Jewish Immigration to Bureya from Abroad: Merezhin States Position on Behalf of Government Settlemen

The move to bring Jewish immigrants from abroad into the Soviet Union to settle in the Jewish region of Bureya, in Siberia, was explained today by M. Merezhin, the Jewish Communist leader, and responsible Secretary and member of the Presidium of the Government Commission for Jewish Land Settlement (Comzet), in the course of an interview with the J.T.A., representative here.

The purpose of bringing over Jewish workers from other countries to settle in Bureya, he said, is to provide for the region the skilled and unskilled labour which it requires. We shall admit immigrants according to the existing need for workers, and our capacity to provide the immigrants with houses, cultural services and other needs.

Many applications for permits to immigrate into the Soviet Union, and especially to Bureya, have been received by the Comzet, he went on, and applications are continuing to come in from Jews in Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Roumania, France, Bulgaria, Argentine, America, and China. There is no need to conduct propaganda in order to obtain immigrants for Bureya. There are many Jews abroad who are willing to go and settle there. If there were enough room, we should have hundreds of thousands of applications. The question of a large-scale Jewish immigration has not, for the present, been under consideration by the Comzet, however, and it would be premature to speak of such a thing now. The question of a large-scale immigration, he said, is in his view not a Jewish question, but a general question to be dealt with by the Soviet State. If the Soviet Government opened its doors to large-scale immigration, he said, he was convinced that the neighbouring countries would not only send their poor working Jews to the Soviet Union, but even a great many of their non-Jewish unemployed.

Such questions are not of course, within the competence of the Comzet, he continued. So far as the immigration of Jewish workers to Bureya is concerned, the Comzet will, for the near future, be satisfied with those immigrants who have already come from the Argentine, and the 300 Jewish immigrants who have just arrived from Lithuania.

The great majority of the Lithuanian immigrants are skilled workers, M. Merezhin said. There are also a few unskilled workers among them, and some skilled workers who will be trained in other occupations, tailors and shoe makers who will be trained as building workers. They will be paid wages during the period of their training.

All the immigrants who have come from Lithuania adopted Soviet citizenship while they were still in Lithuania, M. Merezhin said. That was the condition imposed by the Lithuanian Government, which otherwise refused to let them leave the country. The intention was to prevent the emigrants returning to Lithuania.

According to the latest figures available here, there are nearly 4,000 Jewish souls in Bureya, most of them engaged in the State farms (Sovchoses), and various productive cooperatives, the rest working in the Kolchoses.

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