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The Human Touch

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It Amuses H. R. Segal, author of a lock, a safety razor and a couple of books, the latest entitled “Triopoly”, to read printed references to himself as a hardheaded business man, for he believes that he is a romantic and I, for my part, believe that he has something of the poetic temperament in him. If he were really a hard – headed business man he would snap his fingers at the failure of reviewers to understand him and pass on to the solution of a hardheaded business problem. If he were really a hard-headed business man he would never have written poetry, or, having written it, would not, twenty-two years after publication, be referring to it. If he were indeed a hard-headed business man, he would not allude, with so obvious a streak of sentimentality, to his visit of several years ago to Palestine, nor recall in the way he does, the prosaic quality of the English sign at the entrance of the city of Jerusalem. His razor and his lock are the contraptions of a hard-headed business man dealing with the inflexible quantities known as steel and iron, but as a writer of prose and verse he is hard-headed only to the extent of preferring the praise of the hard-headed to that of the sentimental. And perhaps that is why he prefers my understanding of his ideas to my indifference, the importance of both of which may be vastly overrated. He is with more reason proud of the fact that so hard-headed a person as Norman Bentwich found things to praise in that book of verse he published in 1911 under the title of “The Book of Pain-Struggle” and the subtitle of “The Prophecy of Fulfillment.”

And yet there is no denying that he looks the part of the hard-headed business man, in every muscle of his stocky figure and in every hair of his iron-grey head. I am certain that he writes books in order to have vehicles for the expression of his surplus energy, not all of which his hard-headed business can fully absorb. He has a superstition or two; has, as might be suspected from the foregoing, a sentimental attachment to Zionism and Palestine and has vainly sought to keep his writing and business identities separate. As business man he is H. R. Segal; as author, Robert Segal, all of which misled at least one writer into believing that Mr. Segal was putting on the dog, which isn’t the case at all.


“And Please don’t talk about Hitler or Germany when you come over tonight,” our hostess-to-be for the evening warned us that afternoon. It seems that there was to be a Nazi in our midst. He was to be in our midst through the accident of being the husband of a Jewess, for whom, after all, the evening was being arranged. So that when we had all arrived, there were nine Jews and one Nazi. But he couldn’t be a dyed-in-the-wool, Alfred Rosenberg type of Nazi, for although he took what might be described as almost no part in the conversation, he listened carefully enough to our small talk and pitter-patter and even on occasion, laughed as if he could enjoy, without condescension, the wit of Jews.

But our small talk and humor was forced because all of us, including the Nazi, shared in the common consciousness that we were skirting around the edges of a forbidden subject. The night before we had been visitors at the same home, at which time no Nazi had been present and because we had been especially asked not to broach certain subjects, those subjects came to the surface of our lips, although they went no further. Why the devil couldn’t we talk about Hitler if we wanted to? Anyway, we didn’t; also we left earlier.

Only once when several of the guests, including the Nazi husband, were out of the room, did his Jewish wife make known to us that she was no renegade to her race. She referred to a letter she had written to a member of her husband’s family, at the time in Brazil. The letter was following the addressee to Germany and she was concerned lest its anti-Hitler contents incriminate the recipient, who was a Nazi. “You might have written it in Yiddish,” suggested the wag of the evening, “so they won’t be able to understand it if it falls into their hands.” The wife of the Nazi blushed and the hostess gasped slightly, and the subject was dropped.

I am even ready to be persuaded that my hostess erred in referring to the stranger amongst us as a Nazi when she might have meant that he was an Aryan, which is something, of course, he can’t help being. But if the stranger among us ten was a Nazi, his fidelity to the creed is suspect not only because he appeared among us but because of his loyalty to his wife and his child. Can you imagine what Alfred Rosenberg would have done, assuming that he would ever have accepted an invitation to a Jewish home? Well, once upon a time a Munich banker, an Aryan of course, gave a party in honor of Rosenberg. As A. R. was being led through the reception room, his eye fell upon a lovely woman and his face went pale. He strode out of the room, towards the door. His host, greatly distressed, followed and humbly inquired what was the matter. “The Baroness Z— is one of your guests,” hissed A. R. “Yes,” said the host, “I know.” “Her grandfather was a Jew,” said A. R. and out he went into the night. Incidentally, I have often to think thrice not to refer to Alfred Rosenberg as Arthur Rosenthal, or Albert Rosenfeld.


Our subscription department submits a pathetic note to this department. There is in the Far West, in Olympia, Wash., to be exact, a faithful subscriber who has been taking The Bulletin for years. Upon the termination of a subscription, a bill was sent to him, covering the following twelve months period. The bill was returned, with a check for a six months’ subscription and the explanation that since the subscriber was going blind and could not be sure of more than six months’ use of his eyes, he was taking The Bulletin for only that period. However, should he find his eyesight unimpaired after this period he would be happy to subscribe again for a second six months period. And so on, indefinitely, we most sincerely hope.

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