Moscow (Feb. 19)
The President of the Soviet Union M. Kalinin, has given a long interview here to the representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on the question of the projected Jewish autonomous region or republic in Bureya, in Siberia.
The decision of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets is that a Jewish autonomous region is to be proclaimed in Bureya not later than the end of 1933, but it is not improbable, M. Kalinin said, that this decision will be carried into effect earlier.
It is not necessary to wait until the Jews constitute a majority of the population of Bureya in order to proclaim a Jewish republic there, M. Kalinin declared. The Tartars in the Crimea do not constitute a majority of the population of the Crimea. They are only about 22 per cent. of the total population. But that does not prevent the Crimea, however, from being a Tartar Republic. I cannot see why the Russians, Ukrainians, and the other nationalities in Bureya should not be able to live in a Jewish republic, just as well as Jews live in the Ukrainian, hite Russian and other non-Jewish Republics. In my opinion, therefore, it is enough to have 10,000 or 15,000 Jews in Bureya in order to proclaim it as a Jewish republic.
Is it necessary to establish such a Jewish region in Bureya? M. Kalinin asked. If it was necessary for peoples insignificant in numbers and in culture like the Chechenets and the the Wordvens who have practically lost their language, and who before the Revolution were on a very low cultural level, he answered his own question, why should it not be necessary for a great nation like the Jews, great in numbers and in culture? The establishment of a Jewish republic in Bureya, he said, will be of great national and political importance, not only to the 50,000 or 100,000 Jews who will settle there in the course of time, out to all of the almost three million Jews in the entire Soviet Union, and to some extent also to Jews in other countries.
THE ATTRACTION OF THE JEWISH NATIONAL IDEA TO JEWS
After an interval of centuries, he went on, Jews will again be a people with a State of their own. For the first time Jews will have their representatives in the Government, in the Central Executive Committee and in the other high Government bodies. Till now the Jews who are in the Government are there not as representatives of the Jewish population, but as representatives of the general population. When the Jews have their own republic their representative – and he may not even be a Jew – will be there to speak as the Jewish representative.
He did not doubt that the decision to establish a Jewish Republic in Bureya was attracting tens of thousands of Jewish migrants there, M. Kalinin said. Jews are, for that reason, going now to Bureya in preference to the Crimea or the Ukraine, where the climatic conditions are much better. The reports supplied by the Central Comzet showed that the number of Jewish transmigrants to Bureya last year was larger than the number of transmigrants in the whole of the preceding three years. The decision to create a Jewish republic in Bureya has roused their national feeling in the hearts of thousands of Jews, M. Kalinin said. To be an equal partner with a State of their own among the independent nationalities, and States in the Soviet Union is consciously or unconsciously, attracting a large number of Jews to Bureya.
Of the foreign Jews who are emigrating to Bureya, M. Kalinin said: The fact that we havehad five times as many applications from foreign Jews wanting to settle in Bureya as the Government intended to admit this year, is not due to the fact that the world crisis has hit hard the Jewish populations in the capitalist countries, nor that in certain countries they are suffering severely from Fascism and antisemitism, but it is also to be attributed to the attraction of the opportunity of helping to build a Jewish national republic.
Asked whether Bureya will be opened to the immigration of Jews from abroad, M. Kalinin said that no decision had yet been adopted by the Government on that question, but each time the Comzet asks for permission to admit a certain quota of Jewish immigrants from abroad, the Government gives its approval.
Asked whether declassed Jews, former shopkeepers, traders and Luftmenschen, who have lost their means of livelihood in their own countries, would be admitted to Bureya, M. Kalinin said that the Soviet Government must first look after its own interests, and its own interests require that those admitted should be primarily skilled workers, who are badly needed in Bureya. It was not out of the question, however that later on people who are of good health and physique and who have hitherto belonged to the non-working elements would also be admitted on condition that they break completely with their past.
The present settlement plan for Bureya provides for the settlement of 13,000 souls in Bureya, M. Kalinin said, not 19,000 as was at first arranged. Of these 13,000, 9,000 will be Soviet citizens, and 4,000 to 5,000 foreign Jews.
The State, he added, had assigned 27 million roubles for the work of economic upbuilding in Bureya this year, more than was allocated to any other region, and with such a sum, he said, something can be achieved.