Massena Mayor Apologizes Following Formal Hearing Before New York State Police Superintendent

Following the formal hearing before Major John A. Warner, Superintendent of the State Police, at Albany yesterday, conducted at the order of Governor Smith, Mayor W. Gilbert Hawes of Massena, a voluntary witness at the hearing, presented his apology for the events in Massena arising out of the disappearance of a child and the subsequent suspicion and rumors reflecting against the Jewish population in the town. Mayor Hawes addressed his letter of apology to Dr. Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress who, with a delegation of that body, attended the hearing. The letter stated:

“As a result of the hearing before Major John A. Warner, at which I was present as a voluntary witness, I am confirmed in my conviction that I have committed a serious error of judgment into which I was led in part by the excitement incident to the disappearance of the Griffith child of my community. In the light of what I have learned since the incident in question, and particularly in the light of the solemn protest of my Jewish neighbors, I feel that I ought to express clearly and unequivocably, as I now do, my deep and sincere regret that by any act of commission or omission I should have seemed to lend countenance, even for a moment, to what I ought to have known to be a cruel libel imputing human sacrifice as a practice now or at any time in the history of the Jewish people.

“I clearly see and I have no hesitation in affirming that, when first the suggestion was made that the disappearance of the Griffith child might be associated with the alleged practice of human sacrifice by Jews, far from giving hospitable ear to the suggestion. I should have repelled it with indignation and advised the State Trooper to desist from his intention of making inquiry of the respected Rabbi of the Jewish community of Massena concerning a rumor so monstrous and fantastic.

“I should have known, what I did not then know but since have learned, that in the Middle Ages Jews have paid an awful toll in life because of just such unthinkable charges, and that the accusation of ritual murder was imputed in the early Christian centuries by pagan peoples to the disciples of the Christian churches. I now see that I was no more justified in permitting the Rabbi of the congregation of Massena, representing the ancient and honorable community of Israel, to be interrogated with regard to the myth of ritual murder than I would have been justified in permitting the Minister of any Protestant church or the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese including Massena, to be questioned concerning ritual murder as a Christian church practice if the person under wrongful suspicion, as was this Jewish boy, had chanced to be a member of any one of the Christian communions.

“I do not make this statement of profound regret because of any fear on my part that charges will be brought against me looking to my removal from the office of Mayor to which I have been elected five times, four of these elections being unanimous. I know that the citizenship of Massena, including its Jewish members, will not seek to dishonor me through removal from office because of an error of judgment which no one deplores more than I do.

“I write this word of heartfelt apology because I would do justice not only to the Jewish people of Massena, but because I desire to offer complete and unreserved amends to that great people which has given to the world the God I worship and the religion I love,” Mayor Hawes concluded.


The apology of Corporal McCann was addressed to Rabbi Brennglass of Massena and read:

“I am writing to say that I regret more than I can tell you and am very, very sorry for my part in the incident at Massena.

“After the hearing today, I realize is I did not before, how wrong it was of me to request you to come to the Police Station at Massena to be questioned concerning a rumor which I should have known to be absolutely alse. I was terribly excited and atigued at the time, having been on duty for many hours without food or ##est. Otherwise, I would have thought of the consequence of such an act and would not have done what I did.

“I mean every word of this apology and I hope you will take it in the spirit in which it is written.”

Geoge Gordon Battle attended the hearing at Albany as legal advisor of the Amercan Jewish Congress. Louis Lande was present as associate counsel. Bernard G. Richards, Executive Secretary of the American Jewish Congress, Lieutenant E. F. Heim of the State Police, Rabbi Brennglass, J. Schulkin president of Congregation Adath Israel, Massena, and Andrew J. Hanmer, attorney for the village of Massena, were also present.

Louis Marshall, president of the American Jewish Committee, stated today in reply to an inquiry of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he will accept the apology of Mayor Hawes.

The President of the American Jewish Committee this morning received a letter of apology from the Mayor of Massena, the text of which was similar to the one signed by the Mayor at Albany after the hearing presided over by Major Warner in the presence of Dr. Stephen S. Wise.


“As a leader among American Jews Louis Marshall cannot be too strongly commended for his vigorous letter to the Mayor of Massena, New York. Apparently that official has gvien countenance to a revival of as cruel and false a slander as ignorance, superstition and malevolence ever have employed to wound a sensitive people.

“Somewhere in the blackest abyss of the Dark Ages malice and stupidity contrived to invent this slander against Jews. They were accused of murdering Christian children, using their blood in sacrificial rites. So far as anybody has been able to ascertain, there never has been a Jewish ritualistic practice which gave even the slightest coler of plausibility to this hoary lie. But it has been revived from time to time among superstitious peasants in the most backward parts of Europe. serving to inflame them to anti-Semitic rage and incite them to pogroms. Until now. however, American common sense has prevented this grotesque libel from gaining credence here.

“The story from Massena is that some ‘foreigner’ repeated the slander to a State trooper. At that time the populace of the village was agitated over the disappearance of a child who had wandered away from home and was ## the next day. On the eve of the Day of Atonement, that most sacred of Jewish holy days, the ## the rabbi of a Jewish ## before the Mayor for##. There he was interrogated as to whether it was the ## among his ## ‘in the ## country’ to offer hurman secriffice.

#### They ##### the missing ## had been the victim of rit## that this ## was ## by ##. The mere fact ## take place in the State of New York is in itself sufficient to cause revulsion and horror among all