Nelly Sachs . . . Symbolizer of Jewish Tragedy
When Nelly Sachs was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature,
Oct. 21, 1966, sharing it with Shmuel Yosef Agnon, the chairman of ,
the Nobel Committee, Dr. Anders °sterling, described her poems as
expressing the Jewish tragedy "in lyrical la-
ments of painful beauty," adding that they
rose "above hatred of persecutors to reveal a
deep sorrow at man's debasement."
Miss Sachs herself had said: "Agnon rep-
resents the State of Israel. I represent the
tragedy of the Jewish people."
This is a most significant way of evok-
ing interest in the contrasting values of Jew-
ish life, in the differences that mark those
who found comfort in fulfillment of prophecy
and the others who sought solace in what was
to them the highest humanitarianism. Yet the
two blend, and when Miss Sachs was personal-
ly affected by the horror of the land of her
, birth, citizenship of which she gave up for the Swedish, she cried out
in a poem entitled "0 the Chimneys":
"And when after my skin this. (dust) is destroyed,
Then without my flesh shall 1 see God." —Job 19:26
O the chimneys
On the ingeniously devised abodes of death,
When Israel's body went through the air
Dissolved into smoke—
In place of a chimney-sweep
It was received by a star
Which turned black
Or was it a sunbeam? .
O the chimneys!
Freedom pzths for Jeremiah's and Sob's dust—
Who desiced you and built, stone upon stone,
The road for fugitives made of smoke?
O the abodes of death
For the host who used to be a guest-
O ye fingers
Farming the doorstep
Like a knife between life and death-
of Isaiah Valid Today . . •
Bonds' Leadership Role . . . News
Media Confuse Issues, Distort Zionism
American Jewry's 'James Bond Role' of Providing Defensive Weapons for New-Born Israel
Leonard Slater was here for an afternoon, last Sunday, to explain how he had gathered material
for the fascinating story of American Jewry's support for newborn-Israel in the undercover activities of
providing defensive war material, as related in his book, "The Pledge," just published by Simon and
the art of many prominent people who could
Schuster. It's an amazing account of a deep
not let Israel be destroyed; who. forseeing the state three years before the declaration of Independence 22
years ago, commenced to purchase "illegal" boats and to secure armaments for the defense of the Jew-
Slater tells of the role played by David Ben-Gurion who began to gather around him men of
prominence who provided the funds and people of courage who risked a great deal both in purchasing
vitally needed ammunition, in flying old planes, in manning the boats that were needed to rescue Jews
from displaced persons camps in Germany and to transport them, contrarary to British regulations, to
Primarily, Slater tells the story of Rudolph G. Sonneborn, the dedicated leader of the 1940s and
early 1950s, who formed the Sonneborn Institute to meet regularly to plan the activities that were
"illegal" to the British and that were contrary to American regulations which forbade the shipment of
arms to the Middle East. It is the story of the Swedish Christian, Carl Ekdahl, who designed "The Gun"
was so helpful to Israel and who was helpful in the struggle for freedom in many ways. Slater
gathered interesting data about the activities of Jacob Distrovsky, who later became Yaacov Dori.
Israel's chief of staff, and afterward was president of the Technion. Among the personalities recorded
are Reuven Zaslani, who, as Shiloah, was a member of the negotiating team on the island of Rhodes
where the armistice agreements were signed with the Arabs after the first was in 1948--Zaslani who
was with us in San Francisco during the exciting months of the formation of the United Nations;
Moshe Dayan, who came to the U.S. to seek encouragement for the Palestinian Jews; Danny Agron,
son of Gershon Agron Agronsky), editor of the then Palestine Post; Teddy Kollek, now mayor of
Jerusalem, who was here to seek help; Henry Montor, who was an important intermediary and an asso-
ciate of Sonneborn, and many others.
Slater's is not a complete record, while he tells in his book about machine tools having come
from Detroit, and he lists the work of Harry Weinsaft, he does not list the services that were rendered
here by Detroiters who were active in materials for Israel, in which Sally Fields was deeply involved,
It should especially be noted that Detroiters were directly involved in financing at least one
"illegal" boat that was used to take Jews into Palestine—before the rebirth of Israel—from DP camps.
Louis Berry was the chief organizer of the local effort. The situation had
became critical. Boats were needed to transport the Jews who had survived
Nazism into their ancient homeland. Mr. Berry gathered a group of Detroit
Jews and they contributed $70,000 to purchase an old boat which soon
was put into action for the great humanitarian effort that was soon to be
accomplished in defiance of the British mandatory power. The late Abe
Kasle was very helpful in the task managed by Berry, and the Detroit
effort must be linked with the story told in Slater's "The Pledge."
O ye chimneys,
O ye fingers,
And Israel's body in the smoke through the air !
Mr. Berry recalls with pride the interest that was shown in his life-
saving effort by the late Fred M. Butzel. The noted leader, who aligned
himself with all Zionist tasks in Detroit, not only shared in the purchase
of the boat: he told his young friend—Louis Berry—this was more than
25 years ago--how deeply moved he was by his dedication to a great human
need and that Detroit' Jewry must value such efforts with deep apprecia-
Slater's "The Pledge" helps reconstruct an important chapter in
American Jewish history when men of courage defied restrictions to come
to the aid of persecuted Jews and to build a foundation for a homeland for
them. The Detroit addenda to his story needs to be included in so valuable
There was sort of an atonement when the Exchange Association
of the German Book Trade awarded her the 1965 Peace Prize. The
world's most eminent personalities took note of her expressions of
the agony of the suffers from Nazism in the deeply moving poem.
Her work symobized the answer to the terrors of the 1930s and 1940s
only a few weeks ago, commentedganization he worked for does not
from one who escaped the tormentors and c:iose to speak for the
Joseph Alsop, who was in Israel
tormented. What she had written will long he remembered and will in a recent column on the losses sustained by Israel. Compared to make that society a law-breaker.
They are insignificant and would
What is said about Bnai Brith
serve as a major warning against the repetition of the crimes of
be inconsequential from the viewpoint of an American. But Israel is could apply to ALL Jewish move-
the land of her birth.
today—in the sense of the
Miss Sachs' American publishers, Farrar. Straus and Giroux, have
deep interest by Jews in Zionism
just announced that her "The Seeker and Other Poems" will be pub- loss is serious. Alsop analyzed "the problem of scale—the weight •
I and in Israel. The one Jew who is
lished posthumously in December in a bilingual edition in which the numbers" and stated:
quoted negatively, with charges
people. whereas I
German original and the English translations will appear on opposite
"The United States has more than 205,000,000
GO to 90 men i that the United Jewish Appeal gets
pages. The publishers state that this book will include all the poems
Israel has only 2,600,000. For Israel, therefore, losing
,undue tax deductibly status, has
not collected in "0 the Chimneys" and that the new volume will com-
per month is like an American monthly loss of 5,500 to 8,000 men.
himself been fired from the move-
plete the publication of all of her works in this country.
For Israel in short, this is a hemorrhage that must be staunched." ; ment that, alone, opposes Zionism
This is valuable news for those who :lave read and have been
Such are the realities of a situation that becomes daily
• more in Jewish ranks.
moved by Miss Sachs' collections of poetry—"0 the Chimneys, Selected serious. But the more pressing the issue .the more determine
Bnai Brith will surely explain its
Poems and the Verse Play, Eli." "In the Habitations of Death," Israeli resistance—and that is understandable. It is this condition that
of position and there will be proper
"Eclipse of the Stars" and "Flight and Metamophosis"—all published
by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The Jewish Publication Society co- justice. Former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey expressed it refutation of the Observer article.
At the outset it should be said that
firmly when he wrote after his visit in Israel earlier this month:
published "0 the Chimneys."
"We have a moral commitment to the survival of Israel . . . It it is filled with distortions, that
An important chapter in literature thus retains continuity by the
maligns a great libertarian cause.
publication of a noble woman's works and the perpetuation cf her
is in our interest that Israel maintain her independence and tha
that it is so unjust that there is no
memory by publishers, readers and a generation that remembers the
this struggle in the Middle East be settled as promply as possible.
wonder that American Jews are
The struggle cannot be settled if we show any weakness with the
effects of the chimneys.
outraged by it. There is one answer
to be given it: multiplication of
commitment for mankind- to protect Israel's position support for UJA and mass enroll-
Israel Bonds' Honor for Fishman
Local History Reminiscent of U. S. Bond Drives
in the world. How much more responsible to such a commitment, ment in the Zionist movement as a
The Israel Bond honors to be accorded to Nathan Fishman on his therefore, is the Jewish people everywhere? , There must be no slacken- defense measure.
75th birthday. next Thursday, brings back recollections of the important ink of efforts in Israel's behalf. In the years
There is one more matter that
before Israel's re-emergence into sovereign state-
role Detroit Jewry played back in the U.S. Bond drives.
needs treLanent. We had the high-
Turning back the pages of The Jewish News to Sept. 18, 1942, we hood, whenever Arabs would uproot a single tree
respect for John K. Cooley of
by Detroit Jewry, during the planted by the Jewish National Fund, Jews would
find :r record of serious efforts here
the Christian Science Monitor who
World War II activates for the sale of I' S Bonds. In that issue there mobilize to plant another forest. With lives being
is headquartered primarly in Bei-
is a description of one such effort—that of Knollwood Country Club— lost in a struggle for survival, the duty to 'help
roe Zoete • sake,
nit. We have followed his articles
- sesall not keep
where a 5.1000,000 Bond drive was conducted under the leadership of a people that is in danger is much greater than
• Wen, rOe Ivey-
with the keenest interest. But he
Nathan Fishman, and the co-chairmanship of the late Irving W. ever before.
• ..II not res.
certainly slipped when he wrote.
Blumberg and Maurice Aronsson, Irving Dworman, George S. Seyburn
That is why the Israel Bond drive is so ire-
regarding the Middle East water
portant now, why giving to the United Jewish
in the May 19 issue.
The late Louis Luckoff directed the advertising, and the story Appeal is vital. Even with the Allied Jewish Campaign at an
that "old Zionist maps" showed an
states: "The Jewish News has volunteered its services to act as • it is logical to continue increasing gifts.
And whenever Israel is attacked we must speak up in the state's aspiration for Israel to acquire a
official organ of Knollwood Country Club for this Million Dollar War
defense, adhering to the admonition in Isaiah: "For the sake of Zion lot of territory, including Lebanese
The story declared that "THE EYES OF THE AXIS ARE UPON I shall not be silent . . . ." areas, "the Hasbani or even the
US—WE DARE NOT FAIL is challenging Knollwoodians and their
friends . .
There were many such efforts here and there are historic links
between the activities in 1942 and the leadership in Israel Bond drives
which attracts men like Nathan Fishman in defense of the Jewish
state that is again challenged by Nazi-like tendencies in the Middle
East. The recollection of Nathan Fishman's efforts nearly three decades
ago and his current interest add glory to his devotion to our community
and to the need to protect the democratic forces everywhere.
Arabs keep passing on the fable
Remember the concern Jews showed in the early 1930s over the that there are maps in the Knesset
constant emphasis on Jewish news in the headlines? The explanation that show Israel's aim to acquire
was: Jews ARE News! territory past the Bosphorus. There
The News Media and the Exaggerations
We are back again to that status. The Wall-Street Journal's exten- is a story about an Arab group
sive coverage of the Middle East, the day-in-day-out emphasis on Israel visting the Knesset who were em-
barrassed when they were asked
and her enemies in the Christian Science Monitor, the recent sensational to locate such a map.
article in the New York Times analyzing (sic!) the functions of Zionist
We know something about Zion-
agencies, and now the National Observer confusion-worse-confounded
ist aspirations and we'd like to see
Tragic Losses for a Small Nation
lengthy essay on a subject similar to that in the NYTimes.
Attrition has become a menacing word in the Middle East and for
maps Cooley speaks of. He has
It is the latter that Is disturbing many:Jews because it reads like
Israel it is sort of a challenge. Nasser threatened attrition, Israel defies an expose, like an indictment, like an accusation. against that demon swallowed the vilest Arab propa-
He must correct his accusa-
it, foreign correspondents keep harping on it.
Zionism. Actually, it is a pack of nonsense because it deals with half
Perhaps it is a reality. In any event, for Israel the threats are not truths, and there Is nothing more difficult to deal with than a rumor or tion. Prove it, Mr. Cooley, produce
you speak of, else apolo-
minimal. They are unending.
a half truth or the accusation by a Jew against a Jew.
Just because a discharged employee files a law suit against an or- gize!
2—Friday, May 22, 1970
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS