Skip to comments.Gangsters vs. Nazis<br> How the Jewish mob fought American admirers of the Third Reich
Posted on 07/07/2020 4:40:26 PM PDT by Impala64ssa
Emboldened by Hitlers rise to power in Germany in 1933, and fueled by the Great Depression, anti-Semitism increased throughout the United States, and over 100 anti-Semitic organizations sprung up across the country. They had names like the Friends of the New Germany (Nazi Bund), the Silver Shirts, Defenders of the Christian Faith, the Christian Front, and the Knights of the White Camellia, among others. Protected by the constitutions First Amendment, they held public rallies, paraded through the streets in their uniforms carrying Nazi flags, published scurrilous magazines, and openly flaunted their hatred for Jews. American Jews were intimidated and frightened. Fearful of stirring up even more anti-Jewish sentiment, the American Jewish establishments response was often tentative and cautionary. They worried that what happened in Germany, home to Europes elite Jewish community, could easily happen in America happen in America. One group of American Jews who had no compunctions about meeting the anti-Semites head-on were Jewish gangsters. Not bound by conventional rules and constitutional legalities, they took direct and violent action against the Jew haters.
Nazi Bund rallies in New York City in the late 1930s created a terrible dilemma for the citys Jewish leaders. With 20,000 members, the Nazi Bund was the largest anti-Semitic group in the nation. They organized large public rallies and marched to drumbeats wearing brown shirts and swastikas, and carrying Nazi flags. Jewish leaders wanted the meetings stopped, but could not do so legally. Nathan Perlman, a judge and former Republican congressman, was one Jewish leader who believed that the Jews should demonstrate more militancy. In 1935, he surreptitiously contacted Meyer Lansky, a leading organized crime figure born on the 4th of July, and asked him to help. Lansky related to me what followed.
Perlman assured Lansky that money and legal assistance would be put at his disposal. The only stipulation was that no Nazis be killed. They could be beaten up, but not terminated. Lansky reluctantly agreed. No killing. Always very sensitive about anti-Semitism, Lansky was acutely aware of what the Nazis were doing to Jews. I was a Jew and I felt for those Jews in Europe who were suffering, he said. They were my brothers. Lansky refused the judges offer of money and assistance, but he did make one request. He asked Perlman to ensure that after he went into action he would not be criticized by the Jewish press. The judge promised to do what he could.
Lansky rounded up some of his tough associates and went around New York disrupting Nazi meetings. Young Jews not connected to him or the rackets also volunteered to help, and Lansky and others taught them how to use their fists and handle themselves in a fight. Lanskys crews worked very professionally. Nazi arms, legs, and ribs were broken and skulls cracked, but no one died. The attacks continued for more than a year. And Lansky earned quite a reputation for doing this work.
Lansky later described to an Israeli journalist one of the onslaughts in Yorkville, the German neighborhood in northeast Manhattan:
We got there in the evening and found several hundred people dressed in their brown shirts. The stage was decorated with a swastika and pictures of Hitler. The speaker started ranting. There were only 15 of us, but we went into action. We attacked them in the hall and threw some of them out the windows. There were fist fights all over the place. Most of the Nazis panicked and ran out. We chased them and beat them up, and some of them were out of action for months. Yes it was violence. We wanted to teach them a lesson. We wanted to show them that Jews would not always sit back and accept insults.
Reflecting on his role in these episodes to me, he fumed that he helped the Jewish community, but all he got for his trouble was abuse. He believed the citys Jewish leaders were pleased with his actions, but they failed to stop the Jewish press from condemning him. When the newspapers reported on the anti-Bund incidents, they referred to Lansky and his friends as the Jewish gangsters. This infuriated him. They wanted the Nazis taken care of but were afraid to do the job themselves, he said. I did it for them. And when it was over they called me a gangster. No one ever called me a gangster until Rabbi Wise [Stephen Wise] and the Jewish leaders called me that.
We went over there and grabbed everything in sightall their bullshit signsand smacked the shit out of them.
Judd Teller, a reporter for a New York Jewish daily, relates how he met one day with several men who said they were from Murder, Incorporated and wanted a list of Nazi bastards who should be rubbed out. Teller took the request to Jewish communal leaders. They told Teller that if the plan would be put in motion, the police would be informed promptly. Teller relayed this warning to his Murder, Inc. contact. Upon hearing this, the mobster angrily replied, Tell them to keep their shirts on. OK, we wont ice [murder] the bodies; only marinate them. According to Teller, this is exactly what they did. He said the attacks by the Jewish mobsters was sufficient marination to drastically reduce attendance at Nazi Bund meetings, and discouraged Bundists from appearing in uniform singly in the streets.
After a series of attacks, the Bundists protested having their meetings violently broken up and asked Mayor Fiorello La Guardia for protection from the Jewish mobsters. La Guardia agreed under certain conditions. The Bundists could not wear their uniforms, sing their songs, display the swastika and Nazi flag, and could not march to beating drums. The Bundists agreed to his terms. La Guardia confined their parades to Yorkville and assigned Jewish and African-American policemen to patrol the route. Thereafter, any Nazi dignitary passing through New York was assured of a mixed Jewish and black bodyguard detail. The Nazi Bund was also active across the river in Newark, New Jersey, which had a large German-American community. As a Jew, Abner Longie Zwillman, who bossed the rackets in that city, was not about to allow the Nazis to operate with impunity in his territory. In 1934, he turned to Nat Arno, a Jewish ex-prizefighter, and asked him to organize an anti-Nazi group. Arno recruited tough Newark Jews and ex-boxers, and the group called itself The Minutemen. They borrowed the name from the Minutemen of Revolutionary War fame. The original Minutemen got their name because they were expected to be ready to fight the British at a minutes notice. Newarks Jewish Minutemen wanted to emulate them in their fight against the Nazis.
The Minutemen saw to it that no Nazi Bund meetings would be held in the New Jersey area, particularly in Newark and the small towns surrounding it. Arno and his men monitored the movement of the Nazis and, after finding out where their meetings were held, would break them up. Arno had financial and political support in these forays from Longie Zwillman. In those days, Longie controlled Newarks police. Whenever the Bund met, the police informed Longie of the time and place and conveniently abandoned their posts so the Nazis were left unguarded.
With Zwillmans encouragement, one of his prime enforcers, Max Puddy Hinkes, joined the group. The Minutemens most famous exploit occurred in Schwabbenhalle on Springfield Avenue bordering the German neighborhood in Irvington. According to Hinkes:
Abner Longie Zwillman during his testimony before Congress, 1951. WORLD WIDE PRESS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Nazi scumbags were meeting one night on the second floor. Nat Arno and I went upstairs and threw stink bombs into the room where the creeps were. As they came out of the room, running from the horrible odor of the stink bombs and running down the steps to escape to go into the street to escape, our boys were waiting with bats and iron bars. It was like running a gauntlet. Our boys were lined up on both sides and we started hitting, aiming for their heads or any other parts of their bodies with our bats and iron bars. The Nazis were screaming blue murder. It was one of the most happy [sic] moments of my life. It was too bad we didnt kill them all. In other places we couldnt get inside, so we smashed windows and destroyed their cars, which were parked outside. The Nazis begged for police help and protection, however the police favored us.
Heshie Weiner, another participant in the fracas, remembers that one of the Nazis who came running down the stairs, had the indiscretion to shout Heil and was met by a chorus of iron pipes. Weiner claims that after this attack, I never heard any more of Bund meetings by the Nazis in our area.
In Chicago, blond-and-blue-eyed Herb Brin, who worked as a crime reporter for the City Press, joined the local Nazi party as a spy for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of the Bnai Brith. He told me, I joined the Nazi party at the Hausfaterland on Western Avenue across from Riverview Park. It was a hotbed of Nazi activity, he recalled. From 1938 through 1939, Brin kept the ADL informed about Nazi activities. What the ADL did not know was that he fed information about Nazi marches and rallies to Jewish gangsters. I marched with the Nazis, said Brin, but I came back later with Jewish gangs and we beat them up good.
Minneapolis, Minnesota was also a center of anti-Semitism during the 1930s, except here the problem was William Dudley Pelleys pro-Nazi Silver Shirt Legion. A California native, Pelley was a former screenwriter, crime reporter, novelist, and magazine journalist. He hated President Roosevelt and wanted to rescue America from an international Jewish-communist conspiracy. Pelley claimed he created the Silver Shirts to save America as Mussolini and his black shirts saved Italy and as Hitler and his brown shirts saved Germany.
Minneapolis had a long history of anti-Semitism and was one of the few American cities to bar Jews from service clubs such as the Rotaries, Kiwanis, and Lions, and civic welfare organizations. Because of Minneapolis anti-Jewish tradition, Pelley felt it would be easy to gain a foothold there. At the time, the citys gambling czar was David Berman, an associate and sometimes rival of Isidore Kid Cann Blumenfeld, the head of an all-Jewish crime syndicate.
According to Bermans daughter, Susan, Berman despised anti-Semites and determined to destroy the Silver Shirts. He found out where the Silver Shirts met and prepared his men for a raid. Meanwhile he notified his men that the next time he heard about a meeting, they were going to break it up. A call came one evening to Bermans bookmaking operation in the Radisson Hotel. The caller informed Berman of a meeting of Silver Shirts at 8 oclock that evening at the Elks Lodge. Berman immediately called his men. Be at the office at 7 p.m. and bring anybody and everything youve got, he said. When his men arrived, Berman distributed brass knuckles and clubs. He and his men then drove in a convoy of Cadillacs to the Elks Lodge and waited for the right moment to attack.
As soon as the Silver Shirt leader mounted the podium and began shouting for an end to all the Jew bastards in this city, Bermans lookout signaled to him. Berman and his men charged through the door and began beating every Silver Shirt within reach. The meeting turned into pandemonium, with the audience screaming and running for the exits followed by every Silver Shirt still able to stand. The attack lasted 10 minutes. When it was over, Berman, his suit covered with blood, took the microphone. This is a warning, he said in a cold controlled voice. Anybody who says anything against Jews gets the same treatment. Only next time it will be worse. He then took out a pistol and fired a shot into the air. He and his men then left the hall. It took two more such attacks to frighten off the Silver Shirts. Berman and Blumenfeld paid off the police and there were never any arrests connected with the incident.
The Silver Shirts and Nazi Bundists were also active on the West Coast, especially in Los Angeles. Although few in number, they were noisy and brazen and alarmed the citys Jewish community. During the height of Nazi activity in the summer of 1938, West Coast mobster Mickey Cohen was serving a short sentence in the Los Angeles county jail. He happened to be sitting in the bullpen (the barred enclosure where prisoners are kept temporarily) waiting to go to court, when Robert Noble, a notorious local Nazi Bundist, and another Nazi were brought in for questioning. Cohen knew what Noble was and Noble knew who Cohen was. The police made the mistake of sitting the anti-Semites near Cohen and leaving them alone.
In his memoir, Cohen tells what then happened. The two Nazis tried to move away but Cohen grabbed them before they could. I started bouncing their heads together, he recalled. With the two of them, youd think theyd put up a fight, but they didnt do nothing. So Im going over them pretty good. The windup is that theyre climbing up on the bars, both of them, and Im trying to pull them down. Now theyre screaming and hollering so much everybody thinks its a riot, said Cohen.
The noise and tumult brought the police on the run. By this time Mickey had moved back to his seat and was nonchalantly reading a newspaper. The officer in charge went over to Cohen and demanded to know what happened. What are you asking me for, said Cohen. Im sitting here reading the newspaper. Them two guys got into a fight with each other. I dont know what happened. I didnt want to mix in with them. After he was released, Cohen enjoyed telling his friends how good he felt about beating up anti-Semites.
As news of the incident spread, Cohen began getting calls from Jewish organizations and leaders asking him to help them oppose the Nazis. One of his callers was a Jewish judge who informed Mickey about a Nazi Bund meeting. I told him all right, dont worry about it, said Cohen. Cohen gathered together some of his Jewish mobster friends and raided the Nazi meeting. We went over there and grabbed everything in sightall their bullshit signsand smacked the shit out of them, broke them up as best we could, said Cohen. Nobody could pay me for this work. It was my patriotic duty. There aint no amount of money to buy them kind of things, he said.
What did Jewish communal leaders think about this? Publicly they evinced shame and horror at the criminal activities and notoriety of the gangsters because they epitomized the bad Jew, the evildoer who would bring hatred on the whole community. Privately they appreciated the mobsters who boldly took action against the Nazis and anti-Semites. Although the gangsters may have distressed the Jewish establishment, they did earn the admiration of the Jewish man-on-the-street, especially among Jewish youngsters. Talk show host Larry King admitted that when he was growing up in Brooklyn, Jewish gangsters were our heroes. Even the bad ones were heroes to us. The 1930s were a time fraught with danger for Jews. For some Jewish mobsters, it proved to be a time when they could do something positive to protect their community from Nazis and anti-Semites.
Would be nice if they stood up against communism now.
Either the majority of Jewish folks don’t read how much BLM and antifa are against them or they just don’t want to know.
And he always made money for his partners.
There are, IMHO, a couple of factors at play here. I have a Jewish background, although I don't consider myself Jewish in faith or conduct. That's a topic for another time. But, I have Jewish relatives.
Most of them are habitual Jews, more or less observant. But, they are basically secular, and they are VERY liberal. They are also very civilized. They aren't going to join a Lansky action group. And, they are unthinkingly, relentlessly liberal, checking the Democratic box without fail.
So, the two factors at play are that vague ideas of liberalism are at least as important to them as religion or principle, and they don't have any real-world hard-knocks common sense.
It reminds me in a way of the beginning of the Rocky III movie, where the trainer is telling Rocky not to fight Clubber Lang, because, he says, "Then... the worst thing happened to you that can happen to a fighter. You became civilized."
The Jews who survived the pogroms and came to the US or Israel in the early to mid 20th century didn't have that failing.
“Inglorious Bastards” and
The Bear Jew.
A few groups might
Get the Message across.
A bunch of old guys with
Not so much.
Not pinging this piece, there's already too much glorification of organized crime. From the perspective of Mafia history, Lansky also helped keep the violent and ambitious Genovese in check for years. Jack Ruby, another Jewish gangster, is best known for his silencing of the Mob's patsy, Lee Harvey Oswald.
There won’t be refuge for Jews in the U.S if Marxist ideology gets the upperhand. It won’t be whitey turning over every rock to get them.Think Ilhan Omar on steroids and what happened in Rwanda. Some Jews will initially cheer from the sidelines and be part of a commie regime. But they eventually get run over.
“Then... the worst thing happened to you that can happen to a fighter. You became civilized.”
As Duane Bobick said on SNL after Ken Norton KO’d him in 58 seconds,
“Support the Black Educational Conference. Remember, an educated black man is a weaker opponent.”
That’s good. I missed that episode.
I can’t think of their name right now but there is a group of militant Jews on the west coast I think California maybe even in LA that group together to protect synagogues
The ADL today is not the ADL I helped in the late 60’s/early 70’s. when real men, not Obama Marxists, ran it.
The problem as that liberal Jewish leaders, including the Communist and FDR-duped Rabbi Steven Wise (of same named synagogue fame) trusted Roosevelt and the Left to help save European Jews. It didn’t really work.
FDR bought off the dupe Wise with the Jewish Refugee Committee or group of similar name, a literally powerless organization set up to make Roosevelt seem to be doing something.
Remember the fate of the passengers of the SS St. Louis? FDR could have told Batista or his predecessor to let them land in Cuba and it would have happened.
FDR was only a “friend” of American Jews (and some European Jews) when he could use them for political or defense purposes. Otherwise, they were expendable.
We need Israeli Jews over here. They know how to fight and don’t (pardon the pun) pull any punches. It’s called survival, and they face it firsthand each and every day in Israel. Until American Jews toughen up and realize the dangers to their very existence and stop their herd mentality of voting Dem, they will be on the shortlist for eventual extinction, even in this Country.
Just wait until the “Squad” and their ilk gets the reins of power in Congress and radical Dems gain the presidency. All bets are off then in this Country, and the Jews had better figure out whose side they should really be on. Some people are slow learners though, to their detriment and that includes the Republican RINO’s who haven’t figured this out either. In the blink of an eye our way of life can go down the drain. We are one election away from tyranny. And/or one election away from a second Civil War.
Israel is kept free only by real Jewish men who are ready to kill in order to do so.
They have earned the right to tell the rest of the world to....how do you say `f*** off’ in Hebrew?
Sick of all the appeasers.
I have a little story to tell about a park I used to visit while working at UIC (Univ. of IL at Chicago). At lunchtime, I would bring myself and my lunch to a pretty little park located on the edge of Campus that was located in the old Italian neighborhood that UIC bought up a lot of, in order to build their permanent University back in the 1950’s. UIC started out temporarily located at Navy Pier in downtown Chicago until the new Campus was built.
I would drive over to the park to a cul-de-sac that looked out on the park and a beautiful fountain with a statue of Christopher Columbus surrounded by a circle of water. I’d eat then back to work. (As an aside, there were a couple of wonderful Italian corner grocery stores right in the neighborhood, with Deli’s in the back of the stores; best Italian subs I ever had.) I went to the park many times.
On one side of the park there were beautiful old Italian row houses (these Italians were big on beautiful carved wooden doors in the front of their homes, and the whole neighborhood was beautifully kept up). Some of these homes were owned by the Italian mafia (one of whom I got to know, but that’s another story for another day). You could tell where some of them resided as there were big stone walls built around their homes. The Italian neighborhood men would pitch pennies on the sidewalks in front of Italian men only private clubs where they would gather during the day to socialize.
There were also wonderful Italian restaurants along a little street right across from where I worked with wonderful food. Most were owned by those living in the hood. On the other side of the park, it was near the beginning of the Black neighborhoods; the dividing line was Roosevelt Road, with Blacks on one side of the park, and Italians on the other side. The park was very peaceful, as the Blacks never encroached on it, or crossed over it, as they knew the Italian mafia lived in the hood, and that if they caused any trouble at all, they wouldn’t physically last very long. The Italian men had no compunctions at all about taking out any Black troublemakers, and the Blacks knew it. An uneasy peace existed along the dividing line, with the beautiful little park located right in the middle of it.
I wonder if that beautiful statue of Columbus surrounded by the fountain still exists, or if it has been toppled by the domestic terrorist mobs of today. It might still be there if the Italians in the hood are still true to form and are guarding their old neighborhood.
I don't think that restriction would be effective if anyone chose active resistance today. There would be 100 selectively-edited cell phone videos, and people opposing the left's domestic terrorists would be identified, charged, and convicted if they approached within arm's length. Solving the problem from 200-plus yards and at 3,000 fps may be the only viable option - for anyone who wants to get physical with America's enemies.
I, too, hope the statue is still there, and perhaps some of your vecci amici from the nearby University can tell you if the statue of Christopher Columbus is still standing.
Let us know what you find out.
Followup to my post # 14 (excerpt from Chgo Sun Times:
“A separate Columbus statue in Chicago, just west of the Shedd Aquarium, was also defaced over the weekend with the letters BLM and splashes of red paint. Kaitlyn OKeefe, 26, of Humboldt Park, was charged with one count of criminal defacement to property in that case, police said. Despite being defaced nearly every year, the damage done to the statue in Little Italy has struck a particular nerve as heated debates have swirled in the community over whether the monument should stay or go.
An African American man that lives in Little Italy said he went to the park after it was vandalized to see how the community was responding. Ive never seen so much hate in my community and I lived here for several years, the man said, asking to remain anonymous for fears of retribution. When he arrived at the park Saturday, a heated argument was going on between a white resident and an African American man. At one point the white man, later identified as a retired Cook County judge, attempted to throw a punch at the man who had been screaming at him, causing police to pull the judge back. No arrests were made in connection with the incident or the earlier vandalism. A Chicago Police Department spokesperson declined to comment on the video.
The neighborhood has been on edge as it is forced to deal with its own internal fights with racism. On Sunday, a womans window was shot at with a BB gun, she believes, because there was a Black Lives Matter sign in the window next to it. We dont know who did it but we are the only apartment with a Black Lives Matter sign on the block and we are the only apartment that had our window shot at, she said, asking to remain anonymous. My hope is that it was some kind of fluke or accident, but I dont know.
Resident Antonio Musillami, 41, who has relatives whove lived in the neighborhood dating back to the 1920s, thinks the statue should be removed and replaced with a more positive figure. Some have suggested the statue be replaced with one honoring Mother Cabrini, who founded a shuttered hospital nearby, or Florence Scala, who fought to save the neighborhood before the UIC opened its Chicago campus. The Chicago Park District didnt respond to a request for comment. Musillami said some Italian Americans believe Columbus is sort of the last piece remaining of their heritage. Its a moment in American history right now when people in America are reevaluating historical figures and I dont think people in the neighborhood can ignore that, Musillami said.
A source of pride to Italians Joseph Esposito, who heads up the Little Italy Chicago Neighborhood Association, said the statue is a source of pride and the spot where generations of family photos have been taken. We as Italian Americans, we dont bother anybody, we dont tell other groups who to celebrate and who not to. ... Unless you would like to celebrate Columbus with us, and I mean this with all due respect, mind your business. If you dont like him, dont celebrate him, Esposito said. Nobodys perfect, Esposito said of the critics of Columbus. If it wasnt for Columbus I honestly believe we wouldnt be having this conversation right now.
I've been told stories of this in Chicago but rarely seen an actual article. I've been told it wasn't just Jewish toughs, but also Italian and German. And of course the Irish police, turning the other way.
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