Lord Marley, Under-Secretary of State for War in the late Labour Government and Chairman of the Ort Parliamentary Committee, who left England in August to inspect among other things the work of the Ort on behalf of the Jewish population of Russia, has given an interview to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency representative here, in the course of which he said:
“During the short time that Lady Marley and I have been hereâ€”for some time in May and now for the past two monthsâ€”we have learned a great deal which will enable us to speak of what is going on in the Soviet Union with more knowledge and understanding than before. As Chairman of the Ort Parliamentary Committee, I have interested myself in the activity of the Ort Federation, both in the towns and in the Jewish colonies, where the Ort is building up an artisan industry. I have come to the conclusion that the Ort Federation is doing an important work, which deserves to be supported both materially and politically by Jews and non-Jews abroad.”
Lord Marley spoke with satisfaction of the industrious work of the former declassed Jews in the enterprises established either with the help of the Ort Federation, or solely by its efforts.
Lord and Lady Marley visited twelve Jewish collective farms and several Communes in the Freidorf region, and near Charkoff. “The Jewish villages have impressed me very favorably,” Lord Marley said, “both in appearance, their agricultural development and their cultural position. I was told that there was a shortage of food last winter in some of the colonies. I must say that I saw no sign of that in the colonies. The young people especially look very sturdy and healthy. The Jewish girls in the villages are real peasant types. Lady Marley has been very well impressed by the cleanliness and good order in the houses of the Jewish peasants.
“My impression is,” Lord Marley said, “that when everybody is provided with a dwelling house and the collective farms obtain able administrators there will be no need for anyone to leave the villages to go back into the towns.
“The artisan enterprises which the Ort Federation has organized,” he went on, “are a great support to the collective farmers. Some of them work all the year round; others only in winter, when the collective farmers are freed from their field work.
Lord Marley also dealt with the question of Bira Bidjan. As far as it is possible to gather what is going on in Bira Bidjan from conversations with people who are competent to speak on this question and from printed material, he said, I think that Bira Bidjan is one of the greatest achievements of the Soviet authorities on behalf of the Jewish workers and the Jewish declassed who were pushed out of their former economic positions.
“The land, according to authorities on such questions, is fertile; the climate, though not easy, is healthy. I understand that the land is sparsely settled at present, so that there can be no objection on the part of the local population to the establishment of a Jewish Republic, as would be the case if the Soviet Government had selected any other area already fully settled. I think that Bira Bidjan is more suitable for Jewish settlement than Uganda, Brazil, or the Argentine, which various Jewish leaders have at different times suggested for Jewish autonomous republics.”