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Looking Back: December 30, 2011

100 Years Ago in the Forward

The 147 burned bodies, the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, apparently had no effect on the jury, who found Triangle bosses Max Blanck and Isaac Harris innocent of negligence in their deaths. The courtroom was half empty as the verdict was read. The judge had allowed only close friends and relatives of the defendants to enter the courtroom. Outside the courthouse, however, there were hundreds of relatives of the victims howling in protest. After police had occupied protesters in front, the judge allowed Blanck and Harris to sneak out a back door. The moral of this sad story is that the only thing simple laborers have to protect themselves under these circumstances, is their unions, their own power.

75 Years Ago in the Forward

Anti-Semitic attacks were printed this week in Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s Milan-based newspaper, Populo D’Italia. This is the first time that anti-Jewish threats have appeared in the paper, and many believe they were written by Mussolini himself. The article described how, in France, only 2% of the population is Jewish, but the entire government is controlled by Jews. Ultimately, it continued, Christian citizens will be enslaved by the Jews. It is being said that recent attacks on Jews in the Italian colony of Tripoli were the fault of Mussolini’s followers.

50 Years Ago in the Forward

Longtime Polish-Jewish communist leader Henrik Holland is dead. Holland, who started his career before World War II in the communist youth movement, survived the war and then threw his entire body and soul into the movement. After Stalin’s death, Holland became one of the liberal revisionists who supported the rise of communist General Secretary Vladislav Gomulka. But two years ago, when the secret police began to investigate the “revisionists,” Holland was pulled back from the front lines of party life. Last week he was arrested on unknown charges and, after two days, brought back to his apartment with the police so they could begin an investigation. But shortly after they entered, Holland threw himself out of a fifth story window, landing dead on the pavement.

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