Harbin in Centre of Chinese-japanese War: a Large Jewish Community Frequently Threatened by White Ru
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Harbin in Centre of Chinese-japanese War: a Large Jewish Community Frequently Threatened by White Ru

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The situation in Harbin, following a report that Japanese troops are menacing this important town, which is the terminus of a branch line of the Trans-Siberian Railway from Vladivostock, is causing anxiety here, particularly as its occupation, in view of its important Russian interests may bring the Russian Government into the present Sino-Japanese conflict. The Japanese Government has rejected to-day an offer made by the League of Nations Council to investigate the dispute with a view to settling it peacefully.

Harbin is a large Jewish centre, and in recent years has been steadily growing in importance in point of Jewish population. The situation there has, however, been frequently one of considerable anxiety for the Jewish population on account of difficulties between the Chinese, Japanese and Soviet Governments, and the presence of large numbers of “White” Russians, who in Czarist times and during the civil war were active pogromists. About two years ago, during the Chinese-Soviet conflict, when the Soviet officials were evacuated from the city, the Soviet official news agency Tass circulated a number of reports to the effect that the Jewish Community in Harbin was in fear of pogroms, because of the attitude of the White Guards. Many Jewish families were said to be leaving Harbin because of the panicky situation.

The former White General Semenov, who held Siberia in 1921, carrying out numerous butcheries of Jews there, was said to be holding himself in readiness to start activities again with the outbreak of fighting. The notorious pogromist leader, Tashkoff, who had carried out numerous pogroms during the Denikin regime, was said to have assumed a command in the Chinese army to fight against the Soviets.

The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (Hias) in New York received a report that on account of the Chinese-Russian conflict hundreds of Jewish emigrants were stranded in Harbin in an extremely precarious situation. This report was soon after contradicted, however, by a later message from the Hias office in Harbin that there was no cause for anxiety for the moment.

The Bureya Jewish colonisation area in Siberia, is not very far from Harbin. The city of Chabarovsk, which is the chief town of the district, is less than 300 miles away, on the Amur River, and if Soviet Russia came into the conflict Bureya might be affected. During the Chinese-Soviet conflict of 1929, Chabarovsk be came a centre for Soviet troops proceeding to Manchuria, and there was a report going about in connection with the unsettled situation that an anti-Jewish disturbance had broken out in Bureya itself. Soviet troops passing through Bureya to the frontier and also local peasants were said to have been at tacking Jewish settlers, The Government Commission for Jewish Land Settlement (Comzet) issued a statement, however, declaring that nothing disturbing had occurred.

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