Aldermanic President Bernard S. Deutsch on his return yesterday from a month’s stay in Mexico, expressed indignation at the manner in which, he said, he had been misinterpreted concerning his commendation of Mexican governmental policies, as reported in dispatches from Mexico City.
He also disclosed the details of his encounter with Mexican Golden Shirts and declared that he had been assured by highest Mexican officials that anti-Semitism in Mexico, financed by money from Germany, was being used to “build up” certain politicians who saw political capital in its advocacy.
He was also assured, he said, that the Mexican government would shortly quell the movement and stamp it out.
“Upon my return from my vacation in Mexico this morning, I was informed that some remarks which I was reported to have made in the course of an address delivered in Mexico had become the subject of severe criticism by the Catholic Press,” Mr. Deutsch said.
“I examined some of the critical editorials, and I find that they are all based upon inaccurate reports of my purported remarks.
PRAISED PUBLIC WORKS
“The only statement which I made in Mexico praising its progressive attitude, followed an inspection trip to public works which have recently been initiated and completed, or are in the course of completion. I called attention only to the progress made in connection with these public works and improvements. The whole context of my address was directed to the public improvements which I had just inspected and had no bearing whatsoever upon the attitude of the Mexican government, either in the past or at the present time, as to religious freedom.
“My activities and efforts for tolerance and religious freedom during the past decade ought to be sufficient assurance that I would not, for one moment, condone any effort on the part of any government to discriminate against any part of its people because of religious belief, and that I would not for one moment be party to any attempt to minimize religious persecution.”
CONFERRED WITH CALLES ON JEWS
Discussing his meeting with the delegation of Golden Shirts, Mr. Deutsch said that he had had a long conference with General Plutarco Elias Calles, Mexico’s “strong man” in which he discussed with General Calles the Jewish troubles in Mexico, among other things.
“It was after I had told newspaper men that the General assured me that certain political elements were endeavoring to lift themselves up by the boot-straps through anti-Semitic agitation â€” and that such agitation would shortly be nipped in the budâ€”it was after that that I received my visit from the Mexican fascismoâ€” if they can be called that.
“JEWS CONTROL INDUSTRY”
“They called at the hotel where Mrs. Deutsch and I were staying and sent up word that a Mexican commission awaited me in the lobby.
“I came down and was confronted by six or seven big Mexicans who told me that they represented the Golden Shirts.
“Who are the Golden Shirts, I asked?
“I was told that they represented the Mexican people who were opposing the Jewish element in Mexico.
“Why do you oppose the Jews? I asked, after they told me that I was meddling in Mexican affairs and that they resented my statement that the anti-Semitic movement was political.
“I was told that the opposition to the Jews was not based on their religion but on the fact that the Jews controlled the industry of the country.
“How long have the Jews been here? I asked, and how many are there?”
SOUGHT TO POSE WITH DEUTSCH
“I was told that the Jews had only been there ten or twelve years and that there were about 125,000.
“This was absurd and I told them so, pointing out that actually there were only about 12,500 Jews in the country and that ten or twelve years ago the country had practically no industries.
“I then told them that they were wasting their efforts on behalf of the Mexican people and might do much better to champion the cause of the Mexican worker and Indian in the back-country than to fight a non-existent Jewish menace.
“They then asked me to pose with them for pictures and observing that we were already being photographed, I told them that if they wanted to pose with me after me telling them some homely truth, I was willing.”
RESENTED BY CATHOLICS
While Mr. Deutsch’s remarks on Mexican treatment of minorities was the subject of high praise in editorial comment by the newspaper La Prensa in Mexico City, it provoked a storm of resentment on the part of Catholics and Jews in this country.
In a front-page article in last week’s issue of the Brooklyn Tablet, Catholic newspaper, the Catholic attitude toward this remark and another, in which he was quoted as saying that “during my three weeks’ visit here I found no persecution of any class here,” was crystallized in the following comment:
“Mr. Deutsch, it will be racalled, was one of the most active opponents of the present government in Germany because it persecuted the Jewish people. He has denounced intolerance loudly and regularly, insisting upon liberty and fair play. It was not necessary for him even to visit Germany,” the newspaper sarcastically wrote, “before rushing to the defense of liberty.”
“Recently,” the Tablet continued, “he went, ostensibly on a vacation tour, to Mexico. Arriving there, where Catholics have been subjected to the worst persecution in modern timesâ€”far worse than that accorded Jews in Germanyâ€”Mr. Deutsch in a public address pronounced Mexico ‘forward looking.’
“The fact that Mexico has closed every Catholic school and charitable institution; seized hundreds of churches and expelled their occupants; permits only one priest for every 100,000 people; has arrested and jailed hundreds who sought to exercise the freedom of worship which every country but Russia tolerates; prohibits the wearing of the clerical collar; fosters the vilest type of legislation, including laws in the State of Tabasco which compel any priest to marry, and carries on a militant campaign to make atheists of every child, does not impress Mr. Deutsch.”
The Tablet then said it had received many letters about Mr. Deutsch’s conduct which it promised to withold until such time as he had returned and was able to answer them.
In many Jewish quarters, as well, Deutsch’s remarks were severely criticized as highly improper and ill advised. It was pointed out that his speeches would do injury to the common cause in which Catholics and Jews were bound, to wit, opposition to Nazi persecutions. Mr. Deutsch’s position as president of the American Jewish Congress, which is active in fostering the boycott, was also pointed to as giving to the statement a semi-official character.