The eyes of the world were directed last week on the Saar, where the fate of 5,000 Jews was decided on Sunday in the plebiscite which resulted in turning the Saar over to Germany.
Only extreme optimists expected any other outcome. After the agreement reached between France and Germany on the Saar several weeks ago, it was quite clear that the plebiscite was just a formality and that the League would hand the Saar over to Germany without opposition on the part of France.
MAJORITY FORCED TO STAY IN SAAR
Expecting such an outcome, the wealthier element of Saar Jewry took no chances and on the week-end preceding the plebiscite moved to the neighboring country of Luxembourg. The large majority of the Jews in the Saar, consisting of professionals and small traders, had, however, no other recourse than to remain in the Saar in the hope that a miracle might happen in the last minute to divide the Saar into two territories, one of which would still remain under the supervision of the League of Nations.
Needless to say, no miracles happened. Unopposed by France, the Nazis in the Saar managed to obtain ninety per cent. of the votes in the plebiscite. Victorious, they made no secret the day after the plebiscite that it would be better for the Jews to leave the Saar.
EXODUS OF JEWS STARTED IMMEDIATELY
The great exodus of the Jews from the Saar therefore started immediately. Leaving everything behind them, several hundred crossed the border to France on the day after the plebiscite. Thousands of other Jews were besieging the French consulate in Saarbruecken for visas to proceed to France within the next two weeks, trying in the meantime to liquidate their businesses.
The French government, it must be emphasized, has displayed the most liberal attitude towards the refugees from the Saar. The only restriction upon the refugees isâ€”that they will not be permitted to reside either in Paris or Alsace Lorraine. Jewish organizations in France, realizing that the bulk of Saar Jewry would migrate to French territories, mobilized their forces to grant relief and assistance to the refugees immediately upon their crossing the frontier.
LAVAL APPEALED FOR PROTECTION
The question of protection for the remaining Jews of the Saar, after it is formally handed over to Nazi Germany on March 1, has been taken up with the representatives of the German government by the French minister, Pierre Laval, before the Council of the League of Nations officially sanctioned the formalities and the date of the transfer. The French Minister appealed to the Nazi government to display a “humanitarian spirit” with regard to the Jews in the Saar.
It is understood however, that no further guarantee for Jewish and other minorities have been obtained from Germany except the one year’s grace which Germany accepted under the Franco-German agreement concluded a few weeks ago. This means that within a maximum of twelve months not a single Jew will remain in the Saar unless willing to suffer humiliations, privations and restrictions.
MANY TO BE ABSORBED BY GERMAN JEWRY
While a large proportion of Saar Jewry will migrate to France, it is nevertheless clear that not all the Jews of the Saar will be in a position to do so. A large number will have to be absorbed in Germany.
Marked as “undesirables” in their places of residence in the Saar, hundreds of Jews who for many reasons will not be able to go to other countries, will probably proceed into the interior of Germany to become absorbed in German Jewry and assimilated with the five million Jews in the Reich.
REICH JEWS SEND AGENT TO SAAR
The Jews of Germany, anticipating this possibility, have delegated a special representative to the Saar, to confer with the Jewish leaders there as to how to make Saar Jewry an integral part of German Jewry. A proclamation to this effect was issued by the central Jewish organizations in Berlin, making it clear that since the Saar has become a part of Germany, the Jews of the Saar will be considered by the Jewish organizations of Germany as a part of German Jewry and will be treated as such.
This alleviates to a certain extent the precarious position of the majority of Saar Jews who, having no means to move to other countries would remain exposed to actual misery in the Saar under the Nazi regime, where they would be deprived of certain rights under the “Aryan paragraph.” Accepted by the Jews of Germany as an integral part of German Jewry, they will be given the same chances by the Jewish organizations for adjustment to new professions and for all kinds of philanthropic and economic relief.
SEEK REFUGEES FOR FRENCH FARMS
Jewish organizations abroad, though doubtful of any successful results, raised their protest to the League of Nations this week and cabled for a revision of the clause in the Franco-German treaty protecting the Jews of the Saar for one year only. In their appeal to the League, Jewish groups in France, in Palestine, in Poland and in other countries asked that before turning the Saar over to Germany on March 1, something be done to secure an arrangement with Germany which would guarantee human treatment for the Saar Jews under the Nazi regime.
In France certain non-Jewish groups suggested this week that all Jews of the Saar be brought to the interior of France for agricultural work. It was emphasized that French agriculture is declining because of lack of farm hands and it was pointed out that the Jews of the Saar revive farming in France, since their agricultural adjustment would proceed under supervision of specialists, as was done in Russia, where there are today a quarter of a million Jews on land.
BRITISH WITHDRAW CYPRUS LAND BAN
Developments in Cyprus were also pointed out as proof that the Saar Jews would bring a spirit of revival into French agriculture. The British administration in the island, which has issued an order prohibiting foreign Jews to acquire land there unless by special permission of the governor of Cyprus, was compelled to withdraw the order this week when it turned out that land restrictions for Jews would hamper development of the island.
From sources enjoying the confidence of the Colonial Office in London, it was announced publicly this week that the order in Cyprus had resulted in a great deal of correspondence between the British government and interested parties. Hence the British government instructed its authorities in Cyprus to withdraw the proposed law.
ACQUIRE TERRITORY IN BRITISH ISLAND
Meantime several groups of Jews acquired during the week in Cyprus large tracts of land with the intention of developing orange plantations similar to those in Palestine. One group has also acquired a large stretch of land for a factory and a hundred and fifty homes for the workers who will be employed there.
A group of Jewish financiers, led by an American Jewish newspaperman, arrived at Alexandretta, Lebanon, this week to negotiate for large areas of land for Jewish colonization. They brought along with them plans for a project which is finding support of the French government, which holds the mandate over Syria.
EMCOL TO BOOST MIGRATION PROJECTS
The problem of colonizing Jews in new territories also acquired stronger impetus when a number of Jewish organizations in Europe formed a special international committee to promote immigration and colonization in countries hitherto not popular for Jewish settlement. This new organization, EMCOL, will enjoy the support of many Jewish leaders who have had years of experience in the work of emigration.
PALESTINE FARMERS PROTEST LABOR SHORTAGE
While all kinds of plans and projects for placing Jews on land were being discussed in Europe this week, it became known that the shortage of Jewish farm hands in Palestine is becoming more and more acute since workers in the cities there are paid five times as much as those in the colonies. The Jewish Farmers Association of Palestine has therefore issued a threat to the Executive of the Jewish Agency that it will negotiate with the government directly for immigration certificates, in order to be able to bring Jewish farm hands over from Poland, especially from Galicia, where there are thousands of young farmers anxious to proceed to Palestine with the view of not remaining in the cities, but to work on the land.
ARAB APPOINTED JERUSALEM MAYOR
The Jewish population in Palestine was extremely excited this week over the state of health of Mr. Dizengoff, the much-respected mayor of Tel Aviv, who suddenly became seriously ill. Mr. Dizengoff is seventy-four years old. He has undergone several blood transfusions and is now being attended by Professor Sondak, eminent German specialist who has settled in Palestine.
The lengthy question of whether the mayor of Jerusalem should be a Jew or Arab was settled this week in favor of the Arabs. The High Commissioner of Palestine appointed Dr. Hussein Fakri El Khaldi mayor of Jerusalem. A Jew will probably be appointed vice-mayor.