Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Ukraine Conditions Appalling, Jewish “ara” Worker Reports

April 19, 1923
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The appalling condition of the Jewish population in the southern part of the Ukraine was emphasized by Mr. Ben Sonnenberg, of Brooklyn, N. Y. a returned American Relief Administration worker, who has just arrived from Mikolaiev, in a statement which he made to Capt. Paxton Hibben, Vice Director of the Nansen Relief Mission here.

According to Mr. Sonnenberg, who had made a survey of the whole district affected, for the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the country around Elizabetgrad, Kherson, Alexandrovsk and Nikolaiev is like a graveyard. Even those who receive money are unable to buy what they need with the dollars they got from America, as there is nothing to buy.

“What the people there require is food and clothing sent to them from outside Russia. They cannot eat dollars or wear dollars.

“There are many people who know what conditions are in the Jewish portions of the Ukraine, and who know that unless relief packages and relief drafts are continued the toll of death this winter will be incredible there. It is amazing to find the Jewish people here in the United States believing that food may be had in Russia plentifully and cheaply, at least so far as the Ukraine and the other sections where the Jews live are concerned. Most of those who return to America and report that food is plentiful in Russia have never been out of Moscow, and judge by what they see there. They do no realize the immense distances in Russia, nor the difficulties of transportation due to the destruction of the railways during the war and the civil war. There may be plenty of food in Moscow, and none at all in the Ukraine, as is the case today, just as a year and a half ago the farmers were burning grain in the middle west, but the price of bread was just the same in New York”.

Mr. Sonnenberg declared that the action of Dr. Nansen in taking up the food and clothing draft business and relief package shipment formerly done by the A. R. A. would be the salvation of thousands of Jews, if the Jews in America would respond and send needed relief.

Recommended from JTA