Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Anti-jewish Violence Flares in Mexico City; Rioters Use Police Vans to Stir Mob

January 29, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Leaders of a panic-stricken Jewry sought an audience today with President Cardenas following an outbreak of anti-Jewish violence last night in which an estimated 5,000 Golden Shirts, under the alleged leadership of Nazis, attacked Jews in the streets, plundered Jewish shops and launched a mass assault on the headquarters of the Jewish Chamber of Commerce while a meeting of a literary club was in progress.

The excesses, which climaxed a long anti-Semitic campaign in certain sections of the press, broke out simultaneously in several parts of the city. Except in isolated instances, the rioters encountered no interference by the police. When police vans finally arrived, agitators mounted them and delivered inciting speeches, threatening massacre of all Jews in Mexico.

Among the many Jews beaten up in the street attacks was Jacob Glantz, a poet and literary editor of Der Weg, local Jewish newspaper. The literary club meeting was a reception in honor of Leon Forem, American Jewish novelist of New York who had been visiting here since last November, on the occasion of publication of his latest book. About 100 Jews were present at the meeting when a mob launched the attack with a barrage of stones. The doors and windows of the building were immediately barricaded by the Jews with desks and other furniture. Police arrived on the scene much later and assertedly made no move to interfere. Eyewitnesses of the violence said the rioters were led by a number of Nazi lawyers who are affiliated with the German Embassy here.

The Jewish population of the city, estimated at 10,000, feared new outbreaks over the week-end, particularly since the Golden Shirts, the Mexican Fascist organization, have called a huge anti-Semitic torchlight procession for Saturday.

(A United Press dispatch from Mexico City said the disorders started after a clash between Glantz and a Mexican named Edmond Salas, a patent medicine salesman, both of whom were arrested and later released. Salas charged Glantz had tripped him accidentally in the street, called him a “dirty Mexican” and fled into his wife’s millinery shop. Glantz, declaring Salas was an agent provocateur, said he had entered the shop and insulted him as a Jew, He ordered Salas out but the Mexican returned later, Glantz said, with about 100 men who broke the store windows and injured him. Glantz was rescued from the mob by police.

(According to the United Press dispatch, a mob of 3,000 screaming “kill the Jews” was finally dispersed by policemen and firemen. Agitators distributed handbills alleging Jews were responsible for unemployment in the United States and “now they seek the ruin of Mexico.” After the larger mob had been dispersed, under threat of sub-machine guns, a crowd of several hundred strand a billiard parlor owned by a Jew, who was rescued by the police, and the Jewish Chamber of Commerce building.

(The U.P. dispatch said the disorders lasted three hours and “had every appearance of being organized.”

Recommended from JTA