«Bund» of Poland - The case of Henryk Erlich and Victor Alter


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FOREWORD The Represenratives of the Generai Jewish Workers' U11io11"Bund" of Poland (affiliated to the Labour and Socialist !111ernatio11al) publish rhis pamphlet Jor reasons of po/irica/ morality, They hai·e 10 defend, before the world in war, the memory of two comrades who have been execured fora crime they have nor commirred. They do so, with reluctance and regret, because of the fact thar this cruel act has been committed by an aflied Power. They do so, although they know thar they shall be accused of trying to disrurb the fight on a united battle front. Nevertheless, they cannot //esitate one momeni. They e1•en should 1101 hesirate if rhey had no direct proofs of rhe innocence of their comrades, because they and i1·e have known them Jor many years as loyalfighters (or Democracy. But they do possess the proofs of their innocence, and the reader wi/1 find them in this pamphlet. He wi/1 be ab/e to Jorm his ow,1 opinion-based 011doc11ments. The reasons givenfor rheir exewtio11 are unworthy. They are more. They are st11pid. I shall 1101try to deduce rhe real reasons of this slander. They are ob1•ious. Alter and Erlich are 1101 the 011/yvictims. Bw in rhis case the i111e111iownas to strike ar rhe head in order ro decapitare a move• meni. The rep/y will be that ll'e sha/1 continue our fight for Socia/is111and Democracy 011 /ines 1rhich had been for a time aiso the Jines of the execwioners, all(/ w/u'ch they will ha_veto.follow, i11 a near fwure, even if executions of Socia/ists continue. CamiJJe Huyynans. L011do11,Aprii 5th, 1943. Biblioteca Gino Bianco

APPEAL.. ~ M. MOLOTOV ASKED TO RELEASE ERLICH ANO ALTER On a day some time ago, th; ellecutioner, in a prison in Kuii and Victor Alter, who had dei of Freedom and the welfare of The following is thc tcxt of a cable, scnt to the Soviet Foreign Minister, M. Molotov, on January 271h, 1943, by a group of leading citizens of the United States, requesting once more the release of H. Erliçh and V. Alter: IT IS NOW MORE THAN A YEAR THAT HENRYK ERLICH AND VICTOR ALTER TWO PROMINENT LEADERS OF JEWlSH MASSES POLAND WERE RE-ARRESTED IN KOUIBYCHEV STOP MOST PROMINENT REPRESENTATIVES OF FREEDOM LOVING PEOPLE THROUGHOU1' THE WORLD OF BRITISH ANO AMERICAN LABOR MOVEMENTS REPEATEDLY REQUESTED TiiEIR RELEASE IN VAIN STOP TODA Y WHEN UNIVERSAL PUBLIC OPINION UNITES IN CONOEMNATION OF NAZl CRIMINALS WHO ARE MURDERING IN COLO BLOOD ENTIRE JEWISH POPULATION POLAND WE RENEW IN NAME OF JUSTICE ANO HUMANITY OUR REOUEST FOR RELEASE OF THESE OUTSTANDING COURAGEOUS FJGHTERS AGAINST FASCISM AND NAZISM HENRYK ERLICH ANO VICTOR ALTER WILLIAM GREEN, Prcsidcnt, Amcriean Fcdcration of Labor. Professor ALBERT EINSTEIN. Re,. HENRY SMJTH LEIPER, Excaui•-c: &c~ary, Uni,·er$al Chl'\$lian CounciJ. OAVID OUBINSKY, Prcsi<knt, lntemational Ladies' Garmcnt Workcrs' Union. Or. ALVIN JOHNSON, Director, New School (or Socia! Rde3.n;h. ADOLPH HELD, Chairrnan, Jcwi,h L3bour Commintt. LEO KRZYCKI, Prcsidcn1, Amcrican Slav CongrcSS. Dr. FII.ANK KINGDON. JOSEPH WEINBERG, Prnidcnt, Workmcn"$ Cin:k:. 11.EINIIOLD NIEBUHR, Chairman. Union for OemocraHc Action. CLINTON S. GOLDEN, Assistant Prcsidcm. United Stcclv•orkcrs of America. Dr B. HOFFMAN, PR:Sidenl, Jcv.ish Writers' Union. RAYMOND GRAM SWING. J. B. S. HARDMAN, Amalpmated Clothin1 Workers, Editor Officiai Pras. PHILIP MURRAY, Pl't$Ìdent, ConlffS-1 of Industriai Orpnisations. Biblioteca Gino Bianco

e died at the hands of the shev, two men, Henryk Erlich cated their lives to the cause heir fellow men. ...AND ANSWER M. LITVINOV ADMITS THE EXECUTION EMBASSY OF THE SOVIET UNION, WASHINGTON, D,C,' February 23, 1943 Dear Mr. Green, I am informed by Mr. Molotov, People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs, of the receipl by him of a telegram signed. by you concerning lwo Soviet cilizens, Alter and Erlich, I am inslrucled by Mr. Molotov lo inform you of the following facls · For aclive subversive work againsl the Soviet Union and assislance lo Polish inlel\igence organs in armed activities, Erlich and Alter were senlenced lo capitai punishmenl in August, 1941 Al the request of the Polish Governmenl, Erlich and Alter were released in September, 1941 However, afler they were set free, al the lime of the mosl desperale baltles of lhe Soviet troops against lhe advancing Hitler army, they resumed their hostile activilies including appeals to lhe Soviet troops to stop bloodshed and immediately lo conclude peace with Germany, For this they were rearrested and, in December, 1942, senlenced once more lo capitai punishment by the Military Collegium of lhe Supreme Courl. This sentence has been carried out in regard lo both of them, Yours sincere\y, Ambassador MAXIM LITVINOV Biblioteca Gino Bianco

• WHO WERE ERLICH AND ALTER? BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES HENRYK ERLICH was born in Lublin, ~oland, in 1882. As a high-school youth in his tcens he jomed an underground Revolutionary Students' Organisation, one of those whose chicf goal was the liberation of Poland from the rule of Czarism. In 1902 hc was elected chairman of1his underground student organisation and, soon aftcr, his oratorica.11and literary rnlcnts secured for him a piace in the leadership of the entirc Socialist Movement in the old Russia. From 1902 until his arrest by the Russians in 1939, Erlich dc\'oted bis entirc !ife and enormous cnergies 10 the cause of the oppressed. In 190S he bccamc the theoretical guide and editor of thc Polish organ of the Generai Jcwish Workers· Union ·· Bund," ·· Nasze Haslo" ("' Our WJ1tchword"). From Naszc Ha~lo, afu:r sulfering arresi and exile, HENRYK ERLICH he went in 1912 10 edit the large Russian daily newspaper ·· Dien" (.. The Day"), while at the same time taking charge of the theoretical organ of the Generai Jcwish Workcrs' Union "Bund," ·· Di Caj1" (.. Time'"). Thc outbrcak ofthe World War of 1914 found him the editor of the Socialisl weekly ·· Yevreiskia Vesti·· (Jewish News). He was arrested for the firsi time in 1902 and again in the winter of 1904. Arrcsted on« more in 1909, he was exiled from Russia. Upon his Biblioteca Gino Bianco

rcturn to thc country in 19J1 Erlich was placcd by the Czarist regime on tria[ for bis adherence IO the revolutionary and ·· subversive·· Generai Jcwish Workers' Union •• Bund.' 0 Neither prison nor Czarist persecution, bowever, could break Erlicb's spirit and courage. Alìer tbc" Bund " bccame affiliated IOthe Russian Sodai Democratic Party. be was, in recognition of bis services 10 the cause of Labour. electcd to tbc Centrai Committce of tbat Party and appointcd by tbe ·• Bund ·• as liaison rncrnber to the Socia] Dernocratic faction in tbe Czarist ·· Duma •• During tbc Russian Revolution of 1917 Erlicb becamea member ofthe editoria! staff of tbe centrai organ of tbe Russian Social Democratic Party, .. Rabocbaya Gazeta .. (.. Workers· Gazette ..), and in the rnontb of Marcb of tbe same year, after tbe Czar bad abdicated and tbe Revolu1ionwas victorious, be was elected one of tbe leaders of the St. Petersburg Soviet and a member of tbe Centrai Exccutive Committcc of tbe Workers• Soviets of Russia. Appointcd by tbe Council of Workcrs' Soviets as a mernber ofa delega• tion tbat went to Europe 10 organise tbc farnous lntcrnational Socialist Confercnce in Stockhohn, Swcdcn, Hcnryk Erlicb visited Norway, Great Britain, France, Italy, and won the respect of tbe Dernocratic and Labour rnoverncnts in those countries. At tbc end oftbe last war-toW11rds thc end of 1918-Erlich rcturned IO his native country, Poland. Very soon, in tbe first few montbs of 1919, be was cbosen a mernber of tbe Warsaw City Council and be retaincd tbis tille for the next 20ycars-unti1 tbeday ofbistragic deatb. In Poland be was tbe rccognised and respectcd leader of tbc Jcwish working class, tbe most faitbful fighter for tbe liberation and tbc solidarity of the · e was Editor-in-chief of loyahy to Socialist ideals. ·· New Peop1e·sOaily ..). ofthe bestspeakersand bonesty in politics and Since 1929, i.e., frorn tbc time tbc ·· Bund ·· joined the Labour and Socialist lnternational. be was the representative of bis party on the Exccutivc Commi1tee of the lnternational. Often be rcpresentcd vicws in this Cornmiuee which werc not sbarcd by tbc majority of tbe members. But cve~ then hc was beld in great esteem by ali tbe member5 of tbc Jnterna11onal. Frorn the moment wben tbe darkness of Fascism and Hitlerism first began lo descend upon Europe, Erlicb did not miss a single opportunity of"giving warning against tbc growing danger, of attempting 10 destroy tbc smug, sbort-sigbtcd optimism of rnany, of calling for the use of new me1bods in the struggle witb tbìs new and deadly enerny of freedom, human culture and progress. He did tbis not only in bis own country, but internationally. In Poland bc was one of1he most ruthless and aclive opponents of tbe military and police régirne of men like Beck and RydzSmigly. In thc Socialist lnternational he beld tbc view tbat Fascism could only be destroyed by united action of the working class of tbe world, conscious of ìts aims and metbods. Biblioteca Gino Bianco

From 1he year 1937-from the time when ali Fascist coun1ries look a hand in the fight in Spain-Erlich bclonged lo lhe group of men who saw elearly 1he cataslrophc which was bound IO follow failure to inlervene ,!: on the pari of the united forces of frcedom. He was an ardent adhercnt of the defence of the free nations agains11heaggression of the totalitarian Fascist forccs. In spite of his vcry criticai auitude towards Russia's internal policy, hc defendcd, in the Press, on the speakers· pla1form,at meetings ofpolitical institutions in 1hecountry and abroad, the view that the democratic countries musi resolve on a llne of action jointly with thc U.S.S.R. against Fascist countries who were preparing for assault. VJCTOR ALTER During 1he hard months immediatcly bcfore the Gcrman auack on Poland was launched, Erlich led an in1ensifiedcampaign to prepare the Jewish working masscs fora full part in the approaching struggie, a struggle which would affect the Jewish masscs even more than anyone else. On the first day of war Erlich worked ali day on a manifesto to the Jewish workers, signed by the Centrai Committee of the Party and Youth Organisation, in which he called on everyone, and in panicular the young people, to saerifice everything. if need be their lives, IO stop the Nazis from passing into theircountry. Three weeks later a prison celi and a Soviet wardcn separated Erlieh from the people he had servcd so wcll all his life. The ]ife of Vic1or Alter parallels in many respects that of Henryk Erlich. Born in Mlawa, Poland, in 1890, hc too joincd al an early ageBiblioteca Gino Bianco

in 1905-the underground youlh movement. Because of his pari in a strike of Potish school youth against the policy of ·· Russianisation •· by the 0:ar, on Polish soil, he was cxpcllcd from school in Warsaw. Alter went 10 Belgiumwherc he studicd engineering a1 the Polytechnic lnstitutc. Upon his graduation he joincd the ·· Bund;· wherc he was soon electcd a member ofthe Centrai Executi\·eCommittcc. Victor Alter was a giftcd Socialistjournalist and writer. His numerous contributions to Socialist thoughl in 1hc Polish. French and Jewish languages include such well-known works as ·· Labour Co-opcration, •• ·· The Mili1ant Socialism," ·· The Man in the Community, .. and others. He belongcd lo the most talcntcd economis1s in the lnternational Labour Movement and contributcd greatly to thc dcvelopment of Socialist ideas on planncd cconomy. I-lewas also elected in 1919by the working masses to thc Warsaw City Council. In 1927 be became onc of Warsaw·s aldermen. He was an expcrt on locai government in Poland"s capitai. In December, 1938. during clcctions 10 the Warsaw City Council, he led the electoral campaign, in the working-class district, which won for the ;, Bund ., ali five seatswhich 1ha1district held. As leader of the Jcwish workers Alter approachcd nearcst thai ideai of ·• conquering the heart of the country for its people and the hcarts of its pcoplc for the country." Through his vers.itile activities he bridged many of the gulfs scparating bis pcople from 1he Polish people and the pcoples ofthe world. In bis private life,just as in his public life, he did noi stand for nationalistic limitations. Alter w11sIIgenuine citizen of 1he world. l·le believcd decply in the ins1inc1of frecdom inherent in every human being. Ali bis life he educated lhc Jcwish workers IO be men and himself set an cxample IO them. His favourite saying was: .. lt is better IOdie standing up, than IO live on one•s knees.'' And be did not flinch in spite of the suongest attacks from the rcactionaries, which werc directcd against bis movement or bis own pcrson, just as he did not bend in thecell ofthc Soviet prison. He was a speaker and writer. He was a politician, 11norganiser of the trade unions and the co-opcratives. He belonged to the most important institutions at bome and abroad. He had views of his own on sociology and politica\ economy, on physics and acsthetics. Both Erlich and Alter were always the chnmpions of truth and progress. And only their hangmen-the men who murdercd lhem-dare 10 throw mudattheirundefendedgraves. MASS ARRESTS IN SOVIET-OCCUPIEO EASTERN POLAND Erlich and Alter werc arrested by thc Soviet authorilies late September. 1939, a few days after the Rcd Army entercd Eastern Poland-Erlich at the railway station of Brzesc (Brest Litovsk), Alter at Kowcl. Mr. Litvinov·s letter IOMr. Green, quotcd here, was meant 10create the impression that both Alter and Erlich had been arrestcd on a definite Biblioteca Gino B\anco

charge. Thc truth is that thcy wcrc dc1aincd along with thousands of ~ othcr Po\ish citizens, especially Socialists and tra.dc unionists. Close upon the heels of the U.S.S.R. army which occupìed Polish tcrritoryin September, 1939,followcd manydetachmcntsofthc N.K.W.D., the politica! policc of Soviet Russia (formcrly the "G.P.U."'). And immcdiately mass arrcsts among all dasses of thc population of Polnnd began to takc piace. Especially grcat numbers of arrests wcrc made among thc Polish Labour lcadcrs, belonging to the Polish Socialist Party and IOthe Jcwish ·· Bund... Thc arrcsts bcgan on Septcmber 20th, thrcc days afler thc Soviet army had cntered Poland. Thc town councillors. mcmbers of the committees of the local Socialist partics, members ofthc tradc union cxeçutives, organiscrs of working-class and pcasant youth werearrestcd. Among thcsc wcrc Erlich and Alter. The fact that they werc seni a few days later to thc centrai prison of thc N.K.W.D., ·· Butirki," in Moscow, suggests that thcse arrests hnd becn planncd from the first upon thc order of the centrai authoritics, and that thcy belongcd tO the "operational pian" of thc Sovicts, prcpared cvcn beforc thai part of Poland had becn occupicd. The way in which thesc arrcsts wcre made was typical. In 1he houscs, whcrc thc arrests took piace, not only the men whom 1he policc had come to fctch wcrc arrcstcd, but c\·erybody who was in thc housc with them. In Wilno, for instancc, the policc cntcrcd the housc of an old activc "Bund ., leader, Zelcznikov, who had be(:n exilcd to Siberia in the time of thc Czar, in order IOarresi him. Quite accidcntally they found lhcre also a man named Rosenstcin employcd in the s:rnatorium for workingclass childrcn named after Wladyslaw Mcdcm. This man, who had flcd from Warsaw and 1hc Germans, thcy also arrcstcd. He was sentenced 10 the labour camp whcrc he met his death. Also in Wilno. the Secret Soviet polìcc camc 10 arrest a wcll-known Socialist leader, a lawyer namcd Tajtell. Bui they found thcrc a refugee from Warsaw, a wcll-known trade unionist and Socialist, who had spcnt years in Czarist prison -H. Himelfarb. They took him along and sentcnced him tocight ycarsin thccamps, lt proved quite impossiblc IO intervene with the examining magistrale or thc public prosocutor. With vcry fcw cxccp(ions, no parccls or food or clothing were allowed to rcach them. The w1feof one of the arrcsted men, Mrs. G., was told by the c;c.aminingmagistrale; ·· You ha\"Cfunny womcn here. In our country, in Russia, when thc husband is arrcsted 1hcwifc sucs for divorcc and tooks for another one. But hcrc you come along plcading and begging, which can, after ali, only result in your being scnt away also."" No information as IO lhe fate of the arrested pcrsons was availablc, muçh lcss was thcrc any chance of seeing the prisoners or of sending lcners toor from the prison. 10 Biblioteca Gino Bianco

J,"JVE WEEKS WITH ERLICH ANO ALTER AT KUIBISHEV S1a1ement by lul'jan 8/it, 1,,ho.shored a rOQmwith them 01 tht lnl<mri.slHotel in Kuibis~r. (Mr. 8/it i~ a m,mb,r r,f IM Ctntra/ CDmminn 0/1/tr "' Butuf"" in PD/and, nwmber t,,,:'::ci/!)""" of 1/w $«/a/Ili Yo,,th J,r,tr,,o/lOIIIII, und nwnr/Nr of th, Wuru,~, 0/y In accordance with the Soviet-Polish Pnct I was released from a Soviet ·· Labour Camp" ncar Archangel, in September. 1941. In October I arrived al Buzuluk, a small town where lay the Hcad- ()~a~~~rs;~ht~~::~ ,~;~ya~~i!~ ~~!~\!-~h~nu/~ifh~1~f :1a~i1~: Broniewski, who brought me a message from Hcnryk Erlich and Victor Alter asking me 10 go as soon as possible 10 Kuibishev. where they had both bccn staying sincc the middle of that month aftcr bcing evaeuated from Moscow togethcr with the Polish Embassy. Thc next day, October 30th, 1941, I arri\·ed at the Grand Hotel, Kuibishevskaya S1. 111, Kuibishev, where, in room No. 31 second lloor, Erlich and Alter lh'ed during the whole periOO of thcir stay in thai town, Aflcr tcndcring a certificate from the Polish Embassy s1a1ing that I had been requested by thcm to come lo Kuìbishcv in order. lo undenake certain work among Polish nationals, I was gi\·cn perm1ssion by the .. lntourist "-to whom that hotel belongs-10 take up residence there. I lived with Erlich and Alter in thc same room unti\ Dccembc:r 4th, thc date of thcir rearrest, and staycd on, in the same room until Deccmber 28th. During the fivc weeks I shared their residence with them, I had the opponunity of hcaring frorn thesc two comrades the full s1ory of thcir last two years, i.e., from the moment of their arresi until my meeting with lhem. I also had the privilege of enjoying their fulles1 confldencc during our short stay togcther and for this rcason I belie,·e I know e1·erything they did from thc moment of their release in Moscow to 12.30 a.m. on thc 4lh Dccember, whcn thcy lcft never 10 rcturn. Erlich was arrestcd by thc People"s Commissariai of the Jn1crior (N.K.W.D.) late in Sep1cmbcr, 1939, at the railway station of Brzcsc (Brest Litovsk). After severa] weeks in the locai prison, he was transfcrrcd IOthe famous prison in Moscow known as " Butirki." There he was oflen questioned by various examining magistrates and once by the Ali-Russia Commissar for lhc lnterior-Beria. He was questioned as to thc attitodc of lhe ·· Bund " 1owards ali manncr of sodai and politica! probtcms. Naturally there wcrc not lacking 1hose ques1ions of a criminal-politieal charactcr so typical in any of the U.S.S.R. politica! trials. For instanec, hc was asked 10 confess 1hat, as leader of the Bund, assisted by the Polish poli1ical police, hc hud organiscd sabotagc and terrorist acts on U.S.S.R. tcrritory. Erlich purposely decidcd IO give replies in writing IO ali questions and charges brought against him (he spoke Russian vcry wcll). As he told me, he did this so as 10 lcavc in the rccords of thc N.K.W.D. a genuine account of the activities and views of thc Bund io Poland. Il Biblioteca Gino Bianco

When the Germans attaekcd Russia, Erlich was transfcrrcd from MOS(:0W10the Saratov prison. In July or the samc year he found himseJr in a room, not \"try big in size, wherc 1herc werc fi\"eor six military men. He was told 1hiswas 1hc tribuna! which was to try him. The mcmbers or -: tbc tribuna! werc at once judge and prosecutor. Thcrc werc no counsel. Herc Erlich delivered a long speech in which hc defcndcd himselr against 1he eharges prcferred by 1he prosecution-acts of 1error against the U.S.S.R., support for the prcparations of an armed rising against thc U.S.S.R., collaboration with the fascis1s,etc. Arter a \"erybricr deliberation by 1hc tribuna! the death sentenee was pronounced. Erlich did not avail himself or the righi to plead for mercy to the Praesidium or 1he Supreme Soviet or lhe U.S.S.R. He was mo,·cd 10 1hc condemncd ccli where he remaincd for two wceks. until thc moment when he was askcd 10 append his signaturc 10 thc reccipt or the Order by which his dca1h sentence had bccn commuted to 10 years' hard tabourin the··labour camps." In Scptcmbcr, 1941, he was rcleased from prison. Alter was arrested by 1hc N.K.W.O. in Kowel during the last fcw days of September, 1939. Arter a fcw wceks he was transfcrred 10 thc same prison in Moscow in which Erlich lay-1hough neither knew or thc presence of the 01her. His way of reacting to thc charges prcfcrrcd against him by the c,i;aminingmagistrates or the .K.W.D. was differcnt from that or Erlich. Alter, after hearing 1he chargcs relating 10 crimcs of a mi,i;cdçriminal and politica! character which hc or his party werc allegcd to ha'"e commi11ed,was won1 10 answer simply: "lt isa lie." In prison he resorted SC\'Craltimcs 1ohungcrs1rikes, fasting in dcfcn<:eof his own dignity or that of his fcllow prisoners who were with him in the samc ccli. Altogcthcr he was on hunger strikc for some thirty days. Among.st other things. hc fough1 for and won for himself the right to writc a scien1ilìc trcatisc on physics. In an errori to bring him 10 submis.sion, in 1941 hc was lransfcrrcd for SC\"Cr.tlwecks to a ,ery severe prison in MOS(:ow.thc " Lafortowsky:· In spite of ali this, 11eithcrAlter nor Erlich did sign any or thc ·· confcssions "demanded ofthcm. In July, 1941,Alterwas tried and sc111cnced 10 death by a court martial. I-le spenl twclve days in the condcnmed <:ell. He made no pica for mercy bui was Inter informcd that the sentencc had been commuted to onc or IO ycars· hard labour in the ..labour camps... In Septcmber, 1941, hc was relcascd from prison. His release took piace in the same manncr as thai of Erlich. High officials of thc N.K.W.D .• on behalf of 1he Soviet Governmcn1, c,i;prcsscd theirrcgrei for thc ·•mistakcwhich had been commiued by1hosc sce1ions orthc N.K.W.D. which had dctaincd thcm in prison, tried 1hen1,etc." A colone! of the N.K.W.O.-onc or thc most influential men in thai organisation (latcr 011he became an officiai liaison officer between thc Soviet Generai Staff and thc Supreme Command of thc Polish Army in 1hc U.S.S.R.)--Aron Volkovisky, callcd on them immcdiatcly artcr 1heir release, as 1he Representati1•eof the Soviet Government, and c,i;prcssed thc wish 1hat 1hcy should both forgct 1he wrongs done to thcm. Thcy werc offcrcd residence in onc or 1hc best hotcls in MOS(:owaod a sum of moncy O think il was about 3,000 roubles each) was paid to them as compensation. Some or my acquaintances cmployed at thc Polish " Biblioteca Gino Bianco

Embassy in Moscow told me they met Erlich and Alter within a few hours of their release, and both were so changed that it was hard 10 recognise them,soagedandweakenedwerethey Shortly after the order for release was communicated 10 Erlich and Alter, the Colone[ A. Volkovisky of the N.K.W.D., previously mentioned, approached them on behalf of his Government with the suggestion that they should form an all-world Jewish an1i-Hitlerite committee on the lines of the Slavonic Committee erea1ed in Moscow. After consultation with the Polish Ambassador in the U.S.S.R., Professor Kot, Erlich and Alter consented to form such a committee. A number of conferences took piace between 1hemand the representatives of the Soviet authorities. One such conference was held at the invitation of Beria, the Commissar for the \nterior, who was present. The principles of the work of the com_mitteewer~ agree~ upon,its provisional membershi~ and praesi~ium: Chairman-Erhch, V1ce-Chairman-Michoels (a Jew1sh artist m the U.S.S.R.), and Generai Secretary-A!ter. The question of sending a delegate to America was discussed (Erlich was to be the delegate). The N.K.W.D. brought IOMoscow those comradcs who wcre 10 be used for the work of the committee, such as Dr. Henryk Schrciber, who later died in Russia. For the same purpose the N.K.W.D. was also trying to fìnd the wri1er,although in vain, because I was imprisoned under an assumed name. I was IO be seni as a delegate to the other side of the front-to German-occupied Pofand. In the end the Soviet delegates themselves had no objcctions IO raisc either against the politica[ and social princip!es or the mode of procedure of the committce, but they made it a point 1hat they must first seek the approvai of the Soviet Authorities. As a result ofthe conversation with Bcria, Alter and Erlich sent a lctter to Stalin containing thc draft of the programme and the mode of procedure of the Committce. At 1hat time Moscow found hcrself menaced by the Hitlcrile hordes which were closing in. On October 15th Moscow was evacua1ed by the Government. Amongst others ali diplomatic officcs were transferred. The Soviet authorities also ·evacuated Alter and Erlich and told them that thc N.K.W.D. in Kuibìshev would reccive ins1ructions to take good care of 1hem and that the decision would be communicated 10 them therc. In addition ~olone\ Volkovisky. asked them to prcparc _certain 1hings, as for 1nstance a proclamat1on to tbe Jcwisb masses 1n Poland and America. lt could be seen from tbc discussions that tbc Soviet authorities were anxious first of all to make use of the influence wbich the Bund held among tbe working classes in the U.S.A. Whilst I shared the room in Kuibishev with Erlich and Alter, I was severa[ times witness of visits to them by a man who worked in the N.K.W.D. lf I am. not mistaken his name was Chasanovich. Every time he came he sa1d that thc decision had not yet arrived. He explained this as due to thc particularly difficult military position in which Russia found herself at that time (November, 1941), when very intense fighting for Moscow was in progrcss. On December 3rd, in the absence of Erlich and Alter, I answered a telephone cali from Chasanovich who asked me whcn they would be at home as he had very important news for them, brougbt by someone 13 Biblioteca Gino Bianco

who had come spccially from Moseow. At 12.30 on the nighl of the 3rd-4th Dcttmber. 1herc wcrc sea1ed al table in 1he hotel rcstaurantErlich. Alter. Cadet Natanson. a formcr Cambridge Readcr in Ma1hc- ~ qiatics, and the writer. One of the womcn clerks of the hotel called Alter IOthe telephone. After a while he rc1urned and said : ·· Hcnryk. le! us gel our coats. wc havc tOgo.•· Shortly afterwards thcy rcturned rcady IO go out. They almost forgot to say good-byc as thcy had promised 10 return very soon. I HAVE NEVER SEEN THEM SINCE. The following day. at noon, worried by their abs.cnceand Jack or news or them, I went with Leon Oler. another prominent mcmber of lht: Bund rcleascd some time ago from a lii6our camp, 10 thc Polish Embassy, where a formai affidavit was sworn as 10 1heir disappcarancc. The Polish Embassy started cnquirics and were finally informed thai Erlich and Alter were in prison. Thc rcasons for their dctention \'aried from time IOtime but had onc thing in common-thcy none ofthem made scnse. A rewdaysaflcr thc arresi. Dcttmber 121h. 1941. 1he N.K.W.D. agrccd 10 acccpt small parccls or undcrwcar for 1he prisoners. We took the parccls in company with one or the clerks or the Embassy. In front or 1he N.K.W.D. building Chasano\'lCh was wai1ing. Therc, in the s1rec1, lolling against a fencc. he made a pcrfunc1oryexamination or1he contcnts or the parce\s and signed in pencil the receipt forms which had becn prcparcd by us in advance. He would acccpt no roo<1parccls, declaring cynically. ··Thcyarc betterfed intherethanyouarc." On Decembcr 28th, 1941. I was summoned 10 the N.K.W.D. where a dccision of1he N.K.W.D. was read 10meaceording 10 which I had 10lc:wc Kuibishev within 24 hours under penalty of immediate arresi. Bctwcen the 4th and 29th Dc<:cmber, i.l'., from thc time ofthc rcarrest of Erlich and Alter, unti I the momcnt of my leaving our room in the Grand Hotel, lhe Soviet authoritics ne,-cr made any search for thc documcms and artic\es left 1herc by Alter and Erlich. Af1er se,·cral days everything that had belonged 10 1hcm was dcposited wi1h 1he Polish Embassy. LUCJAN BLIT. London, March, 1943. 14 Biblioteca Gino Bianco

FACfS AND DOCUl\lEl"'l'S Mr. Blit. on rcccMng orders 10 lea,e Kuibis!N:v. joined the Polish Army in 1he U.S.S.R. and 1ogcther wi1h them left Russia. He arrived in thiscoun1ry reccntly. His story is subslantiatcd by documents whkh reached the Representa• tionoftheBundin London. Let us now come to the documents. Erlkh and Alter were frrst arrcstcd by the Soviet authorities late in Scptembcr, 1939. Arrestcd at the samc time were hundreds of Jcwish and Polish Socialists. Erlich and Alter were semenccd 10 death on a chargc which was afterwards dismisscd ,,,ith apologies by 1he Sm'lCt authori1ies, who assurcd them that the action taken had been a mis1ake. M. Litvinov stales in his leucr thai after Erlich and Alter were sei free, they resumed thcir hostile activities ngainst the U.S.S.R. which includcd appeals to thc Soviet troops to stop fìghting and for the immediate conclusion of peace with Hitler. This stau:ment is ridicutous and astonishing. Jt is quite sure thai the Soviet aulhorities could addoce no evidcncc 10 suppon lheir chargc. Wc. on the contrary. possess documentnryc1•idcnce that Erlich and Alter wcre acting quite differently. To show 1he re.al auitude of Erlich and Alter towards Hitler Germany wc quote some of the documents in our po~ion. This is their lettcr to thc Polish Amb:tssador TC\'Ca!ingthcir ideas and plans immediatcly aftcrrcgainingthcirfrccdom inSeptcmber, 1941. )lOilCOW, 24th Septemòcr, 19H. Your Excellency. Tu·o ycon ago, "·lwn thc pri$on !(>'t<'tlcloo,e,;l Jx,himl liii, w~ rcpro9ented thel11rguit1,oliticalJ)ftrtyarnongthcJc,.11inl'olaml. Wccnjoyodthc(ullc8L oonfKl,•noo of tlw, J.,,.·i;ch ""-· To-<Uly. ,.-J~n ,..., ,.,,, 111bk-to rclum I<>our ....,,;,.., poli1ieal 11ml ltOCÌIIII tir,-.".., hope that we IJlill h.K,.... tl,e right IO •1-k onbchllllfofthedem.....,,.. lnthliunpreeetl<.'nt,'<ln1oruc11tinhistory.wen-g11nlit~ourduty10,ub,nit loxour Exrellcuc~,, ,,ml. through you. 10 thc eulire l'oli~h oom1nu11ity, our pomt of vie-,· on th•· two rnO<lt irn1,ortnnt probk'tflll of the Jay-war and l"--OOC. Th<J figlu 11gain"1 the Nn,,i3 An<I ;S11zÌ$m. ""'l>loying e.-cry m<.'fln8111our di~pos11l-,1nd. fir>1tnnd forf'Tn081, 11n.un.l(.'(I fight . is theduty of,-very ,mm ,md woman who louthl'tl OOrbllri11mand .-,Uainy, it •• tl>e duty of <W1..'t'y1uttion whi.ch lovCl!rfreedom. ,\,t Sociali;,14 ,1nd citiu,-. of l'oland---11t1ffcriug IIO cruelly at tbe han<lll of llitl.,,. "" join thc rlUlia of ti~ who aro fighting 11g,,.i,wtthis swastika ,noiuitcr. A8 llO)J1Sof tl,e J.-"·i~h people who. ,norc tlUUl M1y. luwe i>e<,,, ill•tl"E'Rt<lll1i.11<I torlurod by Hitler,""" fod it to be Npecially our duty to h<ko pari in thiM atrugglo in dcfonoo of our dignity. through the utnH)llt cxcMion of our cffvrui. To•d•.•Ywl,en n 110wPoli~h ann~: is bcing erc,11ed on thc !!Oilof ti~., U .S:S.R. u:, oontmuo J>olnnd'~ ~trugglu Rgll,UliltHitl,•r, """ IIJll''-~•l to nll Jew,gl, cit,u,ui of l'olond who are ~troog cuough to bear armij. 1111dwho ar;; "t prt.-.t(•,11on U.i-!.fl.R. i.erritory '"'l'o arma! Join tho r,1nk,,. of th,• ..oldi<'""' "·ho u·ill "''<'e •gaio offer lheir Il\•,.. i11drfcn{'() of Poland"• ri~ht 10 frcc,dom o( <.'Xilh.•ncc, who. 111.,..._. ,..;,1, t~ Alllf'<I ,\nnic8. desire to f~ l'ol111Klami thc cntire ..-orld 15 Biblioteca Gino Bianco

from thu nightm,u'(' of Hitl<Jr s\avcry. And you, who aro unnblu to l><,ar !lrms. do not ,;paro yoursdvos in assisting thc nnny in its tMk of spoo,ding "I' ,·ietory o,·er tho Axis Powcl'l!." To play n part in this war for froe<lom ia both n dmy 1111d nn honournblo <: privilege. Jn th,;- nnmc of thc JcwUlh ma&!CII ond the Jowish intellige-ntsio, whorofH)&Othciroonfidcnee inu~. wodoclnroourr,;>a(linetl8tofulfil thUlduty nnd to dcm!lnd tho opporumit,y of ovoi!ing ouN1Clve1o1f this right. An in8ùpan1blo port oftho problcm of,rnr ia pence ond the problem of n n_owl'olnnd. Wo hovo no dosiro to dwell now upon the crrol'8 of Poli~h pohcy bcforo tho wnr und upon tho wrongs dono to tho Jcwish pcoplo 111 Poland. Wo dosiro 01~ly to llCt out tho following conclu.sions which mll$t be drnwn from 1hccxpcr1<me<.'3ofthc pastfowycol"ll: I. Thc cxiatcnoo of Poland without a eon,;tant threat, to her frccdom ia J>Ol<Sibloonlyina frecdmnocrnticlsuropc 2. A free dmnocrntic7-~uropc cnn nril!C. survi,•o ood dovolop only in oonditions ofpe-aec, only whcn. aft.er tho l\nnl military \'iotory, tho co,mtrios of Eu~1>ewillmnbork ~•pon _adct:nninod nnd bold progrnmme ofaocial roform eradu;-atmg nat,onnhsm. ,mpcr,alism, ami thQt threot of ncw wal'8 which 1s rootcdinthocapitalistsyst('m 3. Thc ncw aociRI organi88tion of Europo ahould bo back,;,,I by II ncw political atructuro in Euro_l"' found,..J no longer on antagonismi< ,md struggi"" bctwoon tho difkrcn1 N,u,ons, but, upon n common intero,;t ,md n roll<iinetl8lo dcfoml themsch-csjointly ngaini!t common dnngcr 4. The ne"· l'oln11d mllJ!t b,,oomo nn ,1etive mombcr of a communìt,y of nationawhichwilldecidethofntooftlu:,futurc 1•:uropeinthcapiritofpolitienl frccdom, socini juatiro and nl\liOrnll cqunlity. lt mwit follow thn.t those prinoiplcs ,_vould llJ)J>ly t.o tho intcnull polity of l'olw,d 1UJ woll 118 t.o hcr rel!ltiorul w1tJ1othcr Stnt.c6 and Pcopl<l8. {;. Wl><:thtrl1,C11Cl1Ìlll8Cllnbonchio\'cdornotdependaupontho!l0liditylllld the Crelltive energy of tho working nllt.Sll(.'O; in tho towrlil nml villagcs of Polond nndontheirnbilitytoreoliflethciridcolof11Polnndwhiehwouldbcngcnuino mothcrofnllhcrr,eo1>le. Thnt portion of tho Jewish populntion of Polund wlùch wo ropro$.mt, ,md which iam, orgnnic portofhcr working m11SSC11, willapnronooffort in ordcr to w~rk jointly with thcm in the building of o ncw Poluud bascd on tho proopcr,ty of h,:,r J>COJ>lo nnd tho frc«lom of ijpiritulll dcvdopmcnt of hcr citizens. H. ERLICII. W. ALTER. This allitude of Erlich and Alter is obvious also from the fact thai the Soviet authorities, after releasing thcm, assured them that their collaborati_on with tht; So\'iet in the struggle against Germany was necessary m the joint m1erests of the U.S.S.R., the Jewish people and Poland. In the name of the People's Commissariai for lnterior Affairs, Colonel A. Volkovisky, and la1erthe People's Commissar for th,:,lnterior, Beria, at a special eonference, proposed to Erlich and Alter the organisation of a world-wide Jewish Committee to aid the U.S.S.R. in the fight against Hitler and to cali upon the Jews to devote their energies and their connec1ions to the eommon cause. To this Erlich and Alter agreed. Th~y set about their task immediately. Almost daily Soviet officials vis11edthem in Moseow and after they were evacuated, in Kuibishev, to discuss these problems. As a result of these diseussions the programme 16 Biblioteca Gino Bianco

and principlcs of thc committee were drawn up and sent to Stalin for his approvai following thc advice of thc Commiss.ar Beria. The day on which they sent their lcttcr to Stalin they wrote to Beria as follO\\-'S:- Foltowing our oonvM'&llion with you, wo held fl number of conforenees inordertoworkout indctai!thcplanllt1grecduponduringthatoonw:r sation. Asa rosult ofthe<.coonforen<X'fl tlmJewiah Anti.HitlerCommittoo Afidressed 11, letter to the Ch11innan of tho Council of Poople'sCommÌlll!&rs ofthe U.S.S.R. requ<.'eting permissio,! 10 orge.niso such n Co,nmiUeo in thoU.S.$.H. Woencloscoopyoftln$ lett<)r. At tho snmo tin>'} wo would liko to ASk you. estoonwd Llwronty P1wlovich, lo help us to SJX'«i up tho mnttcr townrds n st1tisfnctory solution. \\.ithSocialistgrooting;,. H. Erlieh. \'. Alter • .\loscow,Octuber, 1941. This letter lcaves no doubt as to thc attitudc of Erlich and Alter an<lthc activities towards which they were determined to direct their energies. It must be emphasised that the programmc of activities was drawn up on the initiative of thc Soviet authorities and with thcir full agrecment. October. Hl-li Tù 'rHE CHAI.RllAK OF THE COUNCIL Of' PEOPLE'S CùlThll$SAB$ or· 1'Hg U.S.S.R. J. V, $TAU!\'. Estoomocl JOJl>f Vffl$arionovitch, Civilieod mnnkind wM ncwer beforo foeed with dnngers liko the pr<':ll<:mt, Hitlor and Hitlcrism aro 11dClldly rncnr,co to ali nchievemcntii of culture, to tho indcpendcnce ofall natlons, nnd tho freedo,n ofnll peoplce. Tho outcomo of thc gignntic bnttlcs now fought on tho vnst plnina of tho U.S.$.R. will decide for yenrs to come tho fate of working•clfli!il movemcnts, thefotoofnllrnankind 'l'ho fight against th090 dnnger11 demnndll suprcm.e eftor111of nll thoso who oro resolvocl to snwi then»1eh-os, their culture, their country and tho wholo world from tho horrors of fo'llllCÌllbt arbnrism 100 by Hitler. Hitler ain>Snt tho subjection of nll countri<.'ll l\nd pooploswithout oxooption, but hÌll persccution of the Jo~ is particulnrly cruc,l. He draga through tho mud tho hum1m nnd nnrionnl d1gnity of tho JowÌllh peoplc, ho plac<.'6it outsido oll law, ovcn bis OWll fo'1111<::ilaei.w. Ho I\Ìms nt tho CO>Ilflioto ('XICMJJÌnation of tho Jews. Thnt tho Jcwish mtl88C6 must light Hitl,:,ri.sm with pe.rticulnr cnergy umi tho grenteet s,;Jf.!lllCrifico. '1'his ia truooftheJ<iwishcitizeru,ofthoaooountrieeinwhfohthe thrcntof Hitler'• barborian rulc Ima alrcndy bocome cruel renlity. This is eqw.lly truc of thcJcwishciti7.cnsof11llotheroountries. Undcr such circumstnnoe,i, the wulcl'l!-Ìgned. "" reprosentntives of JowÌllh populntionij of oountrios violntod by Hitlerism, oonsidcr it oasontinl to fonn a spocinl Jewish Anti.Hitler Committec, being tho InitiMi,•o.Oroup of this Committeo wo nppronch you, est-0emod J080ph VÌllllnrionovitch, in your wpaciLy li.i! tho Chninnan of tho Counci! of Fco1>lo's Commiilllnni of tho 17 Biblioteca Gino Bianco

t:.S.S.H .. with 1ht• "-"li"'"'' th,1t you should grant J"'m,i!!Sion 1-0 fonn iueh a. Comrnitt-ee on &wiet l{'rritory. The work of this Co,nn,iuee would be blwe<I or, the following princ,pk...,,- All "·ork oftht'J.,\.C., nu<I "bovc nll it" propug11nd,.. is to be foundcd Otl thc conviction th"t (") th_e li~ration of tlm .~ewish m- from cnslavement, purticuharly ll1tlcr11c,~•sl11.vi•ment. 111. m any cow,try. i11e:<tricabl_,.bound up with theliberntiouofatlna1ionalgroup,;ooftha1oountry; (!,) ...,.1 enumcipation of Jewish ma- il, po,Mible only where tho ""holll lifeoftheoo11ruryisbasedon1)rincipk.-,of"'(lçi11ljus1ioo; (e) JcwishlllMi!INlof11llcoun1.-iHrnu,11,thcrefo.._.,togethcrwith1hcl't'llt of1hepeople,fightforaocinl11mlnu11omllernoncipetion. B . . .\n,s. 1. ToBtirnuh'1e.org,miile, ami din.-..:,t,1,e,·nergi,:,;,ofthoJowish m,_'tl,mtl. if1>0llllible,e11tireJewish romuH11,iti{';lofnll oountri<'<'I, in thesuprernoHght ftSRÌll/ft, Hitlcrism. Z. To organi-i(' l't'lief for thl' Jews in oountrit,i und(•r Hitlerite (or ~nemlly l>"tM!cisi)rulc. In perticul-!lr. J.A.C. would ext.e<>d hel1) to Jowi;ih refusfrom thei!eooun1rie;,.11ow in the l:.$.S.B. TheJ.A.C. would endeflvour to achicvo rh,'80.'11i11ll! in ooru1tnntoollabomtion with tho GovernmCllUI nml Cornm1Btl'8 of countri~"<'Ifighting ngnitll!t Hitleri~m ,md 1><;J88<!0<Singmoroor ll'illilcou11idcrnbl0Jo,.·igh populntions. C. )IY.Al<8. I. Thc J.A.C. in thte U.$.::S.B. will try to maintflin oo,mant 00mmunic11tion with Jo .. -s inoo11n1rieoJundcr Hitler'ij nile, with the puqi,o;,eof obtRiningcorrecL infonm,tion on the 1-ition of the Je,.•ish m..._. thcre, of 11treng1hcni11gtbe 8J)Ìrit of t™"le ma,.,._,.,""'' of holJ)ing thcm with all ,nearui iwailablo in their ligM i,gsinst Hitl,,,i.,m. 2. Thc J .•.\.C. will eat11bli~, P"nnau..,m CQlltl<'Ction with the ,,,.,;,. >1eltlo, ment8 of Jewi8h refug..~ from sud, oountries iu thc U.S.S.R. with R ,•icw t-0: (1<) eponooringthoenli$tm,,.ntofallablo.bodi(ld ]><'~lllÌU thcirrceJl<.'Ot1vo uation9.larmil'tl: (b) org1111isingflu"ilinry"·orkingr,ru-tie<1iien•ingthonoodaof1ll-Oill.lurmie,i ,o.nd the ..-11rindlllltrie<J; (e) helping to proviJo work forali othcr rduge,N in thoir senlemcnUI. 3. Contaci will be Ntabliehed with porso,111litiet1,md orgnru88tions in tho U.$.A .• in support. of rheir anti•Uitler propagnndn ami eampeigns for (u) maximum help to tho U.S.S.R. from tho U.$,,\. in fonnofwarmat.-rial.ii fimi supplii.""; (b) ma.'lirnum credit, fucilitiea for the U.$.S.R. 4. ThoJowish popul11tion ofthe U.S.A.will ùo AAkcd toshould.:,rwmo p11rt of thr cxp,:,m,es (both in ,oonoy n.nd suppliell) tU:Oefl><tlryfor tho rolicf of Jewieh refuge,e. from Hitler,ooeupk'<.1 oountri~. now l"t'SÌdt.'flLin tho U.S.S.R /5, ThoJ .A.C.. t<>g,:,thcrwith Amcric,,n oom1"11<ie<1, will ""ork out fur1her pian~ 1-0erJJ1ure" moro ncti,'<l !)IIM.icipetion of Am,,rican Jewe in the fìght al;l\ilUlt Hitlf'rism. the main bnine of which haa ilO f11r i-., bom,, by thc i.:.S.S.B. 18 Biblioteca Gino Bianco

6. Simila.r a.ctivitieR t-0 thoeo outlined abovc for tho U.S.A. t.o l>u initi>r.t.ed in Oreat Brit«.in. taking account of tho oonditionB provlliling in th.at country. i. ThoJ.A.C. •·ili uec pro1Wlg:tl<ldaby wordofmouth 1111well-t™' printod wordin11llpoe,,iblew11ys I). 'l'>n:: 01t(;ANl.\l,lTl0NAL STRO"m"UJUI: 01' Tl<II: J.A.C. I. The projeoted oompollilion of the J.A.C. i11tho U.S.S.R.: llflv,m repn,. llentatives of Jewillh populationB in oow,uieoo under Hitler"a rule, a,,d 0,1,0 ,....prc!ICI>tativceach of the Jcwi@h po11Ulation11in the U.S.S.R., the U.S.A .• ami Crcat Britoin. respooti,·cly. 2. 'Jncactivitieoi of theJ.A.C. to be dirooted by II l"nt-sidiurn of thn'o.': Erlich, Chainnan; Alter. Socretary. 3. The J.A.C. in the U.S.$.R. propoac,, to olect AA honorary membon1 jobtnining. of oounie. Jlr<Niou11ly thdr agreement) ropn;.,eentativc,i of tho SoV>Ct CoveMunent, the Ami-10,.. of tho U.S.A .• Creat Uriuiin. 11ud PolonJ. 611wcll as n numbcr of out.standing pcrl'IOnalitiee from ,·arioU8 hranehee ofpuhliclifo(eciencc,art.indW!try,otc.) in tho U.S.S.R.andothoroountrios. 4. TheJ.A.C. mfly nppoìnt iu, rcpl"Ci!O'..ntntin'II t.o the main oentroaof JewÌllh rcfngoo 11ettlemenlll in the U.S.S.R.. and A-bo in othtt oountriN. Suci, aro the principi"" and the 11.im11of the propo@ed Committoo. We ho1>0 tha.t lho Council of Poople"@ Commisaanl of the U.S.S.R. will have no objoction t-0 it11formation. V. ALTEII. is 1:o~~~r ~s~~~c :~~:;h;;~~~h b h!rl:~~~o :Ji~\~l;~cwah thc Jewish population in German-ocçupied Poland as reproduced below. EXTRACTS 1-'ROM DRAF7-S OF A MANIFESTO TO THE JEWSPOLISH CITIZENS •. Do noi gi,·e u11 hope ! •n,e day of jus1ice 1,nd ~koning "·il! nrrive. Hiltcr1md )11sMtellit-Ot1h11ve be,en outlnwed by thegroatmajority_ ofthepoople of thc world. AgQinst thern st11nd to-dny throo po"·erful llghtmg 1u1t1011;,- Crcn.t Britain. tho Uuited Str,wa. nnd the U.S.S.R. 'rhe CeMnan li<~"lt witl receive a knock-out. . . We cali upon ~·ou lO fight. Be brave in b&ttle. M11yyour lì~ht to-d")" be your prido to-morrow. On the third 11nnh·en1My o( the day on which Hitler bcg11nhis World W11r, he i~ boMting of the conqu<'.lflUI he ha;, made, of tho ,•ietori<'.lflho ha11ochie,·00 o,·cr the defencelct!8. But h<, doee not mention Cennan towrui which ha,·o suftcrcd from BritishandAm<'ricA-nbo,nbl!. nordoeoiheapcakoftheg..,..t continent of the U.S.S.R. wloiclo mnk~ the Re<.l AMny invincible. He d01.111 1101 ll-llythnt hi11'· blit,r; ·• in thc, Ea.st lu1.11rniscarrk-<l. nor thntAo,cric"n ru,d British indu,nry 11ml 1he inexhau,nible rc&oureeti in men of the U.S.S.R. ..-il] togcther crus.h Hi1lcr GeMnllny. . Ami in Polnnd, wh<'ro millioo~ aro sufkring intolcrnbly. tho JO\l'Ìslo popullltion lll\.L'lt unitu in one thought. ali our cftortll for tho Btrugglo with HitJ,,ri;,m. We "111111 lii"'-"' ncither strcngth nor 1111Crilìoounti! out mori.al encmyhai1be,:,nd.,,,1royed. 'l'ho J·cwi$h anti-Hitler Com,nittcc 111,athc lu.iik of riollying tho Jewish lllll$ll)S throughout the "·orld to take part in tlm stmi(gle. to help with 1111 thcir might !h<)Ol(-whn are engO\S«I io th,:, IMlttle "·ith th<' enemy ofmankind nnd the morllll en,•my of the Jcwish people--the ba.ttle with Hitlcriam. 19 Biblioteca Gino Bianco

In accordancc with the agreemem bctweeo Erlich and Alter and tbc Soviet authorities, the lauer were making all the preparations for the work or tbc Commiucc rigbt up to the momcn1 Erlich and Alter wcrc ,trrested. For tbis purposc they brough1 10 Kuibishev a number or l>Crsons proposcd by Erlìch and Alter to takc up special functions as mcmbcrs of thc Committec. Lucjan Blit, who is now in London, was, for instance, 10 be droppcd by parachutc in Poland as the rcprcscntative of the Committee to join the anti-German s1rugglc therc. Unti[ the moment of their re-arresi the atmosphere surrounding Erlich and Alter was charged with confidencc in thcir sincerify of attitude and intcntions and no one could bave suspccted thai their cfforts cou\d bave ended so tragically. Wbcn they werc re-arres1ed il carne as a complete surprisc. Il musi also be stressed that until January 26th, 1942, 1he Soviet Government expressed no doubts whatever as 10 the Polish citizenship or Erlich and Alter. lt was only on thai date 1ha1 the Narkomindiel surprised the Polish Embassy by sending the Polish passport or Erlich with a covering note 10say thai be was a Soviet citizen. On March 16th, 1942,the Narkomindiel again scnt a note to the Polish Embassy in which they claimed that Erlich and also Alter wcre Soviet citizens. Ali protcsts of the Polisb Embassy werc in vaio. Whcn the news of thc execution of Erlich and Alter reached London, thc Polish Government in London handed to the Soviet Ambassador on March 8th, 1943, a note ofprotest against the execution. 20 Biblioteca Gino Bianco

CONCLUSIONS We Ser.-e the Cause or Truth What are the unshakable facts established by the documents and evidcnce adduced abovc: I. Erlich and Alter wcrc undoubtedly Polish citizcns ; born, in fac1, in the very heart of Poland. During the whole periocl of the independent existence of Poland they lived in Warsaw, the capitai of Poland, where they devoted their energies and activities to the fìght fora dcmocratic Poland, IO the cause of thc Labour Movement and of the Jewish working masses, whose direct rcpresentatives and lcadcrs they were. 2. They wcrc on Polish soil when war brokc out. Thcy werc arrcsted by the Soviet authoritics in Eastern Poland (Erlich in Brzesc and Alter in Kowcl) in Scptcmber, 1939, soon aftcr the occupation of thosc arcav by thc Soviets. They >1-erearrestcd in thc ,·ery days >1hen11\eJcwish working masses, lrue 10 the teaehing and i11struclio11or Erlich and Alter, wc-rccarryingout,shoulderloshoulder >1"ith1hcPolishmasscs,thefamous heroic defence or Warsaw against 11\e01·cr11helrningpower or Hiller·s motoriscd armies. Tbey were kept in Soviet prisons umi] the middle ofScptember, 1941. Thcy wcre then rcleased at the request or the Polish Go1·ernment, which pro,·es that the S01·in Gorernmem diti 1101 then questìon their Polis/1 ciri:e11sltip. Unti] the 4th or December, 1941, when they werc rc-arrcsted, theywercloclgedbythcSovietauthoritiesin lntouristhotelsforforeigncrs, fìrst in Moscow, then. aftcr theevacuation ofthecapital, in Kuibishev. lt is wcll known that persons lodged in those lntourist hotels are closcly watched by agents of the Soviet Secret Police. From the foregoi11g it is evident that they were never really free on the tcrritory or Sovie1 Russia and consequently could 1101have carricd on any subversive ac1ivities against the Soviet Govemment, e\en, if it could be assumed-a suggestion which is merely absurd-that these men suddenly changcd their ideas and tumed pro-Hitler at the \"ery moment whcn their country was under Hitler's yoke and their people were in process of extermination by Hitler·s gangs. Neither, for the same reason, could they have had any opportunity or making appeals to thc Soviet troops, as alleged by the Soviet authorities. 3. The So,·iel police ne,·cr made any anempt lo scarch their holel room either bcfore their rearrest or after, 1s it feasible thai 1hese men could have beeo arrested and confrontcd with such grave chargcs without a seareh havìng been first made in an cffort to disco,·er compromising documents? 4. lt has been conclusively proved thai Erlieh and Aller had devoted thewholeoflheirenergiesand actMtit'S during thcshort pcriod bctwttn release and rearrest 10 a task whose objeel was the ,ery opposilc or thai >1·ith11·hichthey were charged. 5. From the facts and documents procluced it is beyond doubt that Erlich and Aller >1·ereoutspokeo revolutionar)' Socialists and dcvo1ed fìghters against reaclionary mo,·ements such as Fa.scism and Hilkrisn,. 21 Biblioteca Gino Bianco

They were thc recognised and rcspcctcd represcntati\·es of the Jewish pcople-whose lot they shared and whose lire and future they had dose to theirhearts. They actually fought at ali times for collaboration between the Republic of Poland \nd Soviet Russia. What could havc been the motive for the allegcd crime of Erlich and Alter? What possible motive could there be for thesc two prominent anti-Hitterites and internationally known Jewish Labour leaders IO IJcommit the crime or advocating a separate pcacc with Hitler. The idea is ridiculous. No ooecan be surc as )'Cl ofthe real reasons for this execution. Perhaps they were the victims of Communist hatrcd against Socialists, in which case the accusation against Alter and Erlich is dircctcd against the whole international Socialist Movement. But this is only hypothesis, bccause no one can posscss tangible proof or the real but mysterious motives fabricatcd in the unfathomable darkness of Soviet justice. In any caseil musi bi.-emphasised that no proor v,hatsoe,·er has been put forward by the So,·iel authorities lo substantiatc t!K?ir absurd aceusations and jus1ifytheshamefulex«:utio11ofErlichandAlter. On the other hand, there is ampie evidence to lead us to the convietion that the Soviet authorities never had any intention of releasing Erlich and Alter entirely, orof allowing them to leavc Russia. In pursuance of the Soviet-Polish Pact thousands of Polish citizens were at that period being relcased from Soviet prisons and camps. Each one of them re«ived from the Soviet authorities an officiai document concerning their release. The only two Polish citizens who were not given such documents after their release were Erlich and Alter. There must bave been some reason for such a pointed omission. Evcn before all tbc documents about Erlich and Alter had been publishcd, everyone who had known them and their activities had been deeply shaken and indignant o,·er their fìrst arrcst, although it 100k piace at the beginning or the war ; at a time when Soviet Russia was not one of the United Na1ions fìghting Hitler. How much more indignant did everyone feci after their re-arrcst, which took piace at a time when tbe Soviet Union had joincd forces with the Unitcd Nations and every fighter against Hitler was needed for the common cause. Therefore, it is not surprising that the entire Labour Movement of 1he United States except the Communists, the Labour Movement of Great Britain and innumerable prominent men of science and letters, and in the democratic movement, raiscd their voices time and again demanding their release. lnnumerable appcals were sent to the Soviet Government by Labour organisations and outstanding individua\s both in 1he United States and in this country, but no rcply was vouchsarcd by the Soviet Governmcnt to any of them. The .. New York Post," or March 4th, 1943, reported: .. Wcndcll Willkie pcrsonally askcd Joseph Stalin in Moscow to release from a Soviet prison Victor Alter and Henryk Erlich, Jewish Socialìst leaders of Poland, who at that time had already been secretly executcd by the Rcds.... Willkie intercedcd for the two Polish anti-Nazi union leaders at the request or Amcrican Labor leadcrs, including Philip Murray, C.1.0. President, William Green, A.F.L. head, and David Dubinsky, 22 Biblioteca Gino Bianco