PROFESSOR L. B. NAMIER, the distinguished professor of modern history at Manchester University, who wrote these words, is not alone in wondering. Misgivings and uneasiness have colored the thinking of American Jews as well. Faced with the unbelievable record of Nazi barbarities, faced now with the proposal of Sir Herbert Samuel that they aid in the enormously costly deportation of all Jews from Germany, leading members of the Jewish community in the United States—men who had previously looked to the future with complete confidence—have been shocked into fear. The apprehensiveness of American Jews has become one of the important influences in the social life of our time.
It is important to non-Jews as well as to Jews. Any nation which permits a minority to live in fear of persecution is a nation which invites disaster. Fearful minorities become suspicious minorities and suspicious minorities, their defensive reactions set on the hair trigger of anxiety, create the animosities they dread. The consequence is a condition dangerous to the State at any time and doubly dangerous at a time like the present when the primitive emotions of men have been deliberately exploited in the interest of Fascism. The connection between Fascism and Jew-hatred is not accidental. Fascism, having nothing for sale but dictatorship and no selling point but the necessity for force, requires civil riots in order to advertise its goods and a civil triumph to complete the sale. Jew-hatred, as the Nazis have proved, does very well as an excuse for the first and the Jew as a victim for the second.
Consequently any man who loathes Fascism will fear anti-Semitism. And fearing anti-Semitism he will fear also the various conditions which encourage it—of which the apprehensiveness of the Jews themselves is one. Aware though he is of the European reasons for Jewish anxiety he will nevertheless be troubled to find his American-Jewish neighbor taking offense where no offense is intended. He will be troubled by the uneasy reticence, the circumlocutions, the sense of strain. He will be troubled by the fact that certain Jews carry their race like an Irishman’s fighting shillelagh while others resent, as though it were a deliberate insult, any reference to their blood, avoiding friends who speak of it, boycotting publications which publish it in print. He will wonder whether such an attitude is necessary. He will wonder specifically whether the growing apprehensiveness of American Jews has any justification in fact. The leaders of American Jewry have earnestly asked themselves the same question in the recent past.
It is a question to which an answer can be given. First of all it may be stated authoritatively that there is no reason for anxiety so far as concerns the record to date of the organized forces of anti-Semitism. Attempts have been made to “expose” an anti-Semitic offensive of dangerous proportions. But neither these attempts nor the activities of an efficient Jewish information service have succeeded in turning up anything of serious importance. Shaken down to bare fact and described without the Scotland Yard mystifications dear to the professional exposers. American organized anti-Semitism is a poor thing indeed.
By anti-Semitism is here intended not the latent prejudice against Jews which is a common phenomenon in history and which, as Rabbi Joel Blau put it, “dates back to the beginnings of the Jewish people.” Prejudice against Jews is at least as old as 1654 in North America and its negative evidences may be found in the histories of most of the clubs and colleges and residential districts of the country. By anti-Semitism is meant the deliberately incited, affirmative racial phobia which has produced the social and economic and sometimes physical pogroms of modern Germany just as it produced the murderous pogroms of Czarist Russia. Of that disease there is no American clinical record. Not because the history of America has been free of intolerance and persecution, but because the victims of intolerance and persecution were not, down to 1921, Semites. They were Quakers and Baptists in the seventeenth century, Irish Catholics and Negroes in the nineteenth. Jews suffered certain legal civil disabilities in the colonies and in some of the later states and certain extralegal social disabilities in both, but they suffered no persecution until three years after the War. Then, in the atmosphere of post-War nationalism and reaction, with the Ku Klux Klan “riding” again (in Fords) at the instigation of a pair of high-powered publicity panjandrums, Jews came in for a share of the Catholic opprobrium. But even so the persecutions were bloodless and brief. In the early twenties there were up to 2,500,000 “Aryan” citizens parading in sheets. Thirty journals including Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent were in full bray. Serious-minded people were telling each other about the Jewish plot to take over the earth. And copies of the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion were passing solemnly and secretly from hand to hand. But a few years later the New York World’s exposure of the racket behind the Klan had had its effect, the Coolidge boom had given the paraders something else to think about, Henry Ford had apologized and retracted, and the Protocols were on their way to the judicial examination which eventually stripped them to the fraudulent skin.
From that collapse not even the depression, traditional ally of all phobias, was able to save the cause. Anti-Semitism languished and still languishes. The great shift from sheets to shirts has failed to save it. Although an estimated half million people may attend occasional anti-Semitic meetings, etc., there are probably no more than 15,000 loyal Jew-hating group members in the whole United States and many of these are loyal only in a negative and receptive manner. The principal anti-Semitic organization is German in name and almost entirely German or German-American in membership. The second in point of fame is bankrupt. And the rest hardly supply material for a half column in the county papers. Anyone concerned to know more about the vagaries of such statesmen as the Reverend Winrod may turn to page 142 where an appendix of anti-Semites is published for the benefit of fanciers of Americana.
The truth of the matter is that the virus has not been acclimated on this continent and that the efforts of the doctors to inoculate the American mind have failed for that reason. Surveys of national opinion indicate either hostility to anti-Semitic dogmas or, what is worse from the agitator’s point of view, complete indifference. It was the opinion of 95 per cent of those questioned in October, 1935, by the National Conference of Jews and Christians that there was less anti-Semitism in their communities at that time than there had been at the beginning of the depression. An inquiry made by FORTUNE a month later incidentally to the preparation of this article produced a comparable result. Few of those replying felt that anti-Semitism was a live issue. On the contrary a considerable number felt that it was no issue at all.
More informative than either of these responses, however, is the reply to a question in the most recent FORTUNE Survey (published on page 157 of the January issue). That question avoided the habitual reticences by aiming its inquiry at the much publicized German situation. “Do you believe that in the long run Germany will be better or worse off if it drives out the Jews? The answers were as follows:
The significant category here is the “Don’t know” category. “Don’t know” in this connection is almost certainly equivalent to indifference. And indifference, though Jews may think it callous, is the most effective prophylactic against the pestilence of hate: those who don’t care either way will smash no windows. It will be observed that anywhere from a quarter to a half of the replies were “Don’t know,” while from 40 per cent to 60 per cent were explicitly opposed to discrimination against Jews. The result is to suggest that even in the Midwest an anti-Semitic propagandist would have up to 84 per cent of the population actively or passively against him.
The conclusion is inescapable that current American anti-Semitism is feeble. It is German in manufacture and was to be expected in the light of Hitler’s career. But Germany is 4,000 miles away. It is not pleasant to have individuals like the Reverend Winrod of the Defenders of the Christian Faith or like Mr. Robert Edward Edmondson who manufactures hate in New York City inviting the country to attack your people. But neither is it important.
ALL this the intelligent and informed. American Jew knows perfectly well. He may occasionally lose his sense of proportion and see Silver Shirts under the bed but in general it is not Silver Shirts that bother him. What keeps him awake at night is the thought that a situation exists in America which may at some future time breed animals much worse than Silver Shirts and much more numerous—animals as nearly like a Nazi Brown Shirt as one species can be like another. That situation may be described as follows: in the year 1800 there were 2,500,000 Jews in the world, half of them in the old Kingdom of Poland and not more than 3,000 of them in the United States. In 1933 there were 16,000,000 Jews in the world of whom more than a fourth were resident in the United States. The Jews, in the phraseology of Doctor Ruppin of the Hebrew University at Jerusalem, having changed in the eighteenth century from an Oriental people to an Eastern European, have in the last few generations changed from an Eastern European people to a Western European and an American.
The apprehensiveness of intelligent Jews springs from this fact. Realizing that Jews have been the scapegoats of all Western history, that they have been made to bear responsibility for everything from the Black Death to the economic ills of the Germans, these observers fear that the enormous increase in Jewish numbers in America will lead to charges that the Jews have monopolized the opportunities for economic advance and that these charges will pave the way for Fascism here as they paved the way for Hitler in Germany. Non-Jews who prefer democratic institutions to dictatorship share that fear.
To determine whether it is a fear deserving of serious attention, it is necessary to inquire, first, what significance the extraordinary numerical increase in American Jewry actually has, and, second, whether there is any factual basis for charges of Jewish monopolization of American economic opportunity.
As to the increase in numbers, a little reflection should persuade even those Jews who, like Professor Namier, think of numbers as dangerous (“to a nation rooted in its own soil … they mean strength and security, but for us, outside Palestine, they have always constituted a danger”) that the danger here is more apparent than real. Numerical increase is always purely relative. A 1,500-fold U.S. increase since 1800 means nothing without an examination of the figure from which departure is taken. And in any case it is the trend and not the total which is significant. There were only a few thousand Jews in America in 1800 and the reason why there were only a few thousand was that Jews were not permitted to live in England at the lime of the first British settlements in America. The reason for the enormous sixfold increase in world Jewry between 1800 and 1933 was the fall in the death rate, chiefly the infant death rate, brought about by medical, sanitary, and economic advance—phenomena from which all populations profited more or less equally, though the Jews, whose high fertility was noticed by Tacitus, increased more than twice as rapidly as the world population. That rate of increase no longer holds. The Jewish birth rate, like other birth rates beginning with the French about 1811, has now fallen to meet the new conditions of survival and longevity. Ruppin remarks that the most striking present feature of Jewish vital statistics is the fall from an eighteenth-century birth rate of forty-five per 1,000 to a rate of eighteen in 1932. This rate moreover declines from East to West in Europe, having been 24.1 in Russia in 1926 and 5.9 in Vienna in 1929. In New York the rule breaks down, the Jewish rate being higher than the non-Jewish. (The Jewish 1932 rate of 17.5 is to be compared with the rate for non-Jews of 16.5.) The Jewish advantage, however, is probably to be explained by the fact that about half the Jews living in America are still first-generation immigrants largely from Eastern Europe with the high Eastern European birth rate.
The fact of the matter is, in other words, that an enormous increase has taken place. But the further facts are, first, that that increase is attributable to a temporary unbalance between Jewish birth rate and Jewish death rate in Eastern Europe in the nineteenth century, second, that that unbalance has largely corrected itself, and, third, that the gates of immigration into the United States are now closed. The three tides, first, of Sephardic Jews from Brazil, Holland, England, and the Spanish Americas in the eighteenth century, second, of German Jews in the first half of the nineteenth, and, third, of Polish and Russian Jews between 1882 (the year of the great Russian pogroms) and 1925 are not likely 10 be followed by a fourth. There is therefore little reason for apprehensiveness on the ground merely of anti-Semitic propaganda based upon increasing numbers.
THE second and fundamental question then presents itself. Are there any facts to support a charge that Jews have monopolized or are monopolizing economic opportunity in the United States? Before this question can be answered it is desirable to see precisely why it presents itself. What difference does it make even if Jews do run away with the system? Why shouldn’t they monopolize any profession or branch of industry they are intelligent enough to capture? A man’s job should not be determined by his parentage. To this proposition and to the related proposition that any discrimination against Jews in the professions or in industry is unjust there is no answer in logic or morality. Both are unanswerably sound. But there is an historical answer. Which is that a disproportionate Jewish participation in the economic life of a country has been found capable of arousing anti-Semitic feeling.
Why this should be so—why the success of the Jewish minority should be so particularly resented by other peoples—is a complicated question which is rendered more complicated by the fact that anthropologists are now generally agreed that the Jews are not a race in any scientific sense of the term—no more of a race, for example, than the Germans. They were originally a cross between a longheaded, tallish, dark Mediterranean race (the Bedouins) and a short-headed, shortish, dark Alpine race. Those who remained in the Mediterranean basin, working around into the Spanish peninsula, were further modified by additional Mediterranean blood. Those who crossed through Syria into Eastern Europe and on into Germany received additions of Mongol, Alpine, and Nordic characteristics. The result is the distinction of the two types familiar in America—the Sephardim or Spanish Jews on the one hand and the Ashkenazim or German Jews on the other. The first, of whom Justice Cardozo and Bernard Baruch are examples, are characterized by thin features and spare bodies which often take on a typically Yankee look, while the second have quite frequently the heavy features, swarthy complexion, curly hair, and short body of common association. A third type is sometimes distinguished as representative of those Ashkenazim (a great majority of the group) who have lived for centuries among the Slavs of Eastern Europe. This type is physically like the German Jew save that light hair and eyes are common and pug noses are more frequent than hooked.
The three groups, moreover, are distinct not only in appearance. They originally differed also in language, since the first spoke Spanish or Ladino (a fifteenth-century Spanish), the second German, and the third Yiddish (an alloy of Hebrew and German). And they maintain a certain aloofness among themselves. The pride and exclusiveness of the Spanish Jews of ancient settlement in this country are most sharply felt by the Ashkenazim. And the hatred of German Jews which Elma T. Levinger attributes to Polish Jew immigrants was warmly reciprocated by their predecessors of German origin. The word “kike” is not of Gentile but of German-Jewish coinage.
WHAT then is the explanation of anti-Jewish prejudice if the Jews are not a racial unit? The answer would seem to be that anti-Jewish prejudice is the classic example of that dislike and fear of strangers which the Greeks knew as xenophobia and which appears as a familiar phenomenon among primitive peoples and peoples reverting to primitivism. The outstanding fact about the Jewish people is the fact that they have preserved, though scattered among the nations of the earth, their national identity. They are unique among the peoples of the world not because they have bold noses—only a small percentage of Jews have the Jewish nose—but because they alone, of all peoples known to history, have retained in exile and dispersion and over a period of thousands of years their distinction from the peoples among whom they live. The Jew is everywhere and everywhere the Jew is strange. Japanese are strangers in California but not in Japan. Scotsmen are outlanders in Paris but not in Edinburgh. The Jews are outlanders everywhere. The country of the Jew, as Schopenhauer puts it, is other Jews.
And therein is the key to the peculiar destiny of the Jews. The quality which makes them the scapegoats of Western history is the quality which makes them strangers in Western history—their devotion to their own cultural tradition under conditions of almost impossible hardship and the psychological traits which that devotion has established. Jews themselves, but not non-Jews, think of the Jewish religion as the chief cause of the Jew’s universal strangeness, and the Christian religion as the chief cause of the prejudice from which he suffers. Non-Jews, on the other hand, cite such complaints as those gathered together in Catholics, Jews, and Protestants, a study undertaken at the request of the National Conference of Jews and Christians. These ate: “Aggressiveness. “sharp business practices.’ clannishness, and lack of sensitivity to the feelings of Gentile groups.” the preservation among the Jews of “the “haggling’ habit which most of the Western world has outgrown,” “the use of shoddy or poor materials,” the fact that “Jews are considered by certain leading insurance companies as a poor fire risk,” etc.
The truth is that neither these ancient chestnuts of racial prejudice nor the equally ancient references to religious history explain the Jew’s position. They are merely rationalizations of the underlying feeling of foreignness—instances of difference made to stand for the difference itself. The true difference is cultural. All other immigrant peoples accept the culture of the country into which they come. The Jews for centuries have refused to accept it and are now, in many cases, unable to accept it when they would. The habit of pride, the long, proud stubbornness of their ancestors, is too strong in them. Even many of those who have deserted the traditions of their people and accepted in every detail the chess and speech and life of the non-Jewish majority are still subtly but recognizably different.
That difference alone, with ignorant or parochial minds, is cause for prejudice. When it is combined, as it frequently is, with an equally strong sense of difference and hence of clannishness on the part of the Jews, it may also affect minds to which neither ignorance nor narrowness can be ascribed. Any minority, and particularly any self-conscious minority, will develop centripetal tendencies. Members of the minority will tend to agglomerate. And this the Jews have notoriously done. Though they are very far, as we shall see, from monopolizing American industry, they have nevertheless made fair progress toward monopolizing those subdivisions of industry in which they have established themselves. Indeed the very fact of the existence of discriminatory quotas and barriers and the like in industry and education and the professions is proof, not only of Gentile injustice, but also of the Jewish tendency to inundate a field where other Jews have made entrance. It is a natural trait and an understandable trait but it serves to exaggerate the feeling of strangeness and hence the prejudice which that feeling inspires. Seeing Jews clannishly crowding together in particular businesses and particular localities the non-Jew (who does not think of himself as acting clannishly) is more than ever impressed with the exotic character of this unusual people.
And being impressed with the Jews’ difference from himself and hence their foreignness he is all too ready to resent their economic successes as a kind of outside invasion of his world. He is all too ready to agree that if the Jews have more than their “share,” the Jews must be opposed. It is useless to argue that the conclusion is a non sequitur: that there is no reason on earth why a man’s blood stream should qualify his economic achievements. The only truly convincing answer and the only real obstacle to anti-Semitic propaganda of this most dangerous sort is the appeal to fact.
AND the fact is this: that there is no basis whatever for the suggestion that Jews monopolize U.S. business and industry.
Two points should be made at the outset. First, the number of Jews who can be thought of as threatening non-Jewish control of U.S. industry is not so large as the Jewish population estimate of 1933 would suggest: the great mass of the 4,500,000 American Jews, like the great mass of American non-Jews, is made up of workers, employed or unemployed, to whom the control of U.S. industry is a purely academic matter. Second, the number of Jews who can be thought of as threatening non-Jewish control of U.S. industry is not so large as the seeming prevalence of Jews would make it appear. The Jews seem to play a disproportionate part for two reasons: the Jews and particularly the Polish Jews with their ghetto background are the most urban, the most city-loving, of all peoples, and the favored occupations of Jews in the cities are those occupations which bring them into most direct contact with the great consuming public. These are matters of common observation. The proclivity of the Jews for finance, trade, and exchange has been frequently noticed by Jewish writers and the concentration of Jews in the cities is a present as well as an historical fact. Over 1,000,000 of the 4,500,000 Jews of the first century lived in Alexandria alone and 95 per cent of present American Jews live in American cities of more than 10,000, while 84 per cent live in cities of more than 100,000. This urban concentration is a circumstance of considerable importance in the present connection. One of the effects of modern industrialism has been to increase the relative importance of the cities. The great metropolis is the true expression of modern life as the country and the castle were the true expressions of medieval life. In consequence any group which is numerous in the cities will seem more important than its actual numerical strength would make it. For example, nearly half the Jews in America live in New York City alone, and the fact that the city of New York is so important to the life of the country taken together with the fact that 30 per cent of the population of that city is Jewish has the effect of throwing its 1,765,000 Jews into very high relief.
Urbanization has also of course certain substantial effects upon Jewish life and hence upon Jewish successes. It is largely responsible, for example, for the Jewish concentration in the learned professions. The Jews share with the Scotch and certain other peoples an almost morbid passion for higher education. But that passion would have been fruitless had the immigrant Jews not remained in the large cities. The American system of education makes it possible for a poor boy living in a great city to carry himself through college and even through certain professional schools free, whereas a similar boy living in a rural community will be Stopped alter high school by the costs of transportation to the state-college town and by the cost of board and food away from home. The result has been to give the children of certain city-dwelling types of recent immigrant an educational advantage over the children of native American and other stocks living in rural areas. The proposed nationwide scholarships at Harvard are one response to this situation.
But though the urbanization of the Jews is a matter of real importance in some connections its principal effect remains in the field of appearances. If appearances are disregarded and replaced with facts the general impression of Jewish ubiquity and power disappears. Indeed the immediate reaction is that the Jews, who can lay better claims than most non-Jews to credit for the creation of the present economic order, are less well represented in many directions than they should be. The Jews and the English were the chief designers of finance capitalism in the last century but only the English have profited correspondingly. The Jews have seen themselves surpassed in one business or banking province after another by upstarts who were still swinging swords or pushing plows when the Jews were the traders and the bankers of Europe. It is one thing for a non-Jew to say “Oh, the Jews run everything.” It is another for an impartial observer to see exactly what they do run.
FIRST of all and very definitely, they do not run banking. They play little or no part in the great commercial houses. Of the 420 listed directors of the nineteen members of the New York Clearing House in 1933 only thirty were Jews and about half of these were in the Commercial National Bank & Trust Co. and the Public National Hank & Trust. There were none in the Hank of New York & Trust Co., National City, Guaranty Trust, Central Hanover, First National, Chase, Bankers Trust, or New York Trust. Indeed there are practically no Jewish employees of any kind in the largest commercial banks—and this in spite of the fact that many of their customers are Jews. In the investment field although there are of course Jewish houses, of which Kuhn, Loeb & Co., Speyer & Co., J. & W. Seligman & Co., Ladenburg, Thalmann & Co., and Lehman Bros. are the best known, they do not compare in power with the great houses owned by non-Jews. (Dillon of Dillon, Read & Co. is considered a Jew by other Jews but he is not, as his name suggests, an active member of his race nor is his firm considered Jewish by either Jews or non-Jews.) If these houses are ranked upon the amounts of foreign loans outstanding on March 1, 1935, J. P. Morgan with 19.87 per cent, National City Co. with 11.71, Dillon, Read with 11.44, Chase, Harris, Forbes with 8.45, Guaranty Co. with 6.68 per cent, Bancamerica-Blair with 6.18 per cent, and Lee, Higginson with 4.23 per cent all rank above the highest Jewish house, which is Kuhn, Loeb with 2.88 per cent.* Ranked on the basis of domestic activity, Kuhn, Loeb, which has been very active of late in the steel industry and which has a long and honorable record of general activity in American business, would of course stand very near the top, but even in the domestic field non-Jewish interests are still far and away the most influential.
Furthermore these so-called Jewish houses are by no means exclusively Jewish. In Kuhn, Loeb Messrs, Elisha Walker, Bovenizer, Wiseman, and Knowlton, none of them Jews, are extremely active, while control of J. & W. Seligman is now shared with Frederick Strauss by Earle Bailie and Francis Randolph, a member of the proudest family in the Virginia Tidewater.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 148 of the 919 members, or 16 per cent, are Jews, while fifty-five of the 637 firms listed by the Exchange directory are Jewish, twenty-four are half-Jewish, and thirty-nine have dominant Jewish influence. The absence of Jews in the insurance business is noteworthy. Herman A. Behrens, President of Continental Assurance Co., and J. B. Levison, President of the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. in San Francisco, are two of the few Jewish executives of large insurance companies. In the insurance-agency field, however, about half the business is Jewish in New York. And the New York insurance-brokerage business is predominantly Jewish although the three or four nationwide brokerage houses with New York offices in non-Jewish. Outside New York Jewish representation follows the Jewish population proportion.
If the Jews have a subordinate place in finance, which they are often said to control, they have an even more inconspicuous place in heavy industry. The only outstanding Jews in that field are the Blocks and Max Epstein of Chicago, the Blocks being largely interested in Inland Steel (see FORTUNE, December, 1935, “Republic Steel”), the No. 7 producer, and Mr. Epstein being Chairman of the Board of General American Transportation Corp., which manufactures tank cars. Inland Steel is a successful company well liked and much respected in the trade but its share of the steel business is relatively small. The only exception to the rule that steel is not a Jewish industry is the scrap business. Scrap iron and steel, a half-billion-dollar business in 1929, which provides the steel industry with half its metal requirements, is owned 90 per cent by Jews, being an outgrowth of the junk business, which at the end of the last century was in the hands of Russian Jews. The largest company in the business is Luria Bros. & Co. of Philadelphia owned by Russian Jews. Others are Hyman Michaels Co. of Chicago, founded by Joseph E. Michaels, a Portuguese few, Charles Dreifus Co. of Pittsburgh, and Luntz Iron & Steel Co. of Canton, Ohio. It may be added in passing that practically the whole waste-products industry including nonferrous scrap metal (a $300,000,000 a year business in 1929), paper, cotton rag, wool rag, and rubber, is Jewish.
Something the same situation exists in automobiles. There are only three Jews of any prominence in the executive end of manufacturing—Morris Markin, President of Cord-controlled Checker Cab. Meyer L. Prentis, Treasurer of General Motors, and A. F.. Barit, First Vice President and General Manager of Hudson. There are only two Jews in positions of importance on the financial end—Jules Bache in Chrysler and John Hertz of Lehman Bros. on the Board of Studebaker. And there are few Jews in the new-car distributing business. No considerable number appears until the secondhand trade is reached.
The coal industry is almost entirely non-Jewish. It is doubtful whether the roster of the leading twenty-five companies would show a single Jew from miner to manager or on up to the board of directors. And they are not numerous in distribution. Conceivably 2 per cent of the wholesale selling and possibly 10 per cent of the retail trade—most of the latter around New York—is in Jewish hands.
Rubber is another non-Jewish industry. Of the tire manufacturers only Kelly-Springfield was ever Jewish and Kelly-Springfield is now in non-Jewish hands. There are Jewish concerns in the rubberized fabric and to a lesser extent in the rubber heel-and-shoe business but they are not dominant. Neither do they control petroleum. On the contrary the Jewish interest is solely in the marketing of petroleum products and even there it is probably no more than 5 per cent, the chief marketer being American Oil of Baltimore, and American Oil, though still managed by the Blausteins, who founded it, is now controlled by a Standard of Indiana subsidiary. The chemical industry is in a comparable position. Neither in Du Pont. Allied Chemical & Dye, U.S. Industrial Alcohol, or Air Reduction is there a single Jew in a managerial position. There are two Jewish directors, Alfred A. Cook of Allied Chemical and Jules Bache of U.S. Industrial Alcohol. Otherwise Jews appear as researchers and laboratory men, in which positions several of them have made considerable reputations.
Shipping and transportation are equally non-Jewish. There are no Jews of any importance in railroading save Jacob Aronson, Vice President in Charge of the Legal Department of the New York Central, and the only notable Jew in shipping is Samuel Zemurray, managing director of United Fruit. There is a corporation of Jewish control named American Foreign Steamship Corp. but it is relatively insignificant. On inland waterways only the Hudson River Navigation Corp. recently bought by subway-tunneling Mr. Samuel Rosoff seems to have Jewish ownership. There are no Jewish ship-builders of any kind. In passenger bus transportation the Jewish interest is minuscule, being limited to a half dozen little lines like Capitol Coach, Lincoln Transit, and Manhattan Coach in the New York area. In aviation the situation is about the same. There is no Jewish control in the management or ownership end of either transport or manufacture. Jewish financial interest there undoubtedly is, as for example, through Lehman in T.W.A. But Lehman is associated in T.W.A. with Atlas and financial control is non-Jewish throughout.
AVAST continent of heavy industry and finance may therefore be staked out in which Jewish participation is incidental or nonexistent. To this may be annexed other important areas into which Jews have rarely penetrated such as light and power and telephone and telegraph and engineering in general and heavy machinery and lumber and dairy products. In brief, Jews are so far from controlling the most characteristic of present-day American activities that they are hardly represented in them at all.
To find Jewish participation in industry it is necessary to turn to the light industries. And even there it is necessary to turn from the manufacturing to the distributing end. There is an entire group of industries like wool, silk, cotton, and rayon weaving when the Jewish interest in production is small, being 5 to 10 per cent in wool (for example, L. Bachmann of Uxbridge Worsted, Austin T. Levy of Stillwater Worsted, and Allen and Bernard Goldfine), 15 per cent in silk (for example, Hess, Goldsmith & Co., David Silks, Inc., Widder Bros.), 5 per cent in cotton (the Cone family of North Carolina, Sigmund Odenheimer of New Orleans, Elias Reiss of New York), and 16 per cent in rayon-yarn production (Industrial Rayon and Celanese Corp.) But in these same industries the Jewish interest in distribution is large, half the wool sales agents and jobbers, three-quarters of the silk converters, and three-quarters of the cotton converters being Jews. In the underwear and dress-cutting trades using rayon 80 to 90 per cent are Jews.
In other industries like meal packing a special Jewish branch of the business brings up the total: the kosher meat pack, for example, amounts to almost 10 per cent of the wholesale meat-packing total. While in furniture making a particular Jewish affinity for the upholstered (as opposed to the “case” or wooden) field gives Jewish manufacturers like Artistic in Detroit, Angelus in Los Angeles, and S. Karpen in Chicago almost half the total. But these victories have their counterbalancing defeats. There are light-industry sectors like boots and shoes where on the manufacturing end the Jews are a 40 per cent minority in numbers and a 29 per cent minority in volume. Only in the traditional Jewish bailiwick of the clothing industry can any claim for a Jewish monopoly be made. There, about 85 per cent of men’s clothing and about 95 per cent of women’s dresses and about 95 per cent of furs and almost the whole wearing-apparel business are in Jewish hands with the interest of New York Jews predominating.
But the clothing business is the spectacular and outstanding exception to the statement that Jewish industrial interests are generally in the minority. Not even in the liquor business, which was always the prerogative of the Jew in Poland, nor in the tobacco business, in which many a rich Jew made his start, are Jewish interests dominant. Jews have practically blanketed the tobacco-buying business, where Jew and buyer are synonymous words, and control three of the four leading cigar-manufacturing concerns including Fred Hirschhorn’s General Cigar, which makes every seventh cigar smoked in America. But their cigarette interest is confined in the Big Four to P. Lorillard and even there they appear only as bankers through J. & W. Seligman. As for the liquor business about half the important distilling concerns are Jewish. The largest U.S. concern, National Distillers (1934 sales: $50,000,000), is under non-Jewish management though Daniel K. Weiskopf, an active Vice President, is a Jew. The second, Schenley (1934 sales: $40,000,000), is controlled by Jews though with Grover A. Whalen as Chairman of the Board. The third, Seagrams (sales figure not published), is owned, controlled, and managed by the Bronfman brothers who are Jews. These three companies do about 50 per cent of the business. Of the next three, Frankfort, Hiram Walker, and Continental, only the last named is under Jewish management. But in the wholesale liquor trade in New York Jews do probably only a quartet of the business. Three of the leading firms are non-Jewish—R. C. Williams, Austin Nichols, and McKesson & Robbins. Outside New York, Jewish participation is even less. In the importing business it is small. In the domestic wine business it is trifling.
WITH the perspective of a broad review such as this it becomes apparent that Jews are most frequently to be found in those reaches of industry where manufacturer and merchant meet. Consequently their predominance in retailing might be expected. It will not be found. The Jewish interest, though easily dominant in New York and in the northeastern cities in general, is not as great throughout the country as is commonly supposed. Department stores are largely Jewish-owned in New York, where Macy, Gimbel, Saks, Abraham & Straus, Bloomingdale, Hearn, all are Jewish—the chief non-Jewish concerns being Stern. Wanamaker, McCreery, Loeser, Lord & Taylor, and Best. Altman is owned by two foundations created by the late Benjamin Altman and Colonel Friedsam, both Jews. But in Chicago the two leading stores are Marshall Field and Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co., one of Yankee origin and the other of Scotch and both under Scotch management at present. The third in rank, Mandel Bros., is Jewish. And farther west the relative number of Jewish stores of importance further decreases. The department-Store chains like May, Allied, Interstate, and Gimbel are Jewish but the five and Ten, etc., chains like Woolworth and Kress are 95 per cent not. In the food-and-grocery field, where the greatest number of chains operate, 95 to 99 per cent including A & P are non-Jewish. Montgomery Ward in the mail-order field is non-Jewish while Sears, Roebuck has a Jewish history (Julius Rosenwald) but active management of Sears, Roebuck now is in the hands of General Robert Wood. Drugstore chains are about 90 per cent non-Jewish and apparel-store chains 90 per cent the other way. Jews in other words are in a definite retailing minority over the country.
BY AND large, then, the case for Jewish control of American industry falls pretty flat. But the little propagandists of the Shirts have another tune to their whistle. They contend that, whatever the facts about industry, the Jews control opinion in America through their control of newspapers, publishing, radio, the theatre, and above all the movies. Even granted, in the face of the notorious inability of Jews to agree and the wide divergence of their interests, that such a thing as “Jewish opinion” could exist, it would still be difficult to prove that Jewish opinion directs U.S. opinion.
As to the newspapers the facts are strongly the other way round. Save for the prestige of the New York Times, which must rank on any basis of real distinction as the leading American newspaper, the interest of Jews is small. There are only four important Jewish chains in the field: the Ochs interests owning the Times and the Chattanooga Times, J. David Stern owning the New York Post, the Philadelphia Record, and the Camden (New Jersey) Courier and Post, Paul Block owning the Newark Star-Eagle, the Toledo Blade and Times, and the Duluth Herald and News-Tribune, and Emanuel P. Adler of Davenport, Iowa, owning a string of papers in towns such as Davenport and Ottumwa, Iowa: Madison, Wisconsin; Hannibal, Missouri; Lincoln, Nebraska, etc. On the basis of daily circulation these four groups total respectively 489,871, 391,209, 289,126, and 198,610. These figures may be compared with the 5,500,000 daily of Hearst who is not a Jew, Patterson McCormick’s 2,332,156, and Scripps-Howard’s 1,794,617. Jewish department-store owners unquestionably influence newspaper policy in cities where they are numerous like New York but the influence is rather negative (against criticism of Jews) than positive (for particular Jews or particular Jewish programs).
The magazine situation is even more striking. Save for the New Yorker, in which the largest stockholder is Raoul Fleischman but the directing head Harold Ross, the only important Jewish general magazines are the American Mercury and Esquire. And Esquire is closely related, through its male-fashion department, to the traditionally Jewish clothing business
Advertising presents something the same picture. The Jewish participation may be put at about 1 to 3 per cent. Of the 200 large agencies six may be Jewish, the most important by all odds being Lord & Thomas of which Albert D. Lasker is President. Of the 1,800 small agencies perhaps 100 or 150 are run by Jews.
So far as book publishing is concerned there were practically no Jews in the business prior to 1915 and today Viking, Simon & Schuster, Knopf, Covici, Friede, and Random House do not rank in size of annual list with such non-Jewish houses as Macmillan, Scribner’s, Harpers, Houghton Mifflin, Appleton-Century, Doubleday, Doran, and the like. In job- and trade-printing plants Jews are perhaps dominant in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago and the two largest bookbinding companies, American Book Bindery and the H. Wolff concern, are run by Jews.
In radio the Jewish interest is extremely important. Of the two great broadcasting chains one, Columbia, is under Jewish control. The other, N.B.C., though non-Jewish in management, is headed by David Sarnoff. Of the local stations the vast majority outside New York, however, are non-Jewish.
As to theatre, the theatre being a New York institution and New York being the largest Jewish city in the world and Jews being drawn to the amusement business and to the dramatic arts, a Jewish monopoly might be expected. In the days of Erlanger and the Shuberts it may have existed. Today, however, a count of active New York producers shows fifty-eight non-Jewish producers and fifty-six Jewish and an estimate of their relative importance shows them pretty much in balance. This count, however, does not include the various groups such as the Theatre Guild, the Group Theatre, and the Theatre Union. The inclusion of these predominantly Jewish organizations would probably serve to restore the Jewish advantage both in prestige and in commercial importance. The commercial importance of the Guild is very high and it still retains certain prestige. The prestige of the Group is at present probably greater than that of any other producing organization.
The movies however are the chief point of anti-Semitic reliance. And there a persuasive case may he made. Jews were the first exhibitors of movies because the early movie theatres could be operated with little capital: they were commonly empty stores with folding chairs for seats and a derelict piano. Large returns in such ventures tempted them into production. American movies, in consequence, were made for years as Marcus Loew, Adolph Zukor, Sam Goldwyn, Carl Laemmle, Louis Selznick, Louis B. Mayer, Jesse Lasky, and William Fox thought they should be made. That certain of the Jewish producers were men whose influence upon the popular taste was unfortunate no one, and least of all the cultivated Jew, will deny. But neither can the Jew-baiter deny that the greatest artist so far produced by the moving pictures is a man named Chaplin* whom all Jews are proud to claim.
Today Jewish control of the great moving-picture companies is less than monopolistic. An examination of the various producing corporations (see Appendix B) will suggest that three of the eight principal companies are owned and controlled by Jews, two are probably owned and controlled by non Jews, and in three management and ownership are divided. But though Jews do not monopolize the industry money-wise they do nevertheless exert pretty complete control over the production of pictures. A majority of directors, including such men as Frank Borzage, Howard Hawks, John Ford. W. S. Van Dyke. King Vidor, and Frank Capra are non-Jews. But directors are subordinate in authority to producers. Of eighty-five names engaged in production either as executives in production, producers, or associate producers (including independents) fifty-three are Jews. And the Jewish advantage holds in prestige as well as in numbers. Of non-Jews, Darryl Zanuck, the new luminary at Twentieth Century-Fox, and Alexander Korda at United Artists are among the outstanding producers. On the Jewish side of the roster are such names as Irving Thalberg, Carl Laemmle Jr., David Selznick, Ernst Lubitsch, B. P. Schulberg, and Jack Warner.
It is difficult on these figures to conclude that American organs and instruments of opinion are predominantly Jewish. Granted the great power of the movies in the influencing of modern society and the great influence of Jews in the movies, it still remains true that the Jewish interest in journalism and advertising is extraordinarily small and that journalism and advertising also have their persuasiveness. With radio and the theatre standing midway between, each about half owned by Jews, it may perhaps be guessed that they more fairly reflect the actual situation. At the very most, half the opinion-making and taste-influencing paraphernalia in America is in Jewish hands.
THE whole picture of industry, business, and amusements, then, may be summed up by repeating that while there are certain industries which Jews dominate and certain industries in which Jewish participation is considerable there are also vast industrial fields, generally reckoned as the most typical of our civilization, in which they play a part so inconsiderable as not to count in the total picture. Perhaps as good a comment as any is that offered by figures published recently in the American Hebrew. Of 80,000 individual names listed in Poor’s Register of Directors 4.7 per cent appear to be Jewish as against a Jewish population percentage of about 4 or a little less. It is admitted by the American Hebrew writer that certain Jews are omitted in any such tabulation because of the penchant of certain Jews for adopting non-Jewish names, but it is contended with justice that some non-Jews with Jewish-sounding names will also be included so that the total error will be diminished. And in any case it seems fail to assume that the 4.7 per cent figure is out of line to no considerable extent.
The impression thus given that Jews are very far from controlling American life is increased if the eye is permitted to wander over the agricultural scene. No census of Jews in agriculture has ever been made but even the Jewish Agricultural Society places the total no higher than 80,000 out of a farm population of 30,500,000. Attempts by Jews to move their people out of the urban centers and into colonies on the land have not been successful save in the neighborhood of big cities or in special circumstances. The reason probably is the long legal exclusion of the Jews from landowning in Europe. The total of Jews on the land has increased about too per cent since 1900. But the record of the formal settlements is still discouraging. Major Noah’s “Ararat” on Grand Island in the Niagara River, a half-agricultural venture, was an unrealized dream in 1818. Then followed “Sholom.” which survived from 1837 to 1850 in Ulster County, New York. Third in order were the short-lived colonies established by German Jews already in this country to take care of part of the flood of penniless Russian Jews in the eighties. Subsequently, with the aid of funds supplied by the great Jewish philanthropist, Baron de Hirsch, other and luckier colonies were started. The most famous of these is Woodbine in Cape May County, New Jersey, an agricultural-industrial settlement, with an important Jewish agricultural school. Numerous Jewish farming communities have sprung up in other localities in southern New Jersey. In addition to New Jersey, the states with the largest Jewish farm population are New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, and North Dakota. Well-known individuals are Simon Fishman, a successful wheat farmer who sits in the Kansas Senate. Jacob Karlin, who has a profitable truck farm in Calverton, Long Island, valued at 20,000, Irving Kauder of Ulster County. New York, who is a leading breeder of White Leghorns, and Max D. Cohen, who runs 2,000 to 2,500 head of cattle on 3,600 acres in Idaho.
THERE remain for consideration the two related fields of politics and the professions—particularly law and medicine. The anti-Semitic contention as to the professions is that the Jews have crowded out the rest of the population and are monopolizing all opportunities. To prove which anti-Semites cite estimates guessing that a third to a half of the lawyers in New York City and at least a third of the doctors are Jews. One obvious rejoinder is that a third of the population of New York is also Jewish and that the percentage of Jewish lawyers and doctors in other cities with smaller Jewish populations is correspondingly smaller.
Another equally obvious reply is that 50 per cent of New York lawyers does not mean 50 per cent of New York’s lawyer power. The most important office law business in America such as the law business incidental to banking, insurance, trust-company operation, investment work, railroading, patents, admiralty, and large corporation matters in general is in the hands of non-Jewish firms many of which, even though they have numerous Jewish clients, have no Jewish partners. Jewish legal activity will be found most commonly in the bankruptcy courts, real-estate law, negligence, divorce, collections, and litigation in general. In other words, Jews are largely to be found in those branches of law which do not interest non-Jewish lawyers or in those branches of law related to commercial activities like real estate and textiles where Jews are peculiarly active. It is for that reason that the importance of Jews in trial work is significant. Their presence in the courts means not only that Jews are able trial lawyers but also that non-Jewish lawyers tend to prefer the fat fees and regular hours and routine, solicitor-like labors of their offices to the active, combative, professional service of the law courts. Non-Jewish lawyers have themselves to thank if they think the trend of judicial decisions has recently been contrary to the spirit of Anglo Saxon law.
The medical situation is not unlike the legal. There is no equally clear-cut separation of fields of professional activity but there is the same disparity between numbers of Jewish doctors and extent of Jewish medical influence. New York, for example, has numerous good Jewish doctors and a few very great Jewish doctors. But Jews do not occupy a position of power corresponding to their abilities or their numbers in the profession. Hospital medical boards and the like are apt to be controlled by non-Jewish doctors, though revolving officiates with Jews and non-Jews alternating are sometimes employed. And north, west, and south of New York the conflict lessens.
The chief difference between law and medicine is that the feeling between Jews and non-Jews is much stronger in the latter profession than in the former. The reason for that feeling is this: of approximately 14,000 young men and women attempting annually to enter the seventy-six reputable U.S. medical schools 50 per cent are Jews, while of the 6,000 more or less who get in only 17 per cent are Jews. Non-Jewish doctors cite these figures as proof of the danger of Jewish aggressiveness and commercialism in the profession while Jewish doctors cite them as proof of discrimination, arguing that if there are a disproportionate number of Jews in medical schools the reason may be that Jews are brighter than non-Jews. The truth seems to be that medicine is merely the most obvious point of collision between forces set in motion by the peculiar development of Jewish life in America. Given the desire of Jews to see their sons in the learned professions, and given their urbanization and hence their access to free college education, and given the assiduity of Jewish children, a clash was inevitable. There is no occasion to explain it by reference to an alleged Jewish intellectual superiority.
THE Jewish advantage in the professions, then, is rather shadow than substance, and so, but much more so, is the Jewish importance in politics. Anti-Semites usually put that importance in two ways for purposes of effect if not For purposes of logic. First, “the New Deal is the Jew Deal.” Second, “all Communists are Jews and all Jews are Communists.” As to the New Deal, FORTUNE has already pointed out (“The Case against Roosevelt,” December, 1935) that Jewish influence in Mr. Roosevelt’s Washington is minor. Attempts to make it seem important rest on misrepresentations and no amount of political whispering can change that fact. As to Communism the finding of the Congressional Committee of 1931 that 70 per cent of the U.S. Communist Party was alien with Jews predominating has been effectively rebutted. The truth is that of the 27,000 U.S. Communists, Few of the higher officers and only 3,500 to 4,000 of the members of the party are Jews.
The reason for the general impression of Jewish and Communist identity is simple. First of all, as we have had occasion to observe, the Jews are urban and largely concentrated in New York. The radical movement is also urban and largely centered in New York. Secondly, the Jewish members of the Communist Party are very commonly the intellectual and hence the articulate members of that party. The second-generation Jewish intellectual with his background of Talmudic dialectic is mentally predisposed to Marxism to a degree which he himself rarely appreciates. And Marxism with its internationalism and anti-nationalism is eminently fitted to the emotional needs of a people without a fatherland. The attachment of men of other blood to the earth on which they were born is sometimes incomprehensible to the traditionally earthless Jew. But most important, Jewish intellectuals are attracted to radicalism because the Jewish intellectual very understandably feels that the “system” is against him. Non-Jews wishing to become teachers and scientists and professional men are able to find more or less open opportunities for the exercise of their talents. Such opportunities are frequently closed to the Jew. In consequence the Jewish intellectual is frequently against the existing order. In consequence he is frequently a radical. And since he is able and idealistic and courageous and articulate he becomes the voice of radicalism. He provides, under his own name or under non-Jewish names chosen for tactical reasons, a very great deal of the magazine writing, the propaganda, the general literature, of the movement in New York. In so doing he puts himself very much in the public eye and his 15 per cent membership in the Communist Party looks like 100 per cent. It is not the natural propensity of the Jews for revolution which produces the impression. It is their natural propensity for journalism and excited, persuasive speech.
But because the Jewish intellectual is a formidable member of the Communist Party it does not follow that “the revolution” in America is Jewish. There are two unanswerable reasons why it is not. One reason is that for every revolutionary Jew there are thousands of Jewish capitalists, shopkeepers, traders, and the like who stand to lose everything in a revolution as 90 per cent of the Jews in Russia (who were traders and the like: lost everything—including, in many cases, their lives. The other reason is that the revolution in America is much more likely to come from the native-born Americans of Yankee and Nordic stock in the agricultural regions of the Midwest and Northwest than from the Americans of Jewish stock in New York City.
EXAMINATION of Jewish participation in American life might be carried further but the findings would remain the same. Jews do not dominate the American scene. They do not even dominate major sectors of the American scene. They do, however, monopolize certain minor provinces. What is remarkable about the Jews in America, in other words, is not their industrial power but their curious industrial distribution, their tendency to crowd together in particular squares of the checkerboard. The reason for their crowding must be found in their most pronounced psychological trait—their clannishness, their tribal inclination. The reason for their choice of particular squares into which to crowd must be found in historical accident. Jews are in scrap iron because they were once in the junk business and they were once in the junk business because a penniless immigrant could make a start there on a shoestring. Jews are in movies because they were in movie theatres and because a few successful cloak-and-suit manufacturers invested their cloak-and-suit profits usefully in the amusement business. (The connection between the movies and the cloak and suit business is still esthetically betrayed from time to time.) Were the four and a half millions of American Jews scattered more or less evenly over the whole industrial acreage, and were they as fond of rural communities and small towns as they are of great cities, their presence as Jews would hardly be noticed by other Americans. The whole point of the whole inquiry is that wherever the Jews may be, industrially or culturally or professionally or merely geographically, they are always present in numbers and they are almost always present as Jews.
And therein too lies the point of the so-called Jewish problem. Granted, as any open-minded man who has read the facts here collected must grant, that the Jews do not come within gunshot of running America and that their numbers are no longer rapidly increasing and that there is no color of reason for expecting successful anti-Semitism here. Granted that the FORTUNE Survey, above quoted, demonstrates the ability of the American people to suffer Klan propaganda and Silver Shin propaganda and the propaganda of the Nazis and still maintain common sense and basic decency. Granted that there is strong reason therefore for believing that Fascism can be defeated in this country. Granted all this, it still remains true that the future of the Jew in America is puzzling. Can this universal stranger be absorbed in the country which has absorbed every other European stock? Does he wish to be absorbed? Can he live happily and in peace if he is not absorbed? The answers must be guesses. Upper-class Spanish and German Jews have been pretty well absorbed. There are, however, numerous Jews who look upon the loss of Jewish identity as a kind of social suicide. If those groups, Jewish and non-Jewish, who wish the identity and distinction of the Jews preserved are able to carry their point then the only hope for the Jews in America is mutual toleration and respect. Since, however, toleration and mutual respect are also the only hope of all who wish to preserve or reestablish democratic institutions in this country the Jews in America will have numerous allies. The first condition of their success will be the quieting of Jewish apprehensiveness and the consequent elimination of the aggressive and occasionally provocative Jewish defensive measures which the country has recently and anxiously observed.
*Figures computed by Max Winkler of the New York brokerage firm Bernard, Winkler & Co.
*Chaplin himself has denied that is a Jew. The fact seems to be that one grandfather was Jewish.