June 6, 2008

Looking Back

Published May 29, 2008, issue of June 06, 2008.
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100 Years Ago in the forward

Drawing thousands of mourners, Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood hosted its biggest funeral since its inception. It was truly something to see: Leaders of nearly every gang in New York City attended the burial of Max “Kid Twist” Zvibak and his compatriot, Samuel Peytsh, alias Jack Louie or Cyclone Louie. Both men were gunned down in a Coney Island dance hall on account of a dispute with another gangster regarding a girl from Manhattan’s Tenderloin neighborhood. The gangsters who assembled for the funeral swore revenge on the bodies of their dead colleagues, both members of the notorious Monk Eastman gang. At the burial itself, many of these hardened criminals burst into tears as the rabbi sang “El Maleh Rahamim,” the memorial prayer for the dead. Police are still seeking the killers of the two men.

75 Years Ago in the forward

The Forward received an unusual newspaper clipping from Poland this week in the mail. The article, which came from a Polish newspaper, claimed that a Berlin-based newspaper called the Arbeiter Blatt published a news item claiming that Adolf Hitler is the son of a Jewish innkeeper from Galicia and was also a Hasidic Jew in his youth, his real name having been “Avrom Hitler.” The article, which was accompanied by a doctored photograph of Hitler in a large yarmulke and with a beard and peyes drawn on him, also read: “Hitler is really a Jew. His father was an innkeeper in Galicia, not far from Barshtev. Young Hitler, who used to be called ‘Little Avremele,’ was raised in a strictly Orthodox household. Eight years ago, he decided to become a politician. He cut his ties to his family, changed his name to Adolf and left to make a career for himself. Readers who have heard his speeches on the radio can tell from the way he talks that he’s got to be Jewish.”

50 Years Ago in the forward

Apparently overly excited following a political meeting, a group of Italian neo-fascists of the Movimento Sociale Italiano decided to attack Rome’s Jewish quarter. Screaming “Death to the Jews” as they came running in, they were surprised at the response they received by Rome’s Jews. Instead of hiding in their homes and locking the doors, the Jews attacked the fascists, beating them and overturning the cars they arrived in. As a result, many of the fascists were badly beaten and a number were arrested. The rest ran away, only to return under cover of night to paint anti-Jewish slogans on a nearby monument.

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