Warburgreports on Conditions in Palestine, Russia and Poland
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Warburgreports on Conditions in Palestine, Russia and Poland

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Over 300 prominent Jewish leaders from New York and other cities were present last night at a dinner of welcome given in honor of Felix M. Warburg, banker and philanthropist and Chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee, upon his return from a six months’ tour of the world. The dinner took place at the Hotel Astor. Louis Marshall, President of the American Jewish Committee, was Chairman.

The gathering was arranged as a personal tribute to Mr. Warburg, by Louis Marshall, David A. Brown, Paul Baerwald, Col. Herbert H. Lehman and James N. Rosenberg. Mr. Marshall and Mr. Brown were the only speakers, besides Mr. Warburg.

Mr. Warburg gave a detailed account of his observations in Palestine, Russia and Poland. Although no new plan of action for the J. D. C. in Russia or in Palestine has been formulated, the address of Mr. Warburg contained indications of the future plan.


With regard to Palestine, of which Mr. Warburg spoke first, the crux of the situation lies in the report of the Joint Palestine Survey Commission, which will be ready, the speaker said, before winter. “It is high time the wilfully incorrect statement that money is being poured into Palestine should be corrected,” Mr. Warburg declared in reviewing conditions in that country.

With regard to Russia, Mr. Warburg spoke in enthusiastic terms of the progress of the Agrojoint work. He indicated that it was his hope “which is capable of realization, that in the not distant future a pian may be devised involving long term loans upon legitimate business lines which will promote increased activity on the part of the Jews of Russia in land settlement.”

Regarding the J. D. C. work in Poland, Mr. Warburg drew attention to the constructive relief work of the Committee, emphasizing the fact that in formulating the plans for its work the J. D. C. “looks to and leans upon the splendid and respected leaders of Central and East European Jewry.”

“I think you will be interested to learn what progress the work in Palestine has made,” Mr. Warburg stated. “The papers have been good enough to give some of our impressions when we visited that extraordinary country. I am happy to say that there can be no doubt that a better understanding among the different groups of people destined to live in Palestine is being achieved daily, as prophecies about large mass Jewish immigration and national ambitions have stopped, and sober, earnest efforts to make the best of the opportunity in Palestine are seen everywhere.

“A visit to the farms shows that the Jews there are making progress and some of them are self-supporting today. One cannot speak highly enough of the self-sacrificing efforts of these pioneers who tackle the problems of difficult land conditions without getting discuraged, and losing hope. With the experience which some of the old colonists have had, the new ones are saved many of the painful trials which the first settlers had had to undergo.

“We visited the 37-year-old colony of Chedera, already a very prosperous orange-growing settlement. The spirit of the people there is typical; they are not interested in securing luxuries, but they lead a sensible life in their clean houses and sell their oranges of excellent quality without difficulty. The women–plainly dressed–do their share in developing healthy family life. When we had the pleasure of meeting the older farmers and their wives in the community house, a practicable building crected for educational and religious purposes, we felt satisfied that a staunch population was being developed there. Proud of their achievements and ready to bring up their children to become patriotic, industrious inhabitants of Palestine, they are producers and not traders, they are workes and not talkers.

“I have looked at the books in their library, which are splendid and which are freely used. I have been impressed with the healthful condition of the place, and the fact that malaria. which in the beginning of their settlement killed 250 out of 1,000 settlers, has been cradicated.


“Another colony, one of the interior ones, Mahadel (Nabalel), has made great strides forward. The girls here learn farming and gardening and live under favorable conditions.

“The colonists are keen and eager to put to practical use what they learn and the spirit of the older seulers. who are willing to be the teachers and guides of those who have come to the country without preparation, is splendid. We met many of these famers and their courage and optimism left an abiding impression with me.

“We likewise had the pleasure of a conference with the professors of the Hebrew University. Nobody can describe the thrill that one gets when from the top of Mount Scopus one overlooks the hills and valleys of that historic spot.

“We had full opportunity to discuss with Lord Plumer at a luncheon in Government House the needs of the country and the standing of the people. Field Marshall Plumer showed his wide experience and quick perception and judging by steps taken since this conversation, it looks very much as if the Government’s and our plans and ideas coincide thoroughly.

“Our visit to the different societies, charitable, as well as the co-operatives, the loan kassas, and the Kupath Milveh, show that the people have good business judgment and that they are making the relatively small amounts at their disposal do much needed work over and over again. At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Zionist Organization, we discussed their problems and I sincerely hope that the efforts which this very earnest Zionist Organization makes will be supported by the balance of the Organization. They are sincerely embarrassed by the slow payment of the subscriptions and some of the employees and teachers are anxiously waiting for the pay which the Organization has owed them for a number of months.


“Their labor organizations are doing their best to encourage the efficiency of their members and newcomers are not prevented but rather encourged to compete with bired labor in the important work which is being conducted.

“We hope that the Government will build some new loads, and will take over some of the sanitation work. this freeing the budget of the Zionist Organization from such items as port supervision, immigration preparation, etc.

“Comcerning the school situation, additional facilities are being opened The Biram School is a masterpiece of its kind, and deserves the fullest support so that the children there can receive its training of exact workmanship and the detail knowledge of techuical methads. It is true that some of the pupils of this school, even some from the United States, have the benefit of this school and pay for their tuition, but a is also true that many cannot enter this institution because the number of free pupils is limited by the badget. American contributors surely understand than value of such techaical training and they ought to subscribe toward the budget of this school.

“The farm schools are good; the agricultural experiments promising. If it were not for the 8,000 unemployed, who are a heavy drain on the charity fund of Palestine, new farms could undoubtedly be developed. It is only by careful selection of immigrants and of the type arriving in moderate numbers, that this little country can digest the newcomers.

“I had the pleasure of spending some time with the dynamic Rutenberg, who with his unbounded energy has overcome protests andobstacles which he found against his electric power project. Today the three small plants at Jaffa, Haifa, and Tiberias, are run on an efficient and constructive basis and give promise of good earnings.

“Rutenberg has succeeded in interesting the General Electric Company in London in the water power of the Jordan and by this time he is on his way to Palestine with machinery to proceed with thissignificant piece of work. Another project which will give employment to a good many of the habitants in Palestine and which will mean a great improvement in the condition of transportation, is the building of the harbor of Haifa, for which the Home Government has authorized a loan of the English Government Guarantee of £ 4,000,000. This is the first large outlay authorized by England, and it is high time that the willfully incorrect statement that money is being poured into Palestine should be corrected. Out of its taxes, which are promptly paid, Palestine is paying more than what is spent in its borders, if we disregard the amount paid for troops who are not kept in Palestine for the governement of that country, but by reason of neighboring conditions.

“The Joint Palestine Survey Commission has selected its experts, who have already arrived in Palestine, and they are investigating on scientific lines the resources and the economic conditions there. It is, of course, to be understood that this Commission and its experts are to act impartially, to report upon the merits, the facts as they are and conditions as they exist, and to base their findings and conclusions upon sound economic policies, with due regard to what is practicable and fassible and consonant with the welfare of Palestine and of those who have taken up their residence there in order to build up the country and to establish for themselves an independent existence. It is needless to say that my colleagues and I will approach this subject with an open mind. We hope by the fall to have their reports, and if the present plan is carried out, we should have a meeting of the Commission in New York before the winter, which will report a definite program for future constructive work in Palestine.

“After conferences with Lord Reading. Sir Herbert Samuel, Pinchas Rutenberg, James de Rothschild, Dr. Weizmann, Dr. Eder and others, I can only plead for prompt payments of pledges for the Palestine activties, and for the hearty support of Dr. Weizmann, who understands the situation thoroughly, is sober in his judgment, conservative in his estimates, and practical in his plans.

“Of the $65,000,000 expended to date by the Joint Distribution Committee since its organization 12 or 13 years ago, about $8,000,000 have gone into Palestine. Much of this necssarly were sheer relief funds, but a substantial amount has also been used for constructive activities. The Kupath Milveh, the malaria prevention work, the Central Bank, and more recent activities of the Palestine Economic Corporation, are all wholesome, upbuilding measures of permanent value, and it is my hope and belief that the Palestine Economic Corporation will be able to take a real part in the inspiring work of building up Palestine.

“A second country in the development of which you are intensely interested, is Russia. After a delightful trip through Ceylon, Java, Siam, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, China and Japan, including Formosa and Korea, I went to Vladivostok, where James Becker and I were met by Dr. E. A. Grower, the consellor of the Aro-Joint, who served as our guide from Vladivostok through Siberia to Moscow.

“During the 13 days and nights enroute we had the right, and made good use of it, to hitch or unhitch to any train we pleased, and we visited quite a number of cities. One is impressed by the sight of this tremendously rich country–rich in water power, timber material, and farm land, and we made good use of our time in becoming acquainted with the living conditions of the people at large.

“There is no doubt that the farmers, and they constitute 85 per cent of the population, have reached better living conditions, have been given free of charge large areas for their benefit, and are being educated rapidly. Especially during the period of military service many have learned reading, writing. civil rights. and duties to their compatriots, which evidently have been taught as much as military tactics.

“The industries are lagging behind. from what we can learn, but the Government is ware of this shortcoming and is endeavoring to improve the situation and work toward more efficiem progress.

“I do not wam to tire you with a long report about the details of our trip from Moscow through the colonies. Fortunately the movies films which james Becker took throughout our entire trip have been successful and I have about 1,000 feet of film of Russia that will show you at a glance what these colonies look like, what the people look like who are most eager in pursuing their new livelihood, which gives the most promising offer for the future.


“I wish I could tell you how thrilled we were to witness with our own eyes the extraordinary and splendid economic progress of this farm work under the gifted leadership of that modest, simple leader and agricultural genius. Dr. Rosen, who has managed to make every penny which your generosity has contributed, work 100 per cent. For instance, between the early fail of 1922 and the beginning of 1924, we turned over to Dr. Rosen for help to Jewish farmers $790,000. With that sum he was able to give help to 3,000 families at work on the fields in White Russia, Podolia, and Wohlynia. With the assitance of the Ica, 8,000 families in the old Jewish colonies of Cherson, Krivoy-Rog, and Mariupol, were helped, and even 500 new families were given an opportunity to settle in these old colomes. This is without counting the goodwill which he was able to create on the part of tens of thousands of non-Jewish farmers in the neighborhood of these colonies who were given the assistance of Dr. Rosen’s administration.

“It is only since July 1924, that the Agro-Joint has commenced its new piece of work, $3,727,000 was expended under Dr. Rosen’s guidance, and with this amount 8088 new families were helped to settle in new colonies in Cherson, Krivoy-Rog and Crimea, and the Agro-Joint also cooperated with the Ort and other organizations in White Russia and the Odessa district, in helping 3,000 other Jewish families.

“Through the efforts of the Joint Distribution Committee, seconded by those of the Jewish Colomzation Association in Paris, who repopulated such farms as were abandoned in consequence of famines and civil war, about 160 new settlements in these districts have been created, where almost 130,000 Jews are living and supporting themselves decently on farms. Over 500,000 acres of land have been allotted to our districts. We spent three weeks studying the results of this enterprise, and were more than encouraged to see that the people who are now on the third year on the farms are beginning to repay as they should the loans made to them.

“During the last two and one-half years the cost of settling per family for the Agro-Joint in Cherson, was 650 roubles; in Kirvoy-Rog 655 roubles: in Crimea 791 roubles. Of this the biggest part was given out in the form of notes to be repaid. For instance. in Cherson, out of 650 roubles spent by the Agro-Joint for one family. 547 roubles were given out in the form of loans to be repaid, 84 roubles are agricultural expenses not to be repaid. and 19 roubles for administration charges.

“In addition to the agricultural help, one of the most important forms of our work has been the building of houses for the new settlers. In the three districts of Cherson. Krivoy-Rog. and Crimea. 3.700 settlers’ houses have been built or are being completed, and 51 schools, public and cooperative buildings.

“I wish I could tell you of the satisfaction that it gave me to meet and to mingle with our colonists; of the inspiration of watching them gather together; of the renewed and strengthened conviction it gave us concerning the future of these brave men. women and children. who have moved from the pale to this new life of the fields. Although up to this time I had followed closely all of the written reports of Dr. Rosen. I could not visualize or have an adequate picture of its magnitude or its spirit until I saw it with my own eyes. Becker and I inspected the work in these three districts. We visited and passed through more than 40 out of the 160 of our colonies. By October, 180 new colonies will have been established.


“We saw the settlements in all stages of development–some already completing their three years, some formed only this spring. It is wonderful to see how the organization of the Agro-Joint takes inexperienced city dwellers, teaches them farrning, belps them to build their homes. plant their vineyards, prepare the field. sow the crops. establish the creameries. and remains in touch with them until they can take care of themselves.

“I am both satisfied with and proud of the permanent foundation which is bringing these colonists the only happiness. the only self-respecting. healthy life which is possible for them in Russia. probably within the near future. Their progress has been even better than schedule, and when I saw them in their homes. contented. with their hopes revived, working their farms and making repayments against their loans, it was a great joy.

“I need hardly add that Jimmy Becker and I conversed with hundreds of the settlers–with the men, women and children. Of course, we wanted to know, from their own lips. why they left the city and towns and why they felt there was a future on the farm. Everywhere we heard the same thing –economic life was impossible in the city and village. Here on the farms. with this rich soil, they are convinced that they have a chance. And so am I convinced of this. for the soil and agriculture are the backbone of Russia’s economic life and our fellow Jews now for the first time given an opportunity equally with all other Russians to strike their roots into the soil, have already proven in the four years that have gone by since this work started that they can be, and indeed that they are capable and efficient farmers. Why should they not be so? It is the historie occupation of the Jew. Whereas in the city. Government owned industry and Government supported cooperatives make the plight of the small trader and hand-artisan hopeless. or nearly so. the peasant on the soil is an essential part of the whole economic life of Russia.


“I would like to recall some of the conversations that I had with people high in Government circles. showing the desire of these men to accommodate themselves to American needs, but I will leave that for a later occasion. I can tell you this: it is the sincere desire of the Government for the future. as in the past. to help in this agricultural work and to increase it on a still more substantial scale.

“But we do not need to rest on were promises or kind words. The Government has given our settier lands of a pre-war value of over $15,000,000 and this is no special favor to the Jews. It has treated the Jews as it has the others of the population. The Government has also furnished large sums toward housing in the shape of true lumber of loans for machmery purchase and evinces by its acts as well as by its words the deepest interest in the development of the Jews on the soil.

“I am satisfied that our project is conducted on a business basis. Loanse are beginning to be repaid and great economic progress has been made. That gives assurance that in due time our investment in farm activities will be repaid in large part by the settlers. It is my hope. which is capable of realization. that in the not distant future a plan may be devised involving longtime loans upon legitimate business lines, which will promore increased activity on the part of the Jews of Russia in land settlement. It is, of course, understand that any enlargement of our work in this direction. even on a businesss basis, cannot and will not be undertaken or participated in without the full sanction of our Government. To resume what I have said regarding the Russian undertaking,I feel a sense of gratification with what has been thus far accomplished and with the promise that it affords of economic independence for those couragcous men and women who have gone upon the land for the purpose of gaining their livelihood in the pursuft of agriculture.

“I come now to the third country which I mentioned-Poland, in which country the Joint Distribution Committee has done more work and has spent more money than in any other place. While I could not spare much time in Poiand I did have the great pleasure of meeting the outanding Jewish leaders in Warsaw. I was ## by Dr. Bernhard Kahn, our solemdid Enropean Director, who has for so many years cancted the burden of our program and who is ### repected and admired as a iseder in communal service.

“You will recall that the early siages of our work in Poland were chiefly sheer relief. In that work. which reached its conclusion at the end of 1921. it was found necessary to have a considerable number of Americans in the field. who worked in closest partnership with the American Relief Administration and with Mr. Hoosver’s splendid assistance. As the picture changed from a problem of relief work to one more particularly of reconstructive activities, the Joint Distribution Committee found it possible to change its policy. Frof 1914 to 1921 we had worked with the leaders of Polish Jewry. We had come to know them and to know what splendid, able and self-sacrificing men and women they were We knew that they understood their own problems and the handling of those problems better than we ourselves could do. So when the end of the relief period was reached and when the American Relief Administration withdrew its American representatives, we adopted the same course. Since 1922 the entire management of the work in Poland has been in charge of the Jewish leaders in Poland. In every city and town committees of Jewish leaders of Poland have been in charge of the work in their localities.

“We adopted this policy not only for reasons of economy but for the deeper reasons of proper respect to European Jewish leaders. We did this not only in Poland but everywhere else. Our entire American staff in the last few years in Europe consists of Dr. Rosen in Russia, who is, as you know, a Russian by birth, and of our excellent financial advisor and accountant. David J. Schweitzer, who is the watch dog of our treasury. The programs in Poland, and indeed throughout Europe. have been and are prepared by the leaders of European Jewry. subritted to Dr. Kahn worked out with him, and then carried out. This has been and continues to be the philosophy of our work. We look to and lean upon the splendid and respected leaders of central and eastern European Jewry.

“With a group of Jewish leaders in Warsaw, I reviewed the condition of Polish Jewry, which, on account of the economic crisis, is tragic indeed. They have acknowledged to me, as your mouthpiece and representative, their sense of appreciation and of gratitrude for the help of American Jewry. It is clear that if we had had much more than we were able to devote to assistance in Poland it would still be inadequare to meet all the needs. Many mil-Hons of dollars conld be profitably and conscientiusly disbursed in Poland and in Eastern Europe. But even with the lirule at our disposal. it has been possible to help materiaily in their struggle against their unfavorable conditions. and to enable them to build on top of their own slender resources and means. a structure of hope. What we have done in the work of medical aid and saritation, in the care of refugees, in providing for children. in vocational training. in cultural assistance in the building up of a net work of gemiloth chesed kassas, and in consolidating the strength of the ceoperative kassas and loan societies, has been merely to supplement their own work, their own program. It is their views that we have consulted, and it is their judgment that the program of the assistance of the Joint Distribution Committee has been profoundly constructive, sound, and wise.

“I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity which I have had of seeing these countries, and in visiting the countries where we have done so much to alleviate suffering I have been the recipient of many kindnesses and words of appreciation, which while extended to me are of course accepted by me only on your behalf. It was your generosity that has made this life-saving expedition possible, and it is your confidence in such men as Dr. Rosen and Dr. Bernhard Kahn that have brought about the results, which taken as a whole ought to be most gratifying to the generous subscribers in America.

“David A. Brown, indefatigable and successfupl leader of the United Jewish Campaign, has told of the progress which we have made in securing your contributions. We are engaged in a great work of salvation, of building men and women into honorable, selfrespecting, self-supporting people. Our obligations to the Jews of Russia and to the Jews of eastern Europe must be met according to schedule. We have promised it to them; they are counting on it, and we must not lift our hands from our task until every pledge that has been made has been paid in full and applied into the lifegiving means and opportniuty which our people across the sea call for and hope for from you.

“Having visited many conutries I can truthfully say that hardly an hour passed while I was covering these 82.000 kilometers that I was not grateful that my lot has placed me in the United States, which at this present moment is in the position, not of asking favor, but of granting favors, and I wish I might have been able to give you some of the thrill which we have had in seeing the seeds which you have planted grow into satisfactory harvests. Harvests in kind, harvests in appreciation, harvests in new growth of self-respect and satisfaction in getting nearer to a life of honest selfsupport.”

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