Polish Government Considering Jewish Land Settlement in Polysia?

The question of draining and colonising the swamps of Polysia has been under serious consideration by the Government for some time, the Yiddish daily “Moment” here states, adding that the Government has had in view not only the plan of Jewish settlement in this area, which has been mooted several times, but also another plan which previous Governments, too, have discussed, for settling there ex-soliders who fought for Polish liberation.

The plan was not proceeded with previously, the “Moment” says, because the Governments of the day saw no possibility of raising the large sums of money required for draining the swamps. The National Democratic Governments, notoriously antisemitic as they were, had in mind, of course, only the settlement of ex-soldiers, not of Jews.

Recently the plan has been revived in connection with the movement among the polish Jews in America to devise a means of saving Polish Jewry from economic ruin by settling them as agriculturists on the reclaimed land in Polysia, the Polish Ambassador in the United States, M. Filipowicz, sending a report to the Government on the subject in which he suggested that the American Jews would assist the movement by raising funds in America. Commissions on behalf of the interested Ministries, the Ministry of War, the Ministry of Public Works, the Ministry of Agriculture, etc. have been in Polysia recently studying the situation on the spot, the “Moment” says, and their reports are already in the hands of the Government. The Minister for Agrarian Reform, Professor Koslowski, is particularly interested in the question and has given special attention to the possibilities of Jewish colonisation in Polysia. Several prominent people in the Government Party are also interested in the matter, and an official statement from the Government may be expected shortly.

Apart from this story in the “Moment”, it is suggested in some quarters that the Government is considering using the reclaimed land in Polysia for establishing convict settlements there, as at one time in Siberia, because of the lack of prisons in Poland.

The Polish Ambassador in the United States, M. Filipowicz, stated in a conference which he had with the American Jewish Committee in December that an enquiry was being made into the question of utilising the waste lands of Polysia, and that the Government was favourably disposed to the settlement of Jews on these lands.

Deputy Rabbi Dr. Thon, the President of the Club of Jewish Deputies, commenting at the time on the various promises made by M. Filipowicz, referred also to what he had said about the Government’s intention to colonise Polysia. It interests us very much, he said, and we hope that it will be done. Although we are very sceptical, he added, we are pleased with M. Filipowiez’s declarations, because, being made as they are, in the name of his Government, they are binding.

The Jewish newspapers in Poland also write at considerable length about M. Filipowicz’s statement, and the Agudist organ, the “Togblatt”, for instance, wrote that the reclamation of the Polysian swamps affords little comfort to the Jews because if the Government is going to raiso the milliards of money necessary for the amelioration work it will mean a further burden of taxation.

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