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Secretary of Soviet President Kalenin Discusses Jewish Colonization Plan in South Russia

July 9, 1924
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“The economic situation of the Jews in the Pale of settlement has always been critical. Now, with the development of governmental industry and trade, and the restriction on private enterprise, the Jewish situation is growing worse daily,” declared Comrade Smidovitch, First Assistant Secretary to Kalinin, the President of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, in an interview with the representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today. The Russian statesman commented upon the Jewish question in connection with the plan to start Jewish colonization in southern Ukrainia and northern Crimea.

For the purpose of relieving the situation of the toiling masses, Smidovitch further stated, the Russian Government intends to settle 50,000 Jewish city dwellers on 100,000 desiation of government land in the neighborhood of the Jewish colonies of the Ukraine and Crimea. The land will be given to the settlers not as concessions, but for termless, free usage. The soil in northern Crimea is good for different kinds of agriculture, horticulture, gardening and tobacco raising.

The only obstacle in the way of realizing this scheme is the lack of means of the government. While the government is ready to grant transmigration and taxation privileges, and is even ready to pay the cost of parcelling the land and building artisian wells, it is unable to carry through the entire project. The Ort, and other Jewish organizations from abroad have offered to provide the funds necessary. The money thus supplied will be at the exclusive disposal of local legalized societies, which will include representatives of the foreign organizations. The same societies will also take part in the organization work.

A special government committee will be formed to take care of the enterprise, and a decree concerning it will be published in the nearest future by the Soviet Government. This govern mental committee will not interfere with the financial affairs of the plan.

As to the plan for establishing an autonomous Jewish republic on that territory, Comrade Smidovitch stated that when the Jews will have settled and will have expressed their desire for autonomy, the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic will grant it to them, as it has granted it to the other nationalities in the Union, according to their desire.

“At the present time, there is no such territory in existence, and consequently there cannot be such a question raised,” concluded Smidovitch.

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