Jews in Lithuania Helpless, American Delegation Finds
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Jews in Lithuania Helpless, American Delegation Finds

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The Fact-Finding Commission which the Federation of American Jews of Lithuanian Descent sent to Lithuania, has just returned. The Commission consisted of Herman L. Winer of New York, Judge William M. Lewis of Philadelphia, Elihu D. Stone of Boston, and Maurice Rosenblum of Flint, Mich.

The Commission, which was sent to Lithuania by the Federation to make a thorough investigation of the Jewish situation, reported as follows:

The situation of the Jews in Lithuania is almost helpless. The country has practically no trade relations with the important centers of Europe. As a result, exports have shown a great decrease, and the Jews have almost no means of making a livelihood. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that about 75 per cent, of the Jews await impatiently the funds which are sent from America.

The political situation is more cheerful. There is no parliament in Lithuania at present, but from the conversations the Commission had with Premier Waldemaras and other officials of the Government, there seemed to be the impression that an understanding could be reached between the Government and the Jews. Such regrettable occurrences as the recent disturbances in Slobodka can be avoided in the future. As a result of the Commission’s interview with Premier Waldemaras, the police official in the Slobodka district was punished. Prof. Waldemaras promised to acquaint himself with other Jewish demands, as he had not been in direct contact with the Jewish leaders for some time. The Jewish leaders in Lithuania feel that the interviews of the Commission with the Government authorities were important steps toward the betterment of the political situation of the Jews.

The Commission also conferred with the Jewish leaders and representatives of all Jewish organizations regarding the economic situation. As a result of the failure of the crops last year the conditions had grown far worse, and had it not been for the relief funds sent over by the Federation of American Jews of Lithuanian Descent, many people would probably have starved.

The only economic institution of the Jews is the Folks Banks. There are 86 branches throughout Lithuania. These banks lend money to the Jews who can afford to pay interest and have some sort of collateral to offer. But there are many Jews who are unable to borrow from these banks and the only hope for them is the establishment of free loan institutions. The Commission proposes that the Federation begin a campaign to raise funds ### to increase the capital of the Folks Banks and to establish free loan banks.

The cultural situation is much better than was expected. The Commission is convinced that there are more educational institutions in Lithuania, in comparison with the Jewish population, than in any other Jewish community.

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