VIENNA (Jun. 18)
The Soviet policy toward Russian Jewry and their culture came in for severe criticism at a top secret meeting of Jewish Communists from many lands assembled in Warsaw last April to mark the 15th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, according to a reliable report received here today.
The meeting, called April 20 by the Polish Jewish Communist leadership, involved Jews from the Communist parties of at least Poland, USSR, United States. Israel, Argentina, Rumania, Hungary, France, Britain and Austria. Some 30 persons were present, including Gen. M. Dragunsky and Eugene Dolmatovsky, both Jews and two of the three members of the Soviet delegation to the anniversary observance.
The topic under discussion was “general Jewish questions and the problem of Soviet Jews.” The problem of Soviet Jewry became the paramount issue after Dr. I. Nagler, a member of the central committee of the Austrian Communist Party, expressed his party’s criticism of the handling of Russian Jews. He was supported by American and British Communists, who took Soviet Communist chief Nikita Khrushchev to task for his attitude toward the Jewish question.
The Russian representatives attempted to mitigate some of the criticism. Gen. Dragunsky, a conscientious Jew who spoke with great heat and a keen awareness and real interest in the Jewish situation, asserted that the errors, inasmuch as they had already been committed, were a heritage of the past.
Mr. Dolmatovsky, an author and poet, concentrated on the question of the Yiddish language, arguing that there was no need to attack undue importance to the question of the lack of Yiddish publications. “Language,” he said, “is of no importance and all that counts is the content of the writing, which must be devoted to the cause of peace and disarmament.”
Mr. Dolmatovsky further insisted that the entire idea of nationality was of minor importance and that Soviet Jews were not “interested in what was a minor detail in their passports.” When they had concluded their speeches, the Russian delegates left the meeting.
ISRAELI COMMUNIST AVOIDS PARTICIPATION IN DISCUSSION OF ISSUE
The Israeli Communist Party representative avoided discussion of the entire matter and was taken to task for his attitude by the Polish Communists who accused their Israeli fellow party colleagues of “Isolationism among their own people.”
Among the Poles, two exponents of the Stalinist group within the party, Zacharias and Mersky, held out against critical comments in Communist publications regarding Soviet treatment of the Jews, asserting that such comment would serve the aims of the “imperialists.” They were also critical of their own government’s allowing Jews to emigrate to Israel.
M. Koenig, editor of the Paris Yiddish publication “Naie Presse,” also felt that revelations about the USSR and its Jews would serve the purposes of “international reactionary forces in their attack on the Soviet Union.” He admitted the existence of the problem, but asked that it be handled “with restraint.”
The Argentinian representatives refused to be drawn into the debate, holding the Polish Communists to be “revisionists.” Likewise, the delegates from Rumania, Hungary, Yugoslavia and several other countries refused to speak. This was generally attributed to fear. A complete report of the meeting was sent to the Soviet Communist Party and to most of the Communist parties of Western Europe.