Since the Germans have mentioned an " autonomous administration," it is not at all surprising that the German Press should speak from time to time about a Jewish State to be established in the Polish province of Lublin. In its present form this Reservation of Lublin, into which the Germans intend to dump hundreds of thousands of human beings, without troubling about their needs (two million and more is the figure sometimes given), is nothing but a huge sewer, according to the description of a neutral diplomatist. These wretches, abandoned to their fate, are destined to perish of hunger and cold.
This " Jewish Reservation " seems to be the invention of Rosenberg, who evolved the scheme last year at a meeting of the Diplomatic Corps and the Press in Berlin. On that occasion Rosenberg opposed the idea of a Jewish State, which was and would remain for ever impracticable," and suggested the formation of a " Reservation " in which the Jews of Europe would be enclosed.
Details of the plans for this " Reservation " are still lacking. In any case it is certain that these plans are not yet definitely settled, in so far as its size and the speed with which the Jewish population is to be transferred there are concerned. For the present, thousands of human wrecks are being transported into a region where nothing has been done in preparation for their arrival, where the necessary food supplies are totally lacking and which at the present time is already overpopulated.
According to a reliable witness, who has had the opportunity of discussing the matter with German officials, the region set aside for the creation of the " Reservation " in which the Jews of Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland are to be concentrated, is situated South-East of Lublin. It covers an area of only about 400 square miles. Its natural frontiers in the West are the rivers San and Vistula, in the East the Russian demarcation line. This authority declares that certain parts along the San are already being enclosed with barbed-wire fences, to prevent the Jews from escaping.
Since the second half of October, 1939, the Polish inhabitants of this region are being systematically evacuated in the direction of Warsaw.
The settlement of the Jews in this part of Poland is to be effected,according to German sources, in four stages.
1. During the second half of October Jews from the cities of western Poland-Gdynia, Grudziadz, Poznan and Katowice -were transferred there and installed in several camps called I camps of re-education " near the junction of the San and the Vistula. Several hundred persons were quartered in Polish villages which had been evacuated for this purpose and are more or less in ruins. The majority of the newcomers had to begin by cutting down timber and constructing their own log cabins. These settlements will, in fact, be nothing but concentration camps surrounded with barbed-wire and guarded by the S.S.
2. The second stage covers the transportation of the Jews arriving from Vienna and the whole of Austria. Vienna alone is to supply 55,000 Jews.
The German authorities anticipated fortnightly transports of a minimum of 2,ooo persons each, including men, women and children, but this figure could not be maintained.
3. The third stage was to be the transportation to Lublin of the entire Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia. This stage began early in November, but for the time being the transports seem to have stopped.
4. Next, Jews from the old Reich were to be moved. The central representation of German Jews has not yet received the order to form convoys but the transfer of the Jews from Stettin to the Lublin Reservation has been reported.
The above details, drawn from German sources, may be supplemented and partly confirmed by the following data :
The Gestapo Commissar for Jewish affairs in Berlin, Lischka, has recently requested the Jewish representatives to supply him with their budget plan covering the period of the next three years, and he seems to have studied it together with them. It has been deduced from this in Berlin that the official Jewish representatives will continue to function and that the question of evacuating the Jews from the old Reich will not arise, at least in the immediate future. On the other hand, convoys have already started out for Lublin from Vienna, where the conditions in which the Jews live are terrible. Five thousand Jews, some of them Polish, some Austrian citizens, the rest " Stateless," have been sent towards Lublin.
The following account describes the manner in which the transfer of the Jews from Bohemia and Moravia is being carried out:
At the beginning of October it was announced to the Jews in the Protectorate that " camps for re-education " were being organised. The first to be deported thither were the Jews from Morawska Ostrawa, found guilty of having aided refugees to cross into Poland before the outbreak of the war. One mid-day in October a decree was published ordering all Jews between the ages of I7-35 to report that same afternoon. A convoy was promptly organized, comprising 1,000 men. They were not even allowed to take leave of their families. The convoy carried with it building material, quantities of food-stuffs sufficient for three days, and working tools. Later all male Jews were superficially examined by a doctor. Without the least attention being paid to the sick and infirm, they were all packed into trucks and sent away. This convoy halted in the neighborhood of Nisko on the San. Three hundred inhabitants of Brno and the Polish citizens who were detained in Bohemia at the beginning of war were also sent to Nisko.
Officially a Jew is entitled to take with him a sum in cash not exceeding 300 marks. But in reality even this amount could not be taken. All the belongings of those who are deported, their business, their property and furniture, are subject to compulsory liquidation by the Confessional community and the proceeds are handed over to " General Assistance Purposes," which means, in fact, a National-Socialist fund.
The Jews from a certain number of cities situated in Polish territories " annexed " to the Reich were expelled, but not deported to the Lublin Reservation, and the Germans were satisfied when they had dispersed them among the towns and villages of Central Poland.
In Lodz the Jewish community was ordered to prepare the evacuation of Jews to the Lublin Reservation. At first about 1,700 persons were deported daily. For the moment these forced migrations have been suspended, no doubt because of the fear of epidemics which had already broken out in the camps where the Jews live under deplorable hygienic conditions and suffer from
lack of nourishment.
It does not seem likely that the Germans will succeed in concentrating all the Jews from the " remainder " of Poland in the Reservation of Lublin.
Certain measures, such as the formation of ghettos in various cities, seem to indicate the contrary. The final decision depends more or less on the character, the temperament and the sadistic inclinations of the local German functionaries. These German officials have already deported Jews even from the Jewish Reservation. Thus, for instance, the entire male Jewish population of Hrubieszow and Chelm was expelled into the territory occupied by the Bolsheviks.
It may be added by way of postscript that the Germans, while expelling the Polish peasants from their homesteads in order to make room for the Jews, try to persuade the peasants that it is the Jews who are taking away their lands. Nevertheless the peasants show no resentment towards the Jews, for they are well aware who their real despoilers are and whom they will call to account when the German armies are defeated once more as they were in 1918.
On that occasion the German troops of occupation in the province of Lublin decamped somewhat hurriedly. Next time their departure will not be as easy as it was then.