A reception and tea in honor of Dr. Ernst Benedikt, publisher of the “Neue Freie Presse” of Vienna, leading European paper, noted for its liberal and literary tradition, was held Thursday afternoon at the Hotel Plaza by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and attended by a number of outstanding journalist in the Jewish and non-Jewish press as well as leaders in various fields.
Following the reception, Dr. Benedikt left for Albany where he was received by Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. The distinguished Viennese visitor is in the United States on his first visit to this country, having arrived on the S. S. Rex.
Dr. Benedikt will be received by president Hoover this morning at eleven o’clock.
Introduced by Jacob Landau, managing director of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Dr. Benedikt made a brief address in which he described conditions in Austria.
He expressed the belief that Austria will recover from its present critical state, but that the process will be slow and will be based upon the confidence it is able to inspire from its own citizens and from public opinion abroad.
No recovery is possible, however, without the application of justice and equality to the minorities, he emphasized. The Jewish question is in fact a question of minorities and so is also the problem of Austria as a whole.
The credo of liberalism, Dr. Benedikt stated, had been handed down to him by his father, the late Moritz Benedikt, for forty years the editor of the “Neue Freie Presse,” who died in 1920, and under whose guidance the paper attained its wide repute for liberalism and journalistic and literary excellence.
Mr. Landau, in introducing the guest of honor, referred to the wide reputation which the “Neue Freie Presse” enjoys throughout Europe and in this country as well. He recalled the fact that one of the most distinguished contributors to the paper was Theodore Herzl, founder of political Zionism.
Among those present were : Dr. Ernst Benedikt, Jacob Landau, managing director of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency ; James H. Furay of the United Press ; Louis Wiley, manager of the “New York Times,” Smith Reavis, Foreign News Editor of the Associated Press; Arthur Robb, Editor of “Editor and Publisher”; Simon Lehr, correspondent of the “Vienna Tageblatt”; Dr. Harold Korn, communal worker and Mrs. Korn; Edward L. Bernays, Dr. Maurice J. Karpf, Executive Director, Graduate School of Jewish Social Service; Simon Bergman, William Z. Spiegelman, Jewish National Fund; Mr. Bernard S. Deutsch, President of American Jewish Congress and Mrs. Deutsch; Mrs. William F. Rosenblum, Dr. and Mrs. Harold Korn, Abraham Cohen, Director of American Jewish Congress; Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, Chairman, Executive Committee, American Jewish Congress; Dr. Samuel Schulman, Temple Emanuel; Morris D. Waldman, Secretary, American Jewish Committee; Harry Schneiderman, Assistant Secretary, American Jewish Commitee; Dr. Leo Stein, American Jewish Committee; Jacob DeHaas, Zionist Organization of America, and Mrs. DeHaas; Miss Roxanna Wells, Mrs. Mary G. Schoenberg, Executive Secretary, National Council of Jewish Women; B. Arnold, Publisher, “Bronx Jewish Chronicle”; Rabbi and Mrs. Harry Weiss, David Rudavsky, Board of Jewish Education; A. P. Schoolman, Educational Director, Central Jewish Institute; Dr. Mordecai Soltes, Jewish Welfare Board; Jacob Ginsburg, Editor-in-Chief, “Philadelphia Jewish World”; Mrs. David E. Goldfarb, Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations; James Waterman Wise of “Opinion”; S. Zuckerman, Financial Editor, “The Day”; S. Dingol, Managing Editor, “The Day”; Dr. S. Margoshes, editor, “The Day”; Jacob Fishman, Editor, “Jewish Morning Journal”; Dr. A. Coralnik, of “The Day”; I. Rosengarten of “The Jewish Forum”; Mrs. Rose Halprin, President, Hadassah Organization; B. Shelvin of the “Jewish Morning Journal”; B. M. Halpern, Miss Gertrude Landau, Saul Raskin, Cartoonist; Ehpraim Kaplan, J. Kirschenbaum of the “Jewish Morning Journal”; Prof. Emile Gumbel, B. Z. Goldberg of “The Day; A. Zelden of “The Day”; Arthur Robb, editor of “Editor and Publisher”; A. Katz, I. Parsky and Lillie Shultz of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency editorial staff.
The New York Jewish “Day” on Saturday carried an editorial devoted to Dr. Ernst Benedikt, publisher of the “Neue Freie Presse,” in which it comments on his address delivered at the reception arranged in his honor.
The paper emphasizes the long liberal tradition of the “Neue Freie Presse” and the wide influence it exercised in moulding public opinion.
The editorial commends the statement made by Dr. Ernst Benedikt that “the position of the Jews in a country is the barometer of the cultural level of the people among whom Jews live.”
The economic plight of the Jews of Eastern Europe is so desperate and the general outlook so bleak, that American Jewry must come to their aid both to relieve the acute material situation and as an expression of moral solidarity, stated Dr. Ernst Benedikt, publisher of the “Neue Freie Presse” of Vienna, in an interview with a representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The economic situation is severest where the Jews of Poland are concerned, while the political situation affecting the Jews is most difficult in Germany, declared the publisher of the “Neue Freie Presse,” an organ renowned for decades for its liberal and literary traditions. Among one of its most distinguished contributors was Theodore Herzl, founder of political Zionism.
Dr. Benedikt will spend a short period in this country.
The misery of the Jewish population defies description, Dr. Benedikt stated he was informed by a special correspondent of his paper who was sent to Poland to make a study of the situation as it affects the Jews. The living standards of the Jews have sunk to such a level in Poland as cannot be comprehended by the western world, he said. The older generation has resigned itself to its fate and the rising generation faces the future with hopelessness. It is the situation of the youth in particular which is most disturbing and should receive serious thought, he said.
Economic discrimination against the Jews is still operating in Poland, Dr. Benedikt declared, “although it cannot be said that the present government is anti-Semitic indeed many regard it as the best government under the circumstances and far better than a National Democratic government would be. This discrimination is aggravating a situation already made sufficiently acute by the general economic distress apparent in Poland.”
Dr. Benedikt holds that the crisis is international in scope and can therefore be solved only in an international way.
Discussing the situation in western Europe as it affects the Jews, especially in Germany and Austria, Dr. Benedikt said:
“The Hitlerite movement in Germany is of course unpleasant for the Jews, but I do not think it spells great danger for German Jewry.” Hitlerite leaders recently have evinced a tendency to mitigate their anti-Semite agitation he said. He expressed doubt that Hitler would ever come into power in Germany but even in that eventuality, the conscience of the world would prevent the Hitlerites from depriving the Jews of their rights.”
The political status of the Jews in Austria is not as bad as in Germany, although their economic position is far from good, the Vienna publisher stated.
Dr. Benedikt acknowledged that there is an anti-Semitic movement of proportion in Austria, but said that it has not attained the strength of the Nazi movement in Germany. Moreover, he said, public opinion is strongly opposed to the excesses as demonstrated by the criticism of the recent student excesses at the University of Vienna.
The middle class Jewish elements and the professional classes suffer greatly from the crisis. The situation is rendered more acute by the fact that unemployment deriving from professional classes are joining the ranks of the proletariat and there is not sufficient work to enable all to earn even a meagre livelihood.
The Viennese publisher gave the interviewer an impression of Thedore Herzl, who was not only one of the most distinguished contributors to the “Neue Freie Presse” but also a dear friend of the family.
Dr. Benedikt stated that Thedore Herzl was the most distinguished personality he has ever known. “His personality stands before me so vividly as if I had seen him but yesterday. He was like a High Priest with the spirit of God in his heart. He was so handsome and distinguished of appearance, that it alone would have rendered him unique, had he contributed nothing to the spirit and ideology of his people. He radiated warmth and power and confidence.”
Discussing Herzl’s writing, Dr. Benedikt declared: “His feuilletons were gems of charm and temperament. He was master of every subject with which he dealt. His writing combined humor with melancholy. To each sentence he lent a personal character, almost as a rare flower giving out memorable perfume. Moreover, all his work was instinct with humanitarianism. He chose martyrdom to glamor and success. His will remain an eternal memory of self-sacrifice to Zionists and non-Zionists alike,” Dr. Benedikt stated.
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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.