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

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