Forward Looking Back brings you the stories that were making news in the Forward’s Yiddish paper 100, 75 and 50 years ago. Check back each week for a new set of illuminating and edifying clippings from the Jewish past.
100 years ago
Samuel Cohen, 73, and 67-year-old Constantine Donohue both came to the United States decades ago as young, boyish immigrants. They met when, in their early teens, both worked together in a store on Centre Street in New York City. Despite their different backgrounds, they quickly became close friends. Donohue eventually went into politics and became a city assemblyman. Cohen went into the garment industry. About 15 years ago, both men retired. Since then, not a day had gone by without the two of them being together. Donohue fell ill recently and sent Cohen a note, telling him to come visit him. At the same time, Cohen was feeling sick, so he sent Donohue a note telling him to come visit. Tragically, neither man received the other’s note. They both died, amazingly, within an hour of each other. These Christian and Jewish best friends are expected to have a joint funeral — an unusual event, to be sure.
75 years ago
Since their recent takeover of Austria, the Nazis have been quick to institute their policies and cultural activities. As a result, a huge event was held in Salzburg, The centerpiece was a massive book burning during which books by both Jewish and Catholic authors were set aflame. Similar to book burnings that were held five years ago, when the Nazis took power in Germany, the event in Salzburg was held in the city center, at the “Residenzplatz.” A mass of Nazis and their supporters built an enormous bonfire and gathered in a circle around it. The honor of throwing the first book on the pyre was given to a local schoolboy who was given the book “Three Times Austria” to toss. It was no coincidence that former Austrian chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg, whom the Nazis recently arrested and imprisoned, wrote the book.
50 years ago
Five members of the American Nazi party must appear in court at a hearing on conspiracy and assault charges stemming from a disturbance on a Sunday night outside an Israel Independence celebration. The 10-count complaint filed against the American Nazis charges them with creating a disturbance outside the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, during which four policemen and four spectators were injured. Ralph Forbes, a Washington, D.C. law student and self-appointed American Nazi spokesmen, attended the hearing and spoke to the press afterward. Forbes singled out 22-year-old Leonard Holstein, who was in the dock, as an exemplary young Nazi, and said he would be receiving the Order of Adolf Hitler award for his part in leading the demonstration. This would be Holstein’s second Order of Adolf Hitler award: He received his first for picketing against entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.