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A Week’s Events in Review

The movement to settle foreign Jews in Biro-Bidjan came to the forefront again this week with the announcement that the ORT is undertaking to raise a loan of several million dollars for settling twenty-five thousand Jewish families in this Far Eastern Jewish autonomous Soviet district. The families to be settled are German-Jewish refugees and Jews from Poland.

Negotiations to raise a loan for Jewish settlement work in Biro-Bidjan on a large scale have been going on for some weeks. Various projects were considered, including one by which the administration of Biro-Bidjan itself was to issue bonds which foreign Jewish relief organizations were ready to place on the markets in America and in European countries. These bonds were to be guaranteed in gold by the Soviet government and were to be redeemed within a period of fifteen years. The natural resources of Biro-Bidjan were to serve as the basis for the loan.


Now this project seems to have been replaced by another which Dr. Lwowitch, the leader of the ORT, carried along with him this week when he proceeded to Moscow. The plan of Dr. Lwowitch is a very simple one. It provides for raising a loan abroad for Biro-Bidjan by the ORT, on condition that the Soviet government guarantees to repay the principal and the interest within a number of years.

There is reason to believe that the Soviet authorities in Moscow will agree to the proposal which Dr. Lwowitch will discuss with them. This proposal is modeled on the ten million dollar loan granted by Jewish leaders in America to the Soviet government several years ago for Jewish colonization work in Crimea, also to be repaid by the Soviet authorities in foreign currency on a gold basis. This loan is being repaid by Moscow in the best of faith.


Should the negotiations between Dr. Lwowitch and the Soviet authorities conclude successfully, the ORT will immediately undertake the work of sending Jews from Poland and German Jewish refugees from other European countries to Biro-Bidjan. It is estimated that the cost of settling a family will not exceed two hundred dollars. This will also include the fare for the emigrants to the Soviet frontier.

The Soviet government, besides granting land and dwellings free to the new Jewish settlers, is also ready to take care of them from the moment they reach the Soviet frontier. They will be provided with free transportation, with food, and with all they will need until the moment they reach Biro-Bidjan. In Biro-Bidjan they will have to settle in collectives and to adjust themselves to the Soviet principles of colonization and artisanship.


Meanwhile the Agro-Joint has not yet dismissed the question of settling Jews in Biro-Bidjan. Dr. Joseph Rosen, head of the Agro-Joint, who is now back in Moscow, is also considering certain plans for experimenting with settling Jewish families from Poland in Biro-Bidjan.

The need to consider Biro-Bidjan seriously as a place for settling not only Jews from Poland but also German-Jewish refugees became clear this week when German-Jewish refugees were arrested en masse in Germany upon their return to Berlin in the belief that the Nazi leaders are embarking upon a policy of modifying their anti-Jewish propaganda.


Encouraged by the reports abroad that the Nazis would agree to maintain a status quo with the Jews and not to discriminate any longer against them, in order to increase Germany’s exports abroad, many German-Jewish refugees decided to return to Germany. Tired of two years of suffering in exile, these refugees naively believed that nothing would happen to them upon their return to Germany now, so long as they had remained loyal to the Reich during the time of their being abroad.

After proving to the German consulates that they have not conducted any anti – German propaganda in the countries of their exile, scores of Jewish refugees re-entered Germany, ready to start their life again under the Nazi regime and to adjust themselves to the restrictions imposed upon the Jews in Naziland. Some of them who have their capital left in Germany were contemplating commercial activities which are so far still free to Jews. Others were figuring on artisan work, and were ready to face a hard winter at home rather than suffer privations in exile.


In their plans for starting life anew in Germany the returned immigrants—all of them German citizens—laid their hopes chiefly on the fight which Dr. Schacht, the economic dictator of Germany, is conducting to make Hitler see that the anti-Jewish legislation is responsible for the boycott of German goods abroad. Stimulated by letters from relatives who remained in Germany, these emigrants were under the impression that since Dr. Schacht is so anxious to restore friendly relations with the Jews, he would see to it that no Jewish citizens of Germany would be molested in the future.

The faith in Dr. Schacht did not, however, turn out to be justified. The first groups of German-Jewish refugees who returned to Germany were arrested this week and sent to a concentration camp. No charges were made against them except that during the two years of their absence from Germany “they lost their spiritual contact with the country.”


An ultimatum was put to the arrested Jewish refugees to the effect that they were either to leave the country immediately and go back to their countries of exile, or they would be kept in the concentration camps “until they acquire the spirit of the country.” Among those arrested are women and aged Jews who are treated just as any other prisoners held in the concentration camps.

Jewish leaders in Germany expect to make representations to the government in behalf of the arrested victims. It was the ambition of the German-Jewish leaders to make the German Jews abroad feel that they were still a part of the Jewish community in Germany. The Federation of Jewish Communities in Prussia was endeavoring to keep in cultural contact with all German Jewish refugees in Palestine and other countries, with the hope that these refugees would eventually return to Germany, their native land.


Whether the representations of the Jewish leaders will be successful is highly doubtful. Dr. Schacht or no Dr. Schacht, boycott or no boycott, the Nazi leaders do not wish to see German Jews returning to Germany. They want to have as many Jews as possible abroad. They do not want an increase in the Jewish population within Germany. Hence it is logical to believe that the efforts of the Jewish leaders in Germany will hardly bring any results.

While the German-Jewish refugees were being arrested in Germany upon their return there, Dr. Schacht again launched a campaign this week among the Nazi leaders to let the Jews in Germany alone. Addressing the Leipzig Fair he did not hesitate to say publicly that the anti-Jewish policy of the government is “a blunder.” He declared that the Nazis were perhaps right in ousting the Jews from German cultural life and from state employment, but that is as far as they could go. No further.


Dr. von Leers, the Nazi “expert” on the Jewish question, did not of course agree with Dr. Schacht’s argument. Addressing a meeting in Dusseldorf, Dr. Leers stated that the ousting of Jews from state employment is only the first accomplishment in the Nazi drive against the Jews. The war must be continued, he urged. Anti-Jewish propaganda must not be stopped.

The differences of opinion between Dr. Schacht and Dr. Leers are typical of the division of opinion now existing in Germany in the leading government circles. These German statesmen who were interested more in the economic development of Germany are outspokenly for leaving the Jews as they are, in their present position. The other group of Nazi statesmen, who are chiefly interested in carrying out the principles of the Nazi party, believe that the campaign against the Jews must continue and must not be allowed to subside.


The American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Nazi League of America and the American Federation of Labor, in messages this week to the American Chamber of Commerce in Berlin, made it clear that the boycott of German goods in the United States will continue until all citizens are restored to their full rights. These messages were in reply to an address delivered by Dr. Lippert, Nazi Commissar for. Berlin, in which he appealed to America not to let itself be misled by the “Jewish boycott.” It was this address by Dr. Lippert that was considered the first official indication that the Nazis intend to soften their anti-Jewish policy in Germany.

The plans of the American