NEW YORK (Mar. 5)
The reported plans for the establishment of a large-scale work project for displaced Jews in the American zone of Germany were elaborated upon today by Dr. Joseph Schwartz, European director of the Joint Distribution Committee, who has just returned to this country.
At a U.J.A. press conference Dr. Schwartz stated that 32,000 Jewish men and women are expected to find employment in the projects. The program is being undertaken by the J.D.C. in cooperation with the Central Jewish Committee, the Jewish Agency, UNRRA and the U.S. Army. Final details of the program await approval by the Army, he said, adding that at present about 30,000 Jews are employed at service, repair and maintenance tasks in the camps.
In accordance with the wishes of the Jewish DP’s, the J.D.C. is appropriating funds for the purchase of tools, raw materials and machinery, and will help organize plants and factories to manufacture clothing and other goods. The DP’s employed in the projects will be paid in goods, rather than in German marks, according to a system of points based on the hours of work and productivity.
Dr. Schwartz emphasized that participation in work projects will be entirely on a voluntary basis. Those who stay away from work will not be penalized either by the J.D.C. or by the army authorities. The latter have stated that they regard the work projects solely as a means of sustaining the morale of the refugees. The Army has already indicated its willingness to see surplus manufactured goods exported and sold abroad, so as to increase the funds available for the project. The Jewish Agency has agreed to absorb in Palestine some of the manufactured goods for which there is a demand there.
If the Palestine immigration rate remains at the present 18,000 a year the birthrate in camps–about 1,000 per month–would make the quota barely sufficient to absorb the natural increase of the camp population, Dr. Schwartz declared. Other prospects for emigration are equally dim, he stated.
The influx of Jewish refugees from Poland has subsided somewhat, reaching a low of 1,000 during the month of January, he asserted. He attributed this to a relative stabilization of the situation in Poland, to a decrease in number and scope of anti-Jewish incidents there, and also to the fact that the prospective refugees know now that they are destined to spend many months and perhaps years in camps.