Edward J. Reilly, chief counsel for Bruno Richard Hauptmann, convicted murderer of the Lindbergh baby, was not aware of the nature of anti-Semitic circulars charging “the Hauptmann case is a Jewish conspiracy against the German nation” until subsequent to Wednesday night’s rally at the Yorkville Casino, he declared Friday.
He said further that, had he been in possession of information that anti-Jewish leaflets were being circulated before the meeting was held, he would not have consented to appear, and he served notice that his appearance at future assemblies to raise funds with which to seek to obtain a reversal of the Hauptmann conviction will be contingent upon the cessation of distribution of circulars unjustly attacking the Jews.
HANDBILLS GIVEN OUT
Despite Reilly’s warning, the Jewish Daily Bulletin learned, handbills stating “the Jews have sentenced Hauptmann” and characterizing the sentence against the former Bronx carpenter as “a Jewish ritual murder” were being given out at a brisk pace on East Eighty-sixth street and environs.
In a statement issued to the press the lawyer said:
“My attention has been directed to a leaflet, lamentably phrased, which was distributed in the street before the meeting hall (Yorkville Casino).
“Without entering into a retailed discussion of the malicious pamphlet, I can say that, had I known of its existence or that it was to be handed out before the meeting, I should not have gone there.
“In the future, if the committee should arrange any further gatherings, it will have to get along without my presence unless this sort of thing stops and unless I obtain assurances that the meeting will be free of racial expressions.”
Declaring that he always was and always will be a “deep believer in the rights of every person to feel, think and practice his religion as he deems proper,” Reilly said the attacks upon Attorney-General David A. Wilentz of New Jersey were particularly distasteful.
“He is one of my dearest friends,” the Reilly statement pointed out, “and he has relatives in Brooklyn who are also my friends.”
The names of Wilentz and Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, father of the slain child, were hissed and booed at Wednesday night’s rally when they were mentioned in speeches from the platform. Reilly denied that he referred to either in his address.
“I visited Yorkville Casino with the sole idea of obtaining money to help win the release of my client, Bruno Richard Hauptmann,” the statement explained. “I discussed the case from a legal standpoint, emphasizing the fact that a wrong would be done Hauptmann unless sufficient money was raised for an appeal.”
In his statement the German’s counsel paid Wilentz a compliment for his adroit conduct of the prosecution and said he felt assaults based upon a person’s race or religion were despicable. He asserted that he is a Brooklynite of the third generation and is happy to enjoy the friendship of numerous Jews in that and other boroughs.
One of the circulars exhorted Germans and Americans to “awake” It directed attention to “the hand of the all-powerful Jew in America.”
“The eleventh hour has struck,” it warned. “Don’t wait until the twelfth hour begins. It will then be too late for you. You may then find yourselves in the Jewish Communist World Collective.
“The sentence issued in Flemington is but a consequence of what is going on in Washington, Albany and New Jerusalem (say New York).”
The distributors of the circulars are known to be members of local Nazi organizations. Anti-Semitic agitation by these groups was at a high point several months ago and then tapered off almost to a standstill following a succession of adverse blows, notable among which were those dealt out by various courts and the Congressional investigation.
Nazi efforts to vilify the Jews came back in force for the first time in weeks at last Wednesday’s rally, and in Jewish circles Friday it was believed none too likely that Reilly’s disavowal of sympathy with the tactics of prejudice and intolerance would operate as an effective damper.
Stores in the Yorkville area which display signs “Hauptmann Defense Fund contributions received here,” a Bulletin reporter observed, also bear the DAWA insignia on their windows. This was taken as proof of a definite link between the pro-German forces in this city and those desiring to obtain a reversal of the Flemington conviction.