J.T.A. Staff Correspondent
The Soviet government has decided to permit foreign workers to settle in Biro-Bidjan only after being satisfied that preliminary stages in the progress of the autonomous Jewish region have been sufficiently advanced, Prof. Joseph Liberberg, chairman of the regional executive committee, declared here in a special interview.
He also disclosed that the question of participation in the work by foreign Jewish organizations is now under consideration by the authorities, and describes the procedure to be followed in the work of settlement in the next year or two.
PREVIOUS EFFORTS VAIN
“The question of admitting Jewish workers from abroad to Biro-Bidjan,” he declared, “has been for a long time under consideration by the Soviet bodies, because the urge of Jewish workers abroad to Biro-Bidjan has been extensive during the whole of this time. The Jewish workers abroad consider it as a matter of course that the Jewish autonomous region should have room for every worker who wishes to help build the future Jewish Soviet Republic. Several attempts have been made previously, but were to a certain extent unsuccessful because the region had not yet been prepared. There could have been no question of a mass immigration simply because we are not prepared for it.
“It is only now that the building of the autonomous region as a constituent of the great building of the Far East has assumed a wide State scale when the immigration is being carried out according to previously strictly regulated plans and is being properly prepared that we feel ready to admit and settle that number of foreign Jewish immigrants which has been decided upon for the immigration period 1935-1936. That is the chief reason why the question has now been settled in the positive sense.”
CONSIDER OUTSIDE AID
On the question of the participation of foreign organizations in the work of settling Jewish immigrants from abroad in Biro-Bidjan, he said:
“The question of the participation of foreign Jewish organizations is now being considered in the appropriate government bodies. But the question of settling foreign working Jews in Biro-Bidjan has been settled and will be carried into effect, independent of whether the foreign Jewish organization will take part in the work or not. Immigrants will be admitted at first mainly from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and other adjoining countries. With regard to other countries, immigration will probably be allowed from there too, only some time later. Individual exceptions will no doubt be made even now.”
REASON FOR LIMITS
Prof. Liberberg gave no explanation for the decision to admit for the present immigrants from the neighboring countries and to hold back for the time being from a mass movement from the more distant European countries and from overseas countries. It appears that this decision is based, however, on the fact that the position of the working class Jews in many adjoining countries is much worse than that of the Jews in other European countries and in America.
Another reason would seem to be the fact that the Jews in the adjoining countries are more or less accustomed to the same conditions of life as in the Soviet Union, and they will therefore be able to adapt themselves more easily to the difficulties which are unavoidable in mastering a new and sparsely populated area.
“The selection of immigrants from these countries will be carried out by the Jewish Colonization Society Ozet,” he declared. “The selection will be very careful and strict, so that there should be no danger of any re-emigration by unsuitable elements. The immigration movement will probably begin only at the end of this year, and the first months will be given up to preparatory work.”