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Between the Lines

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The French government has postponed action on the anti-alien bill which aims at the deportation of thousands of foreigners from France.

This postponement will spell relief for tens of thousands of Jews—Polish and German—who have made their home in France but who have not yet been able to obtain French citizenship.

Thousands of Jews came to France as emigrants immediately after the Soviet revolution. More adaptable than the Russian emigres, they made Paris their second native city. They developed new business enterprises and definitely decided to remain in France permanently on their Nansen passports. Many of them have children who were born in France.

These Jews of “No Man’s Land” who could not return to Russia because of their social past would be in a serious position if the anti-alien bill were adopted. Not only would they have to go into exile again, but they would actually have no place to turn since they are stateless and no country would admit them.

THE POLISH JEWS IN FRANCE

Not much different is the situation of many thousands of Polish Jews in France. These Jews, who migrated in substantial numbers from Poland to France since the close of the War, have built up new trades in France and have especially developed the clothing industry there. Though they are Polish citizens and would be re-admitted into Poland, a re-immigration to their native country would spell ruin for them.

Added to the Rusian and Polish Jews are the Jewish refugees from Germany who would find themselves in a precarious position if they were to be deported from France under the proposed anti-alien bill. Most of these refugees could not return to Germany because of the Hitler ordinance that every returning emigrant is to be arrested at the border and unless he proves that he has not engaged in anti-Nazi propaganda abroad is to be tried for treason.

It is estimated that there are in France today no less than 40,000 German Jews. The majority of them are people of means who would find their way into other countries, but a goodly number of them are people with no means at all, dependent upon relief. As a matter of fact, they are being maintained by the Jewish charitable organizations.

THE BIRTH OF THE “ALIEN BILL”

The anti-alien bill, though it is not aimed against Jews and though it would affect hundreds of thousands of non-Jews, would be calamitous for about 200,000 Jews if action on it had not been suspended.

Incentive for the bill arose from the strained relations now existing between France and Poland. There are tens of thousands of Polish workers now in France, employed chiefly in mines and in agriculture. As long as there was no friction between France and Poland, the French government tolerated the fact that thousands of Polish laborers are employed in French enterprises. Now, however, when French commercial interests in Poland are being hampered, numerous French parliamentarians see no reason why a bill should not be passed which would make it impossible for Polish citizens.

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