U.S. Commission Returns: Sees Favorable Outlook for Bira-bidjan Settlement

A favorable outlook for the possibilities of Jewish colonization in Birabidjan, the Far eastern region of Soviet Russia where colonization is being sponsored by the Ozet, society for Jewish land settlement, was seen by the American commission, headed by Prof. Franklin S. Harris of Utah, which returned yesterday following a four month’s survey made in the region.

Bira-Bidjan may absorb several hundred thousand Jewish colonists in the next ten years, Prof. Harris stated. “Bira Bidjan is now in the same state as was the American west seventy-five years ago. The soil there is very fertile. There are, of course, difficulties which every pioneer land has, but the Soviet government is contributing financially and helping in every way to create possibilities for successful colonization there.”

According to the Soviet plan, 15,000 persons will be colonized next year, Prof. Harris stated.

Asked about the rains and mosquitoes hampering the colonization work, Prof. Harris stated that the mosquitoes will be eliminated when civilization is introduced, as in other countries. The rains make possible the rice plantations. He expressed the hope that American Jews will aid the undertaking by supplying modern machinery and introducing American methods to develop the Jewish colonization in Bira Bidjan.

There are in Russia ten times as many Jews willing to settle in Bira-Bidjan as can be sent there now, he added.

Besides Prof. Harris the members of the commission, which was sent by the Icor, American society furthering the Bira-Bidjan project, are: Prof. J. B. Davidson, Ohio State College: Prof. K. B. Sauls, Brigham Young University, Utah; Benjamin Brown, Utah State Farmers’ Cooperative, and Charles Kuntz. Mr. Talmi, secretary of the Icor, accompanied the commission.

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