Repatriation Envisioned for Refugees in Wilno
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Repatriation Envisioned for Refugees in Wilno

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Refugees from Poland now lodged in Wilno will be expected to return when war conditions no longer exist, well informed quarters here said today. It is not anticipated, however, that they will be forced to return to Poland until conditions are more or less normalized and they run no risk in returning.

The refugees, estimated to number 30,000, are mostly Jews. It is expected that they will be maintained, during their sojourn in Wilno, by relief organizations, such as the Red Cross, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and others.

The Lithuanian Government will not act precipitately in incorporating the Wilno district, newly acquired from Soviet Russia, into the Lithuanian State, it was said. The Government faces two problems, in addition to the refugee question:

(1) The repair of damages from bombing and the loss of machinery and equipment taken to Russia by the retiring Soviet forces. This problem is mainly economic and is now being studied by the Lithuanian authorities.

(2) The problem of the large Polish minority resentful of the Lithuanian occupation. This is held to represent a serious political and security question.

The Government has already indicated that it will recognize as Lithuanian citizens only those who resided in the district before July 20, 1920, or who were subsequently born there. Official quarters declare that the majority of Poles who settled in the district after the Polish occupation of 1920 are “Polish colonizers” who were sent to “polonize” the district. These will be considered as foreigners and will be returned to Poland as soon as conditions permit. The problem of the war refugees will be considered apart from that of the other “foreigners.”

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