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D

Yehuda Bauer: My Brother's Keeper

A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939


[Holocaust preparations in Europe and resistance without solution of the situation]

The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1974

Transcription with subtitles by Michael Palomino (2007)

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Chapter 5. Prelude of the Holocaust
[A. Destruction of the Jewish existence in Poland 1929-1939]

[5.8. Claims abroad of anti-Semitic Poland for emigration of Polish Jewry]

[1938: Conference of Evian: claims of anti-Semitic Poland for emigration of Polish Jewry]

When President Roosevelt called upon the nations of the world to meet in Evian in July 1938 to discuss the problem of refugees from Germany, the Polish government also swung into action and demanded that the Evian Conference discuss the problem of Jewish emigration from Poland.

The Americans and British refused, but the Poles tried to press the Jews themselves to ask for the inclusion of the Polish Jewish problem at Evian. In the course of this campaign the Polish ambassador in Washington, Count Potocki, approached the American Jewish Committee and JDC (on June 8, 1938). He asked for an emigration of 50,000 a year, and alleged that the relatively small emigration of 30,000 in 1935 had had a psychologically calming effect on Polish anti-Semitism.

(End note 49: Conversation between Potocki, Waldman, and Hyman, 6/8/38 [8 June 1938], CON-2)

(Actually, after the "calming effect" of the 1935 emigration, pogrom activity increased sharply in late 1935 and in 1936. Nevertheless, the argument that emigration would be an effective way of avoiding anti-Semitic outbursts became a deeply ingrained belief among Jewish leaders in Poland).

[1937: New York: Polish consul Gruszka states that Jewish emigration would help democracy...]

In a more subtle way the same point was made in discussions held in New York in October 1937 between the Polish consul general, Sylvester Gruszka, and JDC. Gruszka also demanded emigration. He intimated that

-- this would aid the democratic and liberal wing in the Polish government in their struggle against Polish reaction,
-- and that therefore the support of American Jewry for Poland was very important.
-- He asked specifically that the New York Times be persuaded to desist from anti-Polish articles,
-- that the influx of American Jewish capital into Poland be organized,
-- and that JDC help in eliminating from the public scene in Poland those American Jewish organizations that the Poles considered objectionable.

[The main problem, the economy, will not be solved by this].

[American Federation of Polish Jews (AFPJ): Campaigns against anti-Semitism - Gruszka wants to play the Jewish organizations off against each other]

This last referred to the American Federation of (p.194)

Polish Jews, which was conducting a propaganda campaign with largely political overtones against anti-Semitism. There was considerable Zionist influence on AFPJ, and it was even trying to collect money for Polish causes in the U.S., which in the eyes of JDC was wrong. When Gruszka tried to use the animosity between the two Jewish organizations in order to put them against each other, however, Hyman refused to cooperate.

The AFPJ, he told Gruszka, was quite useful, if only they would stop competitive fund raising. He and Kahn "stated very definitely that we could not assent to the idea of permitting any pressure to be brought upon the Jews of Poland in relation to the Federation."

(End note 50: Conversation between Gruszka, Kahn, and Hyman, 10/17/37 [17 October 1937], CON-2)

[Gruszka: JDC is the main development aid for Poland]
At the same time, Gruszka intimated that JDC was after all the source of most of the money sent to Poland, and its cooperation was needed for any development connected with the modernization of Polish industry, the advancement of Polish exports to the U.S., and the emigration of Jews.

[The chameleon of the Polish policy abroad (facade) and at home (reality)]

In planning its policy in Poland, JDC had to take into account the difference between the utterances of Polish representatives abroad and the actual policy of the Polish government vis-à-vis the Jews. Abroad, the pressure for Jewish emigration was coupled both with plans for the modernization of the Polish economy and with statements expressing the hope that the Jews who would remain in Poland would be assimilated politically and become patriotic Poles.

[Anti-Semitic Poland: JDC Giterman reports fair treatment of the Jews would result in voting out of politicians]

The Jews in Poland were loyal to Poland (if for no other reason than that the alternatives in the 1930s were Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia), but in actual practice the Polish government did not tend to act on such optimistic and relatively friendly premises. The head of the JDC office in Poland, Isaac Giterman, declared quite bluntly - on the basis of very full knowledge of Polish policy toward Jews - that there simply was no possibility of a more liberal treatment of the Jews. Polish anti-Semitism was inherent in the local population, and any minister who treated the Jews fairly would lose his position.

(End note 51: 44-6-Neville Laski report, August 1934)






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