Gangesters vs Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters battled Nazis in Wartime America
by Michael Benson
Just WOW!!! I devoured this book, couldn’t put it down. It was smart, funny, terrifying and interesting in the extreme to someone who loves American history and mob history. All I kept thinking as I read this book is why were we never taught this in school? Why were we left ignorant of how strong the Facist movement was in the country in the 20’s through the late 40s? Maybe a bit of what is happening now could have been prevented.
Anti-Semitism was getting out of control Brown Shirts, Silver Shirts, and Catholic Prists. Through other books on the era I have read I have found (scary though it is) how far back Catholicism goes to trying to kill off the Jewish people. How close the Pope was to Hitler when he came into power because he chose the Jewish people to hate. (What if it had been Catholic people? The Church had lots of money too and lots of power and was what he was targeting. Did they ever think of that?) All this was working in concert here in America, and one Judge in New York City decided it had gone far enough.
Judge Nathan D. Pearlman decided to do something about this. He picked up the phone and called a local Jewish gangster and asked if he wanted to bust some Nazi up. The only rule was no killing. They could go as far as they wanted, short of killing a man, he wouldn’t be able to legally protect them from that, but everything up to that, he was good with. He made calls to all the big cities from New York to LA over the course of about 2 years. The Jewish Mob became the heroes of the story, instead of the villains they’d always been seen as, except by the young Jewish boys that worshiped them for getting out and having money.
Boxers, well known boxers, heavy weight, featherweight, and everyone in between, killers, racketeers, loansharks, all got in on the fun of beating up Nazis. Meeting after meeting, celebration after celebration, recruitment drive after recruitment drive, they showed and the Jewish squads not far behind (or already there) and the Nazis got the worse of it time after time. No shot was ever fired, no Nazi ever died, but they were put on the run and had to move their meetings and whatnot, and still Jewish mobs show up. Stick bombs, sawed off pool cues, black jacks, fists, brass knuckles, rolled nickles…. They beat them up, left them bloody, broke bones, and they scattered.
New Jersey was a welcoming place for them, the police were on the side of Nazis, they protected them, busted up the Jewish mobsters, but they still got their message across. And none did time for anything done during this war, for it was a war. A war for their right to live, to exist, to be who they were born, American Jews.
The names in this book will amaze you, the history of Anti-Semitism in this country will sicken you, the way the government protected these people and how they used our own Constatution for their own gains will disgust you. How these outlaws became the good guys, the mobsters of the underworlds, will make you cheer.
This is a five star read, you must pick it up if you love history. I do hope it becomes a movie, I would love to see this on the big screen. But Hollywood has always tried to keep this part of history and WWII separate. I think it is time the story was told.