Nazis Hold Skull-cracking Fete, then Take Dispute to Courts
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Nazis Hold Skull-cracking Fete, then Take Dispute to Courts

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Blame for the riot which disrupted the Schnuch meeting in Turn Hall Wednesday night was laid at the rival faction’s door by each clique.


Schnuch men said Haegele had planted his henchmen in the hall with the deliberate purpose of inciting an outbreak. Haegele adherents accused Schnuch of importing ruffians from Brooklyn and other places and of ordering them to attack members of the audience, who purportedly acted in an orderly manner except that “they shouted for Haegele a little.”

Schnuch’s private “police” force, according to the opposition, was armed with blackjacks, which were freely used, it was charged.


These accusations brought the reply that most of those enlisted in Haegele’s camp are women, who, curiously enough, proved much more troublesome and more eager for a physical affray than the men.

One Schnuch leader declared that it would have been a simple matter to have coped with a disturbance caused by antagonistic men, but that “when women go crazy, you can’t do anything about it.”

The chieftain of the Ordnungsdienst, American counterparts of Hitler’s storm troops, jeered at Schnuch’s contention that most of these men have deserted Haegele for the other faction. Of ninety-five members of the Manhattan contingent, he said, only eight have gone over to Schnuch.


Indication of the bitterness between the two factions and the hopeless outlook for a peaceable settlement appeared at Dr. Schnuch’s closed membership meeting in Turn Hall, Lexington avenue and East Eighty-fifth street, Wednesday night.

The rally developed into a series of hand-to-hand encounters between members of the two cliques. Except for the forebearing attitude of police, wholesale arrests would have resulted.

Approximately 1,000 persons gathered in the hall, which contained a slight preponderance of Schnuch loyalists. How strong a hold Haegele has on Manhattan was revealed in the fact that despite all precautions taken by Schnuch lieutenants, a well-organized group in the hall began shouting, “We want Haegele! We want Haegele!”


Outside were little knots of Haegele men, selling the separatist leader’s recent edition of the Deutscher Beobachter. A police detail of twelve men under Sergeant Patrick Walsh repeatedly dispersed them but they kept returning.

Inside all was chaos. Schnuch, Fritz Gissibl, Walter Kappe and Karl Nicolai, who were on the speakers’ platform, tried vainly to call the audience to order.

Finally someone dropped a chair from the balcony. As though this were the prearranged signal for violence, a frenzied riot broke out.


Chairs were brandished about Nazi heads as weapons. Punches were tossed indiscriminately. Chairs and bottles were hurled from the balcony.

Women shrieked and tried to withdraw. At least one fell to the floor and was stepped on by a uniformed storm trooper.

A cordon of these hard-faced shock troops surrounded the dazed Nazi leaders on the stage. In front of the platform stood a double row of guards, holding chairs ready to repulse a rush on their leaders.

Enraged Schnuch men dragged one Haegele adherent the full length of the hall. Blood streamed from the victim’s nose.


Confusion and rioting continued for about twenty minutes, after which an augmented police detail under Inspector Neidig and Captain Thomas Mulligan forced its way into the hall and ejected everyone except about 200 Schnuch sympathizers, who continued the meeting behind locked doors. No arrests were made.

Storm troopers had come prepared for violence. Many of them carried first aid kits, which they used to assist injured members of the audience.

The depleted group in the hall continued its meeting until a late hour, with thirty storm troopers barring the door.


Meanwhile the Haegele forces adjourned to Kreutzer Hall, East Eighty-fifth street near Second avenue, and from there to Deutsche Hall, East Eighty-fourth street near Third avenue. Here too the meeting was in strict privacy. One reporter who tried to enter was assaulted. From the hall trickled sounds of boisterous merriment. The Haegele putsch was celebrating its baptism in battle and its victory.

Most of the Schnuch sympathizers at the Turn Hall meeting were from Brooklyn, New Jersey and other outlying sections. All doubt was dispelled as to who is the real Nazi kingpin in Manhattan and the Bronx.

In Brooklyn, however, where Joseph Schuster addressed a gathering of about 1,200 persons at Schwaben Hall, Myrtle and Knickerbocker avenues, the Schnuch cause appeared to be solidly entrenched.


The meeting was orderly despite the expectations of a dozen policemen and officers in two radio cars stationed outside the building.

Anti-Semitic literature was sold in the foyer. Only after the rally broke up did any evidence of dissension appear. About twenty Manhattan Haegele adherents, most of them girls, tried to distribute circulars attacking Schnuch. Police broke up scuffles, seized the circulars and threw them into sewers.

Schuster, speaking in the hall, repeated the charges against Haegele which the Schnuch faction has made in statements and handbills.

H. Wolthussen preceded him as a speaker, eulogizing the Schnuch-Zahne-Gissibl leadership and predicting that the Nazi ranks in this country soon will be numbered in the millions.

Fred Schwinger presided at the meeting.

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