J.D.B. News Letters

(By our Paris Correspondent)

Dr. Heinrich Sliosberg branded as a fabrication the assertions made by Aron Simanovitch in a book recently published in German, “Rasputin, the All-Powerful Peasant.” The writer mentioned Dr. Sliosberg as one of the Jewish leaders in Russia who pleaded with Rasputin to intervene on behalf of the Jews.

“Upon my return from the United States to Paris, my attention was called to articles in the press commenting upon a book on Rasputin published recently by a certain Simanovitch in Berlin in which my name is mentioned among others as having had something to do with Rasputin in his alleged efforts on behalf of the Jews of Russia during the war.” Dr. Sliosberg stated to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent here. “I ordered the book, to read for myself, bpt I have to confess that I found it impossible to read it through to the end, for it was simply disgusting.

“I have had occasion once before, when reference was made to Simanovitch in connection with the case of the sugar manufacturer Hepner and others, in 1925, to express my opinion of Mr. Simanovitch’s pretence to having even been appointed to such an office by the Czar himself–and I must now repeat it. First of all, it should be noted that it is extraordinary, indeed, that so uneducated a person as Simanovitch should ever be able to act as a secretary, even though his employer, Rasputin, were still less educated, and that this uneducated secretary to an uneducated peasant should be appointed by an imperial decreel

“Last winter Simanovitch was released from prison in Paris after havin been confined there for some time in connection with the trial of certain gentlemen from Georgia, Caucasus, who were engaged in counterfeiting Soviet money. After his release Simanovitch, whom I met only a few times in all my life, came to me with the request that I should obtain for him some assistance from certain wealthy Jews, particularly from Mr. Moses Ginsburg, (so-called of Port Arthur.) On this occasion he made some utterances, which, it now appears, he has utilized in the book just published; needless to say those allegations made not the slightest impression on me.

“In view of the uncomplimentary character of the testimony which Simanovitch gives himself in his book, stating plainly that he was the owner of a gambling club and shared in Rasputin’s filthy orgies, it is somewhat surprising to see a publishing firm like Hensel & Company in Berlin undertaking to bring into the world such a specimen of ‘Schundliteratur’ as this book of Simanovitch,” Dr. Sliosberg continued. “To be sure, in recent years it has become quite the vogue to publish this kind of literature, especially books dealing in one way or another with the family of the late Czar, which so tragically disappeared. Innumerable alleged memoirs, pamphlets and other specimens of literature appear steadily containing the lies and imaginings of different authors. Who will deny or refute such historical works; who could bring legal proceedings in order to demonstrate the falsehood of the statements? The result is that the authors are at liberty to give free rein to their sensational fancies.

“But their publication by publishing firms can generally be explained by the name of the author, by his social standing, which gives ground to presume the veracity of the writer. In the present case, however, we are dealing with a book purporting to be written by a practically illiterate, ignorant individual, a self-admitted gambling-house proprietor, and one of that nefarious company who used to share in Rasputin’s wild orgies. In this instance the publisher has not even the shadow of a guarantee that the things related in the book are reliable, and I am seriously considering the possibility of bringing a suit against the publisher rather than the ignorant author, for being reckless enough to bring out a book like this.

“As regards Simanovitch. I must say that he was entirely unknown in Petrograd among decent people, and all his fairy-tales about alleged protection of Jewish rights by his organization strike me as a ridiculous piece of nonsense, truly anecdotical There is a possibility that he may have done something to induce Rasputin to intervene on behalf of the Jewish dentists, to obtain for them a pardon from the Czar, when those people found themselves behind the bars for manufacturing diplomas. But this case was of absolutely no public interest to the Jewish community, and the representatives of Russian Jewry did not care a bit what happened to such people. Again, Simanovitch’s fantastic tale about a war prisoner called Lippert, on whose behalf, too, Rasputin is alleged to have intervened, sounds dubious to me, and I would not vouch for it. As for those letters alleged to have been written by Rasputin to the then Foreign Minister Sazonov, all that we may do is to greet this bit of information with ridicule and laughter, such as it certainly merits.

“Nauseating, too, are all those fabrications about the Czar’s family affairs and especially the intimate relations of the Czar and the Czarina! I am sure that no one will expect me to take even the trouble of attempting to deny all these disgusting stories emanating from an individual such as Simanovitch. As for the fears expressed in some quarters, lest certain statements made in that book should afford the anti-Semites fuel for further attacks upon the Jews, I advise all those who may have such fears to lose no sleep over it; the ravings of a drunken fool may be just as dangerous as these hallucinations of Simanovitch.

“With regard to the writer’s specific references to some leaders of the Jewish community in Petrograd having dealings with Rasputin, I have to state with all possible emphasis that each and every statement made by him in this respect is fabrication pure and simple, without the slightest shadow of truth. At no time did anyone ever appeal to Rasputin and Simanovitch for intervention on behalf of Jews in need of protection for their rights. I am aware, of course, that Simanovitch made strenuous efforts to induce some rich Jews to give money for Rasputin to be able to build some kind of asylum in his own name. Naturally, no one ever paid the slightest heed to these attempts.

“Among Jewish leaders alleged to have appealed to Rasputin for the protection of Jewish interests, Simanovitch mentions people who were already dead at the time, as, for instance, Mandel. Nor was there at the time any one of the Poliakovs in Petrograd; the only representative of the Poliakovs of that city, Daniel, had been living for over thirty years in Paris and never returned to Petrograd all that time. Again, the well-known sugar manufacturer Brod-sky had been living all the time in Kiev, having nothing whatever to do with Petrograd. On very rare occasions he would come to that city for a few days, but he never entered into any relations with the leaders of the Jewish community there in communal matters Moses Ginsburg, likewise, of whom Simanovitch writes at length, devoted himself to philanthropy, without the slightest attempt at playing any part in politics. It would even be ridiculous to take the trouble of denying Simanovitch’s assertion that Gins-burg had ever arranged something in the nature of a public presentation of a petition to Rasputin for intercession on behalf of the Jews. It is preposterous!

“I personally, saw Rasputin but once in all my life before the war, if I remember rightly. He came to me to ask for some information on the Jewish problem and on that occasion he told me that thanks to his intercession with the Czar, at the initiative of a certain Jew (but not Simanovitch) in whom he had confidence (he now lives in Paris, and I hesitate to name him), the Czar refused to permit the building of a chapel on the spot where there was discoved the body of the Yushtchinski boy, whom Beiliss was accused of murdering for ritual purposes. Needless for me to state here that Rasputin’s advice to win Jewish rights in Russia by bribery was never given or listened to by any one.

“With reference to the ‘Pale of Jewish Settlement,’ I may state that this Pale was abolished by a decision of the Council of Ministers which received the Czar’s sanction in November, 1915, following my intercession with Prince Shcherbatov, at that time Minister of the Interior. Neither Protopopov nor Sturmer–and the latter was never a Jew or of Jewish extraction–had anything whatever to do with this act, for the simple reason that it was carried into effect much earlier than their own appearance in the political field. This law is discussed in great detail in the ‘Archive of the Russian Revolution,’ volume 18, in an article from the pea of M. Yakhontov. former Executive Secretary of the Council of Ministers. In passing, it should be noted that this same article, written from memory only, contains a serious error in that it states that the Jewish bankers were supposed to have assumed certain obligations with regard to a Government loan to be floated.

“I am in a position also to state on behalf of Mr. Ginsburg that everything related by Simanovitch in his book concerning Mr. Ginsburg and his alleged relations with Rasputin is made out of whole cloth and has not a shadow of truth in it. In particular, Mr. Ginsburg at no time ever deposited any money for Rasputin, and there was never as much as a hint at such a thing.

“Frankly, I should say that I regard it as far beneath any man’s dignity to enter into any discussion of Simanovitch’s fabrications, both because of their nature and of the character of their author. Had it not been for the fact that some papers have already spread the news abroad, I should never have dreamed of paying the slightest attention to that disgusting tissue of lies, just as I had no patience to read the book itself all the way through to the end. As one turns its pages one feels as if he were transplanted suddenly to some low-down beer-saloon, and it is rather unpleasant to be sitting there listening to the crazy talk of the drunken visitors,” Dr. Sliosberg concluded.

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