhold its help from the Jewish toiling masses. Comrades, that consciousness, that manifestation of the true national feeling among the Jewish toiling masses which is expressed in their desire to become a productive working population–the Jewish working masses were essentially of course always productive–and the fact that the other peoples inhabiting the Soviet Union have recognized, seen, and become conscious that the Jews are a productive nationality, working hand in hand with the other nationalities. I say that when the Jewish people is taking up agriculture it does so, not only for the self preservation of its nationality, for it does not only achieve this aim but by achieving it, the Jewish people destroys that prejudice prevalent among the middle classes that there are no workers and peasants among the Jews, that the Jews consist wholly of shop-keepers, and rich people. But we realize too well that millions of toiling Jews had lead, and are still leading a miserable existence, toiling from day to day. The existence of Nepman and of money speculators among Jews must by no means blind us to the fact that the masses of toiling Jews are like the masses of any other nationalities, struggling for their existence, for the obtaining of a mere pittance. It is absurd to put the toiling Jewish masses under the same label with the Nepman and the speculators (which the Russian Bourgeoisie did do). Now, the Jewish nation wishes by the creation of its own agricultural colonies to do away with this prejudice in order that all the peoples inhabiting the Soviet republics should see and realize that the Jewish nationality is in the full sense of the word enjoying equality of rights in the sphere of productive activity.

“Comrades, I think that in the sphere of education, in the sphere of the forward movement of the working class and of the peasants, I need not call upon the Jewish population. It had done much, for as I have said, the Jews have thrown themselves into the revolutionary movement and the fact that they did so shows that they were closely attached to the revolution. In all the branches of science both in old Russia, and in the Soviet Russia, in all the branches of science the Jewish population occupies no inferior place and I do not doubt that in the eyes of all the people the Jewish agriculture will occupy no inferior place. (applause). The Government will do anything in its power to help the Jewish agricultural population. Permit me to welcome cordially the new Jewish land settlers, and to tell them that I wish them success and that they should not be disappointed at the difficulties in their way, that the task they set themselves is greater than the difficulties which are in front of them, that collosal work which they have to accomplish is well worth the tasks which the Jewish nation is endeavoring to achieve.”

Organized labor has endorsed the campaign of the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies, it was anounced by Frederick Brown, General Chairman of the drive, in making public resolutions and contributions by various employes’ organizations.

At meetings of three branches of the United Neckwear Makers’ Union, at the People’s House, 7 East Fifteenth Street, the members of these organizations unanimously approved a recommendation of the union’s Executive Board to contribute.

L. D. Berger, business manager, announced that the operators, pressers and finishers would be assessed $2 each and the trimmers, boxers and hand labelers 50 cents each.

The decision was reached following an address by Jonah J. Goldstein, a member of the Board of Trustees of the federation and one of the campaign councilors.

The United Neckwear Cutters’ Union decided to tax each cutter $5.

Locals of the United Hebrew Trades received a communication from M. Finestone. General Secretary, calling on the individual unions to contribute.

J. Hasken, General Secretary of the Workmen’s Circle, sent a letter to all New York branches endorsing the work of the federation.

The “Jewish Daily Forward”, labor daily, has contributed $1,000 to the fund, it was announced.

Members of the Jewish Community Center of Vailsburg, N. J., who have been working on plans for the erection of a synagogue and social center in Vailsburg, have begun negotiations for a site. The plans call for completion of a synagogue within the next year. Mrs. Lillian Luxnor is president of the organization.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund