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May 10, 1968 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-05-10

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Dinnerstein's Book Exposes Bankruptcy Congress Urged to Provide the Poor
of Press During Georgia's Frank Case With Jobs by °King Employment Act

26—Friday, May 10, 196$

Prof. Leonard Dinnerstein of
Fairleigh Dickinson University re-
vives sad recollections about one
of the most tragic American epi-
sodes, the infamous anti-Semitic
demonstrations during the ,Leo
Frank case in Atlanta, Ga., (1913-
1915), in a new volume published
by Columbia University Press.
His "The Leo Frank Case" is
like a chronological analysis of
what occurred during the era in
which Southerners resorted to
shouts demanding the death of
the God damn Jew, when a jury
apparently was influenced by the
threats of a mob, when a charge
of murder against a Jewish indus-
trialist turned into political aspira-
tions and was marked by fear to
act in exposing a tragic lie that
may well have been the result of
_a conspiracy. Meanwhile the mur-
derer of Mary Phagan, 13, was
used as chief witness by the prose-
There is no doulyt that the po-
lice conspired, anri they went so
far as to threateA, cajole, torture
witnesses, some of whom later
repudiated testimony they gave
under pressure; they dressed up a
criminal so that lie should testify
against a Jew; the prosecutors re-
sorted to meanest schemes.
It's an old story and all who
are acquainted with the history
of that period will not learn
anything new, except that it will
become more evident that the
tragic three -years under review
in this book prove that the press
in large measure was bank-
rupted morally, that the Leo
Frank corps of lawyers was in-
ept, that there was a lack of
courage on the part of many
Jews to provide immediate help,
and even today Atlanta Jews
would not revive the memory of
that case: there was fear of even
worse repercussions in Jewish
ranks and some of it may have
been perpetuated.

The Atlanta Journal was cour-
ageous. The great hero who de-
fied all impending dangers — and
there were many — was the then
retiring governor of the State of
Georgia john M. Slaton who com-
muted the death sentence when
all appeals failed. There is that
famous remark of Mrs. Slaton
when, four days before his retire-
ment as governor, after long de-
liberation, on June 21, 1915, at 2
a.m. he came to their upstairs
bedroom and she asked if he had
made a decision. He replied "it
may mean death or worse, but I
have ordered the sentence com-
muted," and his wife said to him:
"I would rather be the widow of a
brave and honorable man than
the wife of a coward."
It was Slaton's political suicide
but lie emerged the man of honor.
Later, when Georgia's Bar Asso-
ciation finally gave him deserved
recognition, he was honored again,
after a period of exile from his
home state and his return to pri-
vate practice. Among those who
applauded him, quoted in Dinner-
stein's "The Leo Frank Case," was
Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Con-
stitution. But it was McGill's paper
that had failed to show courage
and to defend an innocently ac-
cused man. We'd still like to know
what McGill said and did during
the crucial months. Surely, he
spoke too late when he eulogized
Slaton on the courageous ex-gov-
ernor's death in 1955.
When the case went to the
United States Stipreme Court,
the vote denying Frank a new
trial was 7 to 2 = and the two
justices who showed understand-
ing were Oliver Wendell Holmes
and Charles Evans Hughes. It
is inconceivable that there could
have been such a lack of com-
passion in our time or that an
innocent man would have had
such poor defense as Frank en-
joyed. On that score it can well
be said that we made progress.
And surely we must have made
progress in Atlanta, in view of
the recognition that was enjoyed
by Martin Luther King and now
by his wife. But in the Leo Frank
era there was bigotry, mob rule,
Dinnerstein again presents the
fact about the group of men who
took Leo Frank from his jail
towards the lynching that ended
his life. On the way Frank appar-
ently convinced all but four of
the men of his innocence but they

Yeshiva U. Fills
Three New Posts

A Great Lunch!

That's Chef Boy-Ar-Dee Cheese
Ravioli! Tasty little macaroni pies
filled with zippy cheese and sim-
mered in savory tomato sauce.
UM-111-111, real Italian ta'am. Only
about 380 per serving—and just
about the easiest you ever fixed.

Dr. Samuel Belkin, president of
Yeshiva University, announced es-
tablishment of a new position of
assistant to the president for stu-
dent affairs and the appointment
of new deans for two of the uni-
versity's undergraduate schools.
Named to the student affairs
position was Dr. Israel Miller, 50,
chairman of the American Jewish
Conference on Soviet Jewry and of
the American Zionist Council.
Prof. David Mirsky, 46, currently
dean of admissions and professor
of English at the university, was
appointed dean of Stern College
for Women, its undergraduate
school of liberal arts and sciences
for women. He succeeds Dr. Nor-
man E. Frimer, who has resigned
to return to the Bnai Brith Hillel
Foundations, where he had served
as New York regional director and
Hillel director at Brooklyn College.
Rabbi Jacob M. Rabinowitz, 41,
currently clean of students, was ap-
pointed dean of the Erna Michael
College of Hebraic Studies. He
succeeds Dr. Hyman B. Grinstein,
who is retiring in June after 24
years of service as director of
the school.

Maxim Gorki on Anti-Semitism
Maxim Gorki, commenting on
Czarist persecutions, said that anti-
Semitism is necessary only for

did not return him. Who were the
men who did the abducting that
led to the murder of an innocent
Jew? To quote Dinnerstein:
"The men who kidnapped Leo
Frank had begun to plan their
adventure after Governor Slaton
had commuted his sentence.
These men represented the 'best
citizens' of Marietta, Ga., home-
town of Mary Phagan. In fact,
the so-called riffraff had been
deliberately excluded. A clergy.
man, two former Superior Court
justices, and an ex-sheriff were
included among the planners and
executioners who were later de-
scribed by the Dean of the At-
lanta Theological Seminary, as
'a gifted band of men, sober, in-
telligent, of established good
name and character — good
American citizens. 'The leader
bore 'as reputable (a) name as
you would ever hear, in a lawful
community. He was a man hon-
ored and respected.' The abduc-
tors were the same men who, a
month earlier, had postponed
their plans to kidnap and lynch
Frank. when news of the con-
spiracy had reached Governor
Harris (Slaton's successor). On
Aug. 16, 1915, however, they
carried out their task with order,
precision and dispatch."
What an indictment of church,
state, the legal profession, the
press in Georgia of the second dec-
ade of this enlightened century!
And how well it proves the opening
words in the preface to Dinner-
stein's book that it was "one of
the most infamous outbursts of
anti-Semitic feeling in the United
Evidences Amounted that Jim
Conley was the murderer, but
the police and prosecutors were
committed, the mob had already
picked a victim for its fury, Leo
Frank was doomed!
As the Dinnerstein study em-
phasizes, it was an "ill-conducted
case," and the lawyers proved in-
competent. Frank could have been
saved. But, is it possible that if
Jewish participation had not been
in-evidence in the defense that Leo
Frank would have been more for-
tunate? Dinnerstein quotes a state-
ment by an Atlanta newspaperman,
Herbert Asbury, who, in 1925,
"If the Jews had been content
to regard Frank as a man sus-
pected of murder, entitled to a
fair trial and nothing more, in-
stead of as a Jew on the threshold
of martyrdom, hounded by Chris-
tians thristing for his blood, there
would have been little or no anti-
Semitic feeling in Atlanta."
What a fallacy and how mis-
leading this is! Louis Marshall
and the American Jewish Commit-
tee urged and practiced caution.
Jewish attention to the case was
not called nationally until after
the martyred, yes. martyred, Jew
was indicted. The anti-Semitic
cries had already resounded
throughout the land, the conspiracy
was complete, yet another deluded
Atlantan dared write such a para-
Dinnerstein's book does not pre-
sent new facts. It's a review of an
old story. Its indication of the
bankruptcy of decency in the Geor-
gia press, with the honorable ex-
ception noted by him — especially
the Atlanta Journal—and in other
quarters — perhaps also the
church contrary to the guilt-con-
scious defense by Asbury—emerges
primarily as most emphatic. This
reviewer does not consider his ap-
pendixes as the best material he
could have used as closing data.
The last piece, a letter by a misled
person who insisted on Frank's
guilt, certainly did not deserve
such a spot; neither did the anti-
Semitic "Ballad of Mary Phagan."
It was sufficient that both were
mentioned in the book. But his book
does expose a shameful chapter in
American legal history, and de-
serves wide attention on that score.
—P. S.


(Direct JTA Teletype Wire
to The Jewish Neva)

WASHINGTON—Responding to
the human needs advocated in the
Poor Peoples' March on Washing-
ton, spokesmen for the Jewish,
Catholic, and Protestant faiths
joined Wednesday in urging Con-
gress to adopt a guaranteed em-
ployment act to provide 1,000,000
new government jobs for the na-
tion's unemployed.
The appeal was made before a
House labor subcommittee in joint
testimony offered by Rabbi Rich-
ard G. Hirsch, Director of the Re-
ligious Action Center, Union of
American Hebrew Congregations;
Father John McCarthy, Assistant
Director of the U.S. Catholic Con-
ference Social Action Department,
and Dr. Grover Babby, for the
Department of Social Justice, Na-
tional Council of Churches.
Their joint statement said that
opposition to povery was "deeply
rooted in our Judeo-Christian her-
itage, which affirms that obedi-
ence to the will of God demands
that the hungry be fed, the naked
clothed and justice be established
in the land."
Stressing government responsi-
bility in providing employment,
the clergymen said that "involun-
tary poverty, especially in a society
of affluence, undermines human

dignity; to sanction or allow the
continuation of such indignity is to
diminish man's statute and to dese-
crate the image of God."
According to the religous lead-
ers, "The Government should util-
ize all available fiscal, monetary,
and economic instruments, and, if
necessary, devise new means for
expansion of the nation's agricul-
tural and industrial capacity and
for job creation, in order to assure
every employable person the op-
portunity to serve the community
through work."

Romania, Israel
Exchange Tourists

(Direct JTA Teletype Wire
to The Jewish News)

TEL AVIV — Israel announced
Wednesday its first organized ex-
change of tourists with Romania.
A Tarum, Romanian Airline plane
landed the first group of Roman-
ians here Wednesday morning. An
El Al Israel Airline plane flew the
first group of Israelis to Bucharest
Tuesday. The flights were inaugu-
rated under an air agreement, part
of an over-all trade agreement
concluded between Israel and Ro-
maina earlier this year. For the
time being, only group flights are
being made.






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