The famous “Pinsk swamps” are again coming to the fore. Adolph Nowatchinsky, the Polish anti-Semitic editor, has now come out with the suggestion that Poland assign the Pinsk swamp region for Jewish colonization, with a view to proclaiming it later a Jewish autonomous unit.
Poland, too, needs a Biro-Bidjan, Mr. Nowatchinsky believes. If the Jews succeeded in draining the swamps of Palestine, there is no reason why they could not succeed in draining the swamps of Pinsk and cultivating the land for normal settlement.
The funds for draining the Pinsk swamps are to be furnished by Jewish relief organizations of America and England, and not by the Polish government. Mr. Nowatchinsky suggests. He estimates that not less than 276,000,000 zlotysâ€”about $60,000,000â€”are necessary for converting the swamps into fertile territory.
THE “ONLY SOLUTION”
There is no other solution to the Jewish problem in Poland except having the Pinsk swamps drained for Jewish colonization there, Mr. Nowatchinsky thinks. He emphasizes that it would be in the interest of both the Jews and the Polish government if the Pinsk swamps were converted into a Jewish autonomous territory.
The Pinsk swamps are situated in Polesia, a section of Poland bordering directly on the Soviet frontier. The swamps compose a large proportion of this section, which constitutes a sixth of the entire Polish territory.
Three years ago, when the project of converting the Pinsk swamps into fertile land came up, the Polish Minister of Agriculture made it clear that if any draining of these swamps was to be done it would be conducted chiefly for the purpose of settling Polish peasants there, and not Jews. The Minister explained that the problem of getting land for Polish peasants is so acute that there can be no question of giving preference to Jewish colonization even in this territory.
Since that time nothing has changed as far as the position of the Polish peasantry is concerned. Nor has anything changed in Poland with regards to the application which prevailed at that time that Jews could not be trusted as settlers in a territory neighboring on the Soviet frontier.
The sudden suggestion now made by Nowatchinsky to convert the Pinsk swamps into a Jewish autonomous region need therefore not be taken seriously. The Polish government may be interested in having Jewish relief organizations finance the drainage of the swamps of Polesia, but it will not go so far as to enable a Jewish mass colonization there. Certainly the Polish government will never consider setting up an autonomous Jewish district.
The national minorities policy of the Polish government is not a policy of securing autonomous rights for minority groups. It would only be an illusion to think that a special Jewish district could ever be proclaimed anywhere in Poland, no matter how many Jewish millions were invested in converting the Polesia swamps or any other district of Poland into fertile territory.