Polish Ministers Address National Council on Situation of Polish Jews in Russia

The charges that Jewish soldiers have been dismissed from the Polish Army in Russia prior to the departure of their units for the Middle East, and that some of them have even been ejected from Polish military transports at Russian frontier stations near the Iranian border were denied today by the Polish Minister of War, Gen. Marian Kukiel, in a statement made in the Polish National Council.

At the same time, Count Raczynski, Polish Foreign Minister, announced at the Council session that “long and difficult negotiations” are going on between the Polish and the Soviet governments in an effort to induce the latter to recognize the Polish citizenship of Jews who never requested Russian citizenship but who are considered Soviet citizens by the Russian authorities and are consequently prevented from leaving Russia.

The statements by the two members of the Polish Cabinet came in reply to an interpellation signed by Dr. Ignacy Schwarzbart and Samuel Zygelboim, the two Jewish members of the Council, as well as six Socialists, four members of the Paderewski Party, two members of the Peasant Party and three non-partisans. The interpellation read:

“1. The press has again reported that the government of the U.S.S.R. continues to consider Polish citizens of Jewish nationality or Jewish religion as well as Polish citizens of other national minorities now on Soviet soil, as Soviet citizens and is treating them accordingly.

“2. The press also reported that the Polish authorities in Russia have eliminated hundreds of Polish-Jewish officers and soldiers, as well as their wives and other members of the family, from the plan under which Polish troops are being evacuated from Russia to Iran. In some cases, Jewish soldiers have been removed from troop transports which already on their way to Iran. Such incidents are reported to have taken place at Guzar, Kermine, Dzalalabad.

“We, the undersigned, therefore, beg to ask, firstly, whether the Polish Government is aware of these facts and what is the real state of affairs, and secondly, whether the Minister for Foreign Affairs is willing to give a suitable explanation.”

In answering the first part of the interpellation, Count Raczynski declared that some Polish Jews in Russia have voluntarily assumed Soviet citizenship. As regards the other who are considered Soviet citizens by the Russian authorities despite the fact that they prefer to retain their polish citizenship, the Polish Government considers them Polish citizens in accordance with existing international laws, and is disputing the Soviet attitude.

Gen. Kukiel, answering the second part of the interpellation, stated that only 120 Jews were among 350 soldiers so far released from service in the Polish army in Russia. These were released either for military reasons or at their own request, he stated.

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