from anti-Semitism but also to attempt to uproot it, to make reparation for the damage its previous anti-Semitic policy had done and to convince the Jews she was sincere when she said her former anti-Semitic stand had been a regrettable mistake.
RUMANIA’S NEW POLICY
The situation in Rumania is somewhat similar to that in Hungary.
A decade ago, Rumania was strongly anti-Semitic; it is still partly so now. But the present government is attempting to tame anti-Semitism.
The Iron Guardists anti-Semites still remain today. That bitter enemy of the Jews, Professor Cuza, and his party have not yet fallen. But they do not get support from the government as they did when Vaida-Voevod was Minister of the Interior. Their activity has been practically forbidden since the murder of the Rumanian minister Dr. Duca, by anti-Semites.
During the past ten years the Jews have gone through more than one bad time in Rumania. The town of Borsa, which was burnt to the ground, has still to be rebuit. The tormenters of Bornstein, the Poale-Zionist, have yet to be put to trial. To this very day the Jews of Oradea Mars, Grosz-Wardein and Klausenberg remain in mortal terror of the local anti-Semites and even of the local government officials, while in Bessarabia the Jews are far from happy too at the present time.
But the Rumanian government today is evincing a genuine desire to tame the anti-Semitic elements and check their activities. It acts with severity and with all the means at its disposal.
Recently, after the murder of Premier Duca, it issued a series of regulations forbidding newspapers to print instigatory articles against Jews. It has suppressed the Nazi party organized by Germans resident in Rumania with funds sent from Germany. It has forbidden the spread of Nazi anti-Semitic literature in any language whatsoverer. It has gone so far as to ban Hitler’s book, “Mein Kampf.” In general, it has adopted measures to keep anti-Semitic feeling from growing.
For the first time in the past ten yearsâ€”with the exception perhaps, of a short period at the beginning of the Maniu regimeâ€”Rumanian Jewry this year had the opportunity of learning that if the government does not desire it, anti-Semitism will not rage quite so wildly through the land. For the first time in ten years, no disquieting anti-Jewish news is emanating from Rumania.
Undoubtedly this is the result of the attack upon Minister Duca. It must however, be emphasized also, that the present Rumanian government is sincere in adopting methods to paralyze the local anti-Semitic groups and parties, and that it is doing so systematically and on a large scale.
THE POLISH SITUATION
In Poland, too, the death of a minister, Col. Pieracki, this year resulted in the government’s declaring the local anti-Semitic organization, the NARA, as illegal.
The NARA was forbidden, but not so the strong anti-Semitic Endek party, which continues to carry on increasingly bitter anti-Jewish agitation daily, and is not hindered in the slightest by the government. Naturally, this leads to the belief that the Polish government banned the Naras not because of their anti-Jewish pogrom agitation nor because of the deplorable anti-Jewish riots which occurred this year in Warsaw and other Polish cities, but simply for purely Polish considerations.
The Jewish situation in Poland has not made the least improvement in the past decade. It went from bad to worse each year. If ten years ago, ten percent of the Jewish population went hungry, ninety per cent go hungry today. If ten years ago the prospects of improvement were slight they have now been reduced to practically nothing.
By a series of laws and decrees the Polish government has during the past ten years expelled all Jewish officials and employes of the railway, postal and other government institutions taken over from Austria in Galicia, where the Jews had complete equality.
By law and decree the Polish government has ruined Jewish trade and the Jewish artisan. By a series of rulings and ordinances the Polish government has reduced its three million Jewish citizens to beggary. It has removed all Jews from the monopoly industries. It has heaped upon the Jews the greatest proportion of its government taxes Nor has it yet ceased, it is continuing to lead the Jews of Poland to complete economic ruin.
Ten years of systematic anti-Jewish policy naturally has had its effect. This has found expression in the development of the condition that all Polish Jewry is imbued with a strong desire to emigrate. To Palestine. To Biro-Bidjan. To Cyprus. To Africa. Anywhere possible, rather than slow death by starvation in Poland.
The very latest step taken by the Polish government was to get rid of its international obligations which assure the Jews of Poland minority rights under the supervision of the League of Nations.
Economically reduced to the very depths, the three million Jews of Poland have now also lost their rights as a national minority. From now on they will be completely dependent upon the will of Poland, a quality which up to the present has manifested itself as bad rather than good.
THE LESSON OF RUSSIA
As a matter of fact, Poland, lying so close to Soviet Russia, might have learned a lesson from the U.S.S.R. in the matter of handling the Jews.
There are more Jews in Poland today than there are in Soviet Russia, but it cannot be said that the Polish government takes any cognizance of this fact.
The position of the Jews in Soviet Russia has considerably improved during the past ten years. Ten years ago the Jewish situation in Russia was the worst in the world. The Soviet government had forbidden private trade, which necessarily left the Jews with no ground under their feet.
The Jewish situation, most painful in Russia until five years ago, has changed radically since the first “five year plan” was proclaimed there. This first “piatiletka” resulted in all the Russian Jewish youth being drawn into the various industries as workers. It also created work for middle-aged Jews who were able to qualify as artisans. It set the Jewish population on its feet.
Jews who for various reasons were unable to enter factory work were, with the help of the Agrojoint and the Ort, established in agricultural work in the Jewish colonies of the Crimea, Ukrainia and White Russia. The economic difficulties which faced the Jewish population after the Soviet government forbade private trading have now practically disappeared, since every Jew in Soviet Russia can now secure work in Soviet industry or in the Jewish colonies.
With respect to protection against anti-Semitism, the Jews of Soviet Russia are in a better position than any other part of the Jewish people anywhere on earth. In Soviet Russia anti-Semitism is an offense against the state and as such is very sternly punishable.
None of the universities, government institutions, or other Soviet apparatus makes any distinction between Jews and non-Jew. Today one sees Jewish employes on the Soviet railroads, at the telegraph offices, at the post offices. Wherever Jews want to work, the doors are wide open to them as citizens with equal rights. In Soviet Russia Jews fill important government posts and many of them play an important role in the internal and foreign politics of the nation.
ZIONISM STILL BANNED
Zionism is still forbidden in Soviet Russian, but that is because political movements generally are banned there. Religion is permitted in Soviet Russia and today meets with almost no opposition.
In the past ten years, 1924 to 1934, the Jewish situation has improved in Russia to such an extent that in many respects it is superior to that of the Polish Jews. Thousands of Polish Jews now would like to go to Soviet Russia if they were but permitted to enter. Irrespective of everything else, they know that they would at least find work there. That is really one of the chief reasons why the Jewish youth of Poland is drawn to Soviet Russia, where it sees much better economic prospects than it does in Poland.
JEWRY IN THE BALKANS
The Baltic countries bordering on Russia have had a change for the worse during the past ten years.
The Baltic states, Lithuania and Latvia, signalized the beginning of their existence, by giving the Jews national cultural rights. In Lithuania, a separate ministry for Jewish affairs was created. In Latvia, the government supported the Jewish schools, a Yiddish theatre and everything else connected with Jewish cultural life.
Today, Lithuania is under a dictatorship, and Latvia has a bigoted, reactionary government. The Jewish newspapers are constantly being censored at Kaunas, and in Riga, the government has banned the Yiddish press altogether. Dozens of Jewish leaders