crises that have beset it,” Dr. Sliosberg voiced the belief that the Jews are but the scapegoats of European politicians.
Short, heavily bearded and bald except for tufts of hair on either side of his head, Dr. Sliosberg was equally at ease discussing the present world Jewish problems, the trial at Berne and the plight of the Jews under Czarist Russia. About himself, he said little. But this enfeebled old man is a vivid reminder of the struggle of the pre-revolutionary Russian Jews for the right to live during the days of the decaying Czarist Empire.
It was he who instigated the investigation that resulted in the eventual vindication of Beilis on the “blood ritual” murder of which he was accused. It was he who led the Jewish forces in the mobilizing of world opinion against the Kishineff, Hummel and other pogroms. As president of the Jewish Community of St. Petersburg and as legal counsel of the Ministry of the Interior during the first decade of the twentieth century, Dr. Sliosberg was a foremost Jewish leader in Russia and one of the outstanding lawyers of the country.
TESTIFIED AT BERNE
As a witness in the Berne trial, Dr. Sliosberg presented evidence that was one of the strong links in the defense case which stated that the “Protocols” were created and distributed by Czarist secret operatives who tried to stem the coming revolution by making the Jews and the Free Masons the scapegoats of the hard times then current in Russia.
Repeating his testimony to reporters, Dr. Sliosberg stated that he had seen a typewritten copy of the manuscript of the “Protocols” in 1902 when Count Witte, then Financial Minister of Russia, had sent him the copy and asked him to express an opinion as to its validity.
Dr. Sliosberg was at that time counsel to the Ministry of the Interior. He informed Count Witte, who was opposed to the decadent officialdom then in power, that the “Protocols” were a palpable forgery. He also testified that in 1922, when in Paris, he discovered a copy of a report submitted in 1902 by operatives of the Russian Secret police in Paris (the Achrana) to the Minister of the Interior Duronva.
The memorandum titled, “The Secrets of the Jews,” was in content very similar to what later emerged as the “Protocols.” Scheduled to go from Duronva to the Czar, the report was pigeon-holed by the Interior Minister with the comment, “too fantastic.”
CREATED BY CZARISTS
The “Protocols,” as we know them today, said Dr. Sliosberg, are the creation of Ratschkowsky and other Czarist agents who felt that by blaming the Jews and the Free Masons for the Russian unrest that they could avert rebellion.
It is Dr. Sliosberg’s belief that the verdict at Berne is a thing of real worth to the Jews.
Commenting on the testimony of Dr. Ulrich Fleischauer, the Nazi “expert” selected by the defense, Dr. Sliosberg said that “if he was sincere, he’s a madman.”
The visitor revealed that Fleischauer’s five days on the stand, during which he “said nothing,” made 500 pages in the printed record of the hearing. Dr. Sliosberg called the Nazi witness “a professional anti-Semite, the director of many anti-Semitic papers in Germany, the supreme authority in Germany on anti-Semitism.”
SILENT ON SOVIET
About Soviet Russia, Dr. Sliosberg was very wary. It was recalled that when he visited this country in 1925, he was a bitter opponent of the new regime. Today, he says that though he has no “personal knowledge” of the new Russia, he has heard that the situation of the Jews is much better than it was under the Czar.
In Biro-Bidjan, he hasn’t much faith. The arduous climate, he seems to feel, is a barrier that cannot be surmounted.
Neither does Dr. Sliosberg believe in Palestine as the complete hope of the Jews.
“I am not a Zionist,” he said, “but I am not opposed to iZonism. What I can do for Palestine, I do. The situation is now splendid. But I ask myself: Will the situation between the Jews and the Arabs continue to be satisfactory? That is the important question insofar as Palestine is concerned.”
Dr. Sliosberg revealed that he has been too ill to take an active part in the settlement of German-Jewish refugees in France. But a knowing observer, he said.
“The attitude of the French government was at first friendly. Now, insofar as the Jewish problem is concerned, it is indifferent. On account of the French economic crisis, there is now a great cry against aliens. The Jews, as aliens, suffer from that feeling which is sweeping France.”
The visitor stated that the “Protocols” are being rather widely distributed in France and that the Jews must fight against such practices, a thing which they are not doing.
Though warning of the possible danger in France, Dr. Sliosberg modified his statement by saying that anti-Semitism in France today is “not marked.”