New Polish Foreign Minister Pledges Equality to Jews, Ban on Deprival of Passports

Count August Zaleski, new Foreign Minister of the Polish Government in exile, assured this correspondent today that among the first actions he intended taking was to order Polish legations and consulates to cease depriving Polish Jews abroad of their passports. He added that he would take definite steps to see that passports were returned to those Jews from whom they had been taken.

Count Zaleski ridiculed the idea that restrictions should be imposed on Polish Jews wishing to join the Polish Legion in France and expressed satisfaction that he was able, through an interview with the J.T.A., to acknowledge ” the heroism which the Jews in Poland have displayed in defending the country.”

Although exhausted by the trip from Poland and occupied in urgent work in organizing the new Government, the Foreign Minister spent half an hour sitting with this correspondent in his chamber outlining the attitude of the new Cabinet towards the Jewish problem.

“My views about the Jews are well known, “he said. “They must be known by those who remember my attitude towards Jewry at the time when I was Polish Foreign Minister (from 1926 to 1932). If there are some who do not know my views, I can repeat them. There is no Jew and no Pole for me but there are only equal Polish citizens. Everybody, no matter what his religion, is good if he serves Poland loyally. In this war the Jews in Poland have suffered as much as the Poles. They also fought just as heroically as the Poles,”

Asked whether the order for return of passports would apply to the thousands of Polish Jews in France and other countries who were rendered stateless a year ago when Polish consulates refused to renew passports of Polish Jews abroad, the Foreign Minister replied: “The inquiry which I shall order will aim to rectify all the injustices committed We have not had the time as yet to work out the details….and I so far lack the experienced staff, as few of our men have reached Paris.”

There is no question of refusing to permit Jews to join the Polish Legion, Count Zaleski said. The Army in Poland never knew any of the anti-Jewish sentiments which some in Poland were trying to fan, he declared, adding that there would be no distinction between Jew and Pole under the new Cabinet.

Discussing the organization of the Government in general, he said its seat would be in France, but not in Paris. “We do not know as yet in which French city our Government will have its offices,” he said, “but just as the Belgian Government was seated in Le Havre during the last war, when Belgium met the same fate as Poland presently, we too will be assigned by the French Government to a special city.”

The Minister concluded his statement by disclosing that the Cabinet expects soon to send a delegation to the United States and Canada.

NEXT STORY