Warsaw (Jan. 6)
Thousands of Staatenlose, including large number of Jews, who have not been able to acquire Polish citizenship, are in danger of being thrown out of employment in many branches of Polish commerce and industry, it is reported to-day, the authorities having decided in order to combat unemployment, to refuse to grant any prolongations of certificates of residence to persons who are not Polish citizens. The decision, which may, in addition, result in their expulsion from the country, will affect for the most part Jews from the districts of Vilna, Bialystock, and Volhynia, where large sections of the Jewish population are Staatenlose, having lost their Russian citizenship without acquiring Polish citizenship.
It is expected that orders will be issued demanding the dismissal of Staatenlose from their employment and prohibiting employers from employing in future any but Polish citizens.
The Jewish press fears that thousands of Jews will lose all means of livelihood, if the order is actually issued, and urges immediate intervention with the authorities to prevent such a catastrophe.
At the same time, it is announced to-day that a number of prominent Government officials have started goodwill conferences with Jewish representatives, on the initiative of the Institute for investigating national minority problems. The officials, it is explained, are taking part in these conferences as private individuals and not as representatives of the Government. Deputy Gruenbaum has not been invited to the conferences, but ex-Deputy Joseph Schipper and ex-Senator Noah Davidsohn are taking part in them.
Contemplated action of a similar kind, the dismissal of all alien employees and workers and the engaging of citizens in their stead, was reported a week or two ago from Lithuania, where, too, the Jewish press fears that it will affect large numbers of Staatenlose, among whom there are many Jews. In view of the anxiety that has been aroused as to the meaning placed by the Government on the term “alien”, the “Yiddishe Stimme” of Kovno said; We have made enquiries in competent quarters and we are informed that the scheme affects all persons who are not in possession of Lithuanian citizenship, that is to say, not only people who are citizens of other countries, but also those permanent residents who are not citizens of any other country, and who, too, will find themselves dismissed from their employment and replaced by Lithuanian citizens.
This is an unexpected blow, the “Yiddishe Stimme” commented, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. All those unfortunate Staatenlose who have no other home but Lithuania, and who cannot go elsewhere will suddenly find themselves deprived of every means of earning their livelihood and reduced to starvation.
Such a measure, it added, is understandable and can be justified. Every State tries to protect the interests of its citizens. But what about these so-called Staatenlose who have no firm ground under their feet, although they are deeply rooted in the sell of the country. Their only crime is that they cannot produce sufficient formal evidence to prove that they are entitled to citizenship.
Preparations to set up a Polish-Jewish Goodwill Committee to promote good feeling and co-operation between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens were reported last July, the initiative being taken at the time by the Polish Consul-General in New York, Dr. Marchlewski, who was then on a visit in Poland. He had seen the heads of the Polish State, he said at the time, and had acquainted them with the wishes and the state of feeling existing among the American Jews of Polish origin with regard to the situation of their brethren in Poland.