Berlin (Oct. 13)
The trial was opened here to-day of the three Sklarek brothers, Max, Willi, and Leo Sklarek, municipal clothing suppliers, who were arrested two years ago on the charge of swindling the Berlin City Bank of about ten million Marks, by means of faked invoices for goods never delivered.
They are alleged to have given large sums in bribes to the Lord Mayor of Berlin, Herr Boess, who had to resign his position when the facts came out, and also to a great many high officials, in order to cover up the swindle. The ramifications of the case are stated to be very extensive and to involve many high-placed men in public life. The act of indictment runs to 2,300 pages.
The Sklarek brothers are East European Jews, who started a clothing business in Berlin, and became extremely wealthy during the inflation period. On this account the antisemitic press has seized on the case as furnishing material for its anti-Jewish agitation. The Sklareks have never identified themselves, however, with any form of Jewish life. They spent millions on racing stables and big society functions, and Jewish leaders in Berlin constantly deprecated the way in which this trio of uneducated men, with notoriously gross tastes and without any responsible standing used to be invited to representative gatherings of the City of Berlin, from which men of authority in Jewish and general public life were excluded.
The first complaint that the Sklareks were defrauding the Berlin City Administration was made by Councillor Perl, a Jewish member of the Berlin City Council, and it was a German Nationalist member of the Council, Deputy Bruehn, a notorious antisemite, and publisher of the “Wahrheit”, a Jew-baiting paper, who defended the Sklareks, and attacked Councillor Perl for making unsubstantiated charges. Councillor Perl finally went to law and obtained an injunction restraining Deputy Bruehn from continuing his campaign of vilification. Finally, Councillor Perl succeeded in uncovering the falsifications practised by the Sklarek brothers. It was established that Deputy Bruehn was a close friend of the Sklareks, receiving from them huge sums, ostensibly for advertisements in his paper. He also stayed as their guest at seaside resorts. The affair had a sequel in Deputy Bruehn being expelled from the German National Fraction in the Reichstag.