Startling revelations of unsuccessful strong-arm efforts at coercion on the part of its president, C. K. Froehlich, who also heads the DAWA (German American counter-boycott movement), were contained in a statement yesterday from a member of the German Commercial Association of 1858.
The statement contains the following charges against Froehlich, all of which he admitted with “explanatory” reservations, in a telephone conversation.
1) That in a letter sent over his signature to “Aryan” members of the ’58ers, Froehlich asserted they must either become affiliated with the German American Commercial League (DHV), strong pro-Nazi organization, or lose their “political and social rights” in Germany.
2) That at a meeting of the ##ers, he declared that any German citizen who was aware of the above “rule” must either comply with it or be placed on the Nazi black-list, and that if he failed to affiliate himself with some organization representing the German Labor Front, he would be subject to seizure if he were to cross the German border.
SEEK TO EVADE LEASE
3) That at another meeting of the ’58ers, in an effort at sabotage against the employment agency activities and other commercial pursuits of this organization, he suggested that the association donate the $700 in its treasury (part of which is an insurance fund for unemployed members) to the Vereinigte Deutsche Gesellschaften so that it could declare itself in virtual insolvency and thus break a lease it holds on its headquarters at 136 Liberty street.
This latter suggestion, made at a meeting this week, was booed and hissed by members, according to the statement.
The gathering, an extraordinary general membership session, was held at the Franziskaner, 1591 Second avenue, for the purpose of deciding whether the association was to continue or to dissolve.
Members voted almost unani###ly to continue the club on a “neutral, non-political and non-re#gious basis.”
In this connection it was pointed out that the association is comprised principally of American citizens of German origin, many of them Jews.
NAZIS OBTAIN FOOTHOLD
Nazism, working under cover, obtained a strong foothold in the organization about two years ago, when Froehlich eased his way into the presidency and succeeded in having Max Eberhardt, treasurer of the United German Societies, elected treasurer of the ’58ers.
Although the slate of officers has since continued to carry with it the stigma of Hitlerism, the association’s members have successfully waged a two-year battle to maintain their loyalist policies as American citizens.
Recently the group has found itself in financial difficulties, and Froehlich and his toadies have used this fact as their weapon in new and more intensive machinations aimed at dissolving the association.
The Nazi officers achieved partial success at this week’s meeting when they were able to railroad over the heads of dissenters a vote to discontinue the organization’s commercial activities “for financial reasons only,” and to go on as a purely social group.
WOMEN RESENT TACTICS
The above decision included “temporary” surrender of the ’58ers’ employment service, which has been operated without cost to members; discharge of a paid business manager; and abandonment of the association’s Liberty street offices.
After Froehlich’s high-handed methods had succeeded in rushing through a favorable vote on the foregoing suggestions, it was disclosed that the organization holds a lease on its headquarters which does not expire until next April.
It was at this point that Froehlich suggested that the association donate all monies in its treasury to the Vereinigte Deutsche Gesellschaften and thus avoid paying rent, according to the statement.
Determined opposition to the Hitlerites’ tactics was presented by women members of the association, who particularly resented Froehlich’s demand that the club affiliate itself with the German American Commercial League. While this latter organization recently has been forced to admit women to its roster, it continues to adhere to the Nazi insistence that woman’s place is over the soup pot.