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January 11, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

A police riot occurred this week as rent strikes threatened to turn from simple protests into an open revolt against the city’s thieving landlords. The bloodthirsty police, who have sided with the landlords, attacked a strip of New York City tenement buildings on 11th Street between avenues C and D. Attacking with their billies, the police were met with a hail of rocks and sticks and had to call in their reserves. A number of rent strikers were arrested, among them the tailors Max Lichtstein, Charles Bauman and Morris Haskin. Also arrested was Haskin’s wife, who held a baby in her arms. The main topic of discussion on the streets of the Jewish quarter is the rent strike, and many people can be found milling about the striking buildings, supporting the protesters. Every police station on the Lower East Side is full of officers and reserves waiting to get the call to come out onto the streets.

75 Years Ago in the forward

After the wild New Year’s parties and the exhausting schedule of two performances a day, the Yiddish Actors Union has held its midseason meeting, which did not lack for liveliness. Union leader R. Guskin described the recent pact made with the Directors League, under which no union theater can have any dealings with nonunion theaters. Members were then made aware that the McKinley Square Theatre, a nonunion establishment, just began advertising Boris Thomashevsky’s “The Jewish Crown.” A union representative was quickly dispatched to inquire as to whether or not Thomashevsky had given the McKinley permission to put on the play. “Absolutely not!” was Thomashevsky’s reply. The director then quickly penned a letter to the managers of the theater, demanding that they cease and desist. In the meantime, the McKinley’s managers subpoenaed Thomashevsky and brought into court as evidence a canceled check for $50 that they had given him to pay for the rights to put on his play. The judge was confused as to why Thomashevsky would write a cease-and-desist letter but also accept payment for the play. “The Yiddish Actors Union,” Thomashevsky said, “won’t let me make a living.” The judge dismissed the case, and the Yiddish Actors Union called Thomashevsky “a disgrace.”

50 Years Ago in the forward

Soviet sources have reported that Dora Kaplan, a member of the Socialist Revolutionaries in pre-Soviet Russia, died recently in a Moscow prison at the age of 70. Kaplan was best known for having shot Vladimir Lenin in 1918. After she was arrested, she claimed, “I shot Lenin because he betrayed the revolution.” In the wake of Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution, all other political parties were outlawed, including Kaplan’s. Lenin died as a result of the wounds inflicted on him by Kaplan six years after she shot him outside a Moscow factory.

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