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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]

Transcription with subtitles by Michael Palomino (2007)



Chapter 2. Agro-Joint [in Russia 1919-1938]

2.1. Agro Joint battles Jewish famine in Russia 1920-1922

[Russia's entry into the American Relief Administration - demolished Russia with 2,750,000 Russian Jews]

Operations of JDC in Soviet Russia began with the entry into Russia of the American Relief Administration (ARA) in 1920/1. After war, revolution, and bloody civil strife, Russia had emerged as a starving country, battered into economic destitution, her trained labor force scattered, her railways torn up, and her bridges demolished. In the Ukraine, where a sizable proportion of the 2,750,000 Russian Jews lived, the terrible pogroms already mentioned caused a wave of horror to spread among American Jews and a corresponding desire to help. JDC, as an American philanthropic organization, rushed to the aid of Russian Jewry.

[1920-1922: JDC spends 4 mio. $ for relief for Jews]

By an agreement with ARA, $ 4 million was spent on Jewish relief up to 1922. This entailed soup kitchens, care for orphans, and other palliative measures taken under the direction of Boris D. Bogen, the JDC representative in Eastern Europe.

[Since 1921: JDC representative Dr. Joseph A. Rosen working in Russia]

After intervention by James N. Rosenberg in August 1921, Col. William N. Haskell, who cooperated with Herbert Hoover on the ARA program, invited Dr. Joseph A. Rosen to join ARA as JDC representative in Russia.

Rosen had a checkered history: He had fled from Siberia, where he had been exiled as a revolutionary with Menshevik leanings, and had come to the United States in 1903. By profession he was an agronomist, and he completed his training in the U.S. He developed a new variety of winter rye and had become an agricultural (p.57)

expert of international renown by the time he went to Russia. Rosen was a man of tremendous willpower and seems to have had a very impressive personality. While personally very modest, he possessed at the same time an overriding ambition to do whatever he could to save the Jews in Russia from starvation and degradation. In Russia he met Dr. Lubarsky, an agronomist friend with whom he had worked prior to the war, and engaged his services for JDC.

[1917: The Russian peasants get the soil - the Russian peasants don't produce enough - hunger and depth]

The problem facing the Soviet regime in Russia after the confiscation of the nobility's lands immediately following the Bolshevik Revolution was both grim and simple. Russia's main export prior to the war had been grain. This export surplus had come from large farms owned by the landowners or the state. After the revolution these lands had been divided up into small parcels and given to the vast masses of Russian peasants, to buy their support for the Bolshevik regime. These peasants, who previously had gone hungry within sight of the aristocratic palaces, produced very little more now than they had before. The grain surpluses now went to increase slightly the food rations of the Russian peasantry. Who would now provide food for the Russian cities and grain for export to pay for essential industrial goods?

The result of the agrarian revolution was that the Soviet regime was faced with the necessity of either forgoing any industrial expansion, which would run counter to the very base of its ideology, or else create large agricultural holdings to produce the necessary surpluses.

[Since 1919: Transportation system defect - no grain transports - famines - starvation for Jews especially]

In the early 1920s this situation caused a serious imbalance in the food production of the country; drought in certain areas could create a serious shortage of bread for the whole country. This was exacerbated by the destruction of the country's transportation system. In 1921 and 1922 situations such as these had created food shortages and mass starvation. This affected everyone, but the situation of the Jewish population, concentrated in the Ukraine with White Russia in small townships and large villages, was especially precarious.

[Rosen imports seed corn from the "USA" - respect at the Soviet leadership]

Rosen thought of a way to increase food production without actually increasing the acreage sown. This could not be achieved (p.58)

by the traditional methods of sowing wheat or barley, especially since the seed was lacking owing to the droughts. With full Soviet support, therefore, Rosen began the importation of seed corn from the United States, and 2.7 million acres in the Ukraine were sown with that crop. It is hard to gauge the importance of this intervention, but it is a fact that after that, Rosen enjoyed the confidence and respect of the Soviet leadership.

[1923/4: Rosen imports 86 tractors - more respect at the Soviet leadership]

His second very significant action was taken in 1923/4, when JDC started its reconstruction activities in Russia. In order to help the Jewish colonies then existing and the new colonies he was about to establish, Rosen imported 86 tractors, complete with spare parts and mechanics to work them. These were the first modern tractors that Russia had seen since the war, and Rosen's stock with the Soviet leadership rose accordingly.

[Dec 1922: ARA stops operations in Russia]
In the meantime ARA had ceased its operations, and since December 1922 JDC had been working in the Soviet Union by special agreement with the government.

2.2. Agro-Joint work with Jews according to NEP: Resettlement of Jewish "lishentsy" for being farmers since 1928 - first 5 year plan and collectivization crisis 1929-1930

[Since 1921: Russia's New Economic Policies (NEP) with hope for private Jewish traders]

The phase of palliative relief was passing; in 1921 the government had introduced the new economic policies (NEP), designed to give the country an opportunity to regain some of its strength by a partial restoration of capitalism (under careful government surveillance) before any further socialization was attempted. Trading was permitted now, and small shops could employ a limited number of workers. In agriculture the difference between the poor, the average, and the "rich" peasant - the kulak - grew. The Jewish trader and artisan could therefore hope for at least some respite and a chance, however slender, to earn his living.

[Poverty in White Russia and Ukraine - Rosen wants them bring into the towns - foundation of Agro-Joint]

Nevertheless, the situation was very difficult. Starvation or extreme poverty prevailed in many parts of White Russia and the Ukraine, where many Jews were still living in the shtetlach, the small towns of what had been the Jewish Pale of Settlement under the czarist regime. Rosen suggested that a large-scale colonization program be started to save thousands of Jews from degrading poverty by taking them out of the little towns, where most of them would have no work in any case. There had been Jewish agricultural colonies in Russia ever since the period of Alexander I, in the early nineteenth century. Prior to 1914 some 15,000 families lived in them.

After the fog of war had lifted, about 10,000 families still lived in what now came to be called the "old" colonies in White Russia and the Ukraine. Help was extended to them, and, by agreement with the Soviet government, new colonies were founded. Up to 1924 some 500 families were so settled under an experimental program. The experiment was held to be successful, and on July 17, 1924, the American Jewish Joint Agricultural Corporation (Agro-Joint) was founded.

Rosen became its president. Financial control was vested in a number of trustees appointed by JDC, who held all the stock in the new corporation.

[1924-1928: 5,646 families settled on Crimea by Agro-Joint in cooperation with COMZET and OZET]

Under Rosen's direction, 5,646 families were settled between 1924 and 1928, some in the Ukraine, some in the Crimea.

This settlement work was done in conjunction with two organizations: COMZET, the government-sponsored committee for settling Jews on land, and OZET, a quasi-voluntary organization to recruit and screen candidates for settlement.

[COMZET under Peter Smidovich]

The head of COMZET was a non-Jewish vice-premier of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic, Peter Smidovich, a man who was very much interested in the success of the venture. He was influential in obtaining the government's agreement to the Jewish settlement of a large tract of land in the Crimea; as much as one million acres were set aside for use by Jewish settlers.

[Jewish section of the CP "Yevsektsia" against Jewish settlements - settlements in White Russia - possibilities in the upper Volga and in the northern Caucasus]

It seems that this agreement was not accepted with enthusiasm by some Jewish Communists, especially by those who ran the Jewish section of the Communist party, known as the Yevsektsia. One feels a constant undercurrent of opposition to the very idea of a foreign capitalist organization being allowed to engage in agricultural settlement in Russia.

It was probably owing to this attitude that the local Yevsektsia in White Russia made an attempt to have agricultural settlement directed there. At the same time, in 1924/5, other settlement possibilities were investigated in the upper Volga region and the northern Caucasus.

(End note 1: In:
-- Na agrarnom fronte, 1925, nos. 5-6;
-- Sobrania Zakonov, 1925, no. 69; 1928, no. 21)

[Jewish settlements on the Crimea partly with Hebrew names as a step for Palestine - JDC and ICA]

It is an indubitable fact that the settlements in the Crimea (p.60)

founded by the Agro-Joint included a number of Zionist colonies settled by people who saw the Crimea as a stepping-stone on the road to Palestine. There were some 13 of these with Hebrew names, some of them - like Tel Chai (there were two separate settlements by that name), Mishmar, Khaklai, Avoda, Kheruth, Maaian, Kadimah - having distinct Palestine-centered connotations.

In 1928 there were 112 Agro-Joint colonies in the Ukraine and 105 in the Crimea. In addition to these, Agro-Joint also helped other colonies with occasional loans or by other means.

ICA [Jewish Colonization Association] renewed its support of the establishment of agricultural colonies as well, also dealing with some of the older colonies, where work had been started in prewar days. By 1928 ICA had settled 1,769 new Jewish families on the soil, and by 1930/1 they had spent some $ 4 million on this venture.

[1926: Professions of the Jewish population in Russia]

The period of the NEP was not accompanied by any easing for the economic situation of the Jews, expect for a small group of traders - the so-called NEPmen. The number of Jews employed as workers in factories had not grown significantly since prewar days, when it had been a mere 46,000. According to 1926 figures, which included some 80 % of the Jewish population, only 14.7 % of the Jews were factory workers; 24 % were employees, 23.9 % were artisans, 14.2 % were traders, and 16.8 % were defined as having no definite occupation, being permanently unemployed or "miscellaneous";

(End note 2: AJ, Grower memorandum, 4/26/29 [26 April 1929])

5.9 % of the Jews were peasants.

[Since 1917: Definition of "Enemies of the people" (lishentsy) - traders, ill-defined occupations, Jewish artisans]

The Soviet government deprived of civil rights all those whom it defined as its class enemies. These people were called lishentsy. They were not allowed to occupy any administrative position, they were excluded from all social and medical services, and their children could not go to state schools, This category included all those who were not "productively occupied". Apart from traders and people of ill-defined occupation, Jewish artisans were also included in this category of déclassés because they employed one apprentice or more.

Since many of the employees were out of work, a large proportion of the Jewish population were in dire straits. Dr. Ezechiel (p.61)

A. Grower, a close associate of Rosen's and a member of the Agro-Joint board, estimated the number of Jewish déclassés at 830,000.

[Jewish Communists in Russia are aiming to destroy the Jewish middle class]

The attitude of the Soviet regime was not tinged by anti-Semitism at that time; but it just so happened that the Jews had been the traditional middle class in Russia, and the Russians' new policies were directed against the middle class. Jewish Communists, who tended to be more "orthodox" than their non-Jewish comrades, bore down heavily on their fellow Jews.

[1927/8: Stalin's regime needs an agreement with the Jews - agreement with JDC - dollars and machinery]

At this juncture Russia came forward with the idea of a vast expansion of the Jewish colonization scheme and offered the Jews large tracts of land, especially in the Crimea. In 1927/8 it was obviously interested in transforming the Jewish population into a productive and loyal force. It also needed grain, and the establishment and encouragement of state farms (sovkhozy), which were set up on state lands, had so far not been very successful. Moreover, Soviet Russia needed American dollars very badly, and an arrangement with JDC meant not only a contribution to the solution of the pressing Jewish problem, but also an influx of both hard currency and valuable machinery, of which the Soviets were very short.

[Rosen wants all Russian Jews to stay in Russia - all Jews should become peasants - and get their rights back]

One of the social problems that Rosen desired to help solve in an expanded program of land settlement was the question of the lishentsy. "The Jewish masses in Russia", said Rosen, "whether they wish it or not, must remain in their country." The most constructive plan for adapting large numbers of Jews to the new conditions in Russia had been found to be agricultural settlement, whereas by contrast, the position of the tradesmen and middlemen in the present economic structure of Russia was utterly hopeless.

(End note 3: AJ 39, 3/30/28 [30 March 1928], pp.1-2)

In the colonies, according to Soviet law, the lishenets would be allowed to regain his civil rights by the simple process of becoming a peasant, a productive member of the society. This was also in the best interests of the government, and again a mutual understanding could easily be reached. The achievements up to 1928 seemed to warrant this expansion of the program. (p.62)

(End note 4:
The statistics regarding Jews in Russian agriculture are contradictory. According to the 1926 census, there were about 150,000 Jewish peasants and their families. Dr. Grower's report of September 1929, however, mentions 130,557 persons (AJ 64). A report of March 1928 quotes the figure of 35,514 Jewish families, which multiplied by four to account for family members would give a figure of about 150,000. But it seems that the statistics included thousands of small Jewish holdings on the outskirts of villages in the Pale of Settlement, which should not really be included in statistics of farmers. The numbers settled by Agro-Joint also appear uncertain. In March 1928, Agro-Joint claimed to have settled 10,000 families, yet another compilation quoted a figure of 7,600 by the end of 1928. A report of September 1929 mentions 12,988 families as having been settled by Agro-Joint (AJ 39, AJ2). Here the figures seem to include those Jewish colonists not in Agro-Joint colonies who were helped by Agro-Joint at various times. The 5,646 families in the text is the lowest figure).

[1928: Jewish families resettled by the Agro-Joint]

It appears that by the end of 1928 the Agro-Joint had settled about 6,000 Jewish families in its colonies. Some 10,000 more were living in the old colonies, and an additional few 1,000 were being supported by ICA, ORT, and Ozet. Some 12 to 15,000 other holdings seem to have been of the kind that would normally be described as garden or vegetable plots. The total population of the Jewish colonies was therefore about 100,000.

[1928: "US" Jews with German with Reform synagogues descent have big plans for Soviet Jews]

Early in 1928 Rosen put the proposal to enlarge colonization activities before the JDC leadership. This came at a time when the economic prosperity in the United States, present and future, was not in doubt, at least not in business circles. The business of the United States was indeed business, and investment capital was looking for outlets. Philanthropy was flourishing too, and the rich families of German Jewish descent were following a modern version of a very ancient Jewish tradition by giving generously (from money partly deducted from their taxes)  to various good causes. They were liberals in the 1848 tradition, dues-paying members of important Reform synagogues, who hoped that nationalism was dying and would be replaced by equality of opportunity and brotherhood of man; and they felt that Jews ought to be loyal and equal citizens of their respective countries.

A Rousseauean and romantic tradition made them especially enthusiastic about agricultural schemes. This was applied to the Russian situation, and the fact that the government was Bolshevik made no difference. Provided the leadership was sincere and the Jews would really be granted equality of opportunity, the project was likely to be accepted.

[1926: Rosenberg's appeal for help for Russian Jews - otherwise Jewry in Russia would collapse - support be Warburg]

James N. Rosenberg wrote in 1926 that

considering how much money the JDC has spent in the past 10 years, and how small a proportion went to Russia, I maintain that Russia stands first. If we fail to continue this work for the Jews in Russia, it will be an incalculably tragic Jewish defeat. The Jews whom we have helped, and are helping in the other portions of Europe, have had a bad enough time, but which of them have gone through anything like the tragedy of the last century, as the Jews (p. 63)

of Russia? Kishineff, the terrible Gomel pogroms, the Beiliss case, the World War, military occupations, civil war, revolt, Petlura, Denikin, bandits, pestilence, famine. The Spanish Inquisition and the bondage in Egypt were second to these [Bondage in Egypt is not right according to new Jewish archeology]. Today these Jews feel a hope. They feel that hope through colonization, and it is their only hope. It is voiced pathetically, but with noble dignity and without any cheap asking for money anywhere. Nowhere have I been pestered or begged for money. They have simply described the situation to me. If we fail these Jews, it will be a collapse of dreadful significance."

(End note 5: AJ 2, 5/26/26 [26 May 1926])

There was no possibility of emigration, and in 1925 Rosen called it a "mockery to talk about emigration".

(End note 6: AJ 51)

Add to that the power of Rosen's personality, his intimate knowledge of Russia, his humanitarianism, his agricultural expertise, his business acumen and simple common sense - and the outcome was clear. Felix M. Warburg for one, was a faithful Rosen admirer: "Looking back upon the work during the last few years, I feel that the Russian experiment has been the one original piece of work for social improvement that has been done, but whenever I try to tell you that I admire you tremendously for what you have done, you blush and change the subject."

(End note 7: AJ 19, F.M. Warburg to J.A. Rosen, 12/17/30 [17 December 1930])

[Rosenwald and others give 10 mio. $ for the Russian Jews]

The major financial power in the circle of JDC's friends was Julius Rosenwald, the anti-Zionist Chicago millionaire who was the architect of the Sears Roebuck empire. Rosenwald, who hated ostentatiousness, was determined to use his money to good purpose, according to his lights. He agreed to provide five-eighths of any sum that might be collected for the Russian venture. The ultimate goal was $ 10 million for ten years, but the immediate aim was the collection of $ 8 million; by late 1928, some $ 7.1 million had been subscribed, Julius Rosenwald pledging $ 5 million (provided the ceiling of $ 8 million in subscriptions was reached), Warburg $ 1 million, and the Rockefeller Foundation $ 500,000 as an outright gift.

The money did not come out of JDC collections, but by private arrangement from a limited number of large subscribers who were canvassed quietly by a handful of key individuals. This procedure was used so as to avoid a head-on clash with the Zionists and their (p.64)

supporters, as well as to prevent a public discussion.

[4 Oct 1928: Rosenberg states colonizations in Russia and Palestine are equal]

In a letter dated October 4, 1928, Rosenberg claimed that there was no contradiction between supporting settlement in Palestine and in supporting it in Russia.

(End note 8: AJ 81, to Alfred W. Saperston)

"Both movements deserved support. The colonization in Russia has resulted in over 100,000 Jews going to the soil, where most of them are already self-supporting farmers." But Rosenberg added a significant comment: "Those who know the situation in Palestine realistically must all agree that it is impossible to have a rapid, large-scale colonization in Palestine." In the meantime, Rosenberg claimed, Jews in Russia must be saved from starvation and ruin.

[Summer 1928: Rosenberg's attempt for support by the ICA is in vain]

In preparing to weather the expected storm of opposition, JDC attempted to enlist the support of ICA for this new program. In the summer of 1928, Rosenberg initiated an attempt to get ICA to contribute $ 1 million to the new scheme, without, of course, attaining any control over the actual operation. It seems that ICA was negotiating in Moscow at the same time that Rosen was. But the conservative ICA directorate did not carry the matter any further, and nothing came of the attempt to gain ICA's support for the venture.

[August 1928 appr.: Foundation of the American Society for Jewish Farm Settlement in Russia (AMSOJEFS)]

The money was acquired by a new company that was formed for that purpose - the American Society for Jewish Farm Settlement in Russia (AMSOJEFS). JDC appointed a Board of Directors for that fund-raising organization, and James N. Rosenberg became chairman. On January 21, 1929, an agreement was signed with the Soviet government that provided that until 1935 AMSOJEFS was to advance $ 900,000 yearly for the agreed purpose of settling Jews on the land. This money was seen as a loan, and in return AMSOJEFS would receive USSR government bonds bearing 5 % interest. IN addition, $ 100,000 a year would be paid for so-called nonreturnable expenses (not as a loan), such as administrative outlays. For its part, the Soviet government guaranteed to put up 500,000 rubles for the Agro-Joint settlements each year and place this budget at the disposal of the Agro-Joint.

[1921: Lenin offers natural resources for help of the anti-Soviet West - the West gives only little response]

There were several unique features about this agreement. In (p.65)

1921 the Soviet government had, under Lenin, offered concessions in Soviet Russia for the exploitation and development of mines, forests, and other natural resources. But there had been little response from an anti-Soviet West.

[1928/9: Soviet Union needs international currency and accepts the JDC settlement program]

Now, with the Agro-Joint, the Soviets reverted to their earlier offer. However, not only did they pledge to return almost all of the amount loaned to them in dollars or gold and to pay interest, but they actually appropriated sums in Russian money to be administered by a foreign organization. The reasons for this attitude can only be guessed:

-- a desperate shortage of foreign currency,
-- a wish to foster good relations with rich American interests,
-- a genuine desire to promote Jewish colonization,
-- and the chance to import seeds and machinery with the money thus advanced.

Yet, it must be added, this liberal policy was possible only in 1928/9, before the full weight of the five-year plans descended on the Soviet Union.

[1927: Trotsky banned - 1929: Trotsky driven out of the SU]

The quarrel between the factions in the Communist party had reached its height in the late 1920s. The left wing, advocating a working-class dictatorship over the peasants (who had to be subjected to expropriation in order to provide the wherewithal for a rise in the proletariat's standard of living), had suffered a defeat. Trotsky was exiled to Soviet Asia in 1927 and left the Soviet Union in 1929. The worker-peasant coalition, the smychka, advocated by Lenin, remained the official policy of the party. Rosen, closely following the events in Moscow, cabled in 1928 that Stalin's influence was waning, that the collectives were a passing fad, and that the Right would increase its influence.

(End note 9: AJ 19 (confidential, hereafter CON), 1928

[1927 appr.: Plan of an agreement between JDC and the SU regime]

Under these conditions, it seemed safe to enter into an agreement with the Soviet government in the hope that no great upheavals were in prospect.

Rosen's views were also reflected in a communication by Joseph C. Hyman to Morris D. Waldman of the American Jewish Committee: "Irrespective of the attempts made elsewhere for collectivization, I am very definitely of the opinion that, so far as the Crimea goes, where the bulk of our Society work and future operations are concerned, the collectivization experiment will not work real hardships on our colonies." (p.66)

(End note 10: AJ 82, 12/11/29 [11 December 1929])

The possibility that masses of Jews would be absorbed into Soviet industry, an obvious result of Soviet industrialization if  it succeeded, was hardly considered. In fact, Dr. Grower said that most Jews would have to become artisans (kustars) because it was obvious that the majority of the Jews could not possibly become workers.

(End note 11: AJ 2, 4/26/29 [26 April 1929])

In a sense, the policy of JDC in Russia was to follow rather closely the example of JDC work in Poland under Dr. Kahn.

[8 years agreement between JDC and SU regime for Jewish settlements]

[1928: 5 years plan of Stalin regime sweeps off all plans of the JDC]

All these intentions and preparations were overthrown by two events - the launching of the first five-year plan in Russia and the economic crisis in the United States. Rosen's prediction had proved wrong. The Right - Bukharin, Tomski, Rykov - had become weaker, and Stalin's center group adopted an audacious and brilliant plan for Soviet Russia to pull herself out of her economic difficulties by her own bootstraps.

The background and aims of the five-year plan have been related too often to bear repetition. However, it should be emphasized that the original concept did not envisage a sudden transition to collectivisation, but planned for a gradual transformation, with 25 % of Soviet Russian farmers' families being brought into cooperatives by 1932/3. The farmers were to be convinced by propaganda, and at the same time there were to be enforced grain collections that would permit the country to buy abroad the machinery and expertise to enable them develop vast heavy industry projects in Gorky, Stalingrad, Kharkov, and other places. These new factories would include tractor-producing plants (Stalingrad and Kharkov) that would supply machinery to the collective and state farms and thus insure a higher salable grain yield. This in turn would increase exports and the industrialization of the country would proceed.

[Since Nov 1929: Effects of the stock exchange crash for Stalin's 5 years plan: Fall of prices for grain - more grain export for the same machinery import]

There were several preconditions for the success of this venture, one of the chief ones being relative price stability in the capitalist world. This condition could not be met: the 1929 depression began in the United States more or less at the same time (October) that the first large-scale steps to implement the five-year plan in Russia were being taken. The depression spread quickly to other countries. It caused a catastrophic fall in all prices, but industrial prices fell (p.67)

less than those of agricultural products. Russia now had to export more grain to buy the same amount of machinery.

[First 5 years plan: Kulaks are driven out]

Moreover, control by the Communist party over their enthusiastic agents sent out into the field was far from complete. They were fanatic competition with each other, and class warfare was practiced in the villages by teams of agents (mostly young party members from the towns, students, and even high school pupils). The kulaks were driven out, subjected to expropriation, exiled, arrested, beaten up.

[First 5 years plan: Agro joint colonies keep intact]

All this did not affect the new Agro-Joint colonies to any great degree, because they had accepted certain cooperative practices from the outset. There were even some communes that practiced a far greater degree of collectivity than the cooperative villages (kokhozy) set up by the party.

[First 5 years plan: Chase of kulaks in the old Jewish colonies - and the distructive effect]

But in the old Jewish colonies kulaks had to be found - even if there were none. An ICA representative gives us a description of such proceedings in a report he wrote to his organization:

This liquidation is entrusted first to a special delegation of communistic workmen sent to all the corners of Russia. This delegation, composed of three persons, arrives at the colony, assembles the poor elements, keeps them shut in all night, and, at 5 o'clock in the morning ordinarily, sends them into the houses of colonists designated in advance. Veritable platoons of execution are thus formed, going to the houses of the "kulaki" carrying communist flags and singing the Internationale. Arriving on the spot, always at 5 o'clock in the morning, they proceed to the complete expropriation of all that belongs to the designated victim, carry off all the furniture, tear from those asleep, old people as well as children, the very sheets of their beds to the very last pillow, leaving the old people and the children on the bare floor and leaving for the needs of the family hardly enough flour - should there be any - only for three days. Mostly, the "kulaki" are expelled from their houses and obliged to leave the district within three days. The "kulak" is robbed of all his goods and, in three-quarters of the cases, is far from being an exploiter, is far from having employed hired help, being in all a more industrious and laborious colonist than the others. He may also be designated as a "kulak" for having at a time long past been engaged in some commerce or other in addition to agriculture. (p.68)

(End note 12: AJ 160, Mirkin memorandum, 2/12/30 [12 February 1930])

[1929-1930: Collectives are torpedoed by the rich who are destroying their livestock and eating them]

The result was disastrous. Between October 1929 and March 1930 some 14,000,000 peasant holdings were united in collectives, mostly against the peasants' will. Of these peasants, only the poorer elements were interested in the kolkhozy. Many of the others, forced to enter the collectives, killed off their draft animals and other livestock because from now on the state would be looking after them in any case. A very high proportion of the livestock was literally eaten up.

[2 March 1930: Stalins decision that collectives are voluntary - 10 mio. peasant families leave the collectives - hatred against the state's programs]

Stalin intervened in this situation, and, in an article in Pravda on March 2, 1930, laid down a new line, or rather a retreat from the original concept: collectives were to be voluntary and people could leave them freely. the result was that about 10,000,000 peasant families left the kokhozy between March and May. The enmity toward the collectives and toward the government was such that the peasants, the Ukrainian peasants especially, deeply resented any person who, for whatever reason, stayed on in their collectives.

[1929: 79 new settlements by AMSOJEFS]

The period of collectivization coincided with the beginning of the expansion of Jewish agricultural settlement by the AMSOJEFS and the Agro-Joint. In 1929 79 new groups were settled in the Crimea and three more in the Ukraine. The total number of families settled was 2,276.

(End note 13: AJ 11. Yet a report by Rosen on 2/13/30 claims that over 3,000 families had been settled in 1929 (AJ 2). The lower figure has been accepted as nearer to the truth).

Rosen watched the scene anxiously; his personal sympathies were Menshevik, and he had a great deal of criticism of the regime. Naturally, he tended to exaggerate the influence of the Right, with whom he found common language, and this tended to warp his judgment. He had not believed that Stalin would win, and this had also been the belief of many of Roen's Menshevik friends, who had cooperated with the Bolsheviks in the hope that the latter would modify their policies as time went on.

[1929: Russia has standard of 1914 - the contribution of the Menshevik]

By now Russia had risen from the depths of economic disaster and recovered its position prior to World War I. The Menshevik and other socialist opponents of the Communist party who had remained in Russia and had cooperated with the regime had played a significant role in this achievement.

[First 5 years plan: Nobody knows who Russia comes out]

Now, however, the five-year plan, decried as unrealistic and adventurous, had actually been inaugurated, and Rosen (p.69)

was extremely apprehensive about the outcome, both for Russia and for Russian Jewry.

[24 Jan 1930: Rosen's report about Russia: Liquidation of the NEP and harsh Communist policy - new enemy of the people (lishentsy) definitions]

On January 24, 1930, Rosen cabled that general conditions in Russia had become very difficult. The Stalin group was in complete control and had adopted a decidedly left-wing policy, whose main features were the complete liquidation of the NEP - amounting to a complete eradication of all private business by means of excessive taxation, confiscation of property, arrests, and exile. The plan would put a strain on investments in government industries, with results that were still to be proven; there would be an ostensibly voluntary, but in reality forcible, collectivization of millions of poor and middle-class peasants, combined with ruthless extermination of the "richer" kulaks.

This, said Rosen, would affect Jews comparatively little, as there were practically no kulaks among the settlers and very few among the old colonists. Under the new policy a great number of people had been deprived of voting rights and were now classed as lishentsy; as such, they received no bread cards and were being expelled from the cooperatives. While the government had at least a 50 % chance of succeeding in the collectivization drive, there was real danger of serious peasant disturbances and perhaps even civil war. Rosen reported discussing these matters with "our colleagues and Jewish leaders" (sic!) in Russia. His conclusion was that the Agro-Joint's work must continue, because its very presence in Russia was extremely important.

[5 June 1930: Rosen's interventions: Voting rights and no legal restrictions for former petty traders - Jewish peasants in cooperatives, but no work in government factories - emigration for Jewish lishentsy]

Rosen had achieved practical results with his interventions with government and party officials. One was the restoration of the voting rights of former petty traders and artisans who had employed one workman. This would affect at least 50 % of the Jewish lishentsy, automatically eliminating all legal restrictions for them. Other Jewish groups of lishentsy would be accepted for land settlement practically without restriction and would be admitted into cooperatives with various degrees of limitation; however, neither they nor their children would be accepted in government factories. Moreover, emigration would be made easier for lishentsy who could secure visas and prepaid tickets from abroad.

(End note 14: AJ 4).

Here, Rosen scored a major victory over his leftist opponents (p.70)

among the Jewish Communists. On June 5, 1930, the government did actually publish a decree that in effect restored to about half of the Jewish lishentsy their basic civil rights. The presence of the Agro-Joint seemed justified even if only on the general grounds of acting as a defensive shield for the Jewish masses.

[24 Nov 1929: Smolar reports about four arrested Jews on Crimea]

The situation looked very grim nevertheless. Boris Smolar, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) journalist who happened to be in Russia at that time, cabled on November 24, 1929, that "notwithstanding their loyalty", four of the Jewish colonists in the Crimea

were nevertheless arrested and sentenced to three years' jail each [and] their property confiscated, leaving only the property mortgaged by the Agro-Joint which according to law cannot be confiscated. ... The local population assured me (that) even government officials are aware that (the) arrested submitted all (the surplus grain) they could. However, arrest was made with (the) purpose of showing neighboring non-Jewish peasants that also Jews are arrested.

[13 Feb 1930: Rosen assures Jewish loyalty to the Communist regime - German colonists are disfranchised]

There was no thought of opposing the government's policy. Rosen pointed out that

with reference to the collectivization policy, we will be obliged to fall in line. It would be impossible and inadvisable to carry on Jewish colonization work under a different system from the general government policy.

The fate of the German colonists who were turned back from the borders after unsuccessful attempts to get out of the country and who were permitted to continue their farming methods without collectivization can teach us a good lesson. Their position now is much worse than before. They are being ostracized, are considered enemies of the government and of the country, and do not receive any assistance from the government or any credits from the government agricultural banks, etc.

(End note 15: AJ 2, 2/13/30 [13 February 1930], p.3)

[Agro-Joint: Resistance against further engagement in Stalin's Communist Russia - not in Kherson district]

On the contrary - extremist elements, who wanted to end all foreign participation in the colonization work, managed to more or less force the Agro-Joint out of the Kherson district in the Ukraine, where a number of its colonies were situated.

[24 Nov 1929: Kherson district: Smolar reports that state agronomists are eliminating the Agro-Joint - the Agro-Joint only can bring the Jewish lishentsy to the collective]

Smolar reported that "in the Kherson region, which is now 100 (p.71)

percent collectivized, the Agro-Joint now limits itself to finishing its buildings ... while agricultural supervision there is done by (a) state agronomist who eliminates (the) Agro-Joint. This resulted in Agro-Joint closing its central office in Kherson."

Smolar's contention was that "it remained to the Agro-Joint to either reorganize its methods to follow the collectivization line being dominated by the state or limit itself exclusively to bringing new déclassés from (the) shtetlach on the soil, settling them on collective principles, and leaving them to the government, since the collectives are supposed to be provided for by the government."

(End note 16: AJ 2, 11/24/29 [24 November 1929])

[And the shtetlach are destroyed].

[12 Nov 1931: Rosen's report that collectivization has driven out many Jews from Jewish colonies]

Despite the fact that practically no expulsion of kulaks had taken place in Agro-Joint colonies, the effects of forceful grain collection and collectivization were similar to those in other villages. Rosen's statement on November 12, 1931, admitted that the collectivization "had driven out a good many people from the colonies",

(End note 17: AJ 2, 11/12/31 [12 November 1931] (press conference)

although this had been denied by him (and as a result by JDC in New York) at the time the collectivization actually took place.

[Since 2 March 1930: Jewish colonies are stable]

Some basic differences, however, appeared immediately after Stalin's famous article (March 2, 1930). Basically, as we have seen, the Jewish colonies had been in the habit of practicing cooperative principles. They had done this before the collectivization drive, though the original aim undoubtedly was the establishment of small private farms. After the collectivization drive many of the Jewish collectives remained in existence, and the Jewish farmers hesitated to leave them.

We have no record of the decisions and arguments that must have taken place on this question in the colonies, but most probably the arguments were of a pragmatic nature. The colonies had at least as great a chance as kolkhozy as they had had when they were private villages.

[Since 2 March 1930: Stalin's regulations for some private possession for the peasants]

The new post-March regulations permitted the individual peasant

-- to retain not only his house, but
-- a cow,
-- a small garden and
-- vegetable plot, and
-- a few livestock as well.

[Since 2 March 1930: Stalin's measures for collectives with big machinery]

The full utilization of Agro-Joint tractors and other modern machinery was conditional upon the existence of a large farming area and a rational division of work. On top of that, the government, despite its temporary tactical withdrawal, wanted (p.72)

the collectives to succeed; it gave fiscal concessions and provided cheap seed and other advantages.

[Since 2 March 1930: Jewish farmers remain more or less collectivized]

Generally, the Jewish farmer was not as intimately bound up with his property as his non-Jewish neighbor was. In short, the Jewish colonies by and large remained collectivized.

Rosen cabled on May 27, 1930, that the general situation was much improved, compared to the January-March period. While a deficiency of commodities, especially of foodstuffs, was felt keenly, three factors helped improve the situation: the partial abandonment of left-wing policies, the generally good crop outlook for 1930, and a marked progress in industrial development, resulting in the almost complete disappearance of unemployment for even slightly skilled labor.

Rosen claimed to have definite information that the left wing of the party was preparing a new attack at the coming Communist party conference. This might cause new troubles, but the chances were that the right wing would triumph. Therefore, he felt, Agro-Joint could safely go ahead with its projects. Moreover, Rosen was trying to get Smidovich to oust and to punish the government officials who had shown excessive zeal during the collectivization drive and had caused havoc, especially in the Kherson area.

[18 August 1938: Report from Chicago Daily Tribune about destruction of Jewish colonies in SU is wrong]

The Chicago Daily Tribune, which on August 18, 1938, had declared that the colonies had been "destroyed by the Soviet government, which had decreed that all individual Jewish farmers must be united in communal agricultural establishments", was therefore quite off the mark.

[13 Feb 1930: Rosen is skeptical to the kolkhozy and is predicting government change or civil war]

Rosen himself tended to be skeptical regarding the chances of the kolkhozy while the fierce drive for collectivization was carried on in Russia. It also seems that he was not quite aware of the tremendous force of the government and the bureaucracy that supported the drive. His view, expressed on February 13, 1930, was that "if it does succeed, everything will be fine. On the other hand, if it doesn't, and there are more chances that it won't, there will be two results. They will have to retreat, and the right wing will come into power and change the policy; or it might result in a civil war." (p.73)

(End note 18: AJ 64)

[Since 2 March 1930: Rosen becomes optimistic for kolkhozy - work with Lubarsky for decollectivization]

His view changed after the March article by Stalin, which put an end to the forcible collectivization. This apparently caused him to agree to Lubarsky's going out to the Ukraine to help decollectivize the colonies.

[12 April 1930: Attack from anti-Communist Merezhin against Rosen - and some Jewish farmers don't want to leave the kolkhozy]

There he met not only with determined Communist opposition - on April 12, 1930, Merezhin, vice-president of COMZET, attacked him personally in an article in the Jewish Communist paper Emes - but also, as we have seen, with a reluctance on the part of some of the Jewish farmers to leave the kolkhozy.

[April 1930: Exodus from the kolkhozy]
Others of course, joined in the general exodus from the collectives.

[9 April 1930: Smolar reports that Jewish colonists take cows and horses away from the collectives]

Smolar reported on April 9, 1930, that in the Krivoi Rog region Jewish colonists forcibly took away from the collectives not only their cows but also horses, which was illegal.

(End note 19: AJ 5)

[31 May 1930: Cable of Smolar about fire in Jewish colony Ingulets because of kolkhoz quarrel]

His cable of May 31, 1930, on the other hand, related the sad story of the Jewish colony of Ingulets near Krivoi Rog, where Ukrainian peasants burned down the Jewish colony because the Jews had not abandoned their kolkhoz.

(End note 20: Ibid. [AJ 5])

[Rosen with feelings between efficiency and the bad methods of collectivization]

Rosen himself appears to have been torn between two opposing emotions. One was that "the idea of collectivization in the production of grain is a perfectly sound one,"

(End note 21: AJ 64, 2/13/30 [13 February 1930])

and the other was abhorrence at the method by which this aim had been achieved. Rosen was, after all, a socialist. His sympathy with many aspects of the Soviet regime was real, and the cooperative or collective principles in agriculture were very dear to his heart. In this he was by no means unique.

[Mirkin supports collectivization totally - only an advantage]

Mirkin of ICA, in the report already quoted, went so far as to say: "I must say that all our agronomists and our officials ... are unanimous in recognizing that collectivization has had only favorable results for our activity and for the colonists themselves."

(End note 22: AJ 160, Mirkin memorandum, 2/12/30 [12 February 1930])

[Since May 1930 appr.: Ukraine: Ukrainian farmers are driven back to the collectives by economic pressure]

The Ukrainian peasants took their time in rejoining the collectives they had precipitately left after March 1930. But slowly they were forced back by economic pressures:

-- they were taxed much harder as individual peasants than as collective farmers,
-- they had few draft animals and livestock left,
-- and they simply could not maintain themselves outside the collectives.

[Since May 1930 appr.: Ukraine: Jewish farmers can exist]

The Jewish colonies prospered by comparison.

-- Their livestock had been damaged to a (p.74)

much lesser degree,
-- their method of working of land did not materially change,
-- and they - especially the Agro-Joint colonies - came out of the collectivization drive relatively well.

[Jan 1930: Fund raising of AMSOJEFS - skeptical "US" voices because of collectivization - appeal to invest in Palestine by Zionist newspaper "Reflex"]

Against this background, AMSOJEFS started to apply the money subscribed to it by some of the richer Jewish elements in the United States. Here again the work started with some misgiving. The collectivization drive cast a shadow over the scene. Attacks by Zionists and from rightist elements abounded. "The colonization plan has not only not solved the economic problem of Russian Jewry", wrote the right-wing Zionist [newspaper] Reflex in January 1930, "but has not had the slightest effect on its economic situation. ... The Jewish villager is not better off economically than the city dweller. They are both starving, they are both in despair, economically, physically, and socially, and they are both a prey to the Bolshevik hounds."

Had the JDC's "fifteen or twenty million dollars been invested in Jewish colonization in Palestine, the Jewish position there would have been impregnable, and the Arab, instead of attacking the Jew, would have eaten out of his hand and would have considered him a savior. Woe to a people whose policies are controlled by men whose only wisdom is a big money bag."

[Russia: Jewish Agro-Joint settlements installed - Germans and Tartars on Crimea have to give way to Jews]

Investment for the establishment of colonies was not interrupted. According to one set of JDC figures,

-- in 1929, 2,276 families were settled;
-- in 1930, 2,250;
-- by the end of 1930, it was said that some 12,100 families had been settled by the Agro-Joint on its colonies in the Ukraine and in the Crimea.

It was claimed that 289 colonies had been founded. A Jewish autonomous region was established near Krivoi Rog around the center of Kalinindorf.

German and Tartar settlers in the Crimea had been moved "voluntarily" to allow for close Jewish settlement, and

[Rosen foresees there is no stability in Russia's society and all work can be destroyed soon]

the situation should have satisfied the Agro-Joint. It did, too - at least in New York. But Rosen was too much of a realist not to grasp the meaning of the swift changes in Russian society that were bound to affect his entire effort.

[2.3. Agro-Joint help work in Russia with kassas, health and children 1923-1930]

[Loan kassas]

From the beginning of its reconstructive activities in 1923, JDC had also been engaged in establishing loan kassas, medical aid, (p.75)

child care, and trade schools. This activity was called "non-Agro work" in JDC parlance. Between 1924 and 1933, $ 1,760,000 was spent on this kind of effort. In the 1920s, with Russian industry barely creeping up to its prewar standards, there was, and could be, no hope of industrializing the Jewish masses. Help would have to take the form of loan kassas and child and medical aid - the traditional standbys of JDC work in Eastern Europe. Indeed, very little else could be done - the means placed at Rosen's disposal were too small. Palliative help, such as soup kitchens, would demand much more money, degrade the recipients, and accomplish nothing in terms of the long-term improvement. Rosen did the best he could with the means at his disposal.

At first, up to July 1929, the Agro-Joint supported the loan kassas. These traditional institutions provided credit on easy terms to various elements; but from 1927 on, in accordance with a new Soviet law, they concentrated on loans to artisans. In 1927 there were 370 such kassas, and they aided some 80 % of all Jewish artisans in White Russia and the Ukraine. In 1929 these credit kassas were taken over by the government, after having been helped by the state in up to 80 % of the credits received by them in 1928. In their short existence they had tided a large number of artisans' cooperatives over difficult periods, and they were also instrumental in aiding a number of lishentsy to become full citizens by joining officially recognized artels (government producers' cooperatives). They did not disappear altogether. They were not all absorbed by the state, and in 1930 some sixty-seven of them, with 60,000 members, still existed, together with 21 producer cooperatives not as yet recognized by the government.

However, the overall situation of the Jewish artisan was not materially eased, and new methods of working for the lishentsy and the artisans had to be found. This was done by means of mutual aid societies (the dopomogs), which were recognized by the government as legal institutions and were allowed to look after the lishentsy as well. Their development was very rapid. There were only (p.76)

55 of them in 1927, but by 1931 there were 240 with 250,000 members. 54 of these mutual aid societies were being supported by the Agro-Joint. One of their main characteristics was their gradual unification with the medical societies founded by JDC during its initial help to Russian Jewry in the early 1920s. Its clinics, hospitals, and other institutions were not aided by the government because they were serving mostly lishentsy. JDC supported them, and as the mutual aid societies grew these medical institutions became part of their setup, which included also productive cooperative enterprises. This meant that there was now a source of money for the medical institutions through the productive cooperatives of the aid societies. JDC, mindful of its mandate to help people to help themselves, welcomed this development.

[1931: Agro-Joint's Homes, public kitchens, welfare cases - aid for lishentsy]

By 1931 there were 50 homes for the aged with 1,400 inmates; 40 children's homes; 100 lunchrooms, where 8,000 people were fed at nominal prices; and 4,510 welfare cases that were being handled. Most important, these mutual aid societies established cooperatives composed to a large extent of lishentsy, who were engaged in various kinds of artisanship and thus were working their way back into full citizens' rights.

The marketing of their products was no problem. After 1927 the Russian market absorbed anything that industry could produce, even goods of very shoddy quality. The bottleneck was the provision of raw materials, of which Russia at the time had a limited supply. That supply went to the artels, and only the leftovers, if any, were given to the cooperatives of lishentsy. JDC, through Agro-Joint, tried to supply the aid societies with credits, machinery, and imported raw materials, thus enabling them to establish themselves on a reasonably stable footing.

By 1929 there were 12 producer cooperatives not connected with any society and 63 societies, whose members operated some 300 shops of kustar (artisan) production. In 1929 Agro-Joint advanced about 764,000 rubles in loans to these societies - this included medical work as well - and a great deal was done with these rather small sums. In 1930, 936,000 rubles were spent on (p.77)

these activities, and in 1931 the aid societies operated 345 shops employing 18,680 persons, while 3,000 more persons found a living in the 37 independent producer's cooperatives. The medical societies attached to the aid societies treated 1.5 mio. people that year.

[2.4. The importation of yarn 1929]

[1929: Importation of 20 tons of yarn for Jewish small businesses]

One of the more interesting ventures in this connection, one with as wry aspect to it, was the importation of yarn. Yarn - cotton yarn mainly - was in very short supply, and this fact caused great suffering to the large number of Jewish artisans who were engaged in knitting and other allied occupations. It was simply impossible to obtain Russian yarn. Rosen together with ORT, the vocational training organization partly subsidized by JDC, imported 20 tons of yarn in 1929.

The 69 cooperatives that bought the yarn had to pay high government prices for it. As a result, each of the two organizations reluctantly had to make 83,000 rubles' profit on the transaction, quite apart from providing 3,000 Jewish kustars with raw material. This venture was repeated in 1930. In 1930 and 1931 Agro-Joint realized a profit of 309,000 and 325,000 rubles respectively on these imports; they invested part of the money in loans and advances to the societies and used the other part of the profit to cover administrative expenses.

[1929: Five-year plan: Rosen is skeptical]

In 1929, with the start of the five-year plan, the whole situation changed. At first Rosen did not believe that the government would succeed in its program of investment. He talked of "a tremendously overstrained investment in development of industries", and said that "the government is doing it on a much larger scale than actual conditions permit."

(End note 23: AJ 2, 2/13/30 [13 February 1930], p.3)

[Nov 1931: Five-year plan: Rosen foresees delayed plan - Rosen plans help for Jewish artisans]

In November 1931 Rosen actually believed that Soviet economic development would be at least temporarily retarded. "With industrial development retarded", he said, "a great many of the working people will have to get out and the Jews will be the first to go, as they were the last to join the ranks." He added, "Naturally they will have to return to the farm for a while."

(End note 24: AJ 2, 11/12/31 [11 February 1931] (press conference)]

He and his associates believed in the continued necessity to provide for the Jewish artisan and to expand his possibilities. Even (p.78)

if the industrialization drive succeeded in part, the artisan would still be needed, and any industrialization plan to parallel the government effort would have to organize small-scale production. This did not mean that some Jewish artisans should not be retrained and absorbed into government industries. Such training would certainly be desirable, but the mass of Jewish artisans would have to be helped to establish themselves in their present occupation.

It is of interest to note that some Soviet officials apparently encouraged Rosen in this view.

[13 Nov 1929: Rosen suggests industrialization project for Jewish artisans - no yarn import any more - plan for a yarn production with spinneries in Russia itself]

On November 13, 1929, he suggested an industrialization project that was to establish the Jewish artisan in Russia on a solid, self-supporting basis, whatever the outcome of the five-year plan. The two major aims of the program were:

1. Placement of several thousand young Jewish workingmen in government factories in cooperation with the Supreme Economic Council, along the lines of their five-year plan.

2. Provision of bases for the production of raw materials for Jewish artisans - members of the Jewish Cooperative Credit societies - independent of imports and independent of government supplies.

As to point 2, which was the major issue, three trades were "Jewish" at that time: knitting, weaving, and woodworking. The idea of repeating the yarn import attempt was abandoned.

Dollars would have to be spent on the import of raw materials and then changed into rubles, which could not be reconverted into dollars to provide a revolving fund.It was suggested therefore that three factories for the production of raw materials be established:

-- an artificial silk yarn spinnery in Kiev, for which the raw material (cellulose) was available;
-- a wool yarn spinnery at Simferopol,
-- and a cotton yarn spinnery at Kharkov.

Together these three factories would supply raw materials for an estimated 10,500 artisans out of 260,000 Jewish artisans then in Russia. The financing was to be done by JDC like the financing for AMSOJEFS: by private subscription. The first phase would have as its goal $ 1.5 million, spread over three years, and the subscribers would be given government (p.79)

bonds bearing 5 % interest. Part of the money would still be invested in imports, such as needles and some machinery, and the ruble proceeds of these would finance the training of skilled workmen and artisans.

(End note 25: AJ 58)

The plan created enthusiasm among many AMSOJEFS subscribers. It was, after all, logical to supplement the agricultural settlement by a parallel industrialization plan that would help solve the Jewish problem - so they thought - by turning the Jews into an equal and integrated part of the Soviet society. Subscriptions were solicited, and Rosenwald again agreed that any sum collected would be considered to be three-eighths of the collection; he himself would supply the other five-eighths.

[2.5. Five-year plan - Jews in the industrialization in industrial combines 1929-1933]

[Jewish artisans are integrated in industrial combines]

The five-year plan, however, surged ahead. In fact it surged ahead faster than many Russian officials had anticipated. It created a tremendous revolution in Soviet society. At the price of a great deal of suffering during the four years of the actual operation of the plan, especially on the part of the peasantry, the Soviet Union began its transition to an industrial country. This vitally affected the Jews as well. Suddenly the notion that a large class of artisans would still be needed seemed outmoded. At an increasing rate Jewish artisans were being absorbed into industrial combines.

On February 7, 1930, Rosen said that "under the present conditions in Russia, it would be undesirable to undertake to enter into a new agreement with the government for the proposed industrial project, for which subscriptions had been received from a number of subscribers to the AMSOJEFS."

(End note 26: AJ 2)

In fact, Baerwald seemed to sense that Rosen was not as sure of himself on the industrialization project as he had been on the agricultural one.

[Since March 1930: Stalin's regime allows Rosen's program]

But then there was another change. In the spring of 1930, with a setback in the collectivization drive after Stalin's Pravda article, the Soviets were amenable to taking another look at Rosen's program.

In May and again in June Rosen pressed the New York office to give him the green light for an ambitious extension of his original program: up to $ 1 million was to be spent each year for three years for the projects originally proposed and a few more of the same kind. (p.80)

In Jude, with about 50 % of the lishentsy reinstated, the possibilities of such an expansion seemed to rise.

[Nov 1929: Stock exchange crash in New York - sinking funds in the Joint for Russian Jews]

But then two factors intervened that buried the project altogether. One was the economic crisis that in late 1929 began to grip the United States. Profits were sinking; businesses went under at an alarming rate; and with breadlines in the United States lengthening daily, money was not available for the reorganization of Jewish economy in Russia.

Nevertheless, Hyman and Baerwald make heroic efforts to collect subscriptions. Rosen was told to scale down his demands. By August 1930 he was suggesting a subscription of a quarter of a million dollars yearly for three years. But even that was too much, and plans for JDC-Soviet cooperation on a large scale had to be abandoned.

In January 1931 Rosen suggested a budget of $ 100,000 for that year, but even that was unattainable. In fact, a total of $ 44,355 was collected of which five-eighths came from Rosenwald. This was spent in 1931, maintaining at least partly those activities that the Agro-Joint was already engaged in. On December 23, 1931, the JDC office informed Rosenwald that they considered the matter "entirely closed".

[1930-1932: Collectivization by taxation and discrimination of private farmers]

While the economic crisis was in itself sufficient to kill any JDC participation in the industrialization program, one other major factor must be mentioned. The years 1930-32 saw the final success of the collectivization drive, with peasants entering the collectives whether they liked it or not because of government taxation pressure and discrimination against private farming, coupled with the results of the mass slaughter of livestock.

[Surplus farm population gets into the heavy industry]

At the same time, unemployment was entirely eradicated, and the surplus farm population of the Soviet Union began to be siphoned off into the new heavy industry. Jews were drawn into this maelstrom of transformation.

[1932: No Jewish economic problem any more by integration as workers in the industry]

By 1932 there were 787,000 Jewish wage earners, 350,000 of whom were employed in factories. In other words, about 1.5 million of the 2.7 million Jews in Soviet Russia were now connected with factory life.

(End note 27: Emes of 3/25/32 [25 March 1932], cited by the Chicago Chronicle of 7/22/32 [22 July 1932])

This tended to eliminate not only the problem of the Jewish artisan, ex-trader, and lishenets, but the whole Jewish economic problem in the Soviet Union. Soviet society, by changing its basic (p.81)

structure, seemed to have absorbed the Jews on equal terms. In the Ukraine, 20.7 % of the industrial workers in 1932 were Jews, although the Jewish population was only 5.4 %. The Jews had become proletarians, which in Soviet Russia meant equality of opportunity and advancement.

Rosen, too, had changed his views. By October 1931 he was stating clearly that the development of industries in Russia was actually proceeding apace. When Russia started out with its first five-year plan, most people were rather skeptical about it and had talked to him about it in a cynical way. By 1931 nobody could deny that Russia had made tremendous progress with its industrial development, as well as with the industrialization of farming methods.

(End note 28: AJ 66, 10/8/31 [8 October 1931])

[Crimea: Many Jewish farmers on collectives return back to their shtetlach - and take further education for industrialization]

The same process deeply affected the colonization program. During collectivization, some Jewish farmers in the Crimea tended to run away because of the collectivization drive. Rosen himself stated that "400 families had run away from the colonies during the drive."

(End note 29: AJ 2, 2/13/30 [13 February 1930], p.3)

Zionist colonies had their Hebrew names changed, and the Communists instituted strict political control. "Great numbers of Jewish settlers who were brought during last month from shtetlach into colonies to join collectives are returning home", cabled Smolar from Moscow in April [1930]. They were saying that recent Soviet decrees opened wider possibilities for them in shtetlach than in collective colonies. This resulted in a lack of laborers on the farms and endangered the existence of many Jewish collectives, which had to go to the expense of hiring labor. Even when they arrived, new Jewish settlers didn't remain on the collectives.

(End note 30: AJ 5, 4/14/30 [14 April 1930])

People began to leave the colonies not because of pressure, but because of the greater opportunities outside them. At an industrial training school in Odessa subsidized by JDC, 20 % of the students came from Jewish colonies. The younger generation could go to the factory, back to the city life to which they had been accustomed. In time, educational opportunities opened up, and colleges and universities beckoned; Soviet Russia needed technicians and scientists. The need for ex-lishentsy to escape their status by settling the land diminished to an ever-increasing extent, and OZET found it more and more difficult to get candidates for the colonies. (p.82)

[Technical conditions on the Jewish farmer colonies improve by electricity etc.]

On the other hand, the existing colonies became better established and more prosperous. Electricity was introduced into most of them. Dispensaries, schools, and even cultural institutions were opened. By 1931 Rosen and JDC sponsors in the United States were saying that the colonization experiment had proved to be a resounding success. In 1931 they still believed in "the necessity (that) still exists and will for many years" to settle Jews on land, but after 1931 this kind of sentiment was no longer voiced. However, growth of the colonies did not stop altogether or all at once.

By a well-calculated stroke, Rosen obtained more land and greater compactness of settlement in return for the importation of 300 tractors at the height of the agricultural difficulties in the latter part of the first five-year plan period.

[Crimea: 1,800 Jewish families]

In 1931 1,800 families were settled, about 50 % of the number originally planned; the Jews had become the third largest group in the Crimea.

(End note 31: Norman Bentwich in B'nai B'rith Magazine, February 1932)

[1932-1933: New famine in Russia - the reasons]

Then in 1932/3 another famine struck the Soviet Union. The reasons for this famine were many. There was the increased expenditure for military purposes, which meant that valuable fuel resources were used by the armed forces rather than by civilians, including those engaged in agriculture. Many farmers were, of course, disaffected; the most efficient people, the kulaks, had been deported; and agriculture was, organizationally speaking, in a state of confusion. On top of all that, there was a drought. With no reserves, no resources to draw on, the result was famine.

[2.6. Agro-Joint activities going down by industrialization since 1930 - schools]

[1933: Jewish farmer settlements not attractive any more]

The growth of industry, on one hand, and the repeated disasters of Soviet agriculture, on the other, made agricultural settlement considerably less attractive to Russian Jews. Settlement was much lower in 1933; after 1934 no more claims are made of families settling on land in the Crimea, the Ukraine, or White Russia. JDC claimed that altogether 14,036 families had been settled in its (p.83)

colonies by 1934. There are some doubts as to the accuracy of the figure, but it can serve as a general indication of the extent of the colonization effort.

[Agro-Joint trade schools and training courses]

One other aspect of JDC work in Russia was of great importance in the history of Russian Jewry: the development of trade schools and training courses. There were several of these.

[Agro-Joint's trade schools - Odessa: Children's home becomes trade school - Agro-Joint schools become part of the Russian industrialization]

But the most interesting one was Evrabmol in Odessa. this had started as an orphans' home after World War I, under the directorship of P.M. Kaganovsky. It acquired land on the outskirts of Odessa and established a training farm. Later the home moved back into the city and became a technical school. The children, some of whom did not even know the names of their parents, were saved from life in the streets and the catacombs of Odessa and became useful citizens.

Beginning in the early 1920s Evrabmol was supported by JDC and became an eminently successful school; in l1929/30 it began to pay its own way by selling the products of its shops. It then became attached to the Commissariat (Ministry) of Heavy Industry and, with the benevolent help of the Odessa town soviet (municipality), continued to develop to the satisfaction of everyone concerned.

Evrabmol, two other institutions in Odessa, and schools and courses at Dnepropetrovsk, Nikolaev, and other places had some 8,580 students in 1930. These schools and courses, originally under the Commissariat of Education, were transferred to the industrial commissariats in the course of the five-year plan.

This meant that the Agro-Joint was playing a certain part in the absorption of Jewish youths into the swiftly growing industry, despite its failure to establish the industrialization program with significant American financial help. The attempt was made to direct the student toward heavy industry, mainly the metal industry, in such new trades as that of automobile mechanic. These were high-priority areas in Soviet industrialization, and had the Jews stuck to their traditional trades, their chances of partaking in the tremendous revolution that was going on would have diminished considerably.

Another factor has to be considered. In 1931 the Soviet government began a series of economic negotiations with Western governments. (p.84)

[Foreign technicians at the schools give motivation for pupils]

At the same time, foreign technicians came in in rather significant numbers, and the attitude toward technicians and experts generally was little short of adulation in Russia. Wage differentials between these experts and ordinary citizens grew swiftly, and Jewish trainees were encouraged to dream of becoming members of this favored class. The efforts of Agro-Joint to establish, maintain, and equip trade schools, apart from or in cooperation with the ORT schools, must be seen against that general background. Government encouragement and interest in these schools was very obvious, and, as industrialization proceeded, so did the hunger of Soviet industry for skilled workers. By the time the government took these schools over from the Agro-Joint in 1935, there were 42 of them, some operating at a very high level of training.

[Odessa: Vinchevsky Technical School - training in Kremenchug]

Two of these schools should be mentioned here. One was the Vinchevsky Technical School in Odessa, and the other was a special training course instituted in the town of Kremenchug. The Vinchevsky School was actually the continuation of one of the Jewish trade schools that had been set up during the czarist regime. The Soviets had taken over this school, and the Agro-Joint developed it into one of the most important technical schools in the Ukraine.

(End note 32: AJ 2, Rosen's letter, March 1936)

[Agro-Joint shops for Jewish lishentsy to get out of the banned status]

Also, in their shops the mutual aid societies trained artisans who were thus enabled to escape their lishentsy status and eventually to enter government factories. An interesting example of this is provided by the development in Georgia, in the Caucasus. There, Georgian Jews formed a mutual aid society in 1929, with an initial capital of 16 rubles (officially, $ 8). The Agro-Joint stepped in, and with its help 82 artels were organized by 1931, employing 2,568 persons, of whom 2,053 were Jews. The chief trades were knitting and needlework, reflecting the occupational structure of Georgian - but not just Georgian - Jewry.

(End note 33: AJ 20)

[Agro-Joint schools are factor for job changing and integration of Jews into Soviet industry]

In the course of its industrial activity, Agro-Joint made a conscious effort to direct Jews away from their traditional occupations. The production of lathes and other machinery at Evrabmol, the production of dental burrs at Kiev - these efforts were made with (p.85)

a clearly formulated aim of helping to change the occupational structure of Russian Jewry. Ultimately, however, the relative success of this occupational change depended on whether the Jews could be "fitted into the general structure of the economic and social life of the country."

(End note 34: AJ 2, Rosen's letter, March 1936)

This the government did, and it was the economic revolution of the five-year plan rather than any Jewish effort that enabled the Jews to be absorbed in the newly created industrial structure.

The Agro-Joint helped in this process, eased the transition, and spared many Jews a great deal of privation. But it must be recognized that it was not because of any accomplishment by the Agro-Joint that some 350,000 Jews became factory workers in the course of the first five-year plan. This fact was fully recognized by Rosen, and he was to draw certain conclusions from it.

[1934: Industrialization is fixed - Agro-Joint is less needed]

By 1934 Agro-Joint industrial work was completed. Soviet industry had become a giant, still rather unsteady on its huge feet, but a giant all the same. The help of a foreign organization dealing specifically with transitional problems could be dispensed with. The 644 shops of the aid societies were still employing 8,278 workers, and this included the 66 aided by Agro-Joint. These were taken over by the government in 1934.

At the same time, in October 1934, the Ukrainian Red Cross absorbed the medical societies under an agreement that insured equal treatment to the lishentsy. By that time the whole lishentsy problem had been solved, to all intents and purposes. Only some religious and older people (less than 5 % of the Jewish population) were still affected, and there was no longer any justification for maintaining a large administration and special institutions for these unfortunate people. Members of their families could supply them with the bare necessities of life, and though their position was far from pleasant, JDC's help no longer seemed necessary.

[1932: Agro-Joint's funds melt down by depression in the "USA" - death of Rosenwald on 6 Jan 1932]

In the meantime, as a result of the economic disaster that had struck America, subscribers found it harder and harder to honor their subscriptions. By 1932 the situation had become critical. It must be remembered that JDC's collections went down to a low of $ 385,000 in 1932, and budgets were cut most cruelly at a time (p.86)

when the need was overwhelming. Only the agricultural work in Russia, secured as it was by individual contractual subscriptions, continued. The society supplied its $ 1 million yearly and thus enabled Rosen to continue his work. This unique situation could not continue, and in 1932 AMSOJEFS found that it would have to cease payments.

[At the same time Stalin is laughing at capitalism in it's depression of bourse speculation].

The direct cause for this disaster was the death, on January 6, 1932, of Julius Rosenwald, whose wealth had been invested largely in stocks. The probate of his will was a very complicated affair, and the claims of tax collectors and creditors had to be settled before payments of AMSOJEFS could be expected. In fact, there was the real danger that with the devaluation of stocks, the estate would have difficulties in satisfying the demands of both creditors and tax people. Payments on the subscriptions to AMSOJEFS were out of the question. In this situation the leaders of JDC entrusted to Rosen the delicate task of negotiating with the Soviet government a new agreement, which would prelude the actual cash payment of any more money by American subscribers.

Rosen's trump card was the amount of ruble assets JDC had accumulated in Russia and which JDC had at least a theoretical right to take out in dollars.

[1930-1932: Stalin's regime does not need foreign organizations any more - restrictions]

But by 1932 the Russians were no longer as eager to negotiate with a foreign organization as they had been before. Rumblings against foreign organizations had been heard before, and as early as December 11, 1929, Grower had declared to JTA that "some minor people agitate against foreign organizations without any hope of success in responsible circles."

(End note 35: AJ 4)

These agitations turned out not to be so minor after all, and Diamanstein, leader of the Yevsektsia, had some very harsh things to say about the Agro-Joint at an OZET Congress in 1930. "Agro-Joint does not understand Soviet policy and does not want to understand it." He said that the Soviet people needed to utilize these organizations, especially as they had agreements with the Soviet government, but he added that the government authorities must supervise these organizations to insure that they were under the proper direction.

(End note 36: AJ 59, JTA [Jewish Telegraphic Agency] report, December 1930)

This was too much for Rosen. At the beginning of 1931 he wrote (p.87)

a very strong letter to COMZET about the active campaign against the Agro-Joint. To his complaint Rosen added a threat: "The people at the head of our organization have no desire whatsoever to impose our work on anybody and it is entirely out of the question for us to be in a position of a 'tolerated' organization."

(End note 37: AJ 11, 1/30/31 [30 January 1931])

The answer, signed by Smidovich, was sent after discussions with the government, and apparently the extremists were defeated. "The articles and speeches of private individuals", the COMZET letter of February 16, 1930, said, "do not in any way reflect the attitude of the government toward the work of the Agro-Joint."

While this was a clear repudiation of the position of the Communist Left, undercurrents in the party against the Agro-Joint grew stronger. In April 1931 Lubarsky was arrested and spent a month in prison before Rosen managed to get him out. In 1932 the Soviets were ready to reduce the Agro-Joint work in Russia by stages.

(End note 38: AJ 11, AJ 90)

[1932 appr.: JDC claims that SU regime has not fulfilled the agreement of 1929 - but there is more SU money in the Agro-Joint colonies than foreseen]

At first JDC gave some consideration to the idea of camouflaging their lack of ability to pay by suing the USSR for not having fulfilled the contract conditions, in accordance with an arbitration clause in the 1929 agreement. This clause was based on the principle of rebus sic stantibus: the agreement was held to have been violated by the government's having changed, by its policy of collectivization, the conditions under which the Agro-Joint conducted the work. Farm settlements in Russia would have been considerably less attractive in the eyes of Jewish subscribers in the United States had they known that their money would in fact go into the kolkhoz settlements. In the end, however, JDC refrained from any attempt to sue the Russians. The work was deemed to have succeeded after all, and the Russian government had certainly fulfilled the financial conditions; in fact, they had spent considerably more in rubles on Agro-Joint colonies than they had been bound by contract to do.

By 1933, $ 4,857,563 was actually paid on the subscriptions, of which the Rosenwald share amounted to about $ 3 million of the $ 5 million promised. The sum of $ 4,725,000 had actually been sent to Russia, and $ 2,475,000 was still to come under the original (p.88) eight-year agreement (1928 to 1935).

[14 April 1933: New agreement between JDC and the Soviet regime]

On April 14, 1933, Rosen sighed a new agreement with the Soviet government. The Soviets had given AMSOJEFS bonds for the money they had actually received, which they would ultimately have to redeem. Interest was also to be paid up to the end of the eight-year contract. They now accepted a part of these bonds and waived payment of interest in lieu of the money the society owed them. After that, part of the bonds for the money they had received from America still remained in the hands of AMSOJEFS. They now issued bonds for the $ 2,475,000 they had received through the new agreement, and thus left AMSOJEFS with $ 5,352,000 in Soviet bonds bearing a 5 % interest.

(End note 39:
The total amount of interest the Soviets would have had to pay on the $ 4,725,000 until the end of 1935 was $ 627,000. This they accepted as payment from AMSOJEFS. In addition, AMSOJEFS handed back to the Soviets Soviet bonds in the amount of $ 1,848,000 out of the $ 4,725,000 in bonds that the Soviets had given AMSOJEFS when they received the money from America. Together, these two sums came to $ 2,475,000 which AMSOJEFS owed the Soviet government. For these bonds and waiver of interest which was worth dollar payment, the Soviets issued new bonds ($ 2,475,000) which, together with the $ 2,877,000 in bonds that had remained in the hands of AMSOJEFS after the $ 1,848,000 had been paid, made for a total of $ 5,352,000 in Soviet bonds, which were partly repaid and partly returned by agreement by the end of 1940. The 1933 agreement was, of course, extremely favorable to AMSOJEFS).

at the same time an agreement was reached on the Agro-Joint assets in Russia. Assets worth 5.6 million rubles were handed over to the government, and the government in turn gave the Agro-Joint the equivalent in cash and credits. The Agro-Joint promised to use the money for intensive plantation programs, various kinds of training courses, administration, and other items.

The agreement was profitable to both sides. The Agro-Joint was relieved of the need to supply more cash, and the Russians obtained a firm legal hold over the Agro-Joint estates in their country, improved their financial arrangement with the society, and at the same time began the process of an orderly termination of the society's affairs in their country.

[Since 1933: Agro-Joint activities going down in Russia]

The end had clearly arrived. As we have seen, the possibilities of agricultural settlement in Russia were decreasing rapidly. Rosen claimed that in 1933 only 1,400 families were settled in the Crimea, but even this looked rather doubtful.

(End note 40: AJ 2, 4/14/34 [14 April 1934])

Jews now did not have to go to the Crimea in order to become small-scale farmers on the outskirts of villages and towns, but could do so wherever they lived. The Jewish economic position continued to improve, and the Agro-Joint and its operations seemed to be more and more superfluous.

[1931: Ukraine: Agro-Joint liquidated by industrialization]

In 1931 the Ukrainian work was liquidated, the Agro-Joint having simply been told that they had nothing more to do there. (p.89)

(End note 41: AJ 11, 4/30/31 [30 April 1931])

[1932-1934: Crimea: Agro-Joint experts on Jewish settlements]

In 1932-34, work was concentrated in the Crimea. Government supervision in all respects except the purely agroeconomic one was complete. Some of the assets of the Agro-Joint were  not, it s true, handed over: for example, the Jankoy tractor station and repair shop, buildings in Simferopol and Moscow, supplies, and commodities. Even after the termination of its actual settlement work in 1934, the Agro-Joint still maintained a large staff of experts who, with income from the existing assets and some very small sums in dollars, continued to advise the settlements about their agricultural production. The Jankoy station was one of the prototypes of the MTS tractor stations that were to provide tractor work for the kolkhozy later on. In other respects too, such as well-drilling and horticulture, Agro-Joint help was still significant.

But Rosen's absences from Russia grew longer and longer, and the work was slowly reduced to a minimum.

[1937: Agro-Joint in Russia is going down]

In 1937 the Agro-Joint still had 6 million rubles' worth of assets, but its staff (which at the peak of colonization numbered some 3,000 employees) had dwindled to about 100.

The fact that the Agro-Joint's presence was becoming undesirable in 1937/8 was made very evident. This was the time of the purges, and it was unthinkable that a foreign organization like the Agro-Joint would be allowed to carry on much longer. Smidovich died in 1935 and was succeeded by a Stalinist bureaucrat named Chuchkaieff. The end was near.

[2.7. The Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan project for Jews from Russia and Poland 1926-1935]

[Since 1926: Biro-Bidjan is far away from Jewish centers in Russia]

In the mid-thirties a new factor appeared, which seemed to promise a certain reversal of the trend that was pushing the Agro-Joint out of Soviet Russia. This was the question of Biro-Bidjan and the prospects of immigration into Russia.

Back in 1926 the Soviet government had put forward a proposal to set aside the territory of Biro-Bidjan, on the Amur River in the Far East, for settlement by the Jews. If enough Jews settled there, a Soviet Jewish republic would be set up; the Jewish nation would have the benefit of a territorial basis, like all the other nationalities in the Soviet Union.

Kalinin, the president of the Soviet Union, was a particularly ardent proponent of this scheme and expressed his views in a (p.90)

number of speeches. But acceptance of the scheme by Jewish Communist circles in Russia was rather equivocal. Some Jewish Communists thought that this was a reversion to Jewish nationalism or Zionism. Indeed, that is how the Zionists themselves saw it: as a belated recognition of the fact that the Jews were an ex-territorial nation whose national revolution could only be achieved by the settlement of a land of their own. Of course they did not accept Biro-Bidjan as the final goal, but hoped that an early failure of the experiment would open the way for Soviet recognition of Palestine-centered Zionism.

JDC was approached about - indeed, pressured into - accepting the Biro-Bidjan project and working there. Rosen, however, was wary. The Crimean venture was still in the making, conditions there were relatively good, and he was disinclined to embark on a wild project in the middle of nowhere, thousands of miles from the centers of Jewish life in Russia. Biro-Bidjan obviously needed investigation, and the fact that the government wanted to populate areas on its borders with Japanese-controlled Manchuria and to exploit its natural resources was no argument in favor of Agro-Joint's participation.

[Since late 1920s: Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan becomes attractive because of discriminations in Poland and by NS governments]

This situation changed considerably with the advent of the Hitler regime and the decided worsening of the economic conditions for Polish Jewry. Soviet Russia was now playing with the idea of providing an asylum for victims of Nazi persecution; Biro-Bidjan could develop into a national home that was not necessarily restricted to Russian Jews.

In 1931 Rosen reported that he had been officially approached by COMZET to assist in the immigration of 10,000 Jewish families, of whom half would go to agriculture, half would come from Poland, and many would go to Biro-Bidjan.

(End note 42: AJ 66, 10/8/31 [8 Ocotober 1931])

Rosen's reaction was cool. With the pressure mounting, early in 1932 Kahn defined his attitude to the question in a letter to Max M. Warburg in Hamburg.

(End note 43: AJ 173, 2/14/32 [14 February 1932])

Stating that Biro-Bidjan was one of the so-called territorialist projects (envisaging the concentration of Jews in a territory or territories outside of Palestine), he said that (p.91)

these so-called territorialists are now becoming stronger everywhere in the world, and especially this movement is winning support among the youth, since one can see for himself that Palestine is not in a position to relieve the needs among the Jews and that a mass immigration to Palestine is not possible. Utilizing this psychological situation, the highest Russian officialdom have now in their sessions for some time determined to make available in Biro-Bidjan a territory in which a Jewish national entity could develop.

But, added Kahn,

at the present time for the Jews of Russia the better possibility for support lies in industry and in the factories, so that the Russians have proceeded to enlist foreign Jews for Biro-Bidjan. A number of Jews from the Argentine have already emigrated there, as have also 20 young people from Germany and 200 from Lithuania  and Latvia. In view of increasing unemployment, it is believed that perhaps even unemployed from America and Palestine will settle in Biro-Bidjan. At this time there are about 5,500 Jewish persons which is approximately double the amount of a year ago. This year 12,000 new immigrants are to be sent there, and in the year 1933 they plan to settle 20,000 there. ... I personally do not believe in the success of this settlement. What has been achieved there up to now does not justify great hopes.

This was probably an expression of Rosen's vies also.

There the matter rested till about the middle of 1934. However, with the refugee problem growing worse in Western Europe and the Polish Jewish problem becoming more acute, Rosen slowly came around to the view that Biro-Bidjan should be considered.

[Oct-Nov 1934: Joint representatives inspect Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan]

With his closest co-workers, Lubarsky, Grower, and Zaichik, he made a trip through Biro-Bidjan in October and November 1934. His observations in no way different from previous reports, such as those of a committee of experts sent by the pro-Communist ICOR group in New York in 1929, or the observations of David A. Brown, who visited the territory in 1932. It was clear that a great deal of investment would be needed to make the territory feasible for agricultural settlement. But Rosen was now more optimistic than he had been before;

[Soviet regime uses force labor for infrastructure works in Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan]

the government had promised large sums (p.92)

to improve the land and was employing kulak prisoners and Red army men to build roads, railroads, and drainage canals. Rosen's major point was that the Soviet government had offered a place of refuge, and that could not be refused.

[Agro-Joint leadership organized Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan for eventual emigration of Polish Jewry]

The JDC leadership now convened to discuss the situation. To people like James N. Rosenberg the situation was simple: "Do we wish to give hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews an opportunity to emigrate to a country ready and willing to open up their borders for immigration?"

(End note 44: AJ 23, 1/26/35 [26 January 1935])

Rosen himself "conceded that years back, he had very definitely stated that no private or philanthropic organization should engage in this work until all the prerequisites had been brought about; that it would entail very large government expenditure." But now the situation was different, and so were the needs. "There are men in the government who feel very keenly the plight of the Jews in Germany and elsewhere, and whose attitude certainly can be regarded as actuated by humanitarian feelings. The importance of Biro-Bidjan lay not so much in the immediate results as in the development of potential possibilities for immigration."

(End note 45: AJ 86, 6/20/35 [20 June 1935])

[Plan of immigration and financial agreement for Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan]

The Soviet proposal was that 1,000 Jewish families and 500 single people would be settled, some in Biro-Bidjan, some in the Crimea (100 families) and the Ukraine, in both agriculture and industry. The Agro-Joint would provide the money to transport them to the Russian border and then supervise the agricultural settlement in the Crimea and in Biro-Bidjan. The money was to come from $ 1.2 million of AMSOJEFS bonds that were to be handed to the Soviets. The Agro-Joint would get $ 200,000 in hard currency for expenditures outside Soviet Russia, and $ 1 million in Russian goods would be bought at gold ruble prices. The government of the USSR would add 25 million rubles as a counterpart to the American fund.

The immigrants would be chosen by the government, as the Agro-Joint refused to be responsible for that part of the scheme. The newcomers would have a right to leave Russia within a given period. But the whole question of citizenship and military service (p.93)

was still not agreed upon by the time Rosen brought up the proposals for discussion in June 1935.

[June 1935: JDC meetings about Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan - Stalin regime takes over the costs - Polish government is also interested - work of Joint in Poland without effect]

At these meetings, at one of which members of ICA participated with JDC executives, Rosen explained this scheme further. In contrast to South America and other countries outside of Palestine, Biro-Bidjan was the only undeveloped country in the world where there were vast immigration possibilities for thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, and it was the only country where the government would be willing to bear the major part of the cost, thanks to the fact that the Russian government was anxious to promote settlement in those Far Eastern regions.

In his informal discussions with the Polish officials, Rosen gathered that the Polish government was alive to the problem of the Jews, knew that they could not be absorbed in Poland, and would help in any plan to send large numbers out of the country. "As I see the whole question", he said, "practically every country in Europe is trying to push the Jews out as a foreign body - some in a gross way - some in a finer way." Only Russia was prepared not only not to push Jews out but actually to take them in.

From what I know of the work of JDC, the (Reconstruction) Foundation, ICA, etc., I must say quite frankly that a good deal of this very important work - I do not want to minimize it - a good deal of the so-called reconstruction work that has been carried on is not in the real meaning of the word reconstructive. There is no use hiding your heads under your tails. ... The people assisted there remain just petty traders with the few rubles (sic!) you give them. The younger generation is not getting the advantages of Umschichtung (occupational restratification) in the real meaning of the word. The kassas are making visible efforts, but they are all comparatively insignificant. This applies to the loan kassas in all countries.

The competition was great, Rosen went on, and it was highly doubtful if they could hold on very much longer. The Russians were "honest and decent and sincere" in their opposition to anti-Semitism and their support for a complete equality of opportunity. (p.94)

[Rosen: Russia is projected to be the main immigrant country for Jews]

Generally, he said, "there is no specific Jewish problem in Russia except an insignificant one - that of helping a few of the religious people out", and he was doing that. As for the rest, Russia was becoming a country of immigration, the country of immigration, and it would be irresponsible not to utilize that.

Rosen also suggested a scheme whereby machinery would be imported into Russia by a JDC financial operation; this would add working funds to the Agro-Joint in Russia. But it was the immigration scheme that aroused discussion and interest.

(End note 46: AJ 13, 6/15/35 [15 June 1935])

Rosen, as he had made abundantly clear, was not a Communist. At a press conference held in 1931,

(End note 47: AJ 2, 11/12/31 [12 November 1931])

Rosen had declared that he was not a Bolshevik. But, he added, the Russian government had approached the Jewish problem better than any other government had done, and for this it should receive full recognition. There was more to it than that, however. His close working relations with Soviet Officials had led him to appreciate the positive side of the Soviet regime, and he was undoubtedly impressed with the sincerity of those officials - unfortunately unknown to us - who made the offer.

[1935: 21 German Jewish doctors immigrating to Russia]

In 1935 it was clear to him that it was not the hope of acquiring hard currency that influenced Soviet thought, for the Soviets had developed a favorable balance of payments and they were producing gold in large quantities. It was other aspects of the project that interested them. As an experiment, they had accepted 21 German Jewish doctors who had been screened by JDC; for the most part these doctors came from refugee barracks in France.

[Doubts in JDC about Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan]

The attitudes of the participants in the discussions varied. Lessing Rosenwald had doubts, but these were centered more on the climate and the fact that Biro-Bidjan was so close to the Japanese border than on the implications arising from the establishment of a Soviet Jewish state. As far as he was concerned, he said, "that would not enter his consideration. Those people who would want to seize on that as an argument would find it." Dr. Oungre of ICA and Alexander Kahn and Dr. Cyrus Adler of JDC opposed the project because they doubted the stability of Soviet conditions and (p.95)

were afraid of the antireligious activities of the Soviets.

[Warburg's arguments for Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan - green light for Biro-Bidjan]

Warburg argued that the Russians had always honored their debts, that they were sincere, and that no one knew what would become of the three million Jews in Poland. This opportunity should not be rejected, he said. The calm reigning at the moment in Russo-Polish relations might not last, and the opportunity should be grasped now. This was the attitude that was finally adopted by a large majority of those consulted, and Rosen was given the green light.

(End note 48: AJ 86, 6/20/35 [20 June 1935])

[2.8. First Stalinist terror wave - all plans for Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan end in smoke 1936]

[1935-1936: First Stalinist terror wave - Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan is not an aim any more]

However, fate intervened. The documents themselves are meager, and we can only rely on Rosen's cables advising JDC that difficulties had arisen, that postponements were essential, and that negotiations were proceeding. This, one must remember, was the period of the first great wave of Stalinist terror, after the assassination of Kirov in December 1934.

It would seem that those who had proposed the scheme to Rosen were the very persons who belonged to the forces that were destined to be purged; the Stalinist bureaucracy and ideology were hardly susceptible to the kind of argument advanced in favor of mass Jewish immigration into the Soviet Union.

On October 21, 1935, Rosen cabled that under the pressure of certain government departments, COMZET insisted that foreign organizations should not carry on direct operative work in Biro-Bidjan but should confine themselves to merely helping immigrants come to Russia; the actual development and settlement work there should be carried on by government agencies. "We prefer keeping out of Biro-Bidjan altogether until attitudes are changed or substantially modified."

(End note 49: AJ 99)

[23 July 1936: Rosen reports that Stalin instigates a process wave against Jewish immigrants]

With Biro-Bidjan no longer on the agenda, various palliatives were considered. The negotiations dragged on throughout the spring and summer of 1936, until they finally exploded in July. In a final letter, dated July 23, 1936, Rosen attributes the failure to the changed situation, internationally and internally.

One of the German Jewish doctors whom we brought in is being accused of having been in the service of the Gestapo, and two of (p.96)

the Polish Jewish immigrants have been exposed as informers of the Polish Intelligence Service. These Polish Jews came in not through us, but the effect as far as the government is concerned is the same. In the case of the Jewish doctor, it is possible that he had been denounced by his father-in-law, who is an Aryan and a Nazi official. ... It is true that one out of over 100 doctors is a small percentage but, as the Russians say, "One drop of tar spoils a barrel of honey."

[Rosen's critics against JDC that they never said "Thank you" to Stalin]

Rosen still had hopes that Litvinov's influence might change the negative attitude of officialdom, but he also accused JDC of never giving favorable publicity to the Soviet help for Russian Jewry. "We have never really helped the Russians to make political capital on their Jewish policy." He proposed to remedy this by having Herbert Samuel express to the Soviet ambassador in London the thanks of Jews all over the world for the immigration opportunities already afforded to Jewish refugees;

(End note 50: Ibid. [AJ 99])

this suggestion was not acted upon. Nor did Litvinov seem to be able to help very much.

[Stalin's persecution mania against foreigners]

Russian suspicion of the foreigner and his works was transformed into a collective persecution mania under Stalin, and the immigration project was allowed to die quietly.

[10 Sep 1937: Rosen reports the immigration plan to Biro-Bidjan / Birobidzhan is dropped]

On September 10, 1937, Rosen declared that the Russians had dropped the idea, and he added that he himself would not have the courage to suggest an immigration project at that point.

(End note 51: AJ 35a)

The whole affair was never made public, then or later, but it shows clearly which way the collective mind of JDC was turning. The solution of the Polish problem was its major preoccupation. Only the 1936/7 wave of terror in Russia made Rosen declare that even he would not have the courage to bring additional Jews into the Soviet Union under the circumstances then prevailing.

[2.9. Liquidation of COMZET 1938 - end of the Agro-Joint in Russia 1938]

[Since 1936: Rosen wants to leave Russia - bring out the assets - liquidation of COMZET - end of Agro-Joint in Russia 1938]

With the failure of the Biro-Bidjan immigration scheme in 1936, Rosen realized that the time had come to get out of Russia, although Warburg was still loath to accept that conclusion. On February 15, 1938, Hyman finally accepted the idea and proposed the termination of operations.

(End note 52: AJ 22)

The assets still in Russia had to be disposed of and a settlement reached regarding the $ 5,353,000 in (p.97)

bonds still held. Finally, an agreement was reached in July 1938. COMZET had been liquidated in June because the Soviet government "considered the Jewish problem in the Soviet Union solved."

The financial settlement involved the cancellation of the bonds and their transformation into $ 2,430,000 in new Soviet bonds that were finally redeemed, with interest, by 1940. The remaining Agro-Joint assets were handed over to the Russians in return for the promise that they would be used largely for the benefit of Jews. And finally, "all the files, documents, and correspondence connected with the activities of the society and the Agro-Joint in the USSR and kept in the USSR are to be transferred to the government." Rosen left Russia for the last time in the summer of 1938, and the Agro-Joint Russian venture came to an end.

[2.10. No documents about the last stays of the Agro-Joint members 1938-1945]

The final chapter of the Russian story is hidden in a dense mist of confusion and uncertainty. No documents relating to the fate of the Russian members of the Agro-Joint board have survived. Not a single central figure in Agro-Joint work seems to have reappeared after the war and Stalin's death. We know that Lubarsky, Grower, and Zaichik were arrested, were shipped to camps or prisons, and disappeared without a trace. Their fate was shared by hundreds of agronomists and Agro-Joint officials. As to the reasons, we can but guess.

Millions of Russians suffered for crimes they did not commit; one of the recurrent accusations was that of contacts with capitalist countries. Members of the Agro-Joint had quite eagerly and openly participated in the activities of a foreign capitalist organization in Russia, and apparently they paid the price.

In a personal letter to Rosenberg and Baerwald dated December 11, 1937, Rosen provided an insight of sorts into this process. Three members of the Agro-Joint bureau in Moscow - among them Dr. Grower - had just been arrested. Rosen connected their arrest with the earlier arrest of his brother-in-law, the former health minister (commissar) Kaminsky ("not a Jew but a very decent man"), who had been responsible for bringing the German doctors into Russia. "A plot is being developed to accuse Kaminsky, in cooperation with the Agro-Joint or perhaps with myself (p.98)

personally as his foreign relative, of bringing German spies into Russia under the cover of helping the doctors." 14 of the doctors had been arrested, though some of these were simply deported from the country. "It would not be impossible", said Rosen, "for Kaminsky to 'confess' and for some of the doctors who have been arrested also to 'confess'; and the results may be rather unpleasant." The arrest of Agro-Joint officials followed these developments.

From Paris Rosen wrote to the Soviet security organs (he knew very well who to write to) and assumed responsibility for anything that had been done by the Agro-Joint. He asked for a visa into Russia and stated "that as far as I am personally concerned, I am ready to waive diplomatic protection as a foreigner. This I consider my duty to do in relation with my friends and colleagues, with whom we have been working together for years. I would feel like a dog should I let them go down under Stalin's tyranny and myself escape because I happen to be an American citizen."

He himself was allowed to enter Russia once more, to wind up the affairs of the Agro-Joint. But apparently he could do nothing to help his friends and relatives who were caught up in the Stalinist purges.

[2.11. Final discussion about the use of the Agro-Joint Jewish colonies in Russia]

[1940: Baerwald's question where the Jewish colonies are]

As to the colonies, they [the members of Agro-Joint after 1937] seemed to have suffered a great deal under the impact of the terror. Equally important in their lack of success was the pull of the towns and their growing industries. Baerwald stated in 1940 that "Weizmann says (that) Russian colonization has not proved a success. Most people have left (the) colonies as he always said they would. Have you any definite news or views on numbers still remaining in (the) colonies?"

(End note 53: AJ 25, 2/20/40 [20 February 1940])

There was no answer. Weizmann apparently had been right. Then the flood came, and the Jewish colonies were wiped off the face of the earth by Hitler's hordes.

[Addition: There were Stalin deportations 1939-1941 and there was the Big Flight before in 1941 to the inner of the Soviet Union so many Jews could be saved, about 1 mio. minimum].

[Rosen: Without Agro-Joint Jewry in Russia would have perished]

Evaluation of the Agro-Joint work presents a very complicated problem. Rosen's dictum was that if JDC had not turned to colonization work, great numbers of Russian Jews "would undoubtedly (p.99)

have literally perished. While at present the government would undoubtedly continue the work, should the Agro-Joint terminate, it would not have started it without our initiative and our actually originating it."

(End note 54: AJ 66, 10/8/31 [8 October 1931])

The first part of the statement is probably true as regards those 10,000 or 12,000 families settled by the Agro-Joint before the relative improvement of conditions in the early 1930s. The second part is more doubtful. But there is no doubt that tens of thousands of Jews were saved from economic disaster by being settled on the land. This itself enabled the Agro-Joint to do its so-called "non-Agro" work, and that alleviated conditions all over the former Pale of Settlement.

[Balance: Results of Agro-Joint work]

The medical institutions, the trade schools, the various kassas and aid societies - they were all by-products of the colonies, and they were a blessing to hundreds of thousands of human beings in a very difficult situation. The very presence of an American Jewish organization was of great value and should not be underestimated.

The reinstatement of the Jewish lishentsy in June 1930, the change in attitude toward the mutual aid societies, the opportunities for help to the Zionist pioneers, on one hand, and Orthodox rabbis and some of their followers on the other, the hundreds that were enabled to leave Russia because of Rosen's intervention - all these must be taken into account.

[Motives of motivation for supporting the Agro-Joint work]

What were the motivations of the people who supported this work - apart from their having been influenced by the truly great personality of Rosen? They were mostly men of rather limited social and political vision, but of great  sincerity and considerable wealth. They were rarely in the mood for philosophizing, but William Rosenwald's account of his father's motivation contains a most interesting philosophy:

He believed that Jews, given an opportunity to become productive, self-supporting citizens in their native lands, would succeed. He wanted to show that Jews can earn their livelihood by the sweat of their brows. He believed that emigration could not solve the (p.100)

mass problem of Jews in Eastern and Central Europe. So he welcomed the opportunity afforded in Soviet Russia for Jews to prove that they could be self-supporting farmers and industrial workers on a large scale.

These achievements, under Rosen's guidance, were thought of as permanent improvements, not palliative measures.

(End note 55: AJ 62a, February 1938)

Several attitudes were inextricably interwoven in this statement by Rosenwald: the feeling of inferiority of the Western Jew toward his surroundings, contained

-- in the hope that the Jews could be just as good as others, given the opportunity (not that they were as good, but that they would have to prove they were, because prima facie they were not);
-- the belief that Eastern and Central European Jews should stay where they were, especially since there was no practical possibility for them to go anywhere els;
-- and the inherent romanticism of a wealthy American Jew cooperating with the Soviet authorities in turning the Jew into a farmer and peasant.

[And the SU government lets help and gets it's profit by the help].

19 century liberalism and Jewish Reform and a great deal of goodwill cooperated to produce this attitude.

[Anti-Zionism as a pre-condition for Agro-Joint's existence in Russia]

Of course, anti-Zionism entered the field as well. Lessing Rosenwald, as we have seen, was not opposed to a Jewish state in Biro-Bidjan - that would be a Bolshevik creation owing allegiance to the Soviet Union, and would not embarrass a Western Jew politically. But Zionism was different, and "should a national homeland be established in Palestine, I believe it would be one of the greatest catastrophes that could possibly happen."

(End note 56: Executive Committee, 9/20/38 [20 September 1938])

Dr. Maurice B. Hexter, a moderate supporter of JDC who was a non-Zionist and worked with the Jewish Agency in the upbuilding of Palestine in the 1930s, expressed the opinion that "it would be an inhuman blunder to arouse hopes in the breasts of our unfortunate brethren, to imply and to state that Palestine can solve their entire problems, even if one has faith (I for one do not have it) in the astronomic predictions of the absorptive capacity of either Palestine as a whole, or of the portion proposed for the Jewish state under the partition. There would still remain hundreds of thousands (p.101)

who would not be taken care of and for whom other outlets must be sought."

(End note 57: Palestine Post, 3/3/38 [3 March 1938])

Warburg and Baerwald did not share the extreme anti-Zionism of Lessing Rosenwald; the cooperated with Weizmann of the Jewish Agency, whom they admired and in a way feared. But they were equally opposed to the radical nationalism of the majority of the Zionist movement. Besides, they too could not see how little Palestine could solve the problem of East European Jewry. Agro-Joint work at least helped solve the Russian Jews' economic problem. It might be a beacon to follow, and Polish Jews might perhaps go the same route.

They were all subject to the limitation that Rosen himself labored under, when he declared that "there is no specific Jewish problem in Russia anymore."

(End note 58: AJ - uncatalogued materials; file: Russia, settlement of emigrants, 1935, draft verbatim notes of informal meeting, 6/15/35 [15 June 1935], Rosen's speech, p.3)

[The main thing: Economic help to self-help]

They all saw Russian Jewry in purely economic terms. Even in those terms they only saw the present, and failed to consider the implications inherent in Soviet economic development. With the pull of the cities and the lack of an ideological counterpull, the town-bound tradition of the Jews would induce them to abandon agricultural areas as long as there was no compelling economic reason to remain. only an insignificant proportion at best would remain on the land surrounded by farmers of other nationalities. This would probably have been true even had there been no German invasion [and of the NS allies]. But the point is that Jewish existence did not consist solely of economic factors, important as these were.

When Warburg was asked to comment on the persecution of rabbis in the Soviet Union, he answered that while he deeply deplored this situation, one must not forget that the Soviet government was helping the Jews get back on their feet economically. The philanthropist saw the problem almost solely in terms of bread and butter. The faith of the nation, its cultural and political freedom, its past values and future hopes - whether Orthodox or secular, liberal or Zionist - were of marginal concern. The Reform Jew wanted to break down the barriers between the Jew and his neighbor, whereas the Russian Jews by and large clung to certain vestiges of separateness. (p.102)

[Jewish development away from industry to government jobs]

In the end, the breakdown of barriers did not succeed. Jews left not only agriculture but also, to an ever-increasing extent, factory work as well. They concentrated in the Commissariats of Trade and Commerce, in the professions, in the bureaucracies of the industrial establishment and their accounting departments.

[The question: Was Agro-Joint worth the money?]

In the long run the Agro-Joint work in Russia brought few results. What of the short run?  Was it worth spending $ 16 million between 1924 and 1938 for that purpose?

(End note 59: AJ 2, reports, résumé by M.A. Leavitt, 3/20/45 [20 March 1945])

A very good case can be made that this was not only good, but essential. Others have pointed out that this money could have been used in Palestine to better purpose, but what better purpose was there than saving Jews from hunger? Was it, after all, possible to take the Jews out of Russia and send them to Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s? If not, what should Jewish philanthropists have done with them? There was certainly a case to be made, then and later, for concentrating all efforts solely on Palestine. But not very many, even in the Zionist camp, dared to put a Palestine-centered demand quite as exclusively as that. Rosen settled 60,000 Jews on the land. This was considerably more than the agricultural settlement in Palestine had achieved in the comparable period, working without government help and with less expertise than Rosen's team could command.

[Balance: Figures of Jewish settlements by Agro-Joint]

The final results of the colonization work were themselves rather unclear. How many families did the Agro-Joint settle in Russia? The figure is apparently close to 60,000 persons. The estimates vary between 14,000 to 20,000 families, but it is reasonably certain that not more than 14,000 families remained on the land by 1938, probably considerably less than that. Kahn's estimate was that the total Jewish farming population in 1941 amounted to some 160,000 persons and that some 70,000 more were connected to the land by having vegetable plots on the outskirts of towns and villages. It seems to us that of these, some 50,000 to 60,000 had been settled by the Agro-Joint.

(End note 60: Based on AJ 2, reports, résumé by B. Hahn, 10/31/44 [31 October 1944]; ibid., statement of Russian activities, 3/16/34 [16 March 1934]; file 35a, report by M.C. Troper, 12/10/36 [10 December 1936])

[Crimea 1934: Foundation of big Jewish settlements]

In about 1934 a consolidation of the tracts settled by the Jewish settlers in the Crimea took place. Villages were united under a common administration, and five autonomous Jewish districts (p. 103)

were founded (Freidorf in February 1931, Stalindorf in June 1930, Kalinindorf in March 1937, New Zlatopol in 1929, and Larindorf in January 1935).

[Last hope: Opening of the documents]

This was the sum total of the work that ended in the eviction of the Agro-Joint and in the arrest and death of most, possibly all, of its Russian Jewish officials. There were achievements and there were disasters. The full story will have to wait until the Agro-Joint files in Russia are opened to scholarly inspection at some future date. (p.104)