The Hudson County Grand Jury is expected to return its verdict on the charge of criminal libel brought by Samuel Untermyer against the Rev. Francis Cross of Perth Amboy next Tuesday. The alleged libel is contained in a booklet published by the clergyman in which he attacks Mr. Untermyer, former Governor Alfred E. Smith, the late President Wilson and the Jews.
Mr. Untermyer and John Bado, printer, testified Friday before the Grand Jury panel. The appearance of Mr. Bado, who is not named in the charges, was necessitated by the need for proving that the alleged libel was printed in Hudson County bringing the matter within the juris-diction of the grand jury.
J. George Fredman, counsel for Mr. Untermyer and past national commander of the Jewish War Veterans here, supported the charges by presenting the case history of Father Gross. The counsel alleged that Gross is an agent of the Nazi government in Germany and that expenses incurred in the circulation of propaganda are financed by Nazi headquarters in Berlin.
Mr. Fredman told the Grand Jury that Gross received a third class postal permit in Perth Amboy allowing him special delivery rates for miscellaneous printed matter and that he has been mailing out packages from the local post office. The allegation made was that enclosed in these packages was propaganda material proclaiming Nazi principles and villifying the Jews.
Gross immigrated to the United States in 1904 from Hungary and engaged in a number of commercial enterprises including land speculation, news service, publicity, real estate and propaganda work for Germany during the War.
In 1918 Gross was alleged to have fraudulently obtained American citizenship but the matter never came to trial. He was indicted for inciting a riot and stood trial on January 6, 1919, at the Middlesex County Court House in New Brunswick. Disagreement among members of the jury resulted in a second trial on May 31, 1919, Judge Ruluff B. Lawrence of Monmouth County presiding. The jury was ten to two for conviction, but a decision was never reached.
Previous to the riot, on or about October 30, 1918, Gross is alleged to have visited the printing establishment of Arthur Richman. Gross attacked the printer with a blunt instrument, seriously wounding his victim. Although the clergyman claimed in mitigation of damages that the attack was made in self-defense, Mr. Richman disclosed that in his hurry to escape from the place of the crime, Gross had forgotten his hat. A member of Gross’ congregation who took the witness stand in the suit brought by Mr. Richman asserted that in a sermon Gross had said:
“I have already beaten up the Jew and left him bleeding. Now it’s up to you.”
On September 21, 1921, Bishop Thomas J. Walsh of the Trenton Diocese caused the expulsion of Gross from his church.
In 1925 Gross sued the Diocese of Trenton in an attempt to recover damages amounting to $50,000. He charged that his career in the church had been injured. The Supreme Court of New Jersey declared the cause for action was ambiguous and dismissed the case.
Gross has since been engaged in real estate in Florida and Chicago.
In one of his pamphlets entitled, “Guide for Friends of Hitler”, published in German, Gross pleads for a united front on the part of Germans of all lands. He claims that “enemies everywhere”, including Englishmen and Jews the world over, “had clods on the shovel ready for burying Germany.”
“The insolent Jews of America are working most furiously of all,” says Gross. “They claim Germany must be boycotted and German workers here must be dismissed.
“Indeed our State Department was even urged by these over-wealthy, over-powerful, beyond all bounds insolent Jews, to declare war upon the distressed Fatherland.
“Why all this?
“Because Germany . . . finally has an energetic leader to whom millions of hearts and tongues cry ‘Heil Hitler!'”
The pamphlet which is in effect an appeal for funds for the support of his propaganda campaign, avows Gross’ belief that the Jews are fomenting a war between America and Germany.
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.