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Icor Sends U.S. Experts to Survey Biro Bidjan for Industrial Colonization

June 20, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A committee of American experts to survey the possibilities for Jewish colonization in Biro Bidjan, Far Eastern Republic, a part of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, will sail for Russia on the Steamer Majestic Friday, an announcement issued yesterday by the Icor, American Jewish labor organization to further Jewish land settlement in Russia, stated.

The committee is headed by Prof. Franklin S. Harris, President of Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, and formerly director of the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, and is composed of Prof. J. B. Davidson, Professor of Agricultural Engineering at Iowa State College; Benjamin Brown, sales director of the Utah Poultry Producers Cooperative Association; Dr. Charles Kuntz of the Department of Sociology of Columbia University; L. Talmi, secretary of the Icor, and K. B. Sauls, who will act as secretary of the committee. Mr. Talmi has already arrived in Russia and Dr. Kuntz is in Biro Bidjan making preliminary preparations for the committee.

The committee expects to spend about four months in Russia. They will go directly to Moscow for consultation with Soviet government officials. After a study of the needs of the Jewish population they will proceed to Biro Bidjan to start the investigation which will include an examination of the natural resources of the tract, weather conditions, rainfall, nature of the soil, mineral products, timber, fisheries, manufacturing. opportunities, transportation facilities and all features which might determine the feasibility of the project for colonization. A report will be issued by the committee which is to serve as a guide for future plans. The employment of American methods and machinery to facilitate the work is planned.

“According to the laws of the Soviet Union and the provisions of the reso- (Continued on Page 4)

lution adopted by the Soviet government (adopted March 28, 1928, assigning the territory exclusively for the colonization of the declassed masses of Russian Jews) Biro Bidjan will form, if and when substantially settled by Jews, an autonomous Jewish Republic,” says the statement issued by the Icor.

The colonization project in Biro Bidjan has been sponsored in Russia mainly by the Ozet, the society for settling Jews on the land. The Agrojoint, the agency of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, as well as the Jewish Colonization Association have abstained from participating in the plan. During the year 1928 600 settlers were sent to the region under the auspices of the Ozet and, according to Soviet press reports, many have returned and others remaining there face a difficult struggle. The entire project has been discussed pro and con and several opinions, of a contradictory nature have been offered by Soviet bodies as to whether or not the region is suitable for a colonization project. The March 28, 1928 resolution, assigning the territory for Jewish colonization, followed a report rendered by a Soviet Commission, headed by Prof. Brooks and Dr. Williams, who thought the region was fit for the project.

The present American committee is proceeding to Russia to investigate the merits of this tract of land after an authorization has been granted by the Comzet, governmental department for Jewish land settlement, to the Icor, Dr. Harris stated on his arrival in New York to board the Majestic on Friday.

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