The number of Jewish bankruptcies in Poland during the year 5690 was far in excess of those that occurred in 5689, according to an article in the Warsaw Yiddish daily, Moment. Reviewing the Jewish economic situation in Poland for the year just ended, the paper declares that there cannot be the slightest doubt that the Jewish economic position has become more serious.
The tax system devised by former Premier Grabski for the specific purpose of wrecking the Jewish existence in Poland and evicting the Jews from their former economic position, the Moment points out, is still in force. “Jewish merchants,” says the paper, “suffer acutely from his taxation system, which imposes burdens far in excess of their ability to meet them. The tax-screw has squeezed out of Jewish commerce its turnover capital and compelled it to operate on credit. From a large number of businesses it has extracted not only their basic capital, but also their operating capita. This has caused the tragedy of mass bankruptcies. These bankruptcies and the general slowness of payments has made the obtaining of credits a very difficult matter.”
JEWISH INDUSTRY SUFFERING
“Jewish industry, which is so closely intertwined with Jewish commerce in the present crisis is suffering equally,” declares the Moment. “This is especially due to the fact that many of the Jewish industries serve Jewish business almost exclusively. Bankruptcies of commercial establishments bring ruin to many Jewish industries and Jewish workmen. Even the little work that Jewish commerce is able to furnish to Jewish industry cannot be done because there is no cash to pay for it. If payment is made by notes, the manufacturer does not know what to do with them. It is difficult to get them discounted, and if they can be discounted at all, it is at such a high rate of interest that the manufacturer has nothing left at the end of the transaction.
“As a result many manufacturers, including many of the most expert men who not so long ago had acquired substantial savings, have been ruined. Hundreds of workshops have been closed and thousands of workmen have been left without employment.”
“Saddest of all,” continues the article, “is the situation of the Jewish small-traders. They suffer from all the difficulties that beset the Jewish merchants, and in addition, from terrible competition. Many who in former years were prosperous merchants have, due to the development of the crisis, been driven into the small trading class, because that is one of the very few means of livelihood still open to the Jews of Poland. Large numbers who have been forced out of business crowd into this already overcrowded field, thus increasing the already intolerable competition. Not only do they fail, but they also destroy the prospects of their predecessors. Their earnings are insufficient even for the most elementary means of existence. Of most of the small traders it is true that they do not liveâ€”they merely vegetate. And to make matters even worse for them, the customers’ cooperatives which have sprung up with remarkable speed in the border-lands, in East Galicia, in Wolhynia and elsewhere, have taken the last crust out of the mouth of the small trader.
“Tragic also,” says the Moment, “is the situation of Jewish labor. Especially hard is the lot of the clerical worker. The collapse of so many thousands of commercial and industrial establishments, the shrinkage of the business of the establishments that still survive, have thrown tens of thousands of such workers out of employment. Their number increases daily. Government and municipal departments are closed to them.
“Nor is the situation of the Jewish manual laborer any better. Due to the closing of many establishments which employed Jews, thousands of them are without means of livelihood and the labor organizations report that never was unemployment so extensive among their members as now.”