Paris (Dec. 24)
A big memorial meeting on the occasion of the centenary of Baron de Hirsch was held here last night under the auspices of the Federation of Jewish Societies. Baron Alfred de Guinzbourg was in the chair, and the Presidium included, Mr. I. Efroikin, Mr. Leo Motzkin, President of the Actions Committee of the Zionist World Organisation, Dr. Kreinin, one of the Directors of the Hicem, and M. Louis Oungre, Manager of the Ica.
Baron de Guinzboug paid tribute to the life and work of Baron de Hirsch, describing him as a great man with immense attachment to his people, whose life he had sought to rebuild on a sounder and more healthy basis. Baron de Hirsch has not died, he concluded, he lives in his work.
Advocate Henri Sliosberg, who was unable to be present owing to the recent death of his wife, sent a letter to the meeting in which he described the great achievements of Baron de Hirsch on behalf of Russian Jewry. The Jewish people has not had many philanthropists like Baron de Hirsch, he wrote.
Dr. Kreinin, speaking from first-hand knowledge, described the life of the Jews in the colonies founded by Baron de Hirsch in the Argentine, and the other South American countries.
We honour Baron de Hirsch’s memory, he said, but the Jews of the Argentine colonies love him. We are proud of him, but they look to him as their father. From this meeting, he concluded, we send our blessings and our greetings to Argentine Jewry, and we wish that they should increase and continue to prosper.
Professor Oualid, in a message to the meeting, wrote that Baron de Hirsch had modernised Jewish life and all Jews owe him something, because he had helped to improve Jewish life as a whole, elevating Jewish dignity and Jewish pride.
In order to understand properly Baron de Hirsch’s greatness, Mr. Motzkin said, they must first transport themselves into his period. According to the estimate of the late Oscar Straus, Baron de Hirsch had given more than a hundred million dollars for Jewish work. That is a collosal figure, he said, a legendary amount.
Zionists were not content with what Baron de Hirsch had done, he went on, but whatever they felt about his work, it was beyond question that he had conferred tremendous benefits on Jews. We no longer have Jewish philanthropists like Baron de Hirsch, he concluded. Baron de Hirsch was happy to have the opportunity of helping Jews, of improving their status, of changing their life for the better, and his memory will remain for ever enshrined in Jewish hearts.
Messages were received by the meeting from Dr. Bernhard Kahn, on behalf of the Joint Distribution Committee, from Mr. O. E. d’Avigdor Goldsmid, on behalf of the Jewish Board of Deputies, from the Zionist Executive in London, the British Section of the Jewish Agency and from the Ezra Society in Antwerp.
I believe these figures provide the best answer to the enemies of Israel when they argue that the Jew cannot be an agriculturist.
Indeed, the task was heavy. It was not done without mortification, but the results achieved by force of perseverance and energy are such that the Ica has been able to follow the some programme of colonisation in other countries. In Canda, Brazil, the United Sates, Palestine, everywhere, you find to-day Ica colonists living peaceably and honestly by working on the land.
ENORMOUS MASSES OF JEWS STILL REMAIN IN RUSSIA AND CANNOT BE ABANDONED THERE
In spite of all possible human efforts, M. Oungre continued, enormous masses of our co-religionists remain in Russia, continuing to suffer there. They cannot be abandoned there and, in spite of all the obstacles to the free development of philanthropic activity, it is essential to come to their aid in some possible measure. First of all, it was necessary to provide instruction for the children; then to train the youth for a career; then to support the traders and artisans in the exercise of their professions, and so the Ica created a considerable network of elementary and professional schools in which thousands of children were prepared for the battle for life. Another innovation for which the Ica claims credit is the initiation of a large mass of Jewish traders and workers to the advantages of mutual-help and co-operation. It created the co-operative loan banks and financed them at firs everywhere the voluntary workers were instructed by the Ica in the organisation and direction of these co-operative establishments which, on the eve of the European war, numbered 650 and shed the rays of their charitable work on the largest towns, as well as on the smallest village, supplying to our co-religionists the credits which were refused them everywhere else.
THE TERRIBLE SITUATION WHICH CONFRONTED THE ICA AT END OF WAR: EVERYTHING FAD TO BE RECONSTRUCTED AND EFFORTS OF PAST THIRTEEN YEARS IN THIS DIRECTION NOT BEEN IN VAIN
If the world war has been a catastrophe for the entire world, from which it still suffers at the present day, this is unfortunately even more particularly true of Judaism, M. Oungre said. You know all the sufferings that have been endured. So far as the Ica, in particular, is concerned, it found itself since the Armistice, faced by a lamentable picture – all its works destroyed, unspeakable misery among the Jewish populations of Russia, Poland, Roumania, Lithuania, Latvia, Czecho-Slcvakia, etc. An enormous task fell upon it, as heavy and difficult as it was urgent. Everything had to be reconstructed, new necessities faced, the inevitable emigration extended, oversea establishments ameliorated and intensified, and new steps taken to relieve and help those of our coreligionists who had to remain in Eastern Europe.
I believe I can say that the efforts pursued for thirteen years in this direction have not been in vain: in Poland, Soviet Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Czecho-Slovakia, Roumania, a vast network of Loan-banks have been reconstituted, thanks to the joint action of the Ica and its great American sister, the Joint Distribution Committee. At the same time the newly established regimes in the countries of Eastern Europe have permitted the creation of an agricultural work of vast scope. You know of the Jewish colonisation enterprise in Soviet Russia, of the colonisation work in Bessarabia, in Poland, in Bukovina, etc.
At the same time, emigration has been the object of special activity. The combined action of the Ica, the Hias, of New York, and the Emigdirekt in Eastern Europe, has produced the Hicem, which takes under its aegis all our brothers going out to create a new existence in those other countries where they are given a better welcome. In the field of elementary and vocational instruction, all our pre-war programme has been reset and realised. Finally, in the countries of immigration the largest amount of support for the consolidation and development of the new Jewish settlements has come from the Ica.
IF TO-DAY JEWRY – AMERICAN ARGENTINIAN BRAZILIAN CANADIAN – HAS TAKEN DEVELOPMENT YOU KNOW IT IS NOT RASH TO SAY BARON DE HIRSCH PLAYED IMPORTANT PART IN BRINGING IT ABOUT: FROM WARSAW TO RIO DE JANEINO JEWISH YOUTH SMALL-TRADERS AND ARTI SANS JEWISH LAND WORKERS IN RUSSIAN STEPPES ARGENTINE BAMPAS AND CANADIAN PRAIRIES AND JEWISH IMMIGRANTS GOING OUT TO NEW COUNTRIES ALL LOOK TO BARON DE HIRSCH AS THEIR FATHER
And if to-day, Jewry – American, Argentinian, Brazilian, Canadian – has taken the development that you know, M. Oungre said, and in all these countries our coreligionists play a considerable part in commerce, finance, polities, letters, the arts, etc., it is not rash, I think, to say that the Ica, which is to say Baron de Hirsch, has played an important part in bringing about this great achievement.
When death took from Baron de Hirsch his only son, M. Oungre concluded, he said: “I have lost my son, but I have not lost my heir”. To-day his heirs are all over the world. In the two hemispheres, the Jewish youth in the Ica vocational schools. in Warsaw or in Rio de Janeiro, the Jewish peasants working the land in the Steppes of Russia, in the plains of Bessarabia, in the Canadian prairies, in the Brazilian forests, in the Argentine pampas, the Jewish small-traders and artisans who in numerous countries form queues at the doors of our loan banks, and the Jewish emigrants who are on the road to a new existence in the new countries, all look to Baron de Hirsch as their father, who had regard for their misery and with paternal solicitude sought to improve their lot. They all bless his memory, and all we others should join with them in vowing to his memory eternal recognition for all that he has done for them. Men like Baron de Hirsch are an honour to Judaism, to all humanity – they embody the specifically Jewish ideal of justice, good-doing and brotherhood.