Gruenbaum and Reich State Their Positions By Our Warsaw Correspondent
Deputy Gruenbaum repeats his offer to withdraw from his position as President of the Club of Jewish Deputies if his presence is a hindrance to the Government in its desire to give effect to the postulates of the Jewish population, in replying to an article by the editor of the “Najer Hajnt,” A. Goldberg, who questioned the wisdom of the offer when it was first made in the Polish-Jewish daily “Nasz Przeglad”. Supposing another Government comes along to-morrow, Mr. Goldberg wrote, and uses Deputy Gruenbaum’s withdrawal as a precedent to force the Jews to remove their representative, and replace him with someone more agreeable to the Government.
“I agree that if the Government has done anything for the Jews,” Deputy Gruenbaum writes, “even if it is effected over the heads of the Jewish representatives, it is due to the consistent fight which we have been carrying on. Nothing has been given us out of kindness. Nevertheless, I offered to withdraw and I stand by my offer. I do so because there has lately been much confusion of thought in our ranks, even in our inner councils, which places me in a false position and obstructs my work. This state of affairs is being exploited very cleverly by those political groups, Jewish and non-Jewish, who would like to have a split in the Club of Jewish Deputies and in the political activity of the Zionist Organization. There is an effort made to convey the impression that the fault lies not with the Jewish demands, but with the persons who are making the demands, and with the manner in which they demand. It is suggested that other people, with a more temperate policy and more patience, would find the Government ready to negotiate with them and make concessions. It would not matter if the Jews refused to believe these assurances.
“But unfortunately they are repeated by the Galician Zionist leaders. There are in our inmost ranks some of our own people who listen to them with sympathy, and this is making my position intolerable. And there is one other point: everything that is done among us in the political field is interpreted in terms of personalities, not as a fight for the welfare of the Jewish population, but as a struggle for personal ambitions. This being so, I want to show Jewish public opinion that my person will never be an obstacle to any improvement being effected in their condition. I do not want to leave the slightest doubt on this point. My leadership in Jewish political activity is to me a means of bringing about the satisfying of Jewish needs, and if it is necessary, my leadership must be sacrificed for the sake of our object. But I must be convinced before I go that the result will be achieved in this way. I have a right to ask for such an assurance, in fact, it is my duty to claim it, so that I do not withdraw from my post in vain. But there must be an end to the kind of talk in which the Minister of the Interior, General Skladkowski, indulged recently. He said that the Government would give effect to the demands of the Jewish population over the heads of their political representatives. It is that I have in mind when I say that I am ready to relinquish my post,” Deputy Gruenbaum declares.
In an article dealing with the present Jewish political position in Poland, Dr. Leon Reich, leader of the East Galizian Zionists, explains his stand.
“We watched with admiration the heroic fight put up by the Jewish national Parliamentary representatives against our enemies in the first (Constituent) Sejm,” Deputy Dr. Leon Reich writes. “We were thankful for their brave stand against the systematic persecution of the Jews, beginning with the internment of Jewish volunteers in Yablona, and ending with the plucking of Jewish beards. But we were pained by the friction among the Jewish Deputies, and we were still more pained by the misunderstandings among the Zionists themselves, particularly between the representative of the Zionists of Congress Poland, Deputy Gruenbaum, and the Jewish representative from Western Galicia, Deputy Dr. Thon.
“Although we were pained because of this friction, our dissatisfaction was outweighed by our appreciation of the work of these champions who were waging an incessant fight in defense of Jewish property and life and the rights and honor of the Jewish population. We longed for the time to come when we in Eastern Galicia should be able to reinforce them. We hoped that the representatives from Eastern Galicia, long accustomed to Parliamentary work, would be able to heal the difference between the Jewish representatives from Warsaw and Cracow, which seemed to us to be due principally to the sudden change from the Czarist yoke to a constitutional Parliamentary regime.
“The East Galician Deputies and Senators elected to the second Sejm therefore entered joyfully the Club of Jewish Deputies. At first the work went well, so long as Deputy Gruenbaum was at the head of the Club, and things were done as he wished. But from the moment that the Club of Jewish Deputies adopted decisions which were not in accordance with what he wanted, when it went its own road, he too went his own road. The dissensions in the Club which followed were blamed by his supporters on the East Galician Deputies. They even made it an accusation of ‘national treason’ when I, as President of the Club of Jewish Deputies, opened the negotiations for an understanding with the Government. The agitation against the Galicians was intensified when Dr. Thon joined me in the negotiations. We refused to be moved from our path and continued our work to the end. When the agreement was concluded and feeling in the Club of Jewish Deputies was still running high, although I had a considerable majority in the Club, I decided to resign the presidency, in order to give a free hand to the opposition. The East Galician representatives did not obstruct the work of their colleagues of Congress Poland, and when, after the May rising, the leaders of the Club of Jewish Deputies went into ecstasies, the representatives from Eastern Galicia, in declaring their attitude as one of benevolent neutrality towards the Government of the May rising, stemmed their excessive enthusiasm, because knowing them, they foresaw that it was an easy thing for them to pass suddenly from ecstasy to the opposite extreme. And, indeed, the representatives of Eastern Galicia find themselves now compelled to protest against this opposite extreme which appears to us entirely unjustified.
“We have repeatedly emphasized that there is no logical reason for the opposition of the Club of Jewish Deputies to the present Government, not even now after the statement made by the Premier in the Sejm on the subject of the Bill regarding the right of purchasing land. This statement is to be deplored quite apart from the question as such. But to adopt an attitude of aggressive opposition is not a defensive method and it is the more undesirable because the policy of the Government has so far given no ground for it to be accused of trying to restrict the constitutional rights of the Jewish population.
“It is an opposition which has no policy. It is not even linked up with the opposition groups in the Sejm, and for that reason when these groups united for the defence of the Constitution and democracy, the Club of Jewish Deputies was passed over. That is to say, the Club belongs to no camp and is not taken into any account. When we from Eastern Galicia refuse to acquiesce in this condition of affairs, there is an outcry raised against us.
“The latest demonstration of the way in which the present leaders of the Club of Jewish Deputies fail to carry out their obligations is afforded by the incident in the Budget Commission between the President of the Club and the Minister of the Interior. The Jewish population cannot be satisfied with the activities of the Minister of the Interior, with his over-severe hygienic ordinances, and the ruin brought upon Jewish bakers by the introduction of machinery, and the like, but there is a gulf as wide as the poles between such dissatisfaction and comparing the Minister to Stolypin. The President of a Club of Deputies when he speaks in a commission must weigh every word.
“The present policy seems to be to set the various members of the Club one against the other, Deputy Thon against the East Galicians, the Congress Polish Deputies against both East and West Galicians and all only in order to maintain the present leadership. We expected something different from a united Jewish Parliamentary representation. But it will not hold us back from continuing our peaceful work within the Club, and seeking compromises which will make possible an agreement under which all can work in accordance with their convictions. It is not true that the East Galicians have set fire to the Club of Jewish Deputies. There is no fire. The efforts of the East Galicians to change the present conditions in the Club can alarm only those who are trying to divert attention from the real danger, which is the complete break-down of the Club as a result of its lack of program,” Dr Reich declares.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.