Kaunas (Oct. 8)
In connection with recent aggravation of relations between Jews and Lithuanians, the Kaunas newspaper, Dos Folk, sent out a questionnaire in which it asked a number of leading Lithuanians for their opinions on Jewish-Lithuanian relations.
The former premier and leader of the Ludininks, M. Sleshevitshius made, among others, the following statement:
“For me and my associates, anti-Semitic hatred of Jews is an absolutely alien and inadmissable feeling. Not only in regard to purely humane feelings, the modern and terrible epidemic which is called anti-Semitism, the frightful and infectious bacili of which lately have been spread to us by neighboring countries must be alien to us. In it is danger of the destruction and downfall not only for the Jews, but it even threatens other nations in Eastern and Northern Europe. In my innermost conviction, the danger emanating from Nazi Germany is much greater for Lithuania and the Lithuanians than for the Jews.
“A part of our youth has also been infected with these bacilli, a youth which is not able to reflect logically about events and ideas. We therefore are obliged, with mutual powers to take all possible steps in order to halt the further spreading of this dangerous epidemic. Jews are able to support Lithuania strongly in the field of international politics. These politics comprise mainly two problems, i.e. Wilno and Klapeida (Memel). In this respect, there is certainly a broad field for mutual co-operation. Lithuania has been an Eretz Israel for Jews and we hope that in the future it will also be one of the most pro-Semitic powers.”
LECTURES JEWS ON MORALS
The Assistant-Procurator of the Supreme Court, M. Kavalis, found it necessary to give the Jews a lecture on morals. Firstly: Jews still today speak only Russian. It is true that Jews in recent years have made progress in knowledge of the Lithuanian language, but it has not become as familiar to them as, for instance, Polish with the Polish Jew and Latvian with Latvian Jews. Jews are widely represented in the Lithuanian Communist party and show a high percentage there, he complained. This gives material for argument against Jews. M. Kavalis also protested that the Jews very seldom give up their criminal elements to the authorities, especially to the courts. He also voiced the opinion that the frequent bankruptcies of Jewish merchants do not make a good impression, as they harm the credit of Lithuania in other countries.
He added that the Jews must understand the movement of Lithuanian youth from the villages into the cities. It is a fact that, as the Jews are an urban population they busy themselves mostly with business and industry. Before the war, Lithuanians did not enter the economic field. Now, since state offices are overcrowded, Lithuanian intellectuals are seeking an outlet in the economic field.
ADVOCATES “LOUD PATRIOTISM”
M. Kavalis also stated that certain friction between the different national groups in Lithuania can not be avoided but said it must be expressed only in civilized forms and must lead to constructive results. He declared that Jews as well as Lithuanians have many common enemies, which makes it necessary for them to approach each other and to undertake mutual discussion. This can be done, he claimed, by co-operation, and in societies which aim at common interest for the state. A Jewish periodical printed n Lithuanan so that the Lithuanians would be able to hear the Jew’s voice would be of great advantage, he said.
The former Minister for Education and leader of the Christian Democrats, Dr. Bistros, declared:
“In these grave historical times we must not permit people to be oppressed for the simple reason that they belong to a different nation.”
Loud patriotism is a “best seller” at the present time, he said. It is easier to accuse foreigners than to admit one’s own faults and shortcomings. Lithuanian Jewish citizens have just the same right to be employed and to find a livelihood as other Lithuanian citizens, he declared.
Regarding political dangers which threaten Lithuania, he said there is a possibility that the Jews may be hit just as hard as others. The Jews, he pointed out, can do much in connection with Lithuania’s principal problems in the international forum, since Jewish influence is proportionately greater than the number of Jews.
COMPLAINS JEWS ISOLATE SELVES
The President of the Lithuanian Journalists Association and leading Lithuanian editor, Dr. Puritskis, expressed the opinion that the Jews isolate themselves too much and do not display enough energy in seeking a closer contact with Lithuanian society. To underline his words he gave a number of examples. Jewish journalists, he said, do not participate in meetings called by the Lithuanian Journalists Association.
When a short while ago, a Lithuanian journalist made an anti-Semitic speech at one of these meetings, no Jewish journalist was present to reply to the speech.
Only five Jews have entered the Society for Economic Studies as members, but only one attends the meetings, Dr. Puritskis said. Often important Jewish problems are debated at the Society sessions and Jews certainly would have the possibility of giving vent to their opinions on important questions in economic life, he said.