Harbin, China (Sep. 20)
Would the Chinese Eastern Railway be sold? This question was constantly in the minds of all Jewish inhabitants of Manchukuo during the past year. A short while ago, after a year of dallying, the railway suddenly was taken over by the Japanese.
Sale of the railway directly involves the fate of 500 Jewish families of officials, employees and workers and indirectly the interests of all Jewish inhabitants of Manchukuo.
STATE WITHIN A STATE
A year ago we drew attention to the important role which the Russian partnership in the railway played in the economic life of the Manchukuo Jews. The Chinese-Eastern Railway is a state within a state. A number of institutions and branch institutions have grown around it, which provide a livelihood for many thousand families, among which a high percentage of Jews is to be found. In spite of the arbitrary action by the White-Guardist police, a number of cultural, medical and cooperative organizations have been supported by the treasury of the railway. Among the higher paid employes of the various departments and of the central management, many Jews are to be found; many more Jews work in the repair and construction shops of the railway. Jewish teachers are to be found in the primary, secondary and high schools of the educational department of the railway, which accepts children of all the Soviet citizens. Jewish doctors, pharmacists and other employes of the hospitals, apothecaries and the many other institutions belonging to the department of health of the railway are numerous.
NO BIAS IN PAST
The Soviet administration has always kept open all departments of the railway for all employes and has not discriminated between Jews and non-Jews. Each honest and able man, as long as he had learned the required trade and was in possession of a Soviet passport, could apply for a position in one of the many branches of the administration where his services were needed. Besides a good pay the employes enjoy many privileges. Among the several tens of thousand employees of the railway, there are about 500 Jews, together with their families and relatives, amount to a few thousand persons. An important number of the Jewish employes are permanent inhabitants of Harbin, and have never, or hardly ever, been in Soviet Russia.
SEE DARK FUTURE
Many of these employes see a dark future ahead. During the whole of last year their nerves were under a constant strain. Life in Soviet Russia is something unknown to them and they are afraid of the necessity of going to other Manchukuo or Chinese places There is also the question as to whether they will be able to stay where they are, owing to incessant provocations by the White-Guardists.
Besides the institutions belonging directly to the railway which provide the means of living for a few thousand Jews, there are in Manchukuo and especially in Harbin also many Soviet trade posts and kindred undertakings the fate of which is wholly or partly sealed with the sale of the railway. Many Jews are employed by these Soviet trading organizations as managers, buyers, agents, etc.
WORKERS SUPPORT SHOPS
By trading with them many of the Jewish middle class business men of Harbin and other parts of Manchukuo derive their income.
Besides the threatening unemployment and loss of income of the above enumerated categories of Jews, there must be taken into account the fact that the Jewish stores and shops in the central part of Harbin live to a great extent upon the railway employes and workers. The situation of insecurity has already paralyzed the Jewish and European commercial life. With the exception of a few rich owners of great industrial undertakings the European artisans will not be able to compete with the Chinese and Japanese.
The Jews of Manchukuo are facing a difficult future.