The Holocaust Historiography Project

The First Holocaust

Jewish Fund Raising Campaigns with Holocaust Claims During and After World War One

by Don Heddesheimer

Chapter 1
Activities Prior to World War One

The golden age of newspapers has come and gone. Before the influence of computers, before television, before radio, political leaders would literally act based on what was written in the newspapers. Their stories and their editorial viewpoints were taken much more seriously than they are today. If it was a less cynical, more innocent time, it was also a time of more influential newspapers. Just one example, some historians blame the Hearst Newspapers for starting the Spanish American War in 1898. Newspapers, while still important today, were the premier opinion molders in the latter part of the nineteenth through the first half of the twentieth century.

Three New York Times editorials published in 1880 about Germans and Jews were quite forward looking and are a good place to start: An editorial from February 1880 said:[26]

"The war, which has for some time raged in Germany between the natives and the Jews, seems rather to increase than diminish in intensity. It is something more than a popular prejudice, it is a national passion and the ablest, most dignified, and most learned men have ranged themselves on either side. To us here it seems very strange that such a contest of races can be going on in a land of so much intelligence and intellectual pretension, and in the year 1880, too. The crime of the Jews appears to be comprehended chiefly in their financial prosperity. No sin is as great as success in the eyes of the non-successful. The charge is made that of the 600,000 Israelites in the empire, hardly any engage in agricultural or mercantile pursuits; but that they control trade, rule the money markets, and are eating up the country with their avarice and usury. They are not materially different from the rest of the human family. […] If the Jews in Germany were poor, they would not be attacked. But they are, many of them, very rich, and that is their offense."

Two more articles from 1880 written along this same theme are reprinted below:[27]

"THE [New York] TIMES has referred more than once to the injustice and impolicy of the prejudice, amounting to little less than persecution, in Germany against the Jews. There are not many more than 500,000 Jews in the whole empire, but they abound in Prussia, and have excited the animosity of the mass of the inhabitants, not only by their wealth, but by their intellectual power and moral influence, as well as by the prominent positions many of them occupy. The common people who are, as a rule, always unsuccessful, and therefore disappointed and discontented, complain that the Jews escape military duty and most of the penalties of citizenship, and yet enjoy, beyond all proportion, its emoluments and compensation. They probably do not get anything they have not earned, and the outcry against them is part of the ineradicable prejudice which the non-prosperous have always felt, and will always feel, against the prosperous. In no country of Europe have the Jews been so active and conspicuous in promoting the cause of humanity and the progress of civilization as they have in Germany. The greater part of the Professors of the universities there have been, and still are, Jews, it is said; many of the oldest authors, journalists, composers, artists, philosophers, scholars, savants have been, and continue to be, either that gifted, much-persecuted race or its descendants. NEANDER was of Jewish extraction: so was GANS: and the same may be said of BENARY, WEIL, BENFEY, STAHL, DERNBERG, VALENTIN, LAZARUS, HERZ, and a score of others. The Jews themselves are very naturally indignant at the war making on them, and say, with reason, that they have done as much as any Christians for the intellectual, moral, and financial development of Germany, and that the persecution to which they are exposed is a shameful contradiction of the avowedly tolerant and liberal spirit of the latter half of the nineteenth century. As representatives of literature, music, and the theater they point with pride to HEINRICH HEINE, BOERNE, ENSE, BERTHOLD AUERBACH, HENRIK HERTZ, JULES JANIN, MENDELSSOHN, HALEVY, MEYER-BEER, MOSCHELES, JOACHIM, ERNST, RUBINSTEIN, GRISI, GIUGLINI, CZILLAC, RACHEL, ROTT, DESSOIR. If the German Jews had merely amassed money and become the great capitalists and bankers that they are, the present crusade against them would be less strange than it is when it is remembered how eminent they have become in all of the departments of thought and learning. LEOPOLD ZUNZ spoke truth when he said: 'If there is a gradation in sufferings, Israel has reached the highest acme. If the long duration of sufferings, and the patience with which they are bourne, ennobles, the Jews defy the high-born of all countries. If a literature is called rich which contains a few classical dramas, what place does a tragedy deserve that lasts 1,500 years, and that is composed and enacted by the heroes themselves."

And ten days earlier:[28]

"The persecution or the Jews in Prussia, led by the County Chaplain, STOCKER, and Prof. TREITSCHKE, presents this novel phase, that the JEWS are by no means inclined toward the Christian doctrine of offering the other cheek to be slapped after the first side has received the blow. If the London Times's correspondent is to be credited, a Jewish volunteer lately shot his Lieutenant for some insult, a Jewish traveler in a public conveyance caned a Professor of a gymnasium, a Jewish student in Göttingen killed a Christian fellow student in a duel, and a Jewish merchant in open Change boxed a Christian trader's ears. The [London] Times distinctly states that all these unfortunate incidents were 'preceded by some violent act by the Christian antagonist.' This only shows that there is much more fight in the German Jew than was expected, and we suppose that his coreligionists on this side of the water are rather pleased that he should show his combativeness. As to possessing personal courage, it is very stupid to suppose from his antecedents that the Jews are not as brave as any other race. During our own civil strife there were a great many Jews in arms on both sides, and more than once their gallantry was commented upon. In some recent Indian skirmishes the services of a Jew, who was a volunteer, were especially extolled by his commanding officer for coolness and gallantry. There have been occasionally, in our regular service, Jews who were fire-eaters of the most eccentric character. Capt. LEVYx, of the United States Navy, was of this kind , and was so keen to bring a fellow-mortal on the field of honor that he never was so supremely happy as when he had an affair with pistols at 10 paces. In the English Navy some very brave and cool work has been done by Jewish officers. Of course, going down to brute pluck and the lowest animal instincts, the annals of the prize ring show a great many able Jewish pugilists, who, 40 years ago, for punching anybody's head, or taking any amount of punishment themselves, were quite the compeers of the most illustrious Christian boxers of Corinthian times. It is quite a mistake, then, to imagine that the Jew will not fight. He may not resort with his fist or a stick, except under positive aggression, but if he thinks he is right he is quite as hot blooded as an individual of another race. If, then, in Prussia the Jew has been made a soldier, and has withstood charges of French cavalry, or crossed bayonets with Zouaves, he has acquired some confidence in his own physical strength, and, above all, has been taught some little punctiliousness in regard to his own honor. To descend to fisticuffs will not, of course, settle the question, but an occasional set-to in good English style, and a show of personal pluckiness on the part of the Jews in Germany, can do them no harm."

Probably the most surprising invariable in all of the nineteenth century articles I found was that they were written from the same point of view that is printed in the newspapers of today. Here's another article from the 1880s interviewing a representative of the American Hebrew, giving another glimpse into the situation of Jews in Imperial Germany:[29]

"The Jews are foremost among the best citizens of Germany. They are not only making great strides in the intellectual pursuits, but more and more they are advancing from what may be called the lower grades of industry and trade to the higher and more respectable. In the legal profession they are entering in vast numbers; in fact, they are more than proportionately represented at the Bar. They take high rank among their legal colleagues for ability and integrity. They meet no obstacles in aspiring to the highest positions which the profession offers, except it be that the Government uses caution so as not to place too many Jewish Judges in any particular district in order to obviate the prejudice and ill feeling which jealousy would thus excite. So, too, their influence is being felt in the medical profession, and in the field of science their position is prominent. At the universities they figure prominently and in great numbers in the professorial chairs. At the Universities there is a great deal of feeling against the Jews. While no doubt there are many Jews employed on the German press occupying prominent positions in the editorial staffs of leading journals, yet their numbers and influence have been much overrated. They certainly do not control the press to as large an extent as in Austria."

In 1887, The New York Times reported that London Jews earned an average of at least 82 pounds per person while the Gentile average was 35 pounds, i.e., that the Jews were 21/2 times richer than the native population. It also estimated that Jewish men in London were twenty times as likely to earn more than 10,000 pounds a year, were seventeen times as likely to earn more than a thousand pounds a year, and were more than six times as likely to earn more than 500 pounds a year than the general population in the United Kingdom.[30]

There were then remarkable extremes of both poverty and wealth among the Jews of London. The Jews took care of their own poor, and there were no Jewish persons dependent on taxes or non-Jewish charity for support. But every third Jew in London was actually in receipt of poor relief, every second Jew belonged to a pauper class, and every second Jewish funeral was a pauper's funeral according to the report of the Jewish Board of Guardians of 1886.[31]

Charity has a long tradition in Jewish society. Many believe that the great Old Testament prophets made clear the direct connection between economic oppression and want. To their minds, destitution was fundamentally a consequence of social and economic exploitation. The sources of want they traced to undue advantage taken by the strong over the weak. Public relief grew up around the synagogues. In ancient times there was a room in the Temple itself where the pious, unobserved, left donations for the respectable poor. Even in ancient times synagogues were also used as places of shelter and sustenance for wayfarers.[32] Perhaps stated more politically, Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, said:[33]

"In old fashioned times Jewish charity in various localities was instituted largely to relieve the needs of those traveling from other localities who had been rendered paupers by persecution, and the motive-spring was, to a considerable extent, the uncertainty as to how soon the charity care giver of today might become the beggar of tomorrow."

There was a kinship of misfortune; if not actual, then prospective. German Jews maintained thousands of their own welfare agencies even after the enactment of social legislation in the 1880s.[34]

The Alliance Israelite Universelle was formed in Paris, France. The Anglo-Jewish Association of London was established in 1871 and operated in collaboration with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and worked mostly in what is now called the Middle East. The Israelitische Allianz zu Wien, headquartered in Vienna, operated largely in the Austrian province of Galicia, which is today a part of Ukraine. The Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden in Berlin was founded in 1901 and was mostly concerned with the problems of migrants in transit through Germany. In 1891, Baron de Hirsch created the Jewish Colonization Association, which eventually received 40 million dollars of his money to help Jews in eastern Europe and encourage them to leave eastern Europe for America.[35] In the nineteenth century, European philanthropic organizations, such as the Baron de Hirsch Fund and the Alliance Israelite, provided aid for Jewish immigrants in the United States. New York City was described as having more poor Jews than any city in Europe.

Most of the early Jewish immigrants to America were of German heritage. While many distinguished themselves as businessmen and traders, there were also some political leaders. The first Jewish Governor was probably Michael Hahn of Louisiana who was elected in February of 1864 and resigned in 1865 to become a United States Senator. Edward S. Solomon was appointed by President Grant as Governor of Washington territory (1870-1874). Other early Jewish governors include Franklin J. Moses of South Carolina, serving in the reconstruction era from 1873-1875, Alexander Moses of Idaho (1915-1919), and Simon Bamberger of Utah (1917-1921). In 1930, Julius Meier was elected Governor of Oregon and Arthur Seligman was elected Governor of New Mexico.

One of the many commercial success stories concerned the founding of the banking house of Kuhn & Loeb. Abraham Kuhn and Solomon Loeb were brothers in law, German Jewish haberdashers who had made a fortune selling uniforms and blankets to the North during the American Civil War and then moved to New York starting the Kuhn & Loeb banking house in 1867.[36] Soon Kuhn & Loeb was actually run by Jacob Schiff, a Frankfurt, Germany, native who had married into the family, marrying Solomon Loeb's daughter Theresa. Schiff's ancestor's had been linked to the Rothschilds,[37] and Schiff had previously worked at banking houses in Frankfurt, New York, and at the Warburg bank in Hamburg[38] before accepting an offer from Solomon Loeb to return to the United States and become a partner at Kuhn & Loeb in New York. Schiff concentrated on what was then the most lucrative part of Wall Street: railroad financing.

At the age of 19, Schiff's daughter married Felix Warburg from the Hamburg, Germany, banking family where Schiff had previously worked. Paul Warburg, one of Felix's older brothers, married Solomon Loeb's youngest daughter from his second marriage, twenty years after Loeb's daughter from his first marriage had married Schiff.[39] Therefore Paul Warburg, in addition to being Felix Warburg's brother, became through the two marriages his brother's uncle. And Jacob Schiff was not only Felix Warburg's father-in-law, he was Paul Warburg's brother-in-law because Paul's wife was Jacob Schiff's half sister.[39]

Both Paul and Felix Warburg were at various times partners in both the Kuhn & Loeb banking house in New York and in the M.M. Warburg banking house of Hamburg, Germany, that was run by an older brother Max Warburg. Paul Warburg worked actively at both banks, spending about six months each year in Hamburg and the rest of the year in New York before settling down in New York and finally becoming a U.S. citizen in 1911. To the consternation of many, Paul Warburg, who had never voted in an American presidential election, was appointed to the Federal Reserve Board by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.

By 1903, Jacob Schiff was an important community leader, and there was said to have been a pogrom in Russia that had the semi-official sanction of the Czar's government. This caused many public rallies to be held in cities throughout the United States. Thousands of people signed a petition of protest, which President Theodore Roosevelt sent to the Russian government. American Jews also raised $100,000 for the relief of the victims. This started a flow of charity money from America back to Europe. There was general civil strife in Russia in the fall of 1905 including reports of crackdowns that were a direct result of the trials of the Russo-Japanese War and the identification of specific Russian Jews with radical and reformist political elements. U.S. rallies were again held in protest, and this time American Jews raised 1.2 million dollars from thousands of contributors. Jacob Schiff, as the head of the New York Jewish community that was furious at the Russian Czar, unashamedly and publicly used his financial power against the Czar. Schiff sought to punish Russia by closing off the American money market to the Russian government. Were the Jews in Russia better or worse off than the average Russian living in that poor country? Under the Czar Jews were restricted to 10% of the places in the government run primary and secondary schools, but they were about 2% of the population. Another statistic, derived from the Russian census of 1897, states that 21.1% of the general Russian population was literate, while official United States government statistics of that period reported a literacy rate of 74% for Russian-Jewish immigrants.

Schiff lobbied then President Teddy Roosevelt to conduct a Rough Rider assault, patterned after the 1898 American invasion of Cuba, against Russia.[40] Schiff financed Japan in its successful 1904-1905 war against Russia[40] and even paid for the distribution of anti-czarist propaganda to Russian prisoners. Some of the later loans from Schiff's Kuhn & Loeb to Japan were in part subscribed through the Warburg's Hamburg bank.[41]

It was with the intent of weakening the Czar that Schiff underwrote the multi-million dollar loan to the Japanese government during the Russo-Japanese War and paid for the distribution of revolutionary literature to Russian prisoners of war held by the Japanese. Many years later, in April 1917, George Kennan, author of Siberia and the Exile System and a leader of the Friends of Russian Freedom, remembered and praised Schiff's effort:[42]

"It was fruitful in good results, because it was the support of the army that enabled the Duma to overthrow the Government of the Czar, and you helped to enlighten the army."

President Theodore Roosevelt felt that he could not change the conditions in Russia and did not want to embarrass himself and the U.S. government in useless attempts at intervention. The Jewish leadership was not happy with the American government's lack of response. Schiff wanted the U.S. to send gunboats or ordinary steamers to Russia to pick up the refugees. President Roosevelt became "piqued at the constant pressure the Jews brought to bear on him and the State Department."

The American Jewish Committee was founded in 1906 in the middle of all of this. Schiff told the organizing meeting that he and his friends needed a committee that would be powerful but discreet because he was fearful of substantiating the assumption prevalent in the 1890s that Jews were controlling invisible financial empires and secretly directing governments of many nations. The American Jewish Committee's lobbying techniques included "lavish expenditures of money, public speaking campaigns, extensive distribution of propaganda, and courting politicians by playing off Republicans against Democrats." Central to the strategy of behind the scenes pressure and backstairs diplomacy that is their trademark is the political and social contacts its leaders enjoy with high-level officials and foreign dignitaries.[43] Adolf Ochs, then publisher of the New York Times, was a member of the American Jewish Committee.[44] In her book, author Judith Goldstein describes the early American Jewish Committee as an oligarchy, stable, cohesive, and extremely well funded. In 1917, ten of the fifteen men on the executive committee were original members from 1906, while the general membership had increased from 57 to 105 throughout the country.

The American Jewish Committee's Constitution, adopted in 1906, declared:

"The purpose of this Committee is to prevent infringement of the civil and religious rights of the Jews, and to alleviate the consequences of persecution. In the event of a threatened or actual denial or invasion of such rights, or when conditions calling for relief from such calamities affecting Jews exist anywhere, correspondence may be entered into with those familiar with the situation, and if the persons on the spot feel themselves able to cope with the situation, no action need be taken; if, on the other hand, they request aid, steps shall be taken to furnish it."

Their first high profile venture into the public arena was a fight for the abrogation of the Russo-American Treaty of 1832. Abrogation means to cancel, repeal or annul by authority. The American Jewish Committee promoted the abrogation of the treaty of 1832 as a way of forcing Russia to allow free migration of Jews within Russia and to America. The history of the American Jewish Committee's first legislative fight is important background information because it shows the awesome power of these advocacy groups even at the beginning of the twentieth century and that the methods that they are still using today to influence public opinion have been around for a long time. The Politics of Ethnic Pressure by Judith S. Goldstein is an excellent, assiduously researched book covering this period in detail, and this writer relies on her conclusions regarding Schiff's conduct in the conflict with the U.S. Government's handling of perceived persecutions of his co-religionists in Russia. Schiff was a rich German born Jew who was the head of a New York Jewish community whose ranks included a lot of less financially well-off Jews of Polish/Russian heritage.

These eastern European Jews were specifically objecting to an internal passport system then existing in czarist Russia. The purpose of the internal passport system was to maintain internal security and keep Moscow and Leningrad from becoming overcrowded, but some were exempted from the restriction. It certainly wasn't as onerous as the current Israeli system of passport restrictions on the Palestinians. The freedom of movement of many nationality groups existing within the czarist empire was restricted. Jews within Russia not exempt from the regulations were allowed to live and travel within an area that was about half the size of western Europe and went from the Baltic to the Black Sea. They called this area the 'Pale', and it was officially abolished in 1915, though it lives on in myth and lore up to the present day. Within the Pale were major cities such as Odessa, Kiev, and Minsk. In a time period when many Christians in Europe were virtually restricted to living in a tiny village or on a single farm, it seemed like relative freedom, but this regulating of the right to travel was the basis of a determined campaign on both sides of the Atlantic. The situation of Jews living in czarist Russia had been consistently deteriorating since the murder of Alexander II in 1881, which was at least in part organized by a pregnant Jewish woman, Gesia Gelfman. The new Czar, in reaction, authorized the formation of a quasi secret nationalist organizations whose mission was to root out terrorists and protect Russian patriotism.[45]

Many Americans felt that it was unreasonably selfish for an ethnic group to demand that the United States compromise its foreign policy toward another country based on privileges that other country granted to that same ethnic group. These Americans failed to see how it was in America's national interest. President William Howard Taft was not willing to shape America's Russian policy around the needs of Russian Jewry and the desires of an ethnic minority at home. Taft had been handpicked for the presidency by Teddy Roosevelt. A principled and cerebral man who later served as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Taft was not as popular as Teddy Roosevelt had been. During this period of political turmoil, the American Jewish Committee cleverly and boldly employed its network of national contacts and supported politicians such as Woodrow Wilson who were hungry for votes in the 1912 election.[46]

Louis Marshall was the president and chief strategist of the American Jewish Committee. A contemporary and ally of the Schiffs and Warburgs,[47] he directed the American Jewish Committee in a skillful, uncompromising campaign to spread what was called the 'abrogation message' to politicians at the state and national levels. The committee worked openly and unabashedly to make Congress and the public believe that the passport issue involved national rights and power, in which the Jews just happened to be the catalyst. A series of anti-Russian, pro-abrogation articles for newspapers and magazines throughout the country was prepared. They accused the Associated Press of biased, unreliable, and anti-Semitic reporting. They also sent 35,000 copies of Marshall's January speech to the "creators and leaders of public opinion in every part of the country", to all newspapers with a circulation of over 2200, and to newspapers in home towns of federal judges, Democratic and Republican National Committeemen, district attorneys, and Congressmen. The American Jewish Committee wrote 50,000 ministers throughout the country suggesting that they make this internal passport dispute within Russia the subject of their sermons. Jewish organizations and individuals prevailed upon fraternal organizations, unions and state legislatures to pass abrogation resolutions. State legislatures in Georgia, Montana, Illinois, Florida, Nevada, and New York all passed similar resolutions.

Finally, in New York City in 1911, the American Jewish Committee

"[…] staged an enormous abrogation rally in New York City which featured the appearance of two presidential hopefuls, Woodrow Wilson and Champ Clark, William Randolph Hearst, a former ambassador to Russia, and several Congressmen."

It was a lot of pressure on then President Taft who felt it would severely restrain Russian American relations and jeopardize America's immigration policy. Secretary of State Knox told President Taft that ending normal relations with Russia because she excluded American Jews for the sake of her domestic policy would "stultify our traditional policy in the matter of immigration." Despite President Taft's opposition to abrogation, the American Jewish Committee pressured the U.S House of Representatives to pass a (not legally binding) resolution on this by a vote of 301 to 1. Schiff bragged that the abrogation victory was "the greatest victory for the Jews since Napoleon granted them civil rights."[48]

There are other examples of lobbying to influence U.S. foreign policy on behalf of their co-religionists before World War One. In 1906, Secretary of State Elihu Root instructed America's representative at the Algeciras conference, where the European powers were deciding the economic and political fate of Morocco, to express an interest in the Jews of Morocco. Root's instructions contained a letter from Schiff describing Moroccan-Jewish conditions. In 1912, at the end of the Balkan war in which Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece had defeated Turkey, the American Jewish Committee prevailed upon incoming President Wilson to intervene diplomatically in the London peace negotiations on behalf of the Balkan Jews, who before the Balkan war had lived under the rule of the Ottoman Turks and had enjoyed political and civil rights.[48] But it was a Georgia State conviction of a child murderer based on circumstantial evidence, that is, evidence based on circumstances which form reasonable grounds for determining facts relevant to a case, that roused the New York Jewish community to action and provided the impetus for the establishment of the largest Jewish civil rights organization in the United States.

B'nai B'rith, founded in 1843, is the largest and oldest Jewish fraternal lodge in the United States. Its name means children of the covenant in Hebrew. In 1913, B'nai B'rith started the Anti Defamation League in response to the President of the Atlanta B'nai B'rith, Leo M. Frank, being convicted of murdering Mary Phagan, a thirteen year old employee in a pencil factory where he was superintendent. A particularly gruesome crime, the victim had been dragged across the coal cindered basement floor, face down, causing punctures and holes in her face. The funeral director reported that when he picked up the little girl's body the cord she had been strangled with was still around her neck.[49]

The defendant was indicted by an all white Grand Jury that included three Jewish members. At the trial, the prosecution's case relied on the testimony of a black janitor, who the jurors believed. Frank was found guilty and sentenced to death. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the trial court decision finding in pertinent part:[50]

"The evidence tended to show a practice, plan, system, or scheme on the part of the accused to have lascivious or adulterous association with certain of his employees and other women at his office or place of business, in which the homicide occurred. Some of these acts were shown specifically to have occurred not long before the homicide. […] It tended to show a motive on the part of the accused, inducing him to seek to have criminal intimacy with the girl who was killed, and upon her resistance, to commit murder to conceal the crime. There was not only evidence of the practice of the accused with other women, but during the trial there was also introduced evidence tending to show that in pursuance of his general practice he made advances toward the deceased."

Louis Marshall, the head of the American Jewish Committee, at first took the tactic of bringing influence to bear on the Southern press to free the defendant. When this didn't work, he convinced Adolf Ochs, the publisher of the New York Times and a member of the American Jewish Committee, to use his newspaper to publicize the 'injustices' surrounding this trial, but also insisted that Ochs not mention that the defendant was Jewish or suggest that anti-Semitism had influenced his prosecution.[51]

The defendant was represented by the high-powered Atlanta law firm of Rosser & Brandon, which merged with Slaton & Phillips in 1913, the same year as the trial. John Slaton from that same law firm became governor of Georgia and commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment on June 21, 1915. While commutation is certainly within a Governor's discretion and makes ethical sense in a case where the defendant had no prior convictions, the commutation made no sense politically. The Jewish groups weren't happy about it because they claimed Frank was innocent and wanted a new trial that would clear the defendant. Mary Phagan's family and much of the general public thought the commutation looked like a back room deal between the Governor and his old law firm, which represented the defendant.

Then an equally heinous murder occurred when the defendant was abducted from his prison cell and lynched. The justice system completely broke down and no one was ever arrested, prosecuted, or otherwise held accountable for this second murder. And there was no shortage of braggarts claiming responsibility for the lynching. What secretive, organized movements were involved in this gangsterism?

If B'nai B'rith really thought their defendant was innocent, wouldn't they have applied pressure to assure that his butchers were brought before the bar of justice? But if some people felt he was actually guilty, the lynching solved a lot of problems. A guilty man spending the rest of his life in prison might decide to confess somewhere along the line in hope of getting released. The Pollard spy case comes to mind in that regard. We know who killed Mary Phagan. The real question is why didn't anybody care who lynched the President of Atlanta B'nai Brith? Not just who participated in the lynching, but also who was involved in the cover up? Who were the accessories before the fact to this murderous obstruction of justice? Many decades later, after most of the witnesses were dead, he received a posthumous pardon that did nothing to bring his killers to justice. Of course, a pardon is usually based on political influence and has nothing to do with guilt or innocence.

Demanding the abrogation of the Russian American treaty of 1832, publicly financing the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese war and taking up the cause of the convicted murderer of little Mary Phagan are representative examples of causes that galvanized organized Jewish advocacy groups in the United States before World War One. As we have seen, the extent of the influence and access to power of these groups within American politics by the time of the outbreak of the First World War was very great. Much greater than is generally realized today.


[26] New York Times, Editorial, February 27, 1880.
[27] Ibid., December 9, 1880.
[28] Ibid., November 29, 1880, p. 4.
[29] "Herr Lasker on German Jews", New York Times, August 26, 1883.
[30] "Jews and Gentiles in London", New York Times, June 20, 1887.
[31] "Jewish Poverty and Wealth", New York Times, May 30, 1887.
[32] Ephraim Frisch, An Historical Survey of Jewish Philanthropy, New York: Macmillan and Company, 1924. Beginning on page 62 this book lists "The Eight Degrees of Charity" from Maimonides, "Portions of the Poor," Chapter 10, Paragraph 7-14 from highest to lowest:
  1. The highest degree of charity was one who takes hold of an Israelite who has become impoverished and gives him a gift or a loan or goes into partnership with him or finds work for him so that he does not need to ask for help.
  2. The second highest class of charitable giving was giving charity to the poor without the poor knowing from whom he takes, such as giving to a public charity fund run by a trustworthy, wise person who knows how to manage it properly.
  3. Continuing in descending order from most worthy to least worthy. Giving charity to the poor where you know the recipient but he does not know you such as distinguished wise men who go secretly and leave money at the doors of the poor.
  4. Giving where the poor man knows who the giver is but the giver does not know who got his money.
  5. Giving without being asked.
  6. Giving after being asked.
  7. Giving less than is proper but in a pleasant manner.
  8. The least worthy charitable gift is one who gives reluctantly.

Reading through this list one can't help but surmise how such a belief system could be useful to fund raisers who were leaders in the Jewish community.

[33] Theodor Herzl, The Tragedy of Jewish Immigration, New York: Zionist Organization of America, 1920, p. 9.
[34] Ron Chernow, The Warburgs — The Twentieth Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family, New York: Random House, 1993, p. 43.
[35] Oscar Handlin, A Continuing Task. The American Joint Jewish Distribution Committee 1914-1964, New York: Random House, 1964.
[36] R. Chernow, op. cit. (note 34), p. 48.
[37] Ibid., p. 46.
[38] Naomi W. Cohen, Jacob H. Schiff, A Study in American Jewish Leadership Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, University Press of New England, 1999.
[39] R. Chernow, op. cit. (note 34), pp. 46 to 56.
[40] Ibid., p. 100
[41] Judith S. Goldstein, The Politics of Ethnic Pressure, New York and London: Garland Publishing,1990.
[42] George Kennan, Siberia and the exile system, New York: Russell & Russell, 1970.
[43] Gregg Ivers, To Build A Wall. The American Jews and the Separation of Church and State, Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995, p. 36.
[44] Ibid., p. 41.
[45] Norman E. Saul, Concord and Conflict. The United States and Russia, 1867-1914, Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1996, pp. 241-243.
[46] J.S. Goldstein, op. cit. (note 41), p. 162.
[47] R. Chernow, op. cit. (note 34), p. 164, 252.
[48] J.S. Goldstein, op. cit. (note 41), pp. 165-178.
[49] Mary Phagan, The Murder of Little Mary Phagan, Far Hills, NJ: New Horizon Press, 1987.
[50] Frank v. State, Supreme Court of Georgia, Feb. 17, 1914, 80 Southeastern Reporter 1st, pp. 1016-1044.
[51] G. Ivers, op. cit. (note 43), p. 41.

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