Looking Back: October 12, 2012
100 Years Ago
1912 Speaking from the witness stand, Jack Rose dropped a bomb at the Charles Becker trial. Rose, a New York City gambler, said Becker told him that Herman “Beansie” Rosenthal had to be killed. Rose then recounted the story of Rosenthal’s murder in vivid terms. Making matters worse for Becker, a Jewish gambler named Morris Luban was brought to the stand, ostensibly in Becker’s defense. He said that he, Becker and Rose were sitting in a Turkish bathhouse on Lafayette Street a week before the murder, when he heard Becker tell Rose that if his gang didn’t kill Rosenthal, he would have to do it himself. Becker’s lawyers immediately jumped up and started screaming at Luban that he said he would testify on Becker’s behalf. Luban replied that he didn’t know what they were talking about.
75 Years Ago
1937 Calling him an “Enemy of the Soviet People,” the Yiddish literary magazine Shtern published a withering attack on a well-known Yiddish poet, Dovid Hofshteyn. In addition to claiming that his work is full of “Trotskyist and nationalist” ideas, the magazine stated: “With his nationalism disguised, Hofshteyn snuck himself into the cadre of Soviet writers. His work is full of veiled insults to the Soviet Fatherland and its greatest leaders.” The same article accused Hofshteyn of visiting Palestine in 1923 and returning with “hatred for the Soviet Union.” Moreover, it was added that the poet insulted Vladimir Lenin and expressed feelings of respect for “the Jewish fascist [Hayim Nahman] Bialik.”
50 Years Ago
1962 Fourteen Jews in the city of Chernovitz have been arrested and put on trial on charges of speculation and dealing in foreign currencies. Authorities allegedly found the defendants with 55 pounds of gold and large amounts of Soviet and foreign currencies. Chernovitz, which is part of the Soviet Union, is thought to have a population that is at least 30% Jewish. It is thought that the emphasis the Soviet press is placing in the Jewish names in the paper is part of an anti- Semitic smear campaign to increase dislike of Jewish citizens. Allegedly there is a ringleader, an 81-year-old pauper by the name of Alter Bronstein, who has been the conduit for thousands of rubles, francs and gold.