this single one class of the population, upon whom fell the whole burden of taxationâ€”the Jewish population.
“The Jewish population is weighed down with taxation,” the speaker exclaimed. “They have no one to whom they can turn and are at the mercy of the callous treatment of the dominating factors. The Jews must pay; there are no excuses for them.”
The Jews were now suffering terrible distress; they were completely impoverished. They had reached this pass not only because no one worried about them, because no one was concerned about the suffering of what was after all more than 10% of the population of the Polish Stateâ€”but because everything positive which was likely to harm them was devised and carried out. Whenever the Government felt called on to take action in connection with some large scheme of social reform, she always carried it out over dead bodiesâ€”over Jewish economic corpses.
It had become a dogma that the middle-man must be eliminated. And even if one admitted the justice of such a principle, there still remained the question of what was to be done with the people who were eliminated. For instance, the postal department had now gone into competition with the pedlars, eliminating them in their service between the villages and the towns. But what had happened to the middleman? Had they prepared for him a substitute means of livelihood? If they barred against him every means of subsistence, how was he going to maintain himself?
The speaker then dealt with the serious situation produced by the State monopolies, citing the example of the tobacco concessionaires of which 480 were Jews at the time of the rebirth of the Polish State, but of which there were now only 4. What had become of those who had been driven out? Here, too, no one was concerned. Jews were driven out of every means of livelihood by these monopolies. It had become a dogma that the Jew dare enjoy nothing of what it was in the power of the State to give.
On the other hand taxes were collected from Jews with unexampled ruthlessness. Executions were levied on Jews even on Yom Kippur, the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar. The executions were even levied in the streets in a barbarous fashion. Houses were entered at night and pockets were searched.
The latter part of Dr. Thon’s speech was devoted chiefly to illustrating the virtual exclusion of Jews from Government service, now the greatest avenue of employment in Poland. Even in the exclusively Jewish schools Jewish teachers were replaced by non-Jews. A case in point was that of the Jewish magistrates. There had been a general reduction of about ten percent in this service, but as many as sixty or seventy percent of the Jewish magistrates had been dismissed.
With regard to the situation in the universities and the schools. The intermediate schools were closed, and unless the impoverished parents stinted from their very food in order to pay the school fees, there was no chance of their children obtaining an education. Even then, they were not allowed to take up courses in any of the professions that promised a chance of a livelihood. They wandered away abroad in their thousands to study and when they returned home, after much suffering, the State did not grant the necessary authorization to practice their professions.
The speaker concluded with these words:
“I regard it as a simple duty, a humane duty, that the Government should as soon as possible give its closest attention to these questions, before it brings upon itself a complete collapse and an ultimate catastrophe. I have the feeling that such a catastrophe is very near. No effort should be spared to avert it.”