July 29th, 2015
Facing pervasive anti-Semitism, especially in Minneapolis, Jewish lawyers formed their own law firms
By ALLEN I. SAEKS
As the American Jewish World celebrates its 100th anniversary, we can look back at one of the more serious challenges to democracy in the history of Minnesota. That challenge was the anti-Semitism that existed during the period from the early-1930s to the early-’60s.
In Germany, as Adolph Hitler came into power in 1933, he issued a decree that no Jewish lawyers could appear as counsel in the Prussian courts. Then, five years later, in 1938, a second Hitler decree disbarred all Jewish lawyers. Thus began the destruction of the Rule of Law in Germany.
Also, in the early-’30s, a virulent anti-Semitism existed in the United States and particularly in Minnesota. This anti-Semitism was engendered by such people as Henry Ford, who published articles in the Dearborn Independent newspaper that generated the hatred of Jews as Communists, and blamed Jews for the difficult economic times of the Great Depression.
In Minnesota, and elsewhere, speakers such as Gerald L.K. Smith, Father Charles Coughlin, William Riley and Luke Rader openly preached a hatred of Jews. Speeches and other activities of the U.S. aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, who was a friend of Adolph Hitler, had met with Hitler on two or three occasions, generated anti-Semitism in the United States as well as in Germany. Most notable in Minnesota were actions of the militant Nazi Silver Shirts.
Significantly, Carey McWilliams, a nationally known journalist, designated Minneapolis as “the capital of anti-Semitism in the United States.” Keep reading →