Mission of The United States to Poland: Jadwin and Johnson report
THE REPORT by Brig. Gen. Edgar Jadwin and Homer H. Johnson
AMERICAN COMMISSION TO NEGOTIATE PEACE, MISSION TO POLAND,
Paris, October 31, 1919
1. The mission to Poland (consisting of Mr. Henry Morgenthau, Brig. Gen. Edgar Jadwin, and Mr. Homer H. Johnson) was named for the purpose of carrying out an investigation of question touching the relations between the Jewish and non-Jewish elements in the Republic. Accompanied by its working personnel, the mission remained in Poland from July 13, 1919, to September 13, 1919, and visited the scenes of the most widely reported excesses, studied economic conditions in the local centers of production and distribution, consulted Polish statesmen and Jewish men of affairs, observed living conditions among the common people, associated with officers of the army, and, considering always the historical environment influencing the nature, aims, and disposition of the Polish Nation, endeavored to arrive at a just understanding of the present relations between the component elements of the Republic. The mission owes its thanks to Gen. Pilsudski, the chief of state, Mr. Padarewski, president of the council of ministers, and to the Polish authorities in general for the facilities contributed toward the execution of its task, and is also indebted to Mr. Hugh Gibson, American minister to Poland, for his aid. In all localities visited, the Jewish communities extended to the mission their full confidence and cooperation.
It should be borne in mind that most of the time of the mission in Poland was taken up in the examination of complaints made by or in behalf of Jewish citizens of Poland, and that the material as to excesses is largely based on ex parte statements. While it was the original intention of the mission to give the Polish Government an opportunity for detailed rebuttal, the relatively small extent of the excesses themselves, as compared with the larger elements contributing to antisemitism, and the importance of a remedy, seemed to make such rebuttal unnecessary. Within the boundaries of Congress Poland only 18 Jews lost their lives, while in the whole territory now controlled or occupied by the Polish Republic the grand total of deaths from excesses in which antisemitism was a factor has not exceeded 300.
We were able to arrive at our conclusions from the data furnished by Jewish sources, from answers to specific questions addressed to various Polish ministries, from many conferences with other Polish citizens, and from utterances in the Polish press, and believe that those sources sufficiently disclosed the nature and cause of anti-Jewish disturbances without further pro-Polish evidence.
After the return of the mission to Paris its members were unable to consult together on account of the absence of Gen. Jadwin on other duty in southern Russia. Mr. Morgenthau before leaving Paris submitted a report representing his views of the situation, and the other members, in his absence, have prepared these considerations, which while differing but slightly from Mr. Morgenthau’s, have been put in the form of a complete report as leading up to conclusions which differ from those of Mr. Morgenthau.
2. Polish opinion characterizes the traditional attitude of Poland toward the Jews as one of tolerance. When the Jews in western Europe fell prey to persecutions induced by the fresh wave of fanaticism incident to the Crusades, they migrated in large numbers to Poland as a place of refuge, where the Jewish communities received numerous special privileges, and possessed almost complete local government. This internal independence lasted until early in the nineteenth century, when it was finally so reduced as to apply to religious and educational matters only. The memory of former independence within the limits of the State plays a considerable role in the present aspirations of certain Jewish parties for autonomy with the right to receive and expend a pro rata part of State revenue. The traditional concentration of the Jews in their communities, due to the necessity of maintaining close connection with the synagogue, has given further impetus to the spirit of separatism and cleavage from the rest of the population, which aggravates the Jewish question at the moment. It is frequently alleged that even in the Middle Ages Jewish separatism, commercial competition, and acquisitiveness aroused a certain irritation among the Polish masses, which has persisted as an inherited prejudice to the present day.
With the accession of Nicholas I (1825), persecution of the Jews began with the official sanction of the Russian Empire, and continued until Nicholas was succeeded by Alexander II. In harmony with the latter’s liberal policy, decrees were published in 1862 completely emancipating the Jews, but after the reaction from the insurrection on 1863, in which, at least in Warsaw, many Jews fought shoulder to shoulder with the Poles, these laws became a dead letter. Though frequently invoked as a proof of Polish tolerance, they have provided since that time no essential guarantees of Jewish rights. During the second half of the nineteenth century conditions in Poland were further complicated by the rigid enforcement of the pale of settlement. The original prohibition to settle outside the pale had been so modified under Alexander II as to allow wealthy Jewish merchants, Jewish holders of university degrees, and Jewish artisans, to reside in the interior provinces of Russia. This concession was counterbalanced by the laws of May 1882, forbidding Jews to reside in the country districts and small towns of the pale, and crowding them into the cities where their coreligionists were already congested. At the same time, the expulsion of Jewish artisans from Moscow aggravated the abnormal concentration of this section. The result of these conditions was a sharpening of competition between Jew and non-Jew in the districts where both elements lived side by side. The lack of opportunity for the Jew to engage in production drove him into small trading, a business already overflowing and incapable of providing a livelihood for even a small number of newcomers. Even before the war, the mass of Polish Jewry had to struggle for their daily bread, and in addition to commercial rivalry, popular resentment against them was further accentuated by their religious separatism and their difference in dress, dietary habits, and Shabbath observances.
3. To the basic factors of the present situation must be added the cross-currents of functional aspirations and international intrigue caused by the Great War. During the German occupation of Poland, the Germanic character of the Yiddish vernacular and the readiness of certain Jewish elements to enter into relations with the winning side induced the enemy to employ Jews as agents for various purposes and to grant the Jewish population not only exceptional protection, but also the promise of autonomy. It is alleged that the Jews were active in speculation in foodstuffs, which was encouraged by the armies of occupation with a view of facilitating export to Germany and Austria. Notwithstanding the patriotic attitude assumed by many prominent Jews, the number of Hebrews employed by the German forces and occasional cases of denunciation by Jews, added fuel to the flame of prejudice. A sensitive Polish nationalism has been resentful of any self-assertion from a minority whose very language recalls the heavy hand of the oppressor. It is not merely for his alleged German sympathies that the Jew is regarded with antipathy, but also for his supposed relations with the Bolsheviks. The Polish masses and soldiery who have come in contact with Bolshevism class the Jews as its supporters, and at Pinsk, Lida, and Wilna, where serious excesses occurred concurrently with military operations, their argument was in each case advanced by local military authorities in partial explanation of the occurrences. It is also often asserted that the chiefs of the Bolshevists movement in Russia are Jews of Poland or Lithuania and there is no doubt that they played a prominent part in the Bolshevik government of such cities as Wilna, Lida, and Minsk before the capture of these cities by the Polish Army. The program of the Jewish Socialists belonging to the Bund Party is also adduced as a proof of Jewish sympathy with the Bolsheviks, though since the Russian revolution the Bund has allied itself with the moderate element (Mensheviki) among the Russian Socialists. It may be questioned whether undue arbitrary generalization has not been resorted to by elements hostile to the Jew in defining the Jewish political standpoint. It is no more fair to brand all Jews as Bolsheviks because some of them support the Soviets than to class all Poles as Jew-baiters because some of their military forces or of their lawless civil elements have occasionally been guilty of depredations and violence.
The alien sympathies attributed to the Jew vary with the racial problems in different sections of the country. Under the Austrian regime the situation of the Jews in Galicia had been favorable. But when the Hapsburg monarchy crumbled, and the struggle broke out between Pole and Ukrainian for the possession of Lemberg and eastern Galicia, the neutrality professed by a portion of the Jewish population resulted in increased hostility toward the Jew. The waiting game dictated at this juncture by the Jewish sense of expediency was interpreted by the Poles as Ukrainian partisanship. The disorders of November 21 to 23 in Lemberg became, like the excesses in Lithuania, a weapon of foreign anti-Polish propaganda. The press bureau of the Central Powers, in whose interest it lay to discredit the Polish Republic before the world, permitted the publication of articles like that in the "Neue Freie Presse” of November 30, 1918, in which an eyewitness estimated the number of victims between 2,500 and 3,000, although the extreme number furnished by the local Jewish committee was 76.
As the result of the war, the natural depression of industry and commercial life has also become a peculiar incident of antisemitism. The use of the country as a battle field by foreign armies, who requisitioned and plundered all available material, who made it difficult for the Jewish merchant, first, to secure goods with which to deal, and second, to charge other than high prices for them. When the merchant is able to secure a stock of goods the very fact that he has them in his possession, and that he is compelled to charge abnormal prices, lends to the popular conviction that he is a profiteer. The prevailing monetary insecurity also renders barter necessary and merchandising difficult, while the Jewish merchant, thus hampered in his business, is met by the increasing prejudice growing out of the abnormal conditions of war under which his trading must be carried on.
Some Poles have stated that the Jews permit a different standard of business deportment in dealings with non-Jews, and that they are thus, outside of passing conditions, responsible for existing prejudice. This is vigorously denied by the Jews. Furthermore, the use of economic questions with racial attachments for political arguments contributes to perpetuating an issue which, as a result of passing circumstances, should disappear with renewed economic activity.
4. The modern Polish State consists, or may consist when its boundaries are fixed, of five distinct sections: Congress Poland, Poznania, Galicia (eastern and western), and portions of Lithuania and White Russia, Minsk, Grodno, Wolhynia, and part of Vitebsk. The proportion of Jews varies from less that 1 per cent in the immediate vicinity of the Prussian boundary to 75 per cent in the White Russian city of Pinsk. Out of 441 census divisions, there are about 13 in which the Jews exceed 20 per sent of the population. The old Russian provinces of Minsk and Volhynia have the largest percentage of Jewish inhabitants. In general, the percentage of Jews increases toward the eastward, and with the exception of Warsaw, Lodz, and some smaller cities in Congress Poland, is largest in the region running northeast from Warsaw to Wilna, and in the district extending south from Minsk across the Prypec toward the Dniester River. This concentration is due to the Russian laws confining the Jews within the Provinces making up the river systems of the Dnieper and the Niemen, and to the gradual eviction of the Jews from interior Russian cities into this so-called pale of settlement. Except in the cities, the proportion of Jews in Congress Poland does not exceed 10 per cent of the population, and with the cities included about 15 per cent is Jewish.
The percentage of Poles in Congress Poland, except in the cities where Jews have settled, rises about 75 per cent. West of Posen, toward the Prussian boundary, the proportion of Poles shades off to 25 per cent and less. A fairly distinct belt of Polish-speaking people extends north to Danzing and the edge of Pomerania. Owing to the extreme variations in the Russian census of 1897 and 1909 for Lithuania and the Ukraine, it is difficult to give accurate figures as to the Polish population east of the Bug River. In Lithuania, with the exception of Wilna and environs, the proportion of Poles nowhere passes 25 per cent. In Wilna itself the Poles are variously estimated at 20 to 43 per cent, with some present claims as high as 55 per cent. In White Russia, on the contrary, the Polish population is extremely small, especially in the Province of Minsk, where it does not exceed 10 per cent, although the city of Minsk, has about 25 per cent. In western Galicia, centering about Cracow, the Poles reach 75 per cent, while in eastern Galicia they share the territory about equally with the Ukrainians, though retaining considerable superiority in the city of Lemberg itself. There has been a distinct eastward drift to Polish emigration, so that Polish infiltrations appear as far east as Kiev and the Province of Mohilov. Owing to peculiar agrarian conditions, the Poles before the war held nearly half of all real estate in Lithuania and Ukraine.
It will thus be seen that the percentage of population in the various sections of what is now Poland, or what may be Poland, adds to the general complexity of the influences entering into the problem of anti-Semitism. Naturally the relations in the eastern districts now held by Poland are affected not only by the percentage of Jews, but by the small proportion of Polish inhabitants in those sections. The attitude of the various elements of the population and the play of sentiment as to the political future of the country further contribute to this puzzling complexity. In spite of considerable agitation, no serious difficulty exists in Posen, and even in Congress Poland there is little disturbance of fundamental relations. But in view of the uncertainty as to whether the regions in the East are to be Polish, Russian, or independent, it is readily seen that the relation of the Jew to the eventual political disposition of these territories is still an irritating element. These same problems are to some extent inherent in every other country where the Jewish character and habits develop a racial solidarity, necessarily accompanied by an economic and social intermingling with the other elements of the population.
5. The Jewish situation is rendered more difficult by the efforts of certain malicious German influences to further their eastern projects by discrediting Poland financially and otherwise. It is not to the interest of the German State to allow Poland to become a powerful and prosperous competitor, since Poland is more favorably situated to act as a center of exchange between Russia and the west. There are also conservative elements among Russian statesmen who are equally anxious to prevent foreign financial aid to Poland and are using criticism of the Polish State as a weapon to forestall the assistance of the allied and associated powers. If Poland is to become a firmly established State, the needs of the Republic must be considered from the angle of Polish national aspirations and rights, and not simply on the basis of the purposes of its temporarily paralyzed neighbors to the east and west.
In common with all free Governments of the world, Poland is faced with the danger of the political and international propaganda to which the war has given rise. The coloring, the suppression, and the invention of news, the subornation of newspapers by many different methods, and the poisoning by secret influences of the instruments affecting public opinion, in short, all the methods of malevolent propaganda are a menace from which Poland is a notable sufferer. This applies to propaganda both at home and from abroad. While the Polish press as a whole may not be charged with irresponsibility, it has in general gone to the extreme of political propriety, and many of its organs have passed far beyond that limit, to the great detriment of their country.
6. Poland is beset by the confusion of ideas and the degeneration of popular morale, caused by decades of political tyranny and made acute by five years of war. For over 100 years all sections of Poland have been ruled by despotism of varying severity, and the people at large have been accustomed to identify the Government not with the manifestations of majority opinion, but with personal rule by [one word ineligible] and decree. The Jews suffer from the fact that the Polish Government, substituting popular government for despotic rule, lacks the will or the power to protect them, and have been ready to invoke external aid in order to exact from the Polish authorities protection of themselves not as a minority, but because of their racial allegiance. Some representatives of the Jewish national movement who have been conspicuously active refuse to subordinate the Jewish question to the general needs of the Polish State. The fault in this regard does not lie entirely on the Jewish side, since the question once raised was eagerly picked up by the National Democratic Party. The voluntary separation of the Jew from purely Polish interests has led, in localities where other problems of nationality exist, to arbitrary identification of the Jews with anti-Polish elements. So long as nationality is an issue, the Jew who does not declare himself Polish is regarded as the ally of any visible alien factor. On the other hand, in view of the uncertainty of the final disposition of White Russia, Lithuania, and Galicia, the difficulties besetting the Jews in these regions have been undeniably very great. Yet, since the Jews are enjoying the protection of the growing Polish State, the Poles claim that they owe active personal support to the Government that insures them liberty and commercial opportunity. The numerical inferiority of the Jews in what is undeniably Poland has at the same time proved no check to their political assertiveness. The opportunity to profit by an occasional balance of power claimed to excuse the maintenance of a Jewish national party does not appear to justify perpetuating so great an irritation and such a separation of the Jews from the customary divisions of modern politics.
We may here refer with propriety to the report of the interallied commission on Poland, of which Prof. R. H. Lord and Gen. Kernan were the American members, and to whose statements on the Polish problem it is desired to invite special attention. The account of the Jewish parties supplied by the Italian member of that commission has been found very helpful and substantially accurate. He invited the most important parties to submit any extensions or corrections which they desired to make, but no further information was supplied. As hereafter appears, most of the questions raised and of the suggestions made in the report on Poland have been met, in our judgment, by the free acceptance of the minorities treaty by the Polish Government and people.
We have, however, found some evidence of a disposition both in Poland and abroad to keep alive the controversy on the possible theory that focusing attention upon Poland will promote better treatment of the Jews. We feel that this doctrine of controversialism is founded on extremely dubious grounds, and that there should be no Jewish problem, aside from the general responsibility to the fundamental provisions which the Poles have agreed shall become part of their policy toward minorities. The ideal should be to have one and only one class of citizens politically with complete freedom in religious matters.
7. The question of popular education presents some possible difficulty. From American experience it is concluded that the public school, with universal instruction in the national vernacular, is one of the strongest forces toward the creation of a homogeneous body of citizens, speaking one language and expressing themselves on the basis of a common complex of social and political notions however much they differ on religious and cultural questions. In order that the Jew may fully enjoy his privileges and faithfully fulfill his obligations as a citizen, he must understand them in the same sense as his Polish neighbor. It is by means of public schools that Poland will lose its approximate 85 per cent of illiterates, and teach its people not only common school subject, but also the great principle of liberty and the rights of man, and by raising the level of popular knowledge arrive at a point where it can draw its State officials from the people at large, who will, by association in their school years, have acquired a common understanding impervious to propaganda or prejudice. While, therefore, the adoption of the treaty was essential to the integrity of Poland, it will in carrying out the educational paragraphs be well for Poles and Jews to keep in mind American experience in public-school development, and carefully to weigh the question, whether the permanency of the separate school plan will be advisable.
8. As to specific cases of violence leading to loss of life we invite attention to article 6 of Mr. Morgenthau’s report, where the main facts are stated. Some additional considerations must be further recorded and especially that the excesses mostly took place either when the Republic was in process of organization or under the stress of military operations. For example, the outbreak in Kielce occurred on the day of the armistice, November 11, 1918. A Jewish meeting called in support of Jewish nationalism, which was easily rumored to be in opposition to Polish national independence, was broken up with fatal results to four people and injury to many others just after the city had been evacuated by the Austrian troops and before any Polish authorities existed to organize a service of security. At Lemberg while the outbreaks occurred a little later, November 21-23, 1918, it was at the end of hostilities between the Polish and Ukrainian elements of the population.
The Pinsk outrage, April 5, 1919, was 30 days after the capture of the town from the Bolsheviks by the Poles, but was a purely military affair. The town commander with judgment unbalanced by fear of a Bolshevik uprising of which he had been forewarned by two Jewish soldier informers sought to terrorize the Jewish population (about 75 per cent of the whole) by the execution of 35 Jewish citizens without investigation or trial, by imprisoning and beating others and by wholesale threats against all Jews. No share of this action can be attributed to any military official higher up, to any of the Polish civil officials, or to the few Poles resident in that district of White Russia.
The Czestochowa riots on May 27, 1919, while based on the supposed shooting of a Polish soldier by a Jew was not connected with a military operation and occurred after both military and civil government had been established. Only after five deaths was the outbreak arrested. These five deaths are the only fatalities from mob violence in Congress Poland discovered or reported to us since the establishment of a stable government in the Republic. The military operations of the Polish Army in the taking of Lida (Apr. 17, 1919), of Wilna (Apr. 21, 1919), and of Minsk (Aug 8, 1919) in consideration of the facts of its organization, that it was still poorly organized, unequipped, underofficered and undisciplined, would not have been so noticeably irregular even though civilian deaths were considerable and robberies large, except for the fact that those killed and robbed were practically all Jews. Nor is it explained by the fact that most of the shops in those cities were Jewish. The fact that there were some non-Jewish establishments and that none of them were disturbed shows an intelligent and intentional discrimination on the part of the lawless element in the army disclosing a racial antipathy made more patent by the desire to rob and pillage, which was apparently felt not to be wrong or at least not to be severely punished by superiors. In Wilna there was active street fighting for three days, and while the army lost 33 the civilian loss was 65. But the civilians were all Jews, and many others were thereafter deported and subject to hardships which it is hard to justify by military practice. In support of the conviction that there had been active sympathy with the Bolsheviks by Jews and sniping by them during the street fighting we had many statements of eye witnesses presented to us. There can be no doubt that in a highly charged atmosphere there was quite enough fault on both sides to explain the adherence to the every-day practices of Russian civil warfare as it is reported to us in this almost civil strife on Russian territory. No one would attempt to justify it. Gen. Jadwin was present at the taking of Minsk and a personal witness to the strenuous efforts of the military authorities toward preventing acts of violence. The results showed definite progress among the military in the discipline of the army in the conception of their duty toward the civilian population and in their ability to carry it out. Proportionately to the population only about 20 per cent as many were killed as in Wilna. A large percentage of those were in suburbs and out of reach of the military patrols in the city. Part of those in the town were the result, according to bystanders’ statements, of shots directed at the entering troops coming from a certain meeting house in which Jews had congregated, and five of them were killed. Reported Bolshevik activity and sniping with the desire to rob explain most of the cases except the reprehensible unbalanced conduct of one petty officer who killed nine. Many of the offenders were arrested and six of them were sentenced to be shot.
Following the Minsk experience, improvement was made in the technique of handling patrols so that further reports from Rowno and Bobruisk, subsequently captured by the Poles, indicate more successful precautions against maltreatment of the Jewish population.
In practically all of these cases inquiries have been regularly undertaken by the military authorities, by the civil Government of Poland, and in several by direct Diet committees. The local civil authorities have also followed the usual processes of criminal inquiry, and the cases are in various stages of development. In several the inquiry has been followed by the appropriation of damages to those who have suffered loss.
Payments had begun to be made in Wilna, Pinsk, and Lemberg before our departure from Poland. If complaints as to slowness and uncertainty of military and Government punishment and relief were heard, as they were, it seemed nevertheless to indicate that orderly process of government was in operation. With a state of war in the land and the many vexing problems incident to Poland’s situation, we could not find substantial ground of criticism of the methods of prevention and relief for an altogether unhappy situation. Patience and forbearance must be administered to all sides of the question, with honest effort to recover their war-torn country as soon as possible. It will be a difficult matter to reassure the citizens of Poland that the outside world will be as prompt and efficient in doing its duty - to make the world safe for Poland and all other struggling democracies.
9. We are of the opinion, in view of the previous training of the Polish soldiery in the German, Austrian, and Russian Armies, the eastern low valuation of human life, the want of food and clothing which had accompanied the breaking up of the Central Powers, and the universal tenseness of popular nerves worn by the vicissitudes of war, that the antagonism felt by the Polish military toward the Jews and resulting in depredation and violence against them is not a matter of surprise, reprehensible and regrettable as it is. The habits of military warfare still obtaining in the civil war in Russia, and these military excesses in Poland, aggravated as they were by civilian mobs, thoroughly justified the fear and anxiety expressed by many Jews lest the Poles had adopted Czarist and Bolshevik precedents of solving any question, including that of Jewish prejudice, by process of terror and extermination. It is to the credit of the Polish State that it has apparently passed through this crisis of organization, though still under the baneful influence of active warfare, without realizing this sinister expectation. We were assured by many representative Jewish delegations that while they were disturbed by the anti-Jewish feeling still inconveniently and unjustly exhibited, they did not fear for their lives and liberty; that they recognize their full duty as Polish citizens with all the responsibilities and privileges that pertain thereto; that all citizens are subject to the rule of the majority in which any minority must acquiesce, and that the only remedy beyond this is the appeal to the conscience of the majority and its sense of justice and fair play. This uniting in the making, ratification, and execution of this treaty, with its appeal to the League of Nations, is a credit to Jew and non-Jew alike, and barring the accident of an outside conflagration, is the best of auguries for Poland’s future success.
10. While it is our opinion that a return to normal conditions in Poland will remove most of the danger of the Jewish question, it is recognized that this process of restoration is not solely dependent on the good will and exertions of the Poles themselves. The attention of Poland must be diverted from waging war, and the only means toward this end is the reestablishment of internal peace in Russia. Until this result is obtained, Poland remains with boundaries undetermined, forced to hold and administer a large territory, the inhabitants of which as yet have no fixed nationality. As long as Poland wages war, the Republic is a prey to militaristic methods and open to the peril of direct action. Until its army is reduced to a peace footing the problem of overpopulation and underemployment can not be solved. While a third of the meager income of the State is expended for military purposes, adequate attention can not be devoted to internal reconstruction. Until Russia is at peace Poland lacks her full field for trade and exchange and therefore can not regain her economic equilibrium, while an opportunity for emigration to an open and liberal Russia would provide an outlet for the surplus population of the Republic. With a stable government in Russia firmly allied in principle with the allied and associated powers, an end would be made to the German intrigue that is seeking to substitute Russia for Austria-Hungary as a field of exploitation and accordingly strives to discredit Poland as a dangerous competitor. In fact, protection afforded minorities such as before us in this investigation may well bring up the Russin condition where this problem is the protection of the majority against a minority based on a difference of social philosophy and wielding power by seizure of the instruments of war and by the use of most elementary forms of force and fear. Is not the duty of the nations as clear to determine the rule of the majority against despotism, whether one or many, thus preserving domestic tranquility as well as freedom from foreign invasion? Is not the effect of domestic disorder in Russia upon Poland and upon the peace of the world quite as important a subject for regulation by the nations as in the limitation upon the majority’s treatment of minorities? Is not the solidarity of nations shown quite as much by one as the other and are they not both requisite for future peace? The foundation of an enduring government in Russia depends on the certainty that no minority, whether autocratic or Bolshevistic, shall ever be able to exploit the inertia of the masses in overthrowing any system of democracy that may be established within its boundaries. It is to the interest of the world that this internal security shall be perpetuated, and the rise of a powerful democracy on the eastern frontier of Poland will insure the safety and freedom of action of the Republic. In short, once the military threat against Poland is removed and the territorial uncertainty of the Republic is ended, the nation will be able to concentrate its energies on internal problems and, by the course of natural development, create a governmental system insuring equality, protection, and prosperity to all elements of its population. The mission thoroughly believes that Poland has the raw materials of citizenship quite equal to this accomplishment.
11. By way of summary, we find that beginning with the armistice, about November 11, 1918, and for six months and more during the establishment of orderly government in Poland, many regrettable incidents took place throughout both Congress Poland and the regions the future of which is still in doubt. The occurrences in Congress Poland were not so serious in number of deaths, but there have been violent collisions accompanied by riots, beatings, and other assaults which are apparently traceable in large part to anti-Jewish prejudice. In every case they have been repressed by either the military or the civil authorities, but only after grievous results. In the territory occupied or invaded by Polish troops, civilian mobs have followed the soldiery, and the two elements have engaged in robbery of shops and dwellings, and, in cases where resistance was offered, in assaulting and killing the owners or occupants. The circumstances of some of these incidents have been aggravated by intoxication due to the looting of liquor stores, with the usual adjuncts of criminal irresponsibility and mob rage. We believe that none of these excesses were instigated or approved by any responsible government authority, civil or military. We find, on the other hand, that the history and the attitude of the Jews, complicated by abnormal economic and political conditions produced by the war, have fed the flame of anti-Semitism at a critical moment. It is believed, however, that the gradual amelioration of conditions during the last 11 months gives great promise for the future of the Polish Republic as a stable democracy.
12. In spite of the existing anti-Semitism arising from very diverse factors we are convinced that religious differences as such play therein a relatively slight role, and that the Polish nation is disposed to religious tolerance and self-control in religious disagreements. The ending of the war, the removal of external menace, and the revival of industry will reduce the present common irritation caused by abnormal conditions. Jewish business men have also assured us that with the restoration of trade, industry, and banking, the Poles will cease to employ economic pressure as a political weapon.
13. In addition to the disposition toward tolerance evinced in the presence of violent party controversy and active propaganda from abroad, Poland has accepted the minorities clause of the treaty of Versailles, guaranteeing to all citizens security of life and property and equal protection of the laws. Despite dissatisfaction with some stipulations of this treaty, a determination has been expressed by prominent leaders of even the extremes in all political camps to execute it faithfully.
14. The duties of the outside world toward Poland are:
- a) To establish the territorial extent of the Polish State. Should any of the eastern country which contains the largest proportion of Jews, revert to Russia, the problem thus transferred can be dealt with by the League of Nations.
- (b) To protect Poland from the menace of external interference by the application of article 10 of the covenant of the League of Nations.
- (c) To further by means of judiciously administered external help the recovery of Poland from five years of war. This material aid, in the nature of food, clothing, and raw materials, should not be gratuitously furnished or so distributed as to overtax the national credit or to pauperize the population. In accordance with President Wilson’s speech of January 8, 1918, Poland should be freed from the limitation of all economic barriers and raised to a position where it can profit by the quality of trade conditions to be established among nations. Since no country can be a good financial risk without domestic tranquility and freedom from invasion, the fear of which may lead to over expenditure and competitive armament, this security should be provided for the good of Poland and the peace of the world. While we are convinced that Poland will abide by its obligations to preserve order at home, the protection against external interference is the duty of the League of Nations. With political security, industrial peace, and an open market with no foreign debt not offset by foreign receivables, Poland, safeguarded by the League of Nations and abundantly provided as she is with natural asset in property and man power, becomes an excellent commercial risk for foreign capital.
- (d) To study the question of over population or under industrialization, not at all local to Poland but intimately connected with its future. It is not healthy for Poland to pursue a policy of summer emigration to other countries, nor is it desirable that it should continue a heavy emigration to America and elsewhere. It is a process from which the nation is still suffering, since it tends to take the strong and leave the less reliant. Furthermore, with the present development of the world, and the beginning of new thoughts in the development of the world, and the beginning of new thoughts in the development of nationalism, if emigration from Poland is to be necessary, the question as to whither and under what conditions it shall be directed becomes peculiarly subject to international solution.
- If Poland, by her own initiative or through outside aid, can so speed up and direct her industrial policy as to absorb the potential labor supply, the Republic may solve the question under new conditions of political and economic freedom.
- (e) To further the rapid development of Polish education. The safety of the masses from exploitation through the sophistries of monarchism or of anarchism depends on the degree of enlightenment they possess. It is therefore to the advantage of the League of Nations to see instituted a campaign of universal education toward a general understanding of the great ideals of democracy and for the protection of peoples against the agitator or the reactionary who deals in slogans that appeal to any populace untrained to estimate them at their proper value.
- (f) To guarantee to Poland the disinterested counsel of the allied democracies based on their previous experience. Together with the other free peoples of the world, Poland must henceforth grapple not only with abuses of the outworn autocratic system but with political corruption, graft, party degeneracy, and yellow journalism joined with paid propaganda. The opportunity of the League of Nations for the comparative study of democratic methods and policies, reinforced by common aims, by the full development of international feeling and the free exchange of free ideas, will react not only upon Poland but to the general advantage of the entire world. The greatest need at this crisis is the domestic and international application of general principles of democratic governments tested by the use and beaten out on the anvil of experience. Its highest and broadest attribute is that force shall give way to thought - the rule of reason rather than the reign of terror.
Brigadier General, United States Army,
Homer H. Johnson