New York (Oct. 25)
East European Jewry faces an economic catastrophe which is bound to entangle world Jewry, Dr. Bernhard Kahn, the Eurpean Director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, declared to a representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency when he arrived here to-day from Europe, explaining that he has come to the United States for the specific purpose of “informing American Jewish leaders of the great economic catastrophe which threatens East European Jewry”.
The Jews of Europe do not expect to receive from American Jewry the same amount which they received in years past, Dr. Kahn said. But they ask that American Jewry shall not forget them entirely.
The contributions of the Joint Distribution Committee for East European aid have materially declined in recent years, Dr. Kahn pointed out. But conditions are so bad in Europe that European Jewry would be content to be assured of even this smaller amount. During 1923-27 the Joint spent a sum ranging from three to four million, dollars a year in assisting East European Jews. In the last year, the Joint contributed only just over 500,000 dollars, of which 300,000 dollars were spent in Poland. Adding this to the funds which were spent by the Joint Ica Foundation and the Agrojoint, the year’s contributions by American Jewry amounted to only 1,600,000 dollars, Dr. Kahn said. Although the economic situation of East European Jewry is far more critical now than during the years 1926-27, Dr. Kahn went on, the Jews in Europe would be satisfied if American assistance would continue at the present rate. Jews in the East European countries, he said, have learned to help themselves. They are doing their utmost to keep their institutions going, but they are not in a position to do so without at least moderate assistance. If the contributions from America cease entirely, Jewish institutions which were built up in the last few years with the help and the money of the American Joint Distribution Committee are certain to collapse.
SITUATION MORE CRITICAL IN POLAND: BETTER IN RUSSIA: PALESTINE NOT AS MUCH AFFECTED BY WORLD CRISIS AS OTHER COUNTRIES BUT JEWISH UPBUILDING WORK SUFFERS BECAUSE OF JEWISH AGENCY’S FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES: KNOW ECONOMIC SITUATION IN AMERICA IS BAD DR, KAHN SAYS BUT AMERICAN JEWRY STILL IN POSITION TO PREVENT GREAT CATASTROPHE WHICH BOUND TO COME IF EMERGENCY MEASURES NOT ADOPTED IMMEDIATELY
Describing the Jewish situation in the various countries, Dr. Kahn declared that the most critical conditions exists in Poland where utter despair prevails. Not much better is the situation of the Jews in Bessarabia and Carpatho-Russai, where a great number of Jews face actual starvation.
The situation of the Jews in Russia is better, he went on. The majority of the Jews there have become industrialised. Although life is hard in Russia, the Jews share equality of opportunity. The young Jewish generation has turned to the factory and there are very few so-called “declassed” left.
Turning to the situation in Palestine, Dr. Kahn said that the world crisis had not affected Palestine as much as other countries. The Jewish upbuilding work in Palestine, however, suffers greatly, he said, because of the financial difficulty in which the Jewish Agency finds itself. The Agency is therefore not in a position to proceed with its work in Palestine as it has planned.
I have come to explain to American Jewish leaders the situation of the Jews in Europe, he concluded, I know the economic situation here is bad, but American Jewry is, I think, still in a position to prevent that great catastrophe which is bound to come if emergency measures are not adopted immediately.