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Anti-jewish Pressures in Poland Hamper Development of Jewish Culture

The Jewish Communists in Poland who are struggling to build a “Yiddish culture” for the 40,000 Jews now living there are fighting a losing battle, Leon Feldberg, editor of the South African Jewish Times, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview today based on a three-week visit to Poland.

The South African editor said that such efforts were doomed to failure because of a variety of anti-Jewish pressures. The “majority” of Polish Jews, he stated, including both 30,000 repatriates from the Soviet Union and the remnant of pre-Hitler Polish Jewry, “live in their suitcases. They want to leave, mainly for Israel.”

Mr. Feldberg reported that these Jews see no opportunity to live as Jews, nor to make a living. The latter problem is based on the fact that many of them are middle-aged and it is difficult for any middle-aged person to compete with the younger elements of the Polish people and on the fact that it is harder for a Jew to get a job than for a non-Jew.

He said there was no question but that anti-Semitism was widespread in Poland, though the Gomulka regime has tried to fight it. Actual prosecutions of Poles for anti-Semitic actions were a rarity, he stated. He added that the entire Polish population lives in a state of uneasiness concerning relations with the Soviet Union, a condition which is responsible for widespread public drunkenness and which strengthens the need for a scapegoat with the Jew again providing the ancient target.

The South African editor said that the limitation during the past year by the Polish Government of immigration to Israel was due to Soviet pressures and did not reflect the feeling of the present leaders of the Polish regime, who would be indifferent to the total departure of all Jews from Poland.

The Jewish Communists, who constantly seek to persuade the Gomulka regime to cut Jewish emigration to a minimum, work strenuously on their programs, including a Yiddish Culture Organization, a Yiddish publishing house, a Yiddish theater and a number of Yiddish schools, with some 2,000 children attending. These activities are subsidized by the Polish Government, Mr. Feldberg said.

He explained that the Jewish Communists were fighting for this program not only to prove the Communist propaganda theme that only under Communism could anti-Semitism be abolished, but also because of the threat to their status if Polish Jewry disappeared, either by emigration or assimilation.

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