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Peekskill USA

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Appendix VII

Anti-Semitism

 
1. Report of the American Civil Liberties Union

Anti-Semitism was less marked at the second riot than at the first. Negrophobia was also less marked. On the other hand, transcripts made by radio reporters at the second riot record a new and fearsome epithet, "White n–—s," shouted at Jews seen associating with colored people.

The New York Daily Compass on September 15 reproduced a photograph of a sticker removed from one of the buses carrying concert-goers. The bus and one house in Peekskill were "plastered" with these stickers which read: "COMMUNISM IS TREASON. BEHIND COMMUNISM STANDS – THE JEW! THEREFORE, FOR MY COUNTRY – AGAINST THE JEWS."

One such sticker is now in the possession of the ACLU. According to the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith this sticker is identical in color, type-face and border design to smaller stickers mailed to this country by Einar Aberg, the Swedish anti-Semite. The investigators are informed that these stickers normally came from Sweden in small lots and are sent out to a haphazard mailing list. They are received along with other anti-Semitic literature, which includes extensive references to the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A serious question arises as to whether contact has been established by some one in the Peekskill area and Einar Aberg in Sweden or his colleagues, if any, in this country. Alternatively, it should be determined whether these stickers are now being reproduced by the photo-offset process in the U.S.A.

It is not suggested that the Peekskill riots were precipitated by an organized anti-Semitic group. However, the rudiments of organized anti-Semitism – as distinguished from latent anti-Semitism – seem now to have made their appearance in the Peekskill area.

The Daily Compass of Thursday, September 15, reproduced a letter sent out after the first riot, over the signature of Edward James Smythe, Chairman of the Protestant War Veterans of the United States.

"My dear –—

"This was just a picnic, and a foreshadow of coming events that you seen in Peekskill, Saturday night.

"You Jews, and we mean you Communistic Jews, have made yourselves obnoxious and offensive to the American people, and you are only using the American Negro as a "Front" in your criminal un-American activities....

"Dewey, under high pressure of the Communist Jews 'Outlawed' the Klan in Jew York State, but we are stronger than ever there, and at the moment, we are on a militant campaign for more and additional members, and I can assure you now, that hundreds are coming in every week right there in Westchester County ... you would be surprised to know just who is joining us, in the fight on Judeo-Communism, some of your highest officials, and big business executives, they have at long last awakened to the dangerous Internal (sic) Jew and his traitorous activities.

"Your Race KILLED CHRIST on the Cross, we burn it, we burn it as a warning and a symbol to BEWARE."

 
2. German Analogy
(a) Andernach

The man who makes the statement below is a refugee from Nazi Germany. He came to America in 1940, served three and a half years in our armed forces and was wounded on Guam. He attended the Robeson concert in Peekskill. We cannot use his full name for fear of consequences to himself and members of his family. —Ed.

"I saw in Peekskill a repetition of the day in November of 1939 when I was finally driven from my home in the Rhineland town of Andernach. I was not yet thirteen years old on that day, which saw the final outbursts of anti-Semitic violence throughout Nazi Germany prior to the wholesale massacre of my people in that unhappy land.

"Like Peekskill, Andernach is a town of some 15,000. We knew that gray November morning that we would feel the wrath of the Nazi hoodlum gangs. A desperate Polish Jewish youth in Paris had assassinated a Nazi diplomat, to provide Herr Hitler and his minions with just the excuse they were looking for, to eliminate us, as well as Catholics and other minority groups who might perhaps be a little less than fanatical in their support of the Nazi cut-throat regime.

"We had barricaded our homes that day, we remaining Jews in Germany. The adult menfolk had been taken from us under 'protective custody,' to make sure there was no resistance. The howling mobs came in the evening with great piles of stones which they threw into our homes.

"My mother and I were wounded. When the hoodlums broke through the front door, we ran out of the rear entrance into the streets, where we were again stoned as we fled. From that day I was a wanderer until I came to America many months later.

"There was the same rock-throwing with intent to kill at Peekskill as there was at Andernach. But even more striking for me was the psychopathic hatred, the hysteria of the hoodlum mob. Both acted and looked exactly the same.

"There was, too, the same obvious organization from bigshot officials using the backward, ignorant, bigoted sections of the population to do their dirty work while trying to make it appear that it was spontaneous, unorganized. The military-like tactics used so as to do an official job of butchery were evident in both cases, as was the distortion of symbols of patriotism which the fascists took unto themselves to try to justify their savage deeds.

"In both cases, too, the official instruments of 'law and order' stood by approvingly while the mob did its murderous work.

"I had pushed from my memory those childish days of terror and anxiety. Now they are revived with enormous force, for there is no mistaking the similarity. I can only do all in my power, as an American citizen, a veteran and one who has lived through the Hitler terror, to help to arouse those good people – the great majority of whom, like my neighbors, did not like what was happening but awakened too late to prevent it."

 
(b) Bernau

From an article in the National Guardian by Heinz Pol, dated September 12, 1949.

It was a balmy spring evening in Bernau, a little town about 30 miles north of Berlin, Germany, more than 20 years ago. The Weimar Republic seemed to be secure and strong, and new Reichstag elections were on.

I was helping Georg Bernhard in his campaign as candidate of the German Democratic Party. Bernhard, editor of the Vossiseche Zeitung in Berlin, was not popular with certain groups who taught that Germany was the greatest country in the world, and that everyone opposed to their way of thinking was a Jew or a Red or un-German, and must be dealt with accordingly.

VETERANS MOBILIZED: These parties and groups, led by such parties as Hitler and Hugenberg (the latter now an advisor to the British occupation authorities and a member of the Ruhr Industrial Committee) announced that Bernhard could not speak in Bernau, stronghold of the 100 percent Germans.

Officials of the Democratic Party at Bernau told the local police that stormtroopers, the Stahlheim and other war veterans' organizations, had concentrated in and around the town. The police assured party officials that everything would be under control.

When Bernhard's car arrived, two police cars joined us. The streets were lined with jeering members of the Hitler-Hugenberg private armies. They continued to jeer at us in the big meeting hall.

When the police opened the doors an hour before the meeting, they found 200 husky young men already seated in the front rows. One Democratic Party official protested. The police officer in charge reassured him, "Don't worry, these boys are only friends of the son of the proprietor of the meeting hall – just kids having a little fun."

THE "FUN" STARTS: The kids began enjoying themselves a little later, interrupting the speakers, singing war songs, throwing paper swastikas and molesting anyone who dared approve the speakers' remarks. Even amid cries like, "Next time we'll cut your throat before you open your mouth, you dirty Jew," Bernhard was able to finish his speech.

Escorted by five policemen who had stood idly by during the meeting, we went to our car. All four tires had been slashed and we had to wait for replacements. Then the police captain saluted, and said: "I hope you'll agree that my men did an excellent job protecting you. We'll take you to the gates of the town and leave you there; then you'll have the straight road back to Berlin.

The road was straight. So was the wire stretched across it about three miles outside of Bernau. We would all have been killed, but our driver had seen some suspicious-looking people along the road, and instinctively slowed down.

When we left the car to cut the wire, we were showered with stones and rocks from both sides of the road. We couldn't see much. Bernhard's glasses were broken, his head gashed. My shoulder was injured.

We heard an order snapped: "Finish those skunks fast, and without noise." We ran for cover behind the trees. Fortunately, a truck came by.

Our attackers disappeared with our car. The truck took us to the nearest hospital. Five days later we were able to continue the campaign. But we were not allowed to return to Bernau because the City Council, on the recommendation of the chief of police, decided that Bernhard was a controversial figure who presented a threat to the peaceful minds of the population.

Bernhard's car was found in a ditch near Bernau, completely smashed. The police said they had no fingerprints but were sure the car had been stolen and wrecked by communists.

All that happened long ago, of course. It couldn't possibly happen again, in America. Only an eccentric like me, with a warped European mind, who should have stayed in Germany and been beaten to a pulp by stormtroopers, can wonder whether Bernau lies a few miles north of New York, and Peekskill a few miles north of Berlin, or vice versa.

(Heinz Pol was assistant editor of the Vossiseche Zeitung in Berlin for ten years before the Nazis seized power. In 1933 he fled Germany and later came to the U.S. He has written several books about European politics and economics.)

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