Jewish Refugees in Paris Form Grave Problem, Bernstein Says
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Jewish Refugees in Paris Form Grave Problem, Bernstein Says

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Returning yesterday morning on the Italian liner Rex, from a visit to France, Russia and Palestine, Abraham Herman, president of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society, and John L. Bernstein, former president, who have been studying the society’s work in Europe with special attention directed to the German-Jewish refugee situation, declared that 25,000 Jewish refugees in Paris constitute a most serious problem for HIAS and cooperating societies.

Mr. Bernstein emphasized that Palestine is the only permanent solution for the dilemma in which expatriated German Jews find themselves.”

“Palestine,” he said, “is the only place in the world that actually clamors for additional Jewish immigration. A feverish activity is seen in almost all lines of endeavor —building, planting, transportation and education.”


HIAS, he added, through its participation with Emigdirect and Ica, has been a pillar of light to stranded German Jews.

In Russia, the HIAS officials discussed with authorities the possibility of entry for certain classes of German and other Jews. They report that they were received with sympathetic interest and given indications of willingness to cooperate. In addition they have concluded an agreement with Torgsin to facilitate the aid which some Russians receive from American relatives.

Mr. Bernstein declared it was hard to recognize Russia, where he was born, due to the extraordinary changes wrought by Communism.


“But paradoxical as it may seem, there is little or no Communism in Russia,” Mr. Bernstein said. “There is Socialism, or perhaps, State Capitalism. There is private ownership of personal property and even of real estate sufficient for home and garden.

“People in Russia lead a very hard life. Practically all of them are working—there is very little unemployment in Russia—but their wages are inadequate to provide them with the necessities of life, not to mention the comforts. The young bear this hardship with fortitude. They have faith that things will be better, as the Soviet becomes a beacon light for the rest of the world. But the old are miserable.

“Especially pathetic is the condition of the elderly Jews and Jewesses. They were engaged mostly in businesses. They had no land. They know no trade. They are not physically capable of doing rough work and they find it hard to fit themselves into the new scheme of things.


“Many of them have children in America. They have apparently forgotten of their existence. Five dollars a month in the shape of an order on Torgsin would save these elderly folk from privation and give them a little sunshine in their declining days. We are sure that if the children or other relatives of these people would realize what good their few dollars would produce, they would come to the aid of these hapless beings.”

Of Palestine Mr. Bernstein was very enthusiastic. In all his travels he did not encounter a population that looked so happy, gay and contented as the Jewish population of Palestine. Everybody is working, there is no unemployment and because labor is strongly organized, wages provide a fairly comfortable living.

Much land is being acquired by the Jewish National Fund. Many farms established on land are being operated as communes. A great effort is being made to build a new life upon the idea of social justice, Mr. Bernstein reported, adding that Jews feel no uneasiness about their Arab neighbors. The Arabs know, he says, that everything of value to their economic life is the result of Jewish efforts to raise the general level of the country.

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