Geneva (Sep. 3)
The Jewish problem in Poland is not merely a problem of the Jews but an internal problem of Poland itself which can only be solved in Poland and through the co-operation of the Polish Government, Mr. Morris Waldman, the General Secretary of the American Jewish Committee, who has just arrived here after spending some time in Poland examining the Jewish situation there (he has reported his impressions to the Polish Foreign Minister, M. Zaleski, who is now attending the meeting of the League of Nations here, and who – as stated in yesterday’s J.T.A. Bulletin – has assured him that the Polish Government is eager to do everything it can to promote the prosperity of its Jewish citizens and expressed his confidence that their situation will improve in due course), said to the J.T.A. representative here to-day.
Poland has a very important stake, Mr. Waldman declared, in the satisfaction of the needs of her 10 per cent. Jewish population. On the other hand, he recognised that one could not hope for a substantial improvement of the situation of the Jews until a general improvement in the economic situation of Poland as a whole comes about.
He believes, Mr. Waldman said, that the present Government desires to deal justly with its Jewish citizens, that it has effectually combated every antisemitic agitation and manifestation. The tragedy of the Jewish situation, he went on, is largely due to a cruel history which for many centuries circumscribed the occupations of the Jews to commerce and small-trading, supported by primitive forms of production. The World War has contracted the economic circumference greatly. Huge markets have been lost, upon which many thousands of Jewish merchants and manufacturers had depended. There has been a drastic change in both the forms and control of industry which has eliminated many small traders. All of this, following the destruction of the war and the losses during the inflation periods has reduced the great middle-class of Jews to abject poverty. One should not, however, become pessimistic. Poland has many natural resources, the exploitation of which can become a source of prosperity and happiness to all her citizens. The shutting off of opportunities for emigration has naturally aggravated the problem of population, which until Poland will have fully realised her economic potentiality, must be regarded as a problem of over-population.
Mr. Waldman gave it as his opinion that the Polish State should strive to develop her industry to the utmost. The participation of the Jewish people of Poland in the industrial development of the country will produce good results not only for them, but for all the other elements of the population. As the Jews will find new sources of livelihood the country as a whole will be enriched in consequence. But in the meantime, he said, the Government should strive to relieve the abnormal pressure under which the Jewish population suffers in a greaten degree than the other elements. The finding of immediate opportunities for the impoverished Jewish masses will fortify the confidence and sympathy of World Jewry in the Polish Government. He expressed the hope that the Committee to study the economic life of Jews in Poland, established by the Institute of Minorities in Warsaw, and in which both Jewish and non-Jewish economists are taking part, will work out a plan and programme for the immediate amelioration of the condition of the Jews, and when this is submitted to the Government, ways and means will be promptly adopted to this end.