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Labor Action, 5 May 1947


Albert Findley

Spring Comes to Europe’s Refugees

Plight of DPs Remains as Powers
Adopt Do-Nothing Policy


From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 18, 5 May 1947, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Spring has come to Europe. With the spring has come an increased urgency on the part of thousands of Jews to move on to Palestine.

Spring has always been the season of migration. The great Jewish migrations to the United States would reach their peak in the spring. After the Passover holidays – traditional celebration of the freeing of the Hebrew slaves – the migrant would pack his things, and with the whole town to see him off, would leave for America.

The year 1947 sees a different type of emigrant Jew. He no longer is leaving from his home, his village and family. He has no home or family.

He was first forcibly separated from his village – his family and neighbors were sent to be exterminated. The monstrous product of a decaying capitalist society – Nazism – used all the latest scientific methods of extermination.

While 40 per cent of the Jewish people of the world perished during World War II, not a hand, not a finger was lifted by their so-called allies to aid them. Protests were hardly even made. As to ships, visas, havens of migration – none of the fighters for “freedom” and “humanity” volunteered or allowed themselves to be pressured into doing anything.

The deaths of 6,000,000 people can be blamed not only on the Nazis, who carried out the slaughter, but also on the United States and Russia, which kept the doors of their own countries closed, and on Great Britain, which blockaded the Palestinian, shores.

Is it any wonder then that the remnants of a people now are not waiting for the International Relief Office or the UN to find them a place, but are walking, swimming and risking their lives to get to Palestine?.

The fever of movement has engulfed the Jewish population of the DP camps. A year and a half of idleness in converted concentration camps under military rule has had a disastrous effect on the personalities of these survivors. Yet they rise again, unconquered and with a determination to live once again as normal human beings.

Danger to DPs

The mass migration that we will see in the next few months will take advantage of the warm weather, calmer seas and ability to sleep out in the open, to make its way to Palestine. This movement is aided by – not originated by – the Haganah, Jewish resistance movement of Palestine, which is supplying the ships and is now seeking to supply airplanes.

(The American League for a Free Palestine and Ben Hecht, by their Hollywoodian boasts and full-page ads, give the impression that they and almost they alone are helping this “illegal” immigration. This is absolutely false. Through all the years of talk, the revisionists and their splinter groups such as the League and the Political Action Committee for Palestine, have only brought one boat of 600 immigrants to Palestine. As usual, this one boat was given more publicity than twenty boats of the Haganah.)

The governments of the world are preparing a counter-offensive to destroy every last hope of these suffering people. General Clay of the United States Army has issued two infamous orders in the past week:

One order warns the DPs that international relief cannot last for long, that it is not expected to continue after June, and “urges” their return to their countries of origin, offering them sixty days’ rations – as if such piddling amounts of food can be of any avail in the face of dislocation, hatred, anti-Semitism and the bitter reminders that every foot of ground holds millions of dead.

The second order prevents the DP camps from admitting any new wanderers, except in extreme need or illness, leaving all others to shift for themselves. This order is a product of the “stabilization” program.

The Jewish Morning Journal interprets this decree as “no more – except Jews.” How naive! It imagines that its conception of the need of the Jewish refugees will be accepted by the military. The New York Times reporter knows better when he says it is directed against Jewish immigrants. As yet the borders of the American occupied areas are still open – and this comforts some liberals. and some Jews – but not for long; The military will soon attempt to stifle ANY “unauthorized” movements.

A Stalinist Trick

The British are putting pressure on all European governments, from Sweden to Italy, to stop immigration at its source. The DP camps are moved inland, away from the Mediterranean. The French and Italian governments promise to prevent Jews from entering their countries. But in memoranda to the British, they pointed out that should the Jews manage to enter – they would be told to move on – even if it means to Palestine. All seem to have the same solution for the DP problem: Let the other country take care of them.

It remained, however, for the Stalinist-controlled, government of Poland to take the most crass and barbaric steps. By ukase, the Polish government has ordered the end of all illegal immigration.

A special conference of Jewish leaders was ordered to appear at the office of the Security Ministry. There they were told that emigration from Poland was prohibited and that the government would not tolerate anything of this kind. That the 80,000 Jews who are left from a pre-war population of over 3,500,000, find their lives intolerable, that the continued and ever-growing anti-Semitism makes it impossible for Jews to live in Poland, that makes no difference to the Polish Stalinists. They want to imitate the Russian state, where no one can enter or leave, except diplomats and hired hands.

Not only were Jews immediately arrested on trying to cross the border, but the Polish secret police, under Russian tutelage, invoked the old “collective responsibility” and warned the Jewish leaders that they PERSONALLY would be held responsible if any Jews attempted to escape. The reasons given – “domestic reasons” and (hypocrisy has no limit) the wishes of the British. It is of course a well known fact how solicitous the Polish government is of the feelings of the British government!

The tragic history of the Jews in recent years proves the Marxist contention that capitalist totalitarian anti-Semitism plans and executes a policy of annihilation, the complete and total physical extermination of the Jews. The arena of annihilation is today no longer limited to single countries. It is continental and worldwide.

Where Shall They Go?

Thus in a fundamental sense and in a very real personal sense, the survival of the Jews is dependent upon the overthrow of capitalism. “The Jewish proletariat is in need of revolution more than any other.” This is not only true for the Jewish worker, but offers the only hope of life for all Jews, workers and petty bourgeoisie alike. If anything can be learned! from the past and present bestial assaults of capitalist anti-Semitism, it is that the only real and fundamental solution of the Jewish problem lies in the unity of the Jewish people with the working class and its revolutionary vanguard – the Workers Party.

“Few of Europe’s Jews have any illusions about Palestine. They know they are entering an armed camp. They know that the end of their journey may not be Tel-Aviv but Cyprus. They know that for most of them the new life will be hard, that they will live by the sweat of their brow in the most literal sense.”

What promise is there in this tiny country of toil and danger that should cause the Jews of Europe to want to fight their way in, suffering hunger and thirst en route? It is the promise that they will fight as part of a nation – no longer the hounded individuals of an unaccepted minority. That is why the Jews are prepared to face British bayonets and Arab opposition in Palestine, but shrink from the possibility that they may again wear the yellow “J” as subjects or even citizens of a hostile state. To put it succinctly, they prefer to guard their settlements at night, arms in hand, rather than read want ads that say “restricted” or employment ads that say “Christian only.”

It is not the desire to cut themselves off from the non-Jewish world that attracts them to Palestine. It is rather that they feel they will meet the non-Jewish world on more equal terms. The large Jewish communities of Poland permitted the Jew to live an intense cultural life of his own, but it still was culture in a ghetto.

The great difference is that in Palestine, the Jewish community has a measure of power. True, the Jewish “state within a state” is a feeble force when matched with Britain or even the combined forces of the surrounding Arab world. However, the Jews see in the organized community of Palestine the opportunity of fighting under a common banner – a source of strength felt by every people of Europe under the Nazi heel, except the Jews.

Break Down the Walls

The Jews of Europe face a world of walls. It is the condition that also turns their faces toward Palestine. Not that the wall around Palestine is less formidable, but behind the Palestinian wall the most powerful Jewish minority of any country reaches out a hand of welcome. The fight for the right of Jews to go to Palestine cannot be considered as a substitute for the need to fight against all reactionary restrictions upon immigration whenever they occur. The struggle to open the doors of a country now partly their own to the refugees is an obligation which the workers of each nation must place in the forefront of their demands.

In this respect a special duty devolves upon the labor movement of the U.S. No other country is in so favorable a situation to admit large numbers of immigrants. The wealth of America and its vastness make it possible to admit a million immigrants without making the slightest impression upon its economic institutions. The main content of American labor demands for European Jews should be “Open the doors of the United States,” but together with the international working class they must throw their support behind the pressing demand of “Open the doors of Palestine.”

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