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February 4, 2011

100 Years Ago in the Forward

New York and environs have been rocked by what initially was thought to be a massive earthquake but turned out to be an explosion on a ship docked off New Jersey that was laden with dynamite. At least two dozen people were killed, and more than 200 wounded, in the enormous explosion, the root cause of which is unknown. The ship was docked at Pier 7 in Communipaw, N.J., across from Ellis Island, where the explosion caused a panic among immigrants waiting to enter the country. Miraculously, no ships had arrived on the day of the explosion — a rare occurrence — so the famed “Isle of Tears” was not too busy. There were only about 600 immigrants on the island when the explosion took place, and they were in the dining hall, eating dinner. Only one Italian boy was cut by shattered glass.

75 Years Ago in the Forward

David Frankfurter, a 26-year-old Jewish student from Yugoslavia, shot and killed the chief of the Swiss Nazi Party, Wilhelm Gustloff, in Gustloff’s home in Davos, Switzerland. After turning himself over to the police, Frankfurter said that he assassinated Gustloff as revenge for the barbaric treatment to which the Jews of Germany were being subjected. Gustloff was a very active anti-Semite and an active promoter of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” He was also the subject of numerous anti-Nazi protests in Switzerland, with Swiss socialists and anti-fascists demanding that he be repatriated to Germany. As a result, it was initially thought that Frankfurter was a socialist. The assassination has left a deep impression on all of Switzerland.

50 Years Ago in the Forward

The new movie about the birth of the State of Israel, “Exodus,” was picketed in Philadelphia by a group of young Nazis that had been organized by George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party. Rockwell was warned personally by police to stay away from the area, which he did. Numerous arrests were made on the charge of “disturbing the peace,” including the arrest of three young Nazis, all from Virginia. Also, about 75 counter-protesters, many of whom were armed with rotten tomatoes, were arrested, although they were freed shortly thereafter. One of the anti-Nazi protesters who remained under arrest had shown up with two revolvers and two large knives.

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