When the submarine Nautilus under the command of Sir Hubert Wilkins left Plymouth yesterday for its undersea voyage to the North Pole, three American Jews, all members of the crew, were on board. The three Jews who are taking the epochal journey are Oscar Blumberg, chief engineer, of New York; Harry Rothschild, familiarly known as “Baron” Rothschild, steward, of the Bronx, and Isaac Schlossbach, chief officer, of Bradley Beach, New Jersey.
While this trio of daring Jews were on their way to the North Pole in the first effort to reach the Pole in the first effort to reach the Pole under the ice, another Jew, Prof. Rudolph Samoilovich. rescuer of the Nobile Arctic expedition three years ago, was not far from the Pole. Prof. Samoilovich is in command of the group of scientists on the Graf Zeppelin’s Arctic cruise.
But these four Jewish Polar explorers are not the first Jews to venture into the Arctic or Antarctic regions. With Commander Richard Byrd’s thrilling two-year expedition in the Antarctic was Sergeant Benjamin Roth of Brooklyn, the airplane mechanic of the company. Roth was later decorated by the United States government for heroism in saving a member of the expedition and a large part of its supplies at the risk of his life when a part of the ice barrier gave way.
One of the victims of the tragic Nobile expedition, many of whose members were saved by Prof. Samoilovich, was Prof. Aldo Pontremoli, a scientific aide of General Umberto Nobile. Prof. Pontremoli, a grandson of Luigi Luzatti, was among those missing when the giant Italian airship, Italia, crashed in the Arctic. Although his body was never found science was enriched by the observations he made on the flight when his notebook was salvaged from the wreckage.
Many years before Polar exploration was made by air two other intrepid Jews, one a German and one an American, accompanied important expeditions to the Arctic. The first of these was Emil Bessels, a German naturalist. He made an independent journey to the Arctic Ocean in 1869, 40 years before the North Pole was discovered. In 1871 he volunteered to go as surgeon and naturalist with the Hall expedition which sailed on the S. S. Polaris from the Brooklyn navy yard.
The second of these pioneer Jewish Polar explorers was Edward Israel of Kalamazoo, Michigan. As a sergeant in the signal corps of the United States Army he volunteered for the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition under the command of Gen. A. W. Greelv. On this expedition he served as chief astronomer and geographer. Israel died while the explorers were still in the Arctic where he was buried.
At the present writing Prof. Fritz Loewe, one of the best known Alpinists in Germany and head of the meteorological station at Berlin-Tempelhof, is one of the chief members of the German Greenland expedition. Prof. Loewe is in charge of the provisioning of the expedition which was fitted out by the Committee for the Advancement of German Science. Prof. Loewe, one of the leaders of the Union of Jewish War Veterans of Germany, was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery during the World War.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.