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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 1. A Time of Crisis: 1929-1932

[1.6. Reasons for the unsuccessful economies in Eastern Europe since 1919]

[Since 1919: Eastern Europe: Nationalism blocks the markets]

More deeply, this economic situation reflected the establishment of the nation-states in Eastern Europe after World War I. The Baltic states, Bessarabia, and most of Poland had been part of the prewar Russian market, with its tremendous possibilities for expansion. Galicia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Transylvania, and Bucovina had been part of another large political and economic entity, the Hapsburg Empire. Now, the huge market had been split up, and the successor states practiced economic nationalism and cutthroat competition.

[Since 1919: Eastern Europe: Dumping practices by Soviet Union and Czechs]

This was aggravated by Soviet dumping practices (selling goods in foreign markets below the cost of production, so as to obtain sorely needed foreign currency), which was also followed by other states (for example, the dumping of Czech shoes in the Baltic countries).

[Since 1919: Eastern Europe: Blocked Jewish companies by new frontiers]

Jews, as small and medium-sized traders, suffered badly from these developments. The Lodz textile industry, set up to supply the (p.28)

Russian market, now had to reorient itself to a small Polish market and tariff barriers in an economically divided Europe. The same thing happened with the wood industry.

[Since 1919: Eastern Europe: National economic measures and monopolism destruct Jewish companies]

Economic nationalism turned into an attempt by some of the governments to run their own industries - a system of etatism or state capitalism, which met with singularly little success. But in the process of these experiments, government monopolies were established in trades where many Jews had worked before as entrepreneurs or employees. The new monopolies, whatever else they did, got rid of the Jewish employees as quickly as possible. This was especially true in Poland.

[Since 1919: Eastern Europe: Disorganization - no stable currency - inefficiency]

Apart from this, sheer disorganization and lack of a stable currency, or, as in Romania, a corrupt and inefficient government bureaucracy, tended to lower standards of living and employment for the Jews.

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