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Commission Leaves Moscow to Investigate New Area for Jewish Colonization in Crimea

May 28, 1929
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A commission representing the Agrojoint, the agency of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and the Comzet, the government department for settling Jews on the land, left Moscow today on its way to Crimea to begin a survey which, if it proves the hopes held by the friends of the back to the land movement in Soviet Russia, would result in settling 40,000 additional Jewish families on the land.

An area of 200,000 hectares of land in the district of Sivash, on the shores of the Azov Sea, will be the object of the survey. The land is now swampy and prior to its cultivation it would have to be drained at a great expense. The settlement of the reclaimed area by declassed Russian Jews would constitute the largest single piece of social constructive relief work. The expenditure of a sum of between 15,000,000 and 20,000,000 roubles would be involved in the enterprise.

Both agencies, the Agrojoint and the Comzet, are interested in the project and have each allotted the amount of 20,000 roubles for the expenses of the survey, which is expected to be concluded during the summer. If the commission brings in a favorable report, actual colonization work may begin next year.

Dr. Joseph Rosen, the head of the Agrojoint, when interviewed today by the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, declared that the colonization plan in the Sivash region constitutes a part of the program of the Agrojoint, formulated for the next ten years. He disclosed that the Soviet Government has agreed to cover the expenses of the drainage work, while the agency of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will undertake the settlement work after the amelioration is completed.

The territory to be surveyed has many rivers which carry the melted snow from the mountains to the sea. It is projected to build a big water reservior for irrigation. The region, when drained and irrigated, would be certain of good crops, independent of weather conditions.

Speaking of the importance of the plan, Dr. Rosen expressed the opinion that there is a distinct advantage in settling Jews on this reclaimed land. It will prove that Russian Jews are prepared to seek unexplored territory and to settle not only on land already prepared and previously the property of the big land owners. It is impossible at this moment to foresee what the survey will recommend and whether the plan has chances of success.

“We will await the report of the survey commission,” Dr. Rosen stated. “If the report is favorable, the project will become one of great importance and will open a new page in the history of the new colonization work.”

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