Looking Back: February 17, 2012
100 Years Ago in the Forward
When Barnett Nemeth went to open his safe in his jewelry store on Manhattan’s Broome Street, he was surprised when two men rushed him, held a revolver to his head and said: “Hands up! We want a look in that safe.” While one of the bandits rifled through the safe, the other held his gun on Nemeth. But Nemeth wouldn’t stand for it. He grabbed the thief’s arm and tried to aim it so that the bullets wouldn’t hit him. In fact, bullets started flying everywhere, but no one was shot. The thieves decided that they had better hightail it out of the jewelry store, but when they got to the street, it was packed with gawkers, all wondering about the gunshots. As the two men tried to escape, one of them was caught by police officer Rosenfeld, who beat the bandit and brought him into the stationhouse. The criminal turned out to be Max Silver, whose wanted poster was already up in the station.
75 Years Ago in the Forward
Yoysef Liberberg, former president of Birobidzhan, the Soviet Jewish Autonomous Region, has been arrested by Soviet police on charges of being a “Trotskyist,” making contact with foreign enemies of the USSR and preventing progress in Birobidzhan. Liberberg, who is also a professor, had been in charge of the Jewish Scientific Academy in Kiev. He was arrested with a large number of other Communist Party functionaries whose total commitment to Josef Stalin was apparently in doubt. It is expected that all will be tried in one of the many courts that has cropped up to accommodate the large number of Soviet state trials that are currently taking place.
50 Years Ago in the Forward
“We are witnessing the self-liquidation of the 1,000-year-old Jewish community in Poland,” read the headline in Po Prostu, one of Poland’s larger newspapers. Po Prostu continued, saying that a mass exodus of Poland’s Jews is in full swing. All kinds of Jews are leaving: communists, noncommunists, simple laborers, doctors, office workers and professors; 25,000 Polish Jews have requested passport applications and are expected to leave the country permanently. It is not known exactly how many Jews of the original 3.5 million pre-World War II population will remain in the country, but the numbers range from 35,000 to 75,000.