The Army That Leads Its Leaders–r.d.blumenfeld
Menu JTA Search

The Army That Leads Its Leaders–r.d.blumenfeld

Download PDF for this date

Formerly chairman of the Board, and editor, for thirty years, of the Daily Express of London

A fur trader named Zuckerman, reported by The Times to be an “American of Jewish extraction,” was violently assaulted by Nazis on the streets of Leipzig. It was stated that he had gone to Leipzig on one of his periodical visits.

Let us sympathize with the American gentleman “of Jewish extraction” on account of his painful wounds and let us hope that after a three weeks enforced stay in a German hospital he will have been so far restored to health that he will be enabled to return to the United States—in a non-German steamer, let us hope—thereafter to ponder on the laws of compensation and justice.

Let us hope further that this will be a lesson to him, for what was Zuckerman, of Jewish extraction, doing in Leipzig in the fur business? Wasn’t he tempting Providence? Isn’t there an alternative fur market outside Naziland? Or is Zuckerman so enamored of the oppressors of his race that he must, in the face of any provocation, continue to trade with them? If so, naturally he must be permitted to do so and if he’s hit on the head during the process there’s nothing more to be said except that he asked for what he got and one cannot be half so sorry as one might be under other circumstances.


I had no idea that a Jew, extracted or otherwise, was still trading with Leipzig, I fondly hugging to my breast the one hope that here at least was a place which so effectively proved the futility of the Nazi suicidal methods that they would feel the full powerful effects of the Jewish protest in the form of trade abstention or in the more direct terms of the world boycott.

It seems to have been left to the Nazis themselves to drive away the last profitable customer by means of rubber truacheons. Meanwhile, the Nazi propagandists who polluted the atmosphere with their nightly orgy of false statistics over the continental radio networks persist in telling the world of the wonderful effects of their Deutschland ueber Alles system which suddenly made two blades of grass grow where formerly there were none, with their trade triumphs and steadily mounting prosperity.

I wish that someone could be put forward one evening soon to tell us what really has been happening to, say, the fur trade in Leipzig, or the textile trade in Chemnitz, to say nothing of the heavy industries. It would be illuminating at any rate.

Look up the passenger lists of the Bremen and Deutschland of last season and compare them with the lists of this year. You will not find in the current lists the names of many people “of Jewish extraction” in the first class, nor in the second, nor even the third. That’s what I mean by a boycott. Alleged Aryans want nothing to do with Jews; can’t Jews get along without them? The only answer to the policy of Hitlerite brutality is that which the gentle Hun will feel in his pocket, not having any other sensibilities.


For that reason I have been urging for weeks that the definite, clear-cut policy of world Jewry should take the form of trade reprisals. We all realize the sense of responsibility which should go with such advice and in a way I can appreciate the position and the diffidence of Jewry’s official leaders as expressed by the decision of the British Board of Deputies holding aloof from giving sanction to so drastic a business as a world boycott, yet I am convinced that if it is effectively applied the boycott will quickly serve its purpose.

I dislike to think that the boycott would bring in its train intense suffering to thousands upon thousands of innocent German people, especially women and children, but the fault will not lie with the Jews it they apply the only effective weapon at their disposal.

This week an English Jewess married to a so-called Aryan living in a German provincial town called on me. I had never met her, but she came with a letter from an important person.

“I implore you,” she said, “to give up your campaign advising Jews to prosecute the boycott to the bitter end. Already we are feeling its effects in loss of employment and in the inability to obtain food. Your responsibility is terrible should the boycott become widespread and unified; the results are unthinkable. Thousands of innocent German women and children will suffer.”


“And pray,” I asked, “what about the 600,000 German Jews who are already in dire distress and for whose prospects of starvation and annihilation the Nazi has nothing but cheers? Go back and tell your influential friend to use his influence to have the black spot removed from the German Jews, see that the German press tells its people the truth, informs them that Germany today is at the same time anathema as well as the laughing stock of the world. It is not too late even now for repentance. I think Hitler himself sees the ghastly mistake he has made; he can avoid further mischief by lifting the ban against the best citizens Germany ever had.”

Meanwhile I noted with enormous satisfaction the effects of the great demonstration against Hitlerism of London’s Jews. I was opposed to it at the start as I was opposed to all public protests of this nature, for I felt that whatever people did or thought in London, New York or Paris, the muzzled German press would never report. I feared that there might be scenes of violence. Nothing of this nature happened. It was a fine gesture and more than everything the demonstration proved that, like the Duke of Plazatoro, the official leaders of Jewry are the kind of leaders who lead their armies from behind.


It does not really matter if Hitler is lucky enough to have had a Jewish grandmother or an Aryan. The desperate efforts on the part of his German champions to dispose of the proofs by attempting to conjure away the documents show that the exposure was not welcome in Hitler’s adopted country. Now we are to be confronted with a further. proof that both Goering and Goebbels will be unable to stand the so-called Aryan test by reason of the blessed admixture of Semitic blood in their veins. It is a pretty comedy.

I am constrained to believe that Hitler knew nothing about his antecedents and even now, with the proof before him, he believes he is a pure Aryan, whatever that may mean.

I can quite believe his scepticism. I recall something similar in my own history when I was a boy, over half a century ago. I spent my boyhood days where I was born in the primeval forest country of the Northwest of the United States. My ideas about Jews were primitive. I had seen one or two, but my general conception was of funny bearded men with three or four top hats piled atop of one another; an idea gathered no doubt from comic papers. Anyhow, I grew up to be fourteen or fifteen, blissfully ignorant of any personal connection with Jewry, going to my Catholic Sunday School with due regularity and believing the Jews to be a wicked, sinful people who sold second-hand hats and bought poultry from the poor.


Then one day a huge hulk of a boy in my Sunday class tried to pick a quarrel. He was a German immigrant’s son and he had the turbulence and overbearing manners that seem to be the particular attributes of the Hun type. He called me various opprobrious names and I paid no attention to his importunities. Then he capped it all by calling me a Jew! At once I saw red. It was a crowning insult. Worse than that, he said:

“You won’t fight because you are a Jew and everybody knows that Jews will not fight.”

Well, this one did. My Hun was no coward and he was stronger and older but I had the double satisfaction first of proving his guess to be wrong and, second, after both of us had done some damage, to be treated by him, after that battle, with some respect. He even tried to become my friend, but I did not want his friendship, for at heart he was a bully.

Now, what does all this recital of boyhood fisticuffs mean at this stage? Why do I burden my readers with recollections of a past age? Simply this, that, though the Jews have in the past generation proved throughout the world that they can and will fight, there is always the possibility that a sense of inferiority on the part of some, induced by generations of oppression, may give new oppressors ideas that they may impose on all Jews with impunity; humiliate them, harrow them, beat them, cheat them, even kill them without fear of reprisal.

Something like that is going on now in Germany, and there are people who have it in their power to effect reprisals who hesitate to use the one effective weapon which will save the miserable victims in Germany from greater oppression. Do not put faith in the belief that if you sit idly by with folded hands the Germans will rest from their self-imposed task of cleaning out the Jews at no matter what cost of suffering and agony. I am firmly convinced that the contrary is the case.

I heard the other day of one of the most popular men in Germany at this moment. His name is Israels. He is a Jew, the owner of a large department store at Breslau. Israels, like the others of his kind, received his Nazi orders to dismiss all his Jewish employees. He refused. He not only refused but he returned a dignified, but defiant, answer to the effect that no human power could induce him to do anything so inhuman. So they turned him out and put him in prison for three or four days, established a commissar in his place and then re-instated him in his business! He had scorned to beg off. He just hit back and even the Nazis, strange to say, respect that sort of thing.

Which brings me to the point of this little dissertation. My motto in this German imbroglio is:

“Do Not Take It Lying Down.”

“The weapon is sharp. It is being used today. It can be made more and more effective every day if Jews the world over will make use of it. The Nazi will bleed quicker in his pocket than he will anywhere else, for his real blood is as thick as his senses. The name of the weapon is “Trade Reprisal” and it can as effectively be used in small as well as large dealings—a pair of stockings or a ship-load of Chemnitz goods.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund