The Vassar Temple, Robert Rosen and Setting the Record Straight 2-25-07

 

The Vassar Temple, Robert Rosen and Setting the Record Straight!

February 25, 2007

By

Richard J. Garfunkel

 

It’s a cold gray day in the Hudson River Valley, and the threat of snow hovers over all the travelers, on their hurried way, along the Taconic River Parkway. Long ago, I planned to go north to Poughkeepsie to hear Mr. Robert Rosen speak about Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I had made contact with him many months ago after reading his important book, Saving the Jews, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust.

 

Mr. Rosen, who is from Charleston, South Carolina, and not related to the Rosens on my wife’s side of the family, and I, started talking in August of 2006. We exchanged a number of emails and we eventually had a few phone conversations. I was decently familiar with Charleston, a lovely city, whose harbor contains the famous Fort Sumter and Hyman’s Seafood Restaurant, located at 215 Meeting Street. We had been there in the fall of 2004 and during a conversation with one of the owners, Eli Hyman, the subject of “Jewish Politics” came up. Of course, one of the sub-contexts of our conversation and my subsequent letter to him was the role of FDR vis-à-vis immigration in the 1930’s. This part of what I wrote him on October 24, 2004.

 

“FDR had to balance many, many interests at one time. During the period between 1933 and 1938 over half the immigrants to the United States were Jewish, far above the quotas allowed for Germany and Austria. The “quota issue” became a hot button in Congress and the conservative FDR haters in that body threatened the termination of all quotas. Therefore many Jews reached the US through non-legal channels. The government tended to look the other way, when it could, regarding this “underground” immigration. In regards to more “public” immigration process, like the “Oswego” community that involved a tiny amount of people (8000), the Jews were interned for basically the duration of the war and for public “show”. Therefore the public “saw” that Jewish immigration was not being “prejudicially” favored. But realistically many hundreds of thousands of Jews found there way to America. But remember public opinion and Congressional pressure was totally against immigration and especially Jewish immigration. Also, at that same time, a vast majority of Jews left Germany (over 75% of the pre-war 500,000, or less than 1% of the population), assuming it would be until Hitler was overthrown or contained. Most went or were forced to Poland and other countries to the East and many went to France, Holland and other western European countries including England. But of course history proved that they weren’t secure outside of Germany, as long as they were within the grasp of the Nazi military.

 

The bottom line to this all is that the Jews did not face extermination in Germany between 1933- and the start of WWII. Even up to Kristalnacht, in late 1938, only a few thousand Jews had even been interned in camps no less executed.  Many of the Jews that remained in Germany still thought that this “political” problem would “all blow over.” Many Jews did not want to give up their property, and their ancestral homes.”

 

As one readily can see, and most know, this subject has been disturbing to many members of the Jewish community, here and abroad. The lingering question in many minds, was why weren’t more Jews let into the United States? Did the Roosevelt Administration and FDR do enough to help immigration and escape to the west? Why wasn’t the German ocean liner Saint Louis and its 900+ passengers allowed into the United States? Finally, did the Allies know of Auschwitz, and could it have been bombed out of existence? These are all daunting questions which I have studied, like many other scholars and non-scholars, for decades. There are many answers that for some, like myself, are quite plausible when framed in the context of history. Many books have been written on the subject and of course to many, the one great paradox will always remain. Why Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a virtual god to the Jewish community, could seemingly be oblivious to their needs in such a crucial moment? In that sense, that is why Robert Rosen’s book is so important. For many of us he has started to “set the record straight.”

 

Of course in retrospect, President Harry S Truman, FDR’s successor, who is revered by the Jewish community to this day, was in reality no real friend the Jews. His help with Israel’s recognition, seen in the harsh light of political necessity is understood. Truman was a pragmatist that brought German scientists into America and also allowed many from the Nazi intelligence machinery to enter America without an iota of conscience or a question of morality: pure bottom line Cold War politics. Please note some of Truman’s observations on Jews and the Holocaust.

 

In fact, Harry S Truman, (1884-1972, President of the United States 1945-53) a man revered by many Jews as a great friend of the Jewish people and the one who recognized the State of Israel, was from a virulently anti-Semitic background. Even though he had a Jewish partner in the haberdashery business, named Eddie Jacobson, (1891-1955) he was never far from his anti-Semitic roots, as his letters attest. He had only a “cordial relationship with Jacobson- but (later) needed Jews for the 1948 nomination.” (Harry Truman and the Crisis Presidency, Bert Cochran, Harper & Row, 1973, page 96)

 

Even Truman, when President, was told of the vast, but still generally hidden evidence of the massive killing machines of the “death camps,” initially stated, that “the Jews brought it upon themselves!” (Recently quoted from an article by William Safire, in The NY Times in the summer of 2003.)

 

Of course Truman also said “The Jews claim G-d Almighty picked ‘em out for special privilege. Well I’m sure he had better judgment. Fact is I never thought G-d picked any favorites.” (Off the Record– The Private Papers of Harry S. Truman, edited by Robert Ferrell- Penguin Books, 1980, page 41.)

 

“Miami is nothing but hotels, filling stations, Hebrews and cabins.” (Truman, by David McCullough, Simon and Shuster, 1992, page 286)

 

Bluma Jacobson, Eddie’s wife said “Eddie and I were never at the Truman’s house.” (Plain Speaking, by Merle Miller, GP Putnam, 1973)

 

“Truman courts the Jews, and had David Bernstein, a prominent Zionist (from Missouri) on the 1948 campaign committee.”  (Harry Trumanand the Crisis Presidency, Bert Cochran, Harper & Row, 1973, page 96).

 

“Truman had grown weary of the constant pressure exerted by the American Zionists. Truman announced he no longer believed in resolution aiming at the creation of a Jewish State.” (A History of Zionism, by Walter Laqueur, Holt-Rinehart, 1972, page 570.) And of course this was after Truman had learned of the disaster of the Holocaust.

 

Therefore, Robert Rosen and I have some common interests regarding Franklin Roosevelt’s legacy. Mr. Rosen is a successful 59 year-old lawyer, who has written books on a number of subjects, which include the following: The Jewish Confederates, A Short History of Charleston and Confederate Charleston.  Rosen, who was educated at the University of Virginia, received an MA at Harvard and a law degree at the University of South Carolina, got interested in the subject of FDR and Jewish immigration in a visit to Boston. There is a Holocaust Memorial in that wonderful town, right near the Quincy Market. It is across the street from the famous Union Oyster House, where Daniel Webster quaffed oysters and brandy. It is where I have also eaten many cherrystones and have quenched my own thirst with Sam Adams Lager. It seems Mr. Rosen, while strolling along the memorial with his daughter, saw an inscription mentioning that in 1942 the United States and the Allies knew of the “Death Camps” and did nothing about it. Of course this was inaccurate, misleading, and Mr. Rosen was infuriated. Ironically, this past December, my son Jon and I were walking in the same exact spot, just after visiting the bar at the Union Oyster House, and read the same inscription. I had also read it once or twice before. I commented to Jon that the inscription was inaccurate and an out and out falsehood. Americans and the Allies knew that there were a lot of Jews being killed in 1942. They also were unaware of specific “Death Camps,” per say, did not know therefore of their locations, and for sure were in no position to do anything about them. Jon then told me that that inscription was Robert Rosen’s inspiration to find out the truth and write his book.

 

When Rosen’s book came out and I read it along with another book by one Robert Beir, entitled, FDR and the Holocaust. Robert Beir’s book was a confusing retrospective regarding American Jewry’s response to the tragedy, we would later know as the Holocaust, and a mixed-up and inconsistent evaluation regarding FDR’s role. Beir, on one hand, adored FDR then (he’s 89 years old now) and now, but it took almost 300 pages of vacillating between criticism and idolatry to get to his final summation.

 

He stated on pages 269 and 270 the following:

 

The Jewish organizations in America were involved in internecine warfare, each going in different direction. The Yiddish newspaper, the Yiddisher Kemfer found it unfathomable that the “chief organizations in America Jewry… could not in this dire hour, unequalled in human history, unite for the purpose of seeking ways to forestall the misfortune or at least to reduce its scope…” Other than Henry Morganthau, the Jewish advisors around Roosevelt did not press for rescue. This makes for a bitter legacy.

 

Of course he cites the Jewish ownership of the NY Times, and says  “…from 1939 through 1945, (The Times) printed 1,186 Holocaust stories, or an average of 17 stories per month. And yet, only 26 stories mentioning the discrimination, deportation and destruction” of the Jews made the front pages. And of those stories, only six identified Jews as the primary victim. “

 

Again, Beir on page 270 mentions that “ this is primarily a Roosevelt story, let us end with the protagonist. He was not an anti-Semite. He was not responsible for the Holocaust. He believed, as we had read over and over again, that the best way to say Jewish lives was to defeat Nazi Germany. His commitment to that belief never wavered.”

 

Beir, in a confused way, throws “bricks and bouquets” at the same time upon the Jewish community and President Roosevelt. He had all the benefits life could offer, but was an early victim of discrimination and like many his age, a great and life-long admirer of FDR.

 

Therefore when I started to read Robert Rosen’s book, I was curious to see how he dealt with the same issues. But for sure, no matter what one individual believes, there is no doubt that the American Jewish community was divided. Every credible student of history, and this issue, specifically knows that no people speak with one voice. In the case of immigration, many old-line German Jews were fearful always of unlimited Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. They feared that Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe would exacerbate American anti-Semitism. Many nominally supported Zionist yearnings and wanted these Jews to immigrate to Palestine and set up a Jewish Homeland. There were other Jewish groups who supported any effort to rescue any and all Jews and, were not particularly interested in Palestine. There were others who were active Zionists who supported groups like the Irgun and followers of Jabotinsky who recommended armed insurrection against British rule and even the physical expulsion of indigenous Arabs from the Mandate area. Besides these individuals who were more active politically, there were millions of American Jews who were poor, politically powerless, and still recovering from the Depression and not cognizant of the issues regarding Jewish persecution and Zionist politics. Many of these people were assimilated Jews who were struggling to be treated as equals with regards to jobs, housing, education and public accommodations. The arguments, between the various interest groups regarding foreign policy, were not paramount in their minds. They looked at Franklin D. Roosevelt as their personal advocate. They voted for him in overwhelming numbers. They represented 90% of the Jewish vote. The question, therefore is, which Jews made up the 10%?

 

After finishing his book, I believed that he had written the book that I always wanted to author myself. Upon visiting Hyde Park on January 30, 2007, the 125th anniversary of FDR’s birth I wrote this email to Jonathan Alter, the Newsweek columnist and author of an excellent book FDR and the Defining Moment and forwarded a copy to Robert Rosen.

 

 

Noting the occasion of the upcoming 125th Anniversary of the birth of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on January 30th.

 

I read Robert Rosen's masterful book, and we have talked many times about his work. I sent him my paper on “FDR and the Jewish Community” and he graciously said “you should have written this book 10 years earlier!” I'll be up there and I hope that his book will eventually reverse the FDR hater's effort to continue to sully his great name and legacy. Any one who is interested in this most important period of history should get his book and learn the real truth regarding FDR's efforts for Jewish survival and humanity's triumph. James McGregor Burn's calling FDR the “Soldier of Freedom” was right on the money decades ago. Without FDR, the author of the “Four Freedoms,” the “Atlantic Charter,” and “Lend-Lease,” the architect of the “Arsenal of Democracy,” the creator of the United Nations, and the leader of the Free World, we would not be here today. No man in history, in the words of Winston Churchill, who was referring to the RAF's heroic defense of England, in the Battle of Britain, could be more associated with his quote, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” In that sense humanity owes its survival in a world of light, as opposed to darkness, to the “few” of whom one, Franklin Delano Roosevelt stands out above all. 

 

As Churchill stated in a speech to the House of Commons on April 17, 1945, “He (FDR) died in harness, and we may well say in battle harness, like his soldiers, sailors and airman, who side by side with ours are carrying their task to the end all over the world. What an enviable death was his.”

 

Of course in honor of his birth, one must also recall again Winston Churchill who said, “Franklin Roosevelt was the greatest man he had ever known.” President Roosevelt's life, he said must be regarded as “one of the commanding events of human destiny.”

 

Richard

 

You can read my essay FDR and the Jewish Community at http://www.richardjgarfunkel.com/blog

 

 

Of course this brings us up today’s trip. One can reach Poughkeepsie by traveling north on the Taconic Parkway, approximately 44 miles, until reaching NY State Road, Route 55. I turned west towards the Hudson and headed through LaGrange, and within 7 miles, or so, I was in the heart of Poughkeepsie.

 

Poughkeepsie, which is the capital of Duchess County, where Hyde Park is located (9 miles up Route 9), was founded in 1687 and incorporated as a city in 1854. For a short time it was the capital of New York (1777) and its population (in 2000) of 29,871 is only slightly more that it was in 1900 (24,029). The Poughkeepsie Journal is the 3rd oldest newspaper in the United States and it is the home to Vassar and Marist Colleges.

 

Once into the city I found my way to Hooker Street, not far from the campus of Vassar College. Vassar founded in 1861, is one of the most selective colleges in the United States, ranked 12th in the US News and World Report liberal art college survey, and was the first of Seven Sisters to go coed in 1991. On the occasion of FDR’s 124th Birthday in 2006 and my visit to his gravesite, I wrote this selection from a piece about FDR and Vassar.

 

So I stood there with others, and listened to the keynote address by 87-year-old Ms. Elizabeth Daniels, the Vassar historian who told us what good neighbors the Roosevelt’s were to Vassar College. FDR was asked to be a trustee of the college in 1923 while he was still practically bed-ridden with the effects of polio. He would be a great friend of the college and a trustee (honorary 1933-45) until his death in 1945. Ms. Daniels, who graduated Vassar in 1941, remembered fondly the many times she heard Mrs. Roosevelt speak at the college, and few times she personally met the President. It was a moving and personal recollection of those far removed times. The fifth President of Vassar, Henry Noble McCrackan (1915-46) was a pacifist who had opposed both World War I and World War II. But a vast majority of the faculty (over 125), under the leadership of Dean Mildred Thompson, signed a personal letter to the President commending his efforts up and to the start of the war. After the start of the war Vassar’s president came on board wholeheartedly. But the cordial relationship between McCrackan, that had started in 1923 and had been nurtured during and up to the late 1930s and the President, was never the same.

 

The Vassar Temple is located at 140 Hooker Street and has been a Reform Jewish congregation since 1848. At its centennial in 1948, former Treasury Secretary, Mr. Henry Morgenthau Jr., was the honorary Chairperson of the event. So it was here that I found Robert Rosen and many members of that illustrious synagogue. The building itself is an unobtrusive modern structure that obviously is not original home of the congregation. A beautiful ark dominates the sanctuary, with a velvet red covered podium that overlooks the rows of wooden seats in its large sanctuary. Eleanor Roosevelt visited the Temple in 1954 and Henry Morganthau Jr. was a member. In fact, I was pointed out where he sat when he had attended services.

 

It was here that I saw our host, Frederica “Fritzie” Goodman, a native of Poughkeepsie, and a founding member of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. Along with Ms. Goodman were Mr. Chris Breiseth, the former President of Wilkes College, and the President Emeritus of FERI, and Ms. Cynthia Koch the Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library. In November of 2004, Linda and I visited Little Rock, Arkansas, and went to the official opening of the Clinton Presidential Library. Linda and I attended a symposium at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock campus, on presidential libraries. This is what I wrote, at the time, about our meeting with Cynthia Koch.

 

We finished up our business and then got directions to University Street and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Linda had found a symposium on presidential libraries and had gotten us tickets.  We found the school, parked, found the right building and located ourselves in the front row. The symposium included all of the heads of the 10 current Presidential libraries. Of course, to our surprise (not really) and delight, Cynthia Koch, the director of the FDR Library, was one of the participants. She looked down at us and asked, “What are you doing here?” All of the directors got a chance to speak about the libraries and how they were established. That was a unique experience and from our perspective, never to be duplicated. After it was over, Linda and I said hello to Cynthia, and talked about our visit. We also met the director of the JFK Library that is located in Charlestown. Dana, our daughter, had worked at the JFK Library when she was in graduate school in Boston. Anyone who has a chance should visit both libraries, which are easily within driving distance of New York. They are both great!

 

Along side Cynthia and Fritzi Goodman was Robert Rosen, whom I had never met in person, but I had talked to him many times on the phone, and with whom I had exchanged numerous emails. He was astounded that I had made the trip, was surprised I was so big, and thought that I was a bit younger than he was. How polite. I told him that I was a few years older, but stayed young by playing tennis and keeping active in politics. The latter may keep one younger, but certainly grays one’s hair.

 

Meanwhile the proceedings were promised to start at 2:30 pm and they did. Rabbi Paul Golomb welcomed us all to the Vassar Temple and invited Ms. Goodman to start the program. She spoke for a moment or so, and brought Mr. Chris Breiseth to the podium to introduce Robert Rosen. The audience was made up of 50 to 60 middle-aged and older folk who had come to listen.

 

Mr. Rosen gave a detailed and impassioned defense regarding the roll American Jewry played in trying to alert America to the plight of Europe’s Jews and reviewed some important aspects of his book, which were the story of the German ocean liner the Saint Louis and it voyage to Cuba and back again to England and Antwerp. With regards to the continued spate of misinformation about that ship, I wrote a letter to the Jewish Chronicle of Westchester.

 

Letter to the Editor

The Westchester Jewish Chronicle

 

January 5, 2007

 

In the January issue of the “Chronicle”, Ms. Rhea Tauber wrote a column titled “Memories of Cuba as a Haven for Jews.” Unfortunately her memory is a bit clouded and her facts are incorrect. The German ship, “St. Louis” was one of three ships that brought passengers, including Jews, to Cuba at that time. Cuba, because of the influence of local Nazis, put onerous restrictions on Jewish immigration. Already 6000 Jews immigrants were living in Cuba, most without legal documentation. Also a house-to-house check was being made for all German refugees and there was great fear from the Joint Distribution Committee in the United States that a pogrom was being planned if more Jews were granted asylum. When a $500 cash bond was put up for each passenger, amounting to $500,000, the Cubans refused. There were definitive conflicts between Batista and Manuel Benitez, who was receiving bribes for each illegal alien allowed into Cuba. Strongman Colonel Fulgencio Bastista wanted his “cut” or would end the practice. Two other ships had already just arrived, the British ship “Orduna” and the French ship, “Flanders.”  Within a twenty-four hour period more than 1200 refugees had arrived from three European ports.

 

The Cubans had just passed a law limiting to 1500 the number of immigrants that could be yearly allowed to land. Eventually, after a collapse in negotiations, the ship left port and while off Florida, on June 4, the figurehead President Bru relented and said that they could land for $650 per head. The Joint Committee refused to pay the extra dollars. They thought there would be more ships and the price would continue to escalate. The “St. Louis,” amidst all of the negotiation with Cuban and the American officials, who were trying to get around our strict immigration laws, turned seaward to Germany.

 

The JDC was besieged with criticism from the American Jewish community and its friends, but felt the Cubans were blackmailing them. Ms. Tauber stated that the passengers were “returned to Germany and certain death for all abroad.” She also stated that that “…Jews trying to escape the Holocaust, came into Havana harbor.”  Of the 936 Jews on board who had left Hamburg, 29 disembarked in Havana, 907 sailed back to Europe; 288 disembarked in England and lived through the Holocaust. The remaining 619 went to France, Belgium and Holland. The 392 of 619, who had disembarked at Antwerp, survived the war. The Nazis murdered the remaining 227. The US Holocaust Museum estimates more than two-thirds of the passengers survived the war. Also, in June of 1939, it certainly was not yet the Holocaust. War had not been declared, over 75% of the Jews living in Germany, at the time of Hitler's ascendancy to power, had either left Germany or had been forced out. German policy was “Judenrein” not extermination.

 

Up until Kristalnacht under 1000 Jews had been killed in Germany from 1933 until late 1938. Even up until the war, which started on September 3, 1939, relatively a small percentage of the remaining Jews from the 1930 population of 500,000 had been killed. The Holocaust really emerged from a number of distinct occurrences. The first was the invasion and conquering of Poland, and the fact that millions of Jews in Poland came under the direct control of the Nazis. The second would be the invasion and conquering of the Baltic States and the siege of the Soviet Union, where millions of other Jews came under Nazi control, and third would be the Wannsee Conference, in a Berlin suburb, on January 12, 1942 where the “Final Solution” was articulated and planned. By that time, no power on earth could have saved the vast majority of 6 million or so Jews that were eventually killed. In June of 1939, few in Europe really believed there would be war, no less World War. Few Jews, outside of Germany, thought their lives were eminently at risk, and the Low Countries and France were not invaded until the spring of 1940. Most Jews believed that Germany only was interested in ridding itself of Jews. But, it is true, that many Jews wished fervently to get out of Europe. These are incontrovertible facts reported in numerous histories of that era.

 

Of course, Mr. Rosen was able to explain to all of us the above story in his own words. In essence, the Roosevelt Administration along with the JDC, or the “Joint Committee” worked hard to get these Jews into friendly countries and not back to Germany. Again, we were not at war, the Holocaust was years away, and the United States was not a country that was looking favorably on immigration. In fact, our State Department, without FDR’s direct knowledge, was antagonistic to immigration, and especially Jewish immigration.

 

Mr. Rosen states on page 102, of his book that with all of the JDC’s and the Roosevelt Administration’s efforts, the following was true:

 

“One condition on which the passengers were permitted to enter these four countries (Great Britain, Holland, France and Belgium) was that their say would be temporary and that efforts would be made to effect their permanent immigration to another country. More than 700 of the refugees had affidavits and other documents for visas to the United States, and many already had their quota number to enter. They would have come to America but for the advent of war in September 1939.”

 

In other words, it wasn’t easy for any immigrants to enter any country illegally. Roosevelt and the JDC were working behind the scenes to get these people legally into the country, and at the same time avoid the criticism that they were being put ahead of everyone else. This would show to the American people that the administration was focused first on American security and defense!

 

Why was this necessary? Mr. Rosen describes the atmosphere of America when the subject of Lend-Lease came to Congress as Bill 1776. On page 153 he says:

 

“Lindbergh testified in Congress against Lend-Lease. Unmoved by the plight of France and Britain, the American celebrity was completely out of touch with political reality. He and his anti-Roosevelt friends on the American First Committee trumpeted the idea that a strong Germany was in America’s interest as a bulwark against communism. Remarkably, many in America agreed. Thousands of students at Yale cheered Lindbergh when he spoke in October 1940. The Nazis, of course supported the efforts of the America First Committee.”

 

Of course, Mr. Rosen also described Roosevelt’s response to American bigotry, on page 164.

 

“Roosevelt’s response to American anti-Semitism was to equate anti-Semitism with disloyalty. He gave FBI director J. Edgar Hoover enlarged powers to fight anti-Semitic groups.”

 

“Acting secretly and cautiously at first, but with increasing determination, Roosevelt and Hoover discredited and destroyed the anti-Semitic right and the American Fascist and Nazi movements by portraying them as fifth columnists, dupes of foreign powers, and traitors.

 

“Roosevelt and Hoover took on Father Coughlin, FBI agents infiltrated the Christian Front, and fourteen men were indicted for sedition. When Coughlin defended them, he lost credibility even though they were all acquitted. Other Catholics revealed that Coughlin was financed by the Nazis, Harassed by federal agents and finally abandoned by the Catholic Church hierarchy, the Radio Priest was driven of the radio by 1942.”

 

The last point Mr. Rosen raised was the dispute over the so-called request to bomb Auschwitz and all the misinformation that surrounds that dark chapter in world history.

I wrote about this issue in 2004:

 

With regard to the issue of possible allied bombing of “death camps,” in retrospect, there is no evidence that either the bombing of Auschwitz would have ended the killing or even retarded it. Mainstream Jewish opinion was against the bombing of the those facilities even after they were identified as “death camps’ rather than as “work camps.”  Only President Roosevelt or General Eisenhower could have ordered the bombing and there is no record of any kind that indicates that either one was ever asked to issue such an order, even though Jewish leaders of all persuasion had clear access to them both. In a similar vein, the bombing raids on the IG Farben/Monowitz production plants succeeded in hitting only 2.2% of the targeted buildings. Gilbert points out that the details and the secret nature of Auschwitz and even its name were not confirmed until the escape of two prisoners in April 1944, two years after the murderous process had begun. It would be folly to believe that FDR was besieged by Jewish leaders, led by Secretary Morgenthau, urging him to bomb Auschwitz. In fact no mainstream Jewish leader or organization made that request. On August 9, 1944, the first such request came to John McCloy, (1895-1989) the Assistant Secretary of War (1941-5), regarding the bombing of Auschwitz, by Leon Kubowitzki, head of the Rescue Committee of the World Jewish Congress, in which he forwarded, without endorsement, a request from Mr. Ernest Frischer of the Czechoslovak State Council (in London exile.) Ironically Mr. Kubowitzki argued against the bombing of Auschwitz because “the first victims will be Jews.” With regard to whether John McCloy ever actually asked FDR about the bombing, there is no evidence of any meeting and no evidence in any of his extensive interviews or in his personal papers that the subject was brought up. But, in a recent book, The Conquerors by Michael Beschloss, he asserts that John McCloy had told Henry Morgenthau III, that he had asked FDR about bombing the camps.

 

“By early June, when over one-third of the remaining Hungarian Jewish community had been deported to Auschwitz, Jacob Rosenheim, a leader of the world’s orthodox Jews, and others wrote Morgenthau, the War Department and Joseph Pehle of the War Refugee Board imploring them to bomb the railway lines from Hungary to the death camp at Auschwitz.” Joseph Pehle, who was a great advocate for the Jews, wrote McCloy expressing his doubts about the about bombing of Auschwitz. The War Refugee Board determined that the bombing of the tracks would do little to stop the killing, because they would be swiftly repaired. Later McCloy used about the same language and rationale to veto any further requests to bomb Auschwitz itself. (The Conquerors, by Michael Beschloss, page 64.)

 

For decades after World War II, McCloy insisted that he had never talked to the President on that subject. He told Washington Post reporter Morton Mintz in 1983 that he never talked with FDR about the subject.  Even David Wyman in his 1984 book, The Abandonment of the Jews, wrote that the bombing requests “almost certainly” did not reach Roosevelt. Later McCloy, in an interview in 1986, three years before his death, had an unpublished exchange with Henry Morgenthau III, who was researching his book, Mostly Morganthaus, claimed that he had spoken to FDR about the bombing of Auschwitz, Supposedly FDR “made it very clear” to him that the bombing would do no good, and “we would have been accused of destroying Auschwitz by bombing these innocent people.” Of course McCloy was telling this to Morgenthau’s son, decades after his father, Henry Jr. had referred to him as an “oppressor of the Jews.” Maybe McCloy’s true feelings were exposed when he also stated to Morganthau’s son, “I didn’t want to bomb Auschwitz…It seemed to be a bunch of fanatic Jews who deemed that if you didn’t bomb, it was an indication of lack of venom against Hitler…” (The Conquerors, Michael Beschloss, page 65-7.)

 

Of course the reading of the aforementioned transcript of the McCloy-Morgenthau interview nowhere mentions any conversation regarding the request to bomb Auschwitz!

(Comments on Michael Beschloss’ The Conquerors, by William vanden Heuval) The exact quote was the following

 

 Henry Morgenthau III: “But didn’t he ‘Morgenthau’ get involved in the bombing of Auschwitz that was all ex post facto.

 

John McCloy: “They came to me and wanted me to order the bombing of Auschwitz. He ‘Morgenthau’ wasn’t involved in that nor was the President…”

 

Auschwitz was raised peripherally as the conversation with Mr. McCloy was about to end. He was 88 years old –never in all of the extensive interviews he gave in his life, nor in his papers, is there any indication of his ever discussing the bombing question with the President. Henry Morgenthau III never cited the interview in the family memoir nor in his frequent public appearances in discussions relating to the Holocaust.” (Comments on the Michael Beschloss’ The Conquerors, by William vanden Heuval.)

 

David Ben-Guriun, (1886-1973, Prime Minister of Israel 1949-63) the Chairman of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, and later the first Prime Minister of Israel, in June of 1944, responded to a proposal that the Allies be asked to bomb the extermination camps. At a meeting presided over by Ben-Gurion, the Jewish Agency voted eleven to one against the bombing proposal.

 

There is no doubt that according to intelligent reports, “It is clear from this analysis that nothing was known by those (Allied Combined Intelligence Unit who prepared a Top Secret report on the principal sites of German synthetic oil production. At Auschwitz-Monowitz, it was clear, ‘progress has been made with the construction’ of the Buna plant.”) who made it of the purpose, or role of Birkenau and it’s sidings.” (Auschwitz and the Allies, by Martin Gilbert, Henry Holt, 1981, page 331.)

 

In other words there were many air reconnaissance photos taken over the area that included Auschwitz, and there were also numerous raids, late in 1944, directed at the various known industrial plants in the near vicinity, like the synthetic oil production plant at Monowitz. But unfortunately when Allied long-range bombers were able to make flights from our airbase in Foggia, Italy, with log-range fighter support, they were unaware of what was going on down below in the “death camps.” Could they then have bombed the marshalling yards at Birkenau? Yes, they could have, but by that time all activity had really ceased and the Germans by November 29, 1944 were dismantling the crematoria at Auschwitz, and making efforts to re-locate, or kill the balance of the Jews that remained. By the December 27th roll call, 18,751 Jews remained. In fact during some of those late December days when the crematoria was being dismantled, errant bombs dropped by Allied raiders did hit Auschwitz killing some German guards.

 

Also, with regard to the bombing of railroad tracks, leading to any of the known “death camps,” no Axis trains were able to run during daylight, for fear of destruction from the air. Tracks were virtually impossible to hit from high-level strategic bombing. Even when individual tracks were hit and destroyed they were almost immediately repaired. Low-level medium bomber and fighters had a greater effect on rail lines but they did not have the range to hit rail targets in Poland. Most of the important railroad destruction came with massive continual strategic daylight bombing of marshalling yards near railroad stations. The effect on this type of bombing was worthwhile, but German work crews, numbering thousands, would spend the nights repairing these yards. Remember, as Martin Gilbert points out, “the details and even the name of Auschwitz were not confirmed until the escape of two prisoners in April, 1944. The Nazis treated the Auschwitz, like every other extermination camp, as a top-secret project.

 

So in his limited time Mr. Rosen summarized what I had written in the above piece. Basically, he stated that the world Jewish leadership did not want the Allies to bomb Auschwitz and kill Jews. The Jewish leadership understood the futility of bombing the death camp and put its effort into trying to prevent the remaining Jews in Hungary from being deported. It was FDR, as Mr. Rosen stated, who, with the help of the Joint Committee got Raul Wallenberg directly involved in the effort to save these remaining Jews.

 

Rosen states on page 383:

 

On June 7, the day after D-day, Yitzak Gruenbaum, of the Jewish Agency met with L.C. Pinkerton, American consul in Palestine. Gruenbaum requested Americans to warn the Hungarian government against killing Jews, to bomb the railway lines, and ‘that the American air forces receive instructions to bomb the death camps in Poland.’ ‘Won’t bombing the camps also cause the death of many Jews?’ he asked Gruenbaum. Gruenbaum replied that the Jews in the death camps were destined to die anyway and might be able to escape in the confusion. The camp’s destruction might disrupt the killing process. Apparently appalled at the idea of killing Jewish prisoners, Pinkerton advised Gruenbaum to present in writing his suggestion to bomb the death camps. On June 11 Gruenbaum handed his proposal to the Executive Committee of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem. The motion to bomb the camps was overwhelmingly rejected.

 

Of course there is much, much more, and Robert Rosen documents the background behind many of these “folk myths” regarding the fate of Europe’s Jews. Historians and revisionists who have their own personal agenda have promulgated many of these controversies. FDR had to balance all of these factors in prosecuting the war and keeping the American people unified in this incredible effort.

 

In a sense, and in the same vain, as James McGregor Burns characterized him in his masterly written book, FDR, The Lion and the Fox,

 

British historian D.C. Watts wrote:

 

Like an agile predator, he knew when to emerge, reveal his design, and execute it. And once determined to lead opinion and implement a policy, he was unflappable, devious, utterly determined, an unusually inspiring. Now, in early 1939, his course, though indiscernible to others, was clear to him. It could be summarized in six points.

 

First, he had to complete the conquest of the Depression by arming America.

Second, he would arrange a virtual draft to a third term as the candidate of peace through strength.

Third, he would complete the acquisition of an overwhelming level of military might.

Fourth, and assuming a new world war was already in progress, he would engineer righteous hostilities with Germany and the lesser dictatorships, ensuring that the dictators would be seen as the aggressors.

The fifth stage would be winning the war and leading the world to a post imperial Pax Americana, in which, sixth, Woodrow Wilson’s goals of safety for democracy and international legality would be established in some sort of American-led international organization.

 

Nothing less can explain Roosevelt’s conduct from Munich on. No other American leader has ever conceived an immensely ambitious plan for making over the world.

 

Hans Dieckhoff, the German ambassador in Washington up into late 1938, recognized that Roosevelt had a ‘pathological hatred’ of Hitler, and was ‘Hitler’s most dangerous opponent,’ The President had persuaded the ‘credulous and mentally dull American people’ that Germany was ‘America’s enemy number one.’ The observant chargee Hans Thomsen headed the Embassy after the withdrawal of Dieckhoff. Thomsen constantly warned the Wilhelmstrasse and the Reichsfuerher himself that Roosevelt sought the ‘annihilation of Nazi Germany and the nullification of the New Order in Europe.’ Thomsen also predicted that Roosevelt would, in the event of war, try ‘creating the conditions for, and a skillful timing of, the entry in to war on their side (Germany’s enemies’) side.’ He cleverly foresaw that ‘Roosevelt will not neglect the possibility that as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces he has the power to issue orders which in the course of execution might lead to the creation of a state of war. In the face of this Congress is powerless.’ Thomsen told Berlin that Roosevelt has ‘pathological hatred’ of Hitler and Mussolini, and even predicted that Roosevelt, in furtherance of his goals, might seek a third term as president.

 

The duel between Roosevelt and Hitler would become increasingly elaborate, like a primeval war dance, until the two mortal enemies came to grips with each other.”

 

There is enough evidence, available for all of us to understand, that without Franklin Roosevelt’s strong and brilliant leadership, the war against worldwide Fascism could have been lost. Even with just the loss of Europe and Asia, Jews would have been virtually wiped out wherever the Axis controlled and dominated. For sure, besides Palestine, the Jews of North Africa and the Middle East would have been the next group to be liquidated. How long would Fascist leaning South America tolerate Jews in their midst? Even in America, where anti-Semitism ran rampant in the 1930’s, how long would the so-called “Jew Deal” (as the anti-Semites called it!) have existed without FDR? Therefore, if FDR had not run in 1940, and others, without his values, would have taken control of the country, would American Jewry eventually disappear? It could have!

 

Robert Rosen builds a great case, with his research and perseverance that FDR did what he could do to arm a weakened nation, fight domestic Fascism at home, straddle the delicate balance between peace and war, and create an atmosphere of tolerance. He shows that FDR’s struggle against our own climate of hate and bigotry could be changed, and that we would be able to save the world, and save the remaining Jews from destruction.

 

But FDR was only the President of the United States. In a sense, he could only go so far in changing the world and reversing the calculus regarding people’s prejudices. On page 137 of his book, Rosen reflects on the world condition in May of 1940 when Winston Churchill became Prime Minister.

 

The “great” humanitarian Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I do not consider Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted.” Neville Chamberlain told Ambassador (Joseph) Kennedy “America and the world Jews had forced England into the war.” (What about Britain’s treaty with Poland? Did he forget that?) Gandhi alleged that the Jews “wanted America and England to fight on their behalf.”

 

There are many more examples that could fill volumes, which reflect the terrible state of anti-Semitism that existed outside of Fascist-controlled Europe and the United States. It is an ongoing lesson to all of us, Jew and Gentile alike. It was Lincoln who said,  “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” Therefore, we all should learn that no group is immune from prejudice and discrimination. By tolerating the politics of hate and discrimination we innately undermine the precepts of our democracy. Robert Rosen demonstrates to all, who will open their minds, that Franklin D. Roosevelt was truly the “Soldier of Freedom” and one of the greatest friends that Jews and all liberty-loving people have had.

 

So it was a worthwhile trip, I finally got to meet Robert Rosen, and heard his strong message in person. I was able to get back on the road by 4:40 pm. The snows that were predicted, held off until the evening, and before long I was sailing south on the Taconic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese New Year on the Banks of the Hudson 2-18-07

Chinese New Year on the Banks of the Hudson

The Year of the Pig, How Apt!

By

Richard J. Garfunkel

February 18, 2007

 

 

 

Here we are still in early 2007 where we have just segued out of the western New Year to the ancient Chinese New Year, 4705, the Year of the Golden Pig, which comes around every 60 years in the twelve year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac. How fitting that we celebrate that inglorious often miss-characterized animal, whose name has been long associated with gluttony, filth and boorishness. Of recent date, we have been bombarded incessantly, in the media with the notoriety of our human version of these ungulates, or split-hoofed swine like, Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richey, and others. So the Year of the Pig goes on spectacularly with “The Donald’s” Miss USA protégé, and the current vile “boars” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and in Congress on both sides of the aisle.

 

 The ancient Hebrews were probably one of the first peoples to separate themselves from other indigenous folk by creating dietary laws. As one casually learned in the law of Kashrut knows, that one element of traif is not better or worse than another. But somehow, the pig and its by products always seemed to symbolize the most egregious difference between Jew and Gentile. Maybe it was, because pork and its culinary cousins ham and bacon are so popular in the cuisine of so many. How many times in our lexicon to we daily hear “bacon and eggs,” or “ham and cheese?” Of course dietary laws were said to separate the ancient Hebrews from others, but the fact that the swine genus “sus,” as part of the “suidae” family of animals carried trichinosis, cysticerosis, or brucellosis should have been enough. My mother always attributed dietary laws to Jewish concerns over health issues!

 

Therefore many of us grew up with these restrictions, and more than some of us have gradually drifted away from observing them. Chinese food has always been a favorite staple of modern day Jews, with lobster Cantonese, spare-ribs or egg rolls with shrimp having been often an essential part of their menu.

 

The Chinese believe that the Year of the Pig will not be very peaceful. The pig is one of twelve real or mythical animals that make up the cycle of the Sino zodiac of the lunar calendar. Accordingly, to the Chinese, people born in the pig years are polite, honest and loyal. One born under the sign of the pig is also considered to be lucky. Both Ronald Reagan and Hillary Clinton were born under that sign. Of course pig years can be fraught with violence and disruption as they are dominated by fire and water. The Chinese astrological masters feel that people should be forewarned about the potential of natural disaster and even the possibility of epidemics like bird flu. Therefore the advice is to be extra careful with one’s dietary ingestion. Even a Hong Kong soothsayer feels that North Korea will undergo a power struggle and Singapore fortune teller John Lok predicted Iraq will remain being a quagmire and that our fearless leader, the self-proclaimed “Decider,” will have another rotten year.

 

Traditionally the color red is worn on and during the Chinese New Year to scare away evil spirits and bad fortunes. Good luck is encouraged, by opening doors, windows, switching on lights at night to scare away ghosts and spirits, and candy is eaten to insure a “sweet year.” One also will avoid bad luck by not buying shoes, pants or having a haircut. It is said that on the first day of the New Year one should not sweep the floors or buy any books!

 

Despite all of these forebodings, we did celebrate another edition of our annual Chinese New Year’s fandango. On a cold clear night here in the lower Hudson River valley, all our guests arrived safely and without much of a problem. We lucked out with the weather. The snow event that paralyzed commerce and social interaction on Wednesday was basically cleared up by Saturday. We also experienced a slight upturn Fahrenheit-wise after days of temperatures in the mid-teens. Already predictions for the coming week talk of single-digit artic blasts, known as Yukon Clippers, searing their way through our region.

 

But on Saturday we were well prepared for the coming feast. All of our guests were given culinary assignments and came through remarkably. Among the first timers this year was our old buddy Keith Stupell, who came up by train from Babylon on the Hudson and brought dumplings and candy from Chinatown. Keith the proprietor of Carole Stupell’s on 29 East 22nd Street went far beyond the call of duty in his effort. Keith, not only has been carrying on the famous name of his mother, who was one of the most well-known retailers in NYC history, but is a world’s leading philatelic expert, and whose collection of stamps and ephemera is almost unrivaled on our planet. If you had forgotten or had not known Carole Stupell invented the “bridal registry.”

 

Other first-timers were Dorit and Martin Whiteman from Hollis Hills, New York. The Whitemans, whom we know from Armonk Tennis, made their debut here with egg rolls from Queens and without too much of a problem negotiating the traffic. Dorit is a lecturer and writer whose specialty and expertise is pre-WWII European Jewish issues.

 

Barbara Monahan is another first timer who lives in White Plains, and had to sadly leave her husband Dan home, who was under the weather. Barbara is the commissioner of Westchester’s Taxi and Limousine Department and brought cookies for dessert. She was able to pick up and drive over our old buddy Robin Lyons. Robin, who brought bowls of cut up fruit, is a veteran of these efforts and is the widow of the late George Lyons, a very dear friend. George was one of the leading experts on baseball in America, and had a remarkable collection of baseball memorabilia, which featured unique and rare game-worn baseball jerseys. He also was the eldest of the four sons of Broadway columnist Leonard Lyons, and the brother of Jeffrey Lyons, the movie critic.

 

Corinne Levy, one of Linda’s tennis buddies, brought over a tofu dish and her new beau Dr. Bob Stanley, psychiatrist from Irvington. We hoped that we passed Bob’s muster as being almost normal. Debbie Rubin, whom Linda knows from Barnard College alumnae events, brought her good friend Stewart. Debbie’s contribution was delicious buckwheat noodles. Also hailing from Barnard College was Linda’s classmate Abby Kurnit, who just retired from teaching in the chemistry department at Pelham High School, and is currently filling in at Scarsdale High School. Her husband Jeff, is a professor at Queens Community College, and they both are Life Members of the Village Light Opera Company, whose productions we have attended loyalty. Their next one will be Oklahoma, and it is held at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the heart of Manhattan.

 

 Another tennis friend Diona Koerner, a soon to be retired chemistry professor from Manhattanville/Fordham was accompanied by Ron, her lawyer husband. They both brought chicken with vegetables. My old buddy Warren Adis, who is a professor at Iona College, and his wife Mary, an all-around brain and wit, brought noodles, broccoli and chicken. We have traveled often to the New York museums with the Koerners and the Adises. Both Mary and Diona are English gals by birth, and they have similar interests in chemistry and geology. Warren and I met in the third grade in Mrs. Krohn’s class at the William Wilson/Traphagen School in Mount Vernon and have had many adventures that included being at the NCAA hockey finals in Syracuse in 1967 when our two schools, Cornell and Boston University, collided for the title.

 

Of course, speaking of old classmates, Steve Sinder and I roomed together in Boston University’s Myles Standish Hall. Steve, who is a retired businessman, and his wife Adele, who now hail from White Plains, after decades in Rye Brook, brought fried wontons. Steve and I also had a roommate who played the tuba in the BU band and bass guitar in a group that was an opening act for the Beatles at Shea Stadium and on the Ed Sullivan Show.

 

Sol and Linda Haber play tennis with Linda and me in our weekend indoor games. They have been active participants in our Saturday night mixed-doubles tennis events that have been played in Hastings and Armonk. Sol, who played basketball at Yeshiva of Brooklyn, long after Warren and I were finished shooting the roundballs in Mount Vernon, hits an excellent serve and a potent forehand. Sol is a dentist who specializes in oral surgery and Linda, who is by profession a CPA and also sells real estate, brought a salad with a ginger dressing.

 

Last, but not least were Wally and Ronnie Kopelowitz. Wally is an ophthalmologist whom I met many years ago on the tennis courts of County Tennis. Though he now lives in Great Neck with his wife Ronnie, who is a New York City lawyer and judge, Wally still plays tennis in one of my weekend games and punishes his opponents with his wicked baseline slices. They brought kosher chicken and beef dishes. Wally loves to travel, and they both just returned from another great trip back to his former South African homeland.

 

Our course we supplied the Tsing Tao Chinese beer, Chinese wine, other soft drinks and libations, plus lo mein and dumplings from Stew Leonard’s. Linda made a great Asian cole slaw with cashews, string beans with sesame sauce, asparagus, sweet and sour meatballs and slice marinated steak. I also found some Chinese fortune cookies in the Asian Market in the White Plains Mall on Hamilton Avenue.

 

Meanwhile the party was called for 7:30 pm and by 8 o’clock everyone had made their arrivals. We served the appetizers downstairs, and Warren and I started on our own bottle of Sake. The party livened up as many people renewed old friendships and acquaintances. My former roommate Steve Sinder and Warren Adis hadn’t seen each other in about 40 years. Diona Koerner and Mary Adis always compare notes about their English roots. Keith Stupell discussed with Steve Sinder what drives the postage stamp market, and Linda and I were making sure everyone had enough appetizers. We all moved upstairs to the dining and living rooms for the main dishes. The group moved slowly around the dining room table testing all the delicacies as they filled up their plates. There was enough of a variety for those who wished to avoid meat, fish, nuts, traif, or veggies.

 

For the next course we returned downstairs for cookies, ice cream, fruit and tea. Each time our guests changed floors, it enabled us to clean up a bit more. Finally after three hours of culinary debauchery the party ended. I took Keith over to the Tarrytown Station for the 11:10 train to New York, everyone else escaped into the cool clear air and hopefully made it home safely.   By the way, “Happy New Year” is conventionally thought to mean in Cantonese, Gung hei fat choi. But that really means, “congratulations and be prosperous.” In reality the Cantonese saying for “Happy New Year” is Sun nin fai lok. So either way, thanks for coming, we had a great time so let’s look forward to a better year than the last!

 

Comments by great friend Laurence A. Reich on Chinese New Year!


My wife's family in San Francisco celebrated Chinese New Year with great gusto and zeal. No one was more superstitious than Carole, who supervised our immediate family like a drill sergeant, anxious to be certain that no “rules” and ancient “customs” were disturbed. Showering was prohibited, as was any use of profanity or angry tone against another. My aunt, who by death, is now the patriarch, and keeper of family law, always felt that many of these customs were ill founded and not really part of ancient Chinese lore. Of course the color red was always worn and decorative displays were grounded in red. The last Chinese New Year celebration thayt Carole prepared occurred a month before she died and her entire extended family came down from San Francisco to support her desire for a harmonious new year. All the food was often home made rather than store bought so you can imagine the wondrous and delectible panoplay of gratification that was spread along our tables.
None of the pictures featured the token Chinese guest, perhaps Carole was there in spirit?
Dr. Laurence Reich

 

  

 

 

 

The Death of Hank Bauer, an American Hero 2-10-07

The Death of Hank Bauer, an America Hero

February 10, 2007

By

Richard J. Garfunkel

 

 

Yesterday February 10, 2007 Hank Bauer, the fighting marine died at the age of 84. You may have heard about his passing on the news yesterday. Today there was an obituary in the New York Times. If you hadn’t read it, I have included a copy. I was always a Yankee fan from my earliest days as a child and Hank Bauer, the solid right fielder for the Bronx Bombers, was one of my earliest heroes. He was one of the few members of the Yankees that was on the roster, and of course played with all of their championship teams from 1949 through 1953. Some of the others were Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, Gene Woodling, Vic Raschi, Eddie Lopat, Allie Reynolds,  and Phil Rizutto, Bauer, a solid and heroic type who not only starred on the Yankees, but starred with the US Marines in the Pacific. He won many battle stars in combat and was 26 when he finally got to the major leagues. Bauer’s career with the Yanks spanned from the end of the DiMaggio era through the rise of Mickey Mantle. It finally ended when he was part of Yankee General Manager George Weiss’s last great trade of his long career. In 1960 after the Yanks finished a poor third to the Go-Go White Sox in 1959, Bauer was traded with Norm Siebern, Marvelous Marv Thronberry, and Don Larsen for Joe DeMaestri, Kent Hadley, and one Roger Maris. Because of that trade I never really warmed up to Maris. But baseball is still a business and as JFK said long ago, “Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.” Roger was certainly an immediate success, but soon the “blush was off the rose,” and the injuries that had plagued him in his early career came back to haunt him and turn the once idolizing fans into boo-birds. The rest is history

 

I had a great fondness for Bauer, whose rugged looks became the model for famous cartoonist Willard Mullin’s prototypical Yankee. I have included a cartoon that he drew in the World-Telegram and Sun, circa 1962. Bauer, who batted right handed, slugged 156 homeruns as a Yankee. Left field in the old stadium was the home of what Mel Allen referred to as “Death Valley.” In other words hitting homeruns from the right side of the plate was never easy and many long blasts died out there in someone’s glove. In Bauer’s early years he was unhappy being part of Casey Stengel’s platoon system, but when he became a regular starter in 1950 he hit .320. In the World Championship year of 1956 he hit 26 homeruns. Bauer once said that his greatest memories with the Yankees were the four homeruns he hit in the 1958 World Series against the Braves, a record until broken by Reggie Jackson in 1977, and his bases loaded triple and his game winning catch in the 6th and final game of the 1951 World Series against the Giants. My greatest memory of Bauer was his heroics against the Braves in the 1958 Series. The Yanks were down 3 games to 1 and they rallied to win three straight behind the great pitching of Bob Turley and the clutch hitting of Hank Bauer. Bauer hit .323 in the Series and finished with a record, which still stands, of hitting in 17 straight series games. Hank Bauer had a great arm in right field and very few runners dared to go from first to third on a base hit to right.

 

After retiring as a player he had a successful coaching and managing career that included skippering the Orioles to a World’s title in 1966. He spent many years coming back to the Stadium as an old-timer and he joined with Bill “Moose” Skowron to sponsor a baseball “fantasy” camp in Florida. Though I never met him, I had the pleasure of hearing him and the “Moose” interviewed often. They had great stories and any real baseball fan would love to listen to the “hot stove” league banter. Bauer, like many veterans of WWII, never talked about his war exploits, but his record speaks for itself. Yesterday, unfortunately we lost another from that “Greatest Generation.”

 

 

 

Howard Zinn and Irrational Answers 2-6-07

Howard Zinn and Irrational Answers

By

Richard J. Garfunkel

February 6, 2006

 

 

I would love to see Bush impeached, but Howard Zinn is no bargain! I knew him when I was a student at BU and I personally do not like him or agree with his political views. From my perspective Howard Zinn wouldn't be satisfied unless he got the “people” out in the streets behind barricades and throwing rocks and burning down buildings. He reminds me of the “Spartacusites” who brought us the wild radicalism and street warfare of Weimar Germany after the crash. They opened the door for the Nazis and you know what happened! We need real reform and it has to come through our political process not “street” action. When he talks of “people's councils,” his language starts to smack of the creation of “soviets.” When one thinks of the Great Depression one could also think of Gerald L.K. Smith, Francis Townsend and Huey Long and their faux “share the wealth” ideas. When extremists, of the left and the right, start to author the agenda of the country watch out. The world has been through the era of “street radicalism” many times and it has always ended in disaster. Just revisit the simplistic concept of the film “Meet John Doe.”

 

George Bush is a rotten and corrupt President, but unfortunately when the Iraq War is taken out of his personal equation, the public is not so sick of him. What is really needed is an effort to unearth and defame his other policies. But ironically no one (or very few) is/are in the street protesting his policies regarding; stem cells, tax-giveaways to the rich, women's choice, global warming, open borders, flat-earth faith-based thinking, the environment or a plethora of other shortcomings and disastrous actions and ideas. George Bush is a horror, but to many in this polarized society, it is not his policies or philosophy or lack of it, but his incompetence.

 

It will certainly be up to the Democrats to have courage on many issues, but history has shown them to be much more in the model of the “cowardly lion,” than their opposites across the aisle. The Democrats have only shown real courage through the White House and even with large majorities on their side, they have rarely been able to create real reform. Only FDR and Johnson were able to be pro-active with their domestic agenda and FDR was forced to veto over 500 bills and Johnson's Great Society got swallowed in the morass of the Vietnam War. Carter was a mediocre failure, JFK could not sufficiently influence the Dixiecrats with his narrow electoral and numerical victory, and Big Bill Clinton was a successful counter-puncher who was able to triangulate Gingrich's “Contract with America” in a way to achieve some middle of the road reforms. Certainly one was overdue welfare reform, which the GOP pushed and the Democrats avoided for years. Truman, like Carter left office with incredibly low popularity, but unlike the peanut farmer from Georgia, was able to achieve high marks from later historians on leadership. But Truman opened the door to the hegemony of Dixiecrat control that existed right through and to JFK, and Carter opened the door to the Conservative Reagan Revolution. The disaster of Vietnam and Korea was placed at the footsteps of the Democrats and it led to political defeat. When Vietnam was essentially de-funded by Democrats, it was the public that did not reward their actions. The GOP would have stayed in control of the White House easily without Watergate. Remember, Ford, a bumbling, inarticulate nobody, who was a failure as President, pardoned Nixon and only lost 51-49 to Carter. Within four years Carter and the Democrats were out!

 

All in all, the Democratic message must be better articulated and it must be pro-growth also. We cannot afford to finance our huge entitlement obligations by turning to a non-incentive based economy. Richard Ottinger, a liberal Congressman, said many times to me personally, “we must save both the river and the factory.” Ottinger was right. No matter how we pine and moan about social justice, we must find a way to finance it. Taxing for the sake of “leveling the playing field” is not the complete answer. We must recognize the “producers” now and again. Howard Zinn, an academic, who has never run a business, nor made a payroll, or created a genuine product, is a “false prophet” who must be regarded with much skepticism. I would start with a roll-back of the Bush tax giveaways to the super-rich and I would start to create a reasonable alternative to the Bush policy of action without diplomacy. Iraq, a regional problem has been escalated into a worldwide one. Without help of our NATO friends and the regional moderates the Iraq War will be a growing cancer for years to come.

 

Richard

 

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Impeachment by the People

By Howard Zinn, AlterNet
Posted on February 3, 2007, Printed on February 3, 2007
http://www.alternet.org/story/47467/

Courage is in short supply in Washington, D.C. The realities of the Iraq War cry out for the overthrow of a government that is criminally responsible for death, mutilation, torture, humiliation, chaos.

But all we hear in the nation's capital, which is the source of those catastrophes, is a whimper from the Democratic Party, muttering and nattering about “unity” and “bipartisanship,” in a situation that calls for bold action to immediately reverse the present course.

These are the Democrats who were brought to power in November by an electorate fed up with the war, furious at the Bush Administration, and counting on the new majority in Congress to represent the voters.

But if sanity is to be restored in our national policies, it can only come about by a great popular upheaval, pushing both Republicans and Democrats into compliance with the national will.

The Declaration of Independence, revered as a document but ignored as a guide to action, needs to be read from pulpits and podiums, on street corners and community radio stations throughout the nation. Its words, forgotten for over two centuries, need to become a call to action for the first time since it was read aloud to crowds in the early excited days of the American Revolution: “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government.”

The “ends” referred to in the Declaration are the equal right of all to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” True, no government in the history of the nation has been faithful to those ends. Favors for the rich, neglect of the poor, massive violence in the interest of continental and world expansion — that is the persistent record of our government.

Still, there seems to be a special viciousness that accompanies the current assault on human rights, in this country and in the world. We have had repressive governments before, but none has legislated the end of habeas corpus, nor openly supported torture, nor declared the possibility of war without end. No government has so casually ignored the will of the people, affirmed the right of the president to ignore the Constitution, even to set aside laws passed by Congress.

The time is right, then, for a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Representative John Conyers, who held extensive hearings and introduced an impeachment resolution when the Republicans controlled Congress, is now head of the House Judiciary Committee and in a position to fight for such a resolution. He has apparently been silenced by his Democratic colleagues who throw out as nuggets of wisdom the usual political palaver about “realism” (while ignoring the realities staring them in the face) and politics being “the art of the possible” (while setting limits on what is possible).

I know I'm not the first to talk about impeachment. Indeed, judging by the public opinion polls, there are millions of Americans, indeed a majority of those polled, who declare themselves in favor if it is shown that the President lied us into war (a fact that is not debatable).

There are at least a half-dozen books out on impeachment, and it's been argued for eloquently by some of our finest journalists, John Nichols and Lewis Lapham among them. Indeed, an actual “indictment” has been drawn up by a former federal prosecutor, Elizabeth de la Vega, in a new book called United States v. George W. Bush et al, making a case, in devastating detail, to a fictional grand jury.

There is a logical next step in this development of an impeachment movement: the convening of “people's impeachment hearings” all over the country. This is especially important given the timidity of the Democratic Party. Such hearings would bypass Congress, which is not representing the will of the people, and would constitute an inspiring example of grassroots democracy.

These hearings would be the contemporary equivalents of the unofficial gatherings that marked the resistance to the British Crown in the years leading up to the American Revolution. The story of the American Revolution is usually built around Lexington and Concord, around the battles and the Founding Fathers. What is forgotten is that the American colonists, unable to count on redress of their grievances from the official bodies of government, took matters into their own hands, even before the first battles of the Revolutionary War.

In 1772, town meetings in Massachusetts began setting up Committees of Correspondence, and the following year, such a committee was set up in Virginia. The first Continental Congress, beginning to meet in 1774, was a recognition that an extralegal body was necessary to represent the interests of the people. In 1774 and 1775, all through the colonies, parallel institutions were set up outside the official governmental bodies.

Throughout the nation's history, the failure of government to deliver justice has led to the establishment of grassroots organizations, often ad hoc, dissolving after their purpose was fulfilled. For instance, after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, knowing that the national government could not be counted on to repeal the act, black and white anti-slavery groups organized to nullify the law by acts of civil disobedience. They held meetings, made plans, and set about rescuing escaped slaves who were in danger of being returned to their masters.

In the desperate economic conditions of 1933 and 1934, before the Roosevelt Administration was doing anything to help people in distress, local groups were formed all over the country to demand government action. Unemployed Councils came into being, tenants' groups fought evictions, and hundreds of thousands of people in the country formed self-help organizations to exchange goods and services and enable people to survive.

More recently, we recall the peace groups of the 1980s, which sprang up in hundreds of communities all over the country, and provoked city councils and state legislatures to pass resolutions in favor of a freeze on nuclear weapons. And local organizations have succeeded in getting more than 400 city councils to take a stand against the Patriot Act.

Impeachment hearings all over the country could excite and energize the peace movement. They would make headlines, and could push reluctant members of Congress in both parties to do what the Constitution provides for and what the present circumstances demand: the impeachment and removal from office of George Bush and Dick Cheney. Simply raising the issue in hundreds of communities and Congressional districts would have a healthy effect, and would be a sign that democracy, despite all attempts to destroy it in this era of war, is still alive.

For information on how to get involved in the impeachment effort, go to After Downing Street.

Howard Zinn is the author, most recently, of “A Power Governments Cannot Suppress” published by City Lights Books.

) 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/47467/

 

A Cold Night on Park Avenue – February 5, 2007

A Cold Night on Park Avenue

By

Richard J. Garfunkel

February 5, 2007

 

As anyone in the Northeast or Tarrytown would know, unless they were asleep for twenty years like Rip van Winkle, it is very cold. The Hudson River, in spots, is clogged with ice and in certain locations barge traffic has ceased. Just when we were all starting to enjoy the virtues of “global warming,” Old Man Winter, along with Jack Frost, roared into our neighborhood, and like a boorish guest, just won’t leave.

 

With all this in mind, we still ventured out the other night to see the “mover and shakers” in the business management world. I won’t mention the exact address and names of our hosts, but they live on Park Avenue in the 90’s right before the subway goes above ground. By the way, there are some wonderful pre-war apartment buildings in that neighborhood. Linda gets to meet a lot of these people through her affiliation and employment with a private equity firm. So every once in a while we get invited to eat canapés, sip Perrier or wine with the “elites” of that world, which circulates in and around the corridors of the Yale School of Management and the Harvard Business School.

 

Of course this occasion was the promotion of Professor Jeff Sonnenfeld’s new book Firing Back, “How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters.” Linda had left her office on 55th Street and caught a Madison Avenue bus that made excellent time to her destination. We were to meet at 6:30 pm in the lobby of the our destination. As I was exiting the West Side Highway at 125th Street, where the Fairway Super Market has uplifted that seedy neighborhood, my cell phone rang. Linda was already awaiting my arrival and was wondering what progress I was making. I had decided to go on the West Side, and cross upper Manhattan above the Park on 125th Street in the heart of Harlem. I made my way quickly past the famous the Apollo Theater that has been enjoying a new life and prominence since its rehabilitation in 1983.

 

The theater’s name dates back to its original creation as a dance hall and ballroom   in the 1860’s by one General Ed Ferrero. It was called the Apollo Hall and in 1872 it was converted to a theater. It was shifted to its current location at 253 W. 125th Street in 1913. It was then called the Hurtig and Seamons (New) Burlesque Theater and it would remain in operations as a “whites only” establishment until 1928.  When Bill Minsky took it over, he transformed it into the 125th Street Apollo Theater. Finally with Minsky’s untimely death in 1932, Sidney Cohen, a theater impresario, purchased the edifice, and opened it up to the African-American community in 1934. An early star of one of the first African-American Amateur Night contests was a dancer turned singer, the sensational teenager Ella Fitzgerald.

 

Within a few minutes I reached Park Avenue, where I turned right and headed south. Park Avenue is quite different in that area of Manhattan. It is a narrow street that hugs the huge stonewall that supports the elevated portion of the subway line that runs under Park Avenue from 96th Street to Grand central Station. I found a parking space a couple of short blocks from my eventual destination. As I entered the building after a short walk, there was Linda, waiting patiently, and sitting in the lobby on a non-descript couch. There are two sides to the massive and handsome lobby and there is a coat rack on both sides. We were directed to the left.

 

Joseph Paterno developed this 17-story building in 1929, and it has 55 apartments and some duplexes. It has a three-story lime base, which fronts on Park Avenue and Rosario Candela designed it at the end of the “golden age” of building. Mr. Candela, who was born in Sicily and immigrated to America in 1909, graduated from the Columbia School of Architecture in 1915.  Elizabeth Hawes, in her book, New York, New York, said that, “Candela’s buildings were the grandest in a decade that was itself the greatest.”

 

On the left side of the lobby we were greeted, checked our coats and picked up our ID badges. We entered a private elevator and were quickly whisked to the 16th floor. The elevator opened up into a magnificent duplex apartment. As we walked in, our host, who we quickly learned was an important principal of a major private equity firm, greeted us with a hearty handshake. My brother-in-law, who has lived in England for thirty-seven years, and was the managing director of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ was founded in 1959, and one of its principals, William H. Donaldson, was the Chairman of the SEC from 2003 through 2005.) in Europe, was offered an important position with this firm when DLJ was acquired. I asked our host if he knew him, and he told me that he was from the other side of the acquisition and unfortunately did not know him.

 

I learned quickly that they were expecting at least 168 invitees and that they had just recently hosted another book party for over 350! It wasn’t easy to see how 350 or so souls could fit in this apartment, and I later heard that people were even wandering upstairs into the living quarters. The apartment was decorated with incredible taste. The walls were covered with magnificent nineteenth century oils that were framed with gilt-washed carved wood. The living room featured two sumptuous chairs and an antique couch surrounding a huge fireplace. I was also impressed by the multiple silver service sets that dominated both the coffee table and another side table that was on the other side of the couch. The dining room, with its impressive mahogany table, the kitchen and the den were equally impressive. Unfortunately, within a few moments, the apartment filled up quickly and it was almost impossible to move around and effectively look at all the treasures that adorned the walls, filled the breakfronts, and were on the tables. Meanwhile the view downtown from the 16th floor was spectacular and since it was evening much of the glow and glitter of Manhattan could be enjoyed

 

We found some people to talk to and coincidently Linda met the brother of one of the managing partners of her firm, who is one of the top management people at Verizon. Another was the director of the New York-based Clinton Global Initiatives, and we reminisced about our wonderful trip to Little Rock and the opening of the Clinton Library in November of 2004. We were only able to meet a fraction of the guests. But whomever we bumped into was an adventure. We even met Ms. Laura Donna, of the Connecticut Forum, who invited us to Hartford’s Bushnell Theater to hear a talk on “Saving the World,” which is being held this Thursday night and would feature, Tm Robbins, Rory Kennedy and Nicholas Kristoff.

 

Delightfully there were hundreds of books lying around and free to all who wanted one. Eventually I spotted Jeff Sonnefeld, who was surrounded by his friends and admirers, and I was able to squeeze in and get my copy signed. He’s a big man, who had originally made his name at Emory University, where he left under pressure, and now is the Senior Associate Dean for Executive Programs and the Lester Crown Professor in Management at the Yale graduate School of Management. Essentially Firing Back, which is about how great leaders rebound from adversity, was probably inspired by Professor Sonnenfeld’s own experiences regarding his departure from Emory. Eventually Sonnenfeld and his co-author Andrew Ward spoke to the delight of all of their fans.

 

Meanwhile, in this most recent work of his, Fighting Back, Sonnenfeld states, “this book examines the often and abrupt and unexpected fall from grace of prominent leaders and the process by which they recover and even exceed their past accomplishments with a new adventure.”  He goes on to review the “five levels of resilience from adversity to reveal the solid foundation in research and theory that anchors each of these requirements for recovery.”

 

He later chronicles many tragedies, failures and setbacks in his chapter on the nature of adversity. Of course he starts to build a case for his way of finding one’s way back.

 

1)      Stress and trauma: don’t adapt to the adversity or fearfully give in, but instead fight it.

2)      Affiliation: Do not isolate yourself in grief; engage others for mutual support

3)      Self-esteem, attribution theory, impression management, reputation management: Do not blame yourself or let others blame you; offer meaning and explanation.

4)      Effectance motivation:  Assert your mastery and competence

5)      Existential Purpose: Set an anchor in the future that gives you a reason to survive and a purpose in life.

 

In other words, he believes, “Don’t adapt to Adversity- Fight It.” Of course Sonnefeld adeptly goes through chapter after chapter reviewing the various barriers to recovery:

 

1)      Societal Culture

2)      Corporate Culture

3)      Departure Causes

4)      Psychological Stresses

 

Finally, Sonnenfeld turns in his final chapters of “how to fight”, and reviews the issue of facing up to the problem at hand. I remember so well his quote from Ray Donovan, the Secretary of Labor under Ronald Reagan, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?” Sonnenfeld describes, in detail, the experiences of Donovan and how he dealt with the rumor mills regarding his career with Schiavone Construction Company. Eventually Donovan weathered the storm that raged around him during his confirmation hearing, and went on to serve throughout Reagan’s first term. Ironically after beating back all the rumors regarding “mob influence,” a month before the 1984 election, he was indicted on 137 counts of fraud and grand larceny. He was forced to take a leave of absence, and eventually won the battle, but lost his public reputation. Sonnenfeld quoted Warren Buffet who said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to lose it.” I remember the Donovan Case quite well and frankly I was astounded that he was exonerated.

 

Sonnenfeld closed his book with the chapter “Creating Triumph from Tragedy- Lessons Learned from Legends and Losers.” He concludes that the “Final Lesson: Comeback is not a matter of luck, It is taking a chosen path.” In other words, he ends with “no one can take away our hope and opportunity for tomorrow unless we close our own eyes.”

 

I am reminded with those inspiring words of Winston Churchill’s monumental history of World War II. In his final volume Triumph and Tragedy, he talks of the Moral of the Work, In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity and In Peace: Goodwill. In the basking glow of triumph, Churchill recalls how in the depths of despair, in February of 1941, Mr. Wendall Willkie hand delivered a letter to him from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In that letter, which was written in FDR’s own hand, contained the famous lines of Longfellow:

 

            “ ‘Sail on, O ship of State!

Sail on, O Union, strong and great!

Humanity with all its fears,

With all the hopes of future years,

Is hanging breathless on thy fate’ “

 

Probably nowhere in our history and time can we find a better example of “Fighting Back” and how the inspiration of Franklin Roosevelt’s profound message along with the announcement of our assistance called “Lend-Lease,” worked miracles with Churchill and the British people. Both Churchill and Roosevelt, titans of the last millennium, were prime examples of individuals who triumphed over personal and political adversity and setbacks. More than once, they used the mantra of hope and confidence to rise again to success, prominence and social adulation.