Warsaw (Jul. 16)
(From Our Warsaw Correspondent)
For a long time we have had no anti-Jewish excesses in Poland, so some Polish students in Lemberg started them again. The old cries were heard again in the streets, the windows of Jewish houses and shops were smashed as of old. But things were not quite the same as before. This time the young rioters got well rapped on the knuckles by the police and also by the Jews themselves.
The trouble started with the Polish anti-Semitic students insisting that Jewish students must not wear the disnictive caps of the sudent bodies, to which they declared only Polish students are entitled. So a group of Polish students set upon Jewish students in the street. A free-for-all fight started, and the mob from the streets around came gleefully to join in. Before long there were hundreds of people going for each other for all they were worth, and there were quite a lot of casualties. In the end the police came rushing up and dispersed the two groups of mal-contents and arrested a lot of students. After producing their papers the students were allowed to go free.
This sort of thing went on for several days. But credit must be given to the Lemberg police force for their very splendid attitude. One night a group of anti-Semitie students launched an attack on the Jewish daily “Chwila” and started demolishing the printing machines. Before they could do much damage, the police had come in and ejected them. Four people were seriously injured and about a score were slightly wounded. The majority of the wounded are non-Jews.
That was the first act. Several other acts followed. A Jewish cafe was attacked, windows were smashed, and then the students went off to sack the Jewish quarter. A Jewish student named Simon Helfer was wounded and taken to the hospital in a critical condition. Several Jews walking through the streets were set upon with knives and stabbed. They had to be taken to the hospital in ambulances. Near the Cafe de la Paix Jews were attacked and beaten. The editorial building of the “Chwila” was again attacked, but the police came up in time and drove off the hooligans.
It is finished now. The police saved the situation by their promptitude and firmness. The movement was scotched before it became meanacing. It shows that when the authorities want to they can stop and prevent anti-Semitic outrages. And if the Minister of Justice carries out his threat to expel from the University all those who took part in the disorders we can rest assured that there will be no more disorders.
Things have gone back to normal. And we must not exaggerate what happened. We must not make the mistake of taking fright and becoming nervous about a new period of excesses coming along. We often make such mistakes in Eastern Europe. In Lemberg, the police have shown that they are able to deal wth the situation.
Jewish life in Poland is not wholly black, as it sometimes appears to be to people who depend for their information only on newspaper reports about the country. Obviously newspapers reports deal with matters of outstanding moment and with unusual events. Newspapers do not report every-day ordinary business-as-usual sort of work which is done in the country. But life does not stand still, and everything in Polish Jewish life is not crumbling.
That is a very hopeful sign, the growth of the Jewish co-operative movement in Poland. Behind the hundreds of small co-operative banks and savings institutions, stands a powerful Jewish creative force.
334 delegates from 250 towns came together at the Sixth Conference of Jewish Co-operative Societies in Poland held here this week.
The report on the position of the Jewish Credit Co-operatives in Poland showed that during the past year it was possible by means of co-operative methods to reduce at the rate of interest. There was also a marked decrease in the amount of outsanding credits. In April 1926 the Federation comprised 253 people’s banks and 22 middle-class co-operatives. In April 1927 it comprised 313 people’s banks and 28 middle-class co-operatives. The people’s banks have a membership of 118.192, an increase of 54 percent, over the previous year. The membership of the middle-class co-operatives is 7,815, and increase of 85 percent. The Jewish credit co-operative movement as a whole embraces 21 percent, of the total Jewish population of Poland, 31.9 percent, of the members are artisans, 43.8 percent small traders, 13.3 percent, merchants and manufacturers, 2 percent, farmers, 3.7 percent belong to the liberal professions and 5.3 percent, are miscellaneous. The total balance of the 337 co-operatives amounts to 60,173,803 zlotys. The paid up capital has increased by 1,972,324 zlotys, about 95 percent. The reserve funds have increased by 507,185 zlotys, more thon 109 percent. The capital, consisting of paid up and reserve funds together have increased by 2,479,509 zlotys, about 98 percent. Deposits increased by 8,795,228 zlotys, which is over 241 percent. More than 42,167,909 zlotys were granted in credits during the first quarter of 1927.
Such figures do not lend credence to talk about Polish Jewry being on the road to destruction. It is a tremendous work to organize 21 percent, of the whole Jewish population of the country in co-operative organizations. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has written itself indelibly in the history of Polish Jews, by the generous help it has given the co-operative movement in Poland.
It is a sign of life and of tenacity and the power of resistance.
We haven’t enough strikes, as it is, some people seem to think, so they are going to give us a strike of Rabbis. And the Jews of Warsaw will not be greatly astonished if there really is such a strike. The Jews of Warsaw have grown accustomed to things like that. Not very long ago we had the Shochtim organizing themselves in a trade union under the aegis of the Polish Socialist Party, so why shouldn’t Rabbis do the same?
And it is all due to the fact that the new administration of the Warsaw Jewish Community has taken it upon itself to re-organize the Warsaw Rabbinate and put some sort of working methods into it. It set up a special commission to go into the question of whether the Rabbis ought to take payment for issuing certificates, marriage documents, etc., and if they should, how much? It is proposed that the control of certificates should be taken away from the Rabbis and put into the hands of the communal officials.
Some of the Rabbis are up in arms against the proposal, and a few days ago some of the Warsaw Rabbis met in order to discuss ways and means of opposing it. And there was a suggestion of a strike.
So that if the Warsaw Jewish Community carries its proposal into effect, we may have a strike of Rabbis, Quite a novel appearance in Jewish life. We may even have the Bund of the Left Poale Zion directing and leading the strike.
Poland is a free country and the Jews have equal rights with the non-Jews. But in the province of Posen an attempt is being made to exclude Jews. An interpellation in Parllament by Deputy Graenhaum has revesled that the Governor of the Province refuses to let Jews acquire land there. There are so many Czarist laws unrepeaded in Poland that it is always possible to invote one or the other of them in order to justify any sort of action against the Jews. There is a law in Posen which says that title deeds for immorable property must be signed by the administrative authority, that is no say, the Governor of the province, and it is this ordinance on which the Governor is hasing his act. Although the highest administrative tribunal has declared that the Governor must in each case share the reason for his refusal the Governor takes no notice of the declaration and refuses to sign any ## in which Jews are concerned. The Minister of the Interior has been asked what he ## to do in the matter and whether he will instance the Governor not to go on with a policy which is in ## of the Constration and the elementary rights of the Jewish citizens.