Jewish Cooperatives in Poland Develop Large-scale Activities; Aided by Government

The “Jewish Cooperative Union,” which serves 202 Jewish cooperatives throughout Poland, did an annual “business last year of close to one billion and a quarter zlotys, and netted more than 100,000,000 zlotys, it was announced here today by Dr. M. Parnas director of the Union. He added that in 1948 the group expects a turnover of more than three billion zlotys.

Organized in 1946 with a 50,000-zloty loan from the Central Jewish Committee, the Union has credit totaling 336,000,000 zlotys in government, J.D.C. and Central Committee bank accounts. Workers in the Union’s cooperatives include tailors, shoe makers, leather and building trades workers, locksmiths, weavers, textile, electrical and mechanical workers.

In addition to the assistance rendered it by the Joint Distribution Committee and the Central Jewish Committee, the Union receives full support from the government, which in 1947 supplied it with raw material from government factories valued at over 500,000,000 zlotys. The government also supplied numerous factories and buildings in Lower Silesia. These included flour milling machines in Wroclaw, a weaving factory in Walbrzych, a sawmill in Szczegom and a scap factory in Stettin.

SUPERIOR QUALITY OF JEWISH PRODUCTS ATTRACTS NON-JEWISH BUYERS

The Union operates 21 retain outlets in Warsaw, Lodz, Wroclaw, Katowice, Stettin and Cracow. Principal customers of the Union’s products are Christians, “who buy from the Jews because of the superior quality, appearance and low price of the merchandise,” Dr. Parnas said.

Raw materials are also imported from many parts of the world. Last year, for example, the Union Imported 75,000.000 zlotys worth of wool from Australia, 6,000 sheepskins from South Africa, and $15,000 and $6,000 worth of leather from Belgium and Palestine, respectively. The materials imported from abroad were brought in through the J.D.C. To a limited degree, the Union exported some of its products, including $50,000 worth of pig’s hair to the United States, handkerchiefs to Belgium and France, and orange crates to Palestine.

Thanks to low manufacturing costs in Poland, a plan to import woolens from Palestine to be manufactured into clothing in Poland and then exported to Scandinavia has been worked out. The Ministry of Industry, taking into account the special problems of the Jewish cooperatives, recently decided not to include the Jewish cooperatives in its reorganization program, thus permitting them to maintain their present autonomous character.

Due to the manpower shortage, the employees of the Jewish cooperatives now include 20 percent non-Jews. Most of the cooperatives are located in Lower Silesia, Warsaw, Lodz, Katowice and Stettin.

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