Thursday, 8 June 2006

Jewish Gangsters

Any non-Jews mentioned in this essay are italicised.

In 1908, Theodore Bingham, New York City's police commissioner, said that half of all the criminals in his city were Jewish.

On 4 October 2004, The Jerusalem Post concurred with Bingham's testimony, saying:

"Jews were 25 per cent of the four million residents in New York City but 50 per cent of the prison population."
It wasn't just the big cities where Jewish criminal activity was a problem. In November 1927, The Minneapolis Saturday Press quoted a non-Jewish gangster thus:

"90 per cent of the crimes committed against society in this city are committed by Jew gangsters... It is Jew, Jew, Jew, as long as one cares to comb over the records. I am launching no attack against the Jewish people as a race. I am merely calling attention to a fact."
Israeli scholar, Robert Rockaway, also tells us this:

"During Prohibition, fifty per cent of the leading bootleggers were Jewish, and Jewish criminals financed and directed much of the nation's narcotics traffic... At the same time, a number of these mobsters, quietly and without publicity, defended and assisted the Jewish community... Communal leaders accepted and sometimes solicited their aid."
And, if you want the scholarly opinion of someone who most definitely wasn't hyping things up to get his book sold, on page 58 of the 1980 edition of The Jewish Almanac we read:
"It would not be an exaggeration to say that their influence on organised crime in the United States during the 1920's and 1930's rivalled, if not exceeded, that of their Italian counterparts".
Jewish author, Norman Cantor, tells us this:
"It was the Jews, by and large, not the Italians, who created what was later called the Mafia."
We have all been led to believe that the major gangland figures of the early to mid-twentieth century were Italian. The US entertainment media, which has been owned, run and staffed by Jews out of all proportion to their incidence in the general population, since Hollywood came on stream in 1910, has produced countless films and TV shows depicting Italian-Americans as the controllers of the various 'Mafia' outfits. However, it was the Jewish gangster, not the Italian, who founded the all powerful National Crime Syndicate which ran the rackets in the 1920s and 30s.

One of the first big-time gangsters on the New York crime scene in the 20th century was the legendary Monk Eastman.

This is what Carl Sifakis has to say about Eastman in his 1982 history, The Encyclopaedia of American Crime:

"There are those authorities on crime who consider Monk Eastman the greatest gangster this country ever produced. Historian Herbert Asbury called him 'the prince of gangsters' and 'as brave a thug as ever shot an enemy in the back.'

Eastman was the boss of the last great primarily Jewish street gang in New York City, able to field 1,200 to 1,500 vicious gangsters on short notice. The Eastmans wiped out the remnants of the brutal Whyos... near the end of the last century and were always ready to do battle with... the great Italian Five Points Gang. After the turn of the century, the Five Pointers boasted on their roster such future devotees of mayhem and violence as Johnny Torrio, Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Frankie Yale. Yet, in comparison to Eastman's crew they were choir boys...

Eastman once clubbed a hapless bar patron because 'I had 49 nicks in me stick, an' I wanted to make it an even 50.'

In appearance, Eastman looked precisely the way a gangster should; squat, massive, bullet-headed, with a busted nosed and a pair of cauliflower ears. And his behavior was worse than his appearance.

He deserted his home area in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where his respectable Jewish restaurateur father had set up a pet store for him, and headed for the crime ridden fleshpots of lower Manhattan...

In the early 1890s Eastman became a bouncer at a rough dance hall, New Irving Hall, where a girl might well get raped by a number of the boys if not by her date. Eastman patrolled his domain with a huge bludgeon, a blackjack in his hip pocket and brass knuckles on each hand. He was always proud of the fact that during the six months of his reign no less than 50 men required the attention of surgeons and that jocular ambulance drivers referred to the accident ward of Bellevue Hospital as the Eastman Pavilion.

Eastman kept close count of victims he clubbed and notched each assault on his club. One night an inoffensive little man was sitting at the bar nking beer when Eastman walked up to him and cracked his lip open with a mighty swipe. When asked why he'd done he replied:

'Well, I had 49 nicks in me stick, and I wanted make it an even 50.'

If that seemed a bit antisocial, at least Monk could pride himself on his near Victorian treatment of women. He never once struck a woman with his club, no matter how trying she beame. At most, he simply blackened her eyes with his hammy fist.

'I only gave her a little poke,' he would exclaim.

'Just enough to put a shanty on her glimmer. But I always takes off meknucks first.'

With behavior such as that, Monk Eastman became a legend on the East Side, and other young bloods took to imitating him in speech and manner. Of course, from such personal magnetism great leaders are born, and Eastman soon gathered round him a band of hoodlums eager to do his bidding. It didn't take long before he told them to go forth, beat up some citizens and bring back some money.

From then on, Eastman's gang grew rapidly. He and his men took over much of the crime on the Lower East Side, engaging in robberies, burglaries, assault, muggings and murder for pay. Eastman seized control of many of the gambling dens and houses of prostitution, and even individual streetwalkers and hoodlums had to pay him for the privilege of operating in his turf.

Although a crude savage, Eastman was smart enough to ingratiate himself with Tammany Hall and,in exchange for protection and a regular stipend, handled any chore required. On election day he furnished the largest contingent of voters, his own men, who voted early and often, and then black jacked any honest citizen who was considering voting against Eastman's patrons. Whenever Eastman or his men got into trouble, Tammany Hall lawyers appeared in court for them. Bail was posted and promptly forfeited until the case was expunged from the records.

As rich and powerful as he became, Eastman could never resist doing violence himself, sometimes even personally carrying out a blackjacking commission.

'I like to beat up a guy once in a while,' he used to say. 'It keeps me hand in.'

In one confrontation with the hated Five Pointers, Eastman was shot twice in the stomach and left for dead, but he climbed :0 his feet and staggered to Gouverneur Hospital, plugging a gaping wound with his fingers. Eastman hovered near death Jut, in keeping with underworld tradition, would not name his assailant.

When he got out, Eastman personally shot the Five Pointer and dumped his body in the gutter.

In time, the Eastmans appeared to be winning the war with the Five Pointers and also routing the forces of another major gang leader, Humpty Jackson, but in 1904 Eastman caused his own downfall by holding up a expensively dressed young man who had overimbibed. It was a robbery Eastman did not have to commit but could not resist.

Unfortunately for the gangster, the victim was a scion of wealth whose family had hired a Pinkerton to follow him for his protection. Seeing Eastman accost the young man, the detective opened fire on him, and the gangster fled right into the arms of a policeman, who knocked him out before recognizing him.

If Eastman expected aid from Tammany, he was sadly disappointed. In view of the rising spirit of reform, the political bosses were happy for the chance to be rid of him. The great gangster was shipped off in ignominy to do 10 years in Sing Sing. When he was released, he found his power was gone. The Eastmans had factionalized a dozen ways, as the times would no longer support great street gangs. Eastman could not understand what had happened...

In December 1920 Eastman was shot dead by a corrupt Prohibition agent with whom he was running a penny-ante bootlegging and dope-selling operation".
In 1919, Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series by bribing key members of the Chicago White Sox to 'throw' games.

He also financed the organized illegal importation of liquor from Europe and Canada when prohibition arrived in 1920. Rothstein was the first gangster to take full control of an entire city through bribery of public officials and police personnel.

Later, Arthur Flegenheimer (Dutch Schultz) and Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter, began to muscle in on Rothstein.


WW I deserter, Jack 'Legs' Diamond, was, at that time, Rothstein's number one enforcer. However, he was unable to prevent 'Nigger Nate' Raymond from killing Rothstein in 1928.

At this point, Meyer Lansky, a Rothstein protegee (and the man thought most likely to have ordered the hit on his former boss) Bugsy Siegel, Schultz, Buchalter and the Italians, Charles 'Lucky' Luciano and Vito Genovese, all teamed up to eliminate Diamond. It took thre years to get him but, in 1931, Irving 'Little Guy' Bitz carried out the contract and Diamond no longer posed a threat to the Syndicate.

Lansky, Lucky Luciano's closest confederate, was to become the most powerful gangster in US history.

When Dion O'Banion was shot dead by three of Al Capone's men in 1924, Hymie Weiss took over the running of his businesses despite the fact that most O'Banion's gang were Irish.

Weiss was, thus, the undisputed boss of Chicago's North Side at this time.

As soon as Weiss (Earl Wajciechowski) arrived inthe US from Poland his criminal career began. Before joining O'Banion, he had built up an impressive teenage portfolio which included stealing cars, burglary, safecracking and murder.

His most famous attempt to revenge his former boss took place in September, 1926, when 11 cars filled with hoods filed slowly past the Hawthorne Inn in Cicero and emptied more than a thousand rounds into the place. A bodyguard and an innocent woman were hit but, unfortunately for Hymie, Capone wasn't. Capone's men got to him that December and Hymie Weiss died in a hail of bullets just outside the flower shop where Dion O'Banion had been shot dead two years before.

Jake 'Greasy Thumb' Guzik, Al Capone's money man, got his start in crime as a big-time pimp.

Along with his brother, Harry, they enticed farm girls looking for a career to come to the big city. When they arrived, the Guziks raped them, got them hooked on narcotics (sound familiiar) and sold them to the big time pimps in Chicago's infamous Levee district, which was also run by Jews.

Jacob 'Little Augie' Orgen was the son of middle-class, highly religious, orthodox Jews.

He entered the criminal fraternity as a 'labour slugger' sorting out labour problems for the bosses in Dopey Fein's gang just before WWI began. Believing himself invincible with Diamond, his feared bodyguard at his side, Little Augie was taking a walk down Norfolk Street when he was shot dead.

Orgen protégés included Jacob 'Gurrah' Shapiro, Legs Diamond and Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter. Most authorities believe that Buchalter had arranged his death.

Of the seven men killed in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, six were Jews.

On 9 May 1929 at the President Hotel on the Broadwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the first meeting of the National Crime Syndicate took place.

The meeting was organized by Meyer Lansky with his New York Confederates, Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano and Louis Buchalter in tow. Also there were Al Capone and Jake Guzik of Chicago, Abe Bernstein of Detroit's 'Purple Gang,' Moe Dalitz of Cleveland and Max Hoff and Harry 'Nig Rosen' Stromberg of Philadelphia. All the attendees agreed to co-operate in controlling national bootlegging and gambling.

Lansky arranged another major conference of the East Coast crime bosses at the Franconia Hotel in New York on the 11th of November 1931. Those attending this event included Bugsy Siegel, Louis Buchalter, Jacob 'Gurrah' Shapiro, Joseph 'Doc' Stacher, Hyman 'Curly' Holtz, Philip 'Little Farvel' Kovalik, Louis 'Shadows' Kravitz, Harry Tietlebaum and Harry 'Big Greenie' Greenberg, all of whom were Jewish.

Lewis 'Pretty' Amberg was, perhaps, New York's most feared killer throughout the 1920s until his own violent end in 1935.

The Encyclopaedia of American Crime describes Amberg thus:

"From the late 1920s until his own violent demise in 1935, Louis 'Pretty' Amberg was New York's best-known killer, having dispatched over 100 victims. Thanks to cunning and dumb luck, however, he was never so much as saddled with a stiff fine for any of his or his brother Joe's murders, although his achievements were common knowledge. His technique of stuffing victims into laundry bags, alive but trussed up in such a way that they strangled themselves, was immortalized by Damon Runyon in several stories in which Pretty Amberg was featured in a thinly fictionalized form.

Pretty, so named because of his ugliness, was brought to America from Russia by his fruit peddler parents. By the age of 10 he was terrorizing his home territory of Brownsville in Brooklyn, New York City, an area that bowed only to genuine toughness and meanness. Young Pretty developed a unique fruit selling technique: he would kick on a door until the resident opened up and then shove handfuls of fruit and vegetables forward and snarl, 'Buy.'

People bought.

By the time he was 20, Pretty was the terror of Brownsville.

He was now so ugly that a representative from Ringling Brothers offered' him a job with the circus as the missing link. It is the mark of Pretty's intellect or sense of humor that he often bragged about the offer. However, Pretty didn't accept the job because of his involvement in the loansharking business with his brother. Unlike the banks of Brownsville, the Ambergs turned no one down for a loan, but at 20 percent interest a week. Pretty would watch his brother count out the amount of the loan and growl, 'I will kill you if you don't pay us back on time.'

The Amberg brothers soon became so successful in loansharking that they shifted their operations to around Borough Hall in downtown Brooklyn. The brothers did not desert Brownsville, however. Pretty stalked Pitkin Avenue; for amusement he would walk into a cafeteria and spit in someone's soup. If the diner protested, Pretty would spill the whole bowl in his lap.

Even Bugsy Goldstein, shortly to become a prize killer in the fledgling Murder, Inc., once took the soup treatment in silence. Famous Murder, Inc. informer Abe Reles later said:

'The word was that Pretty was nutty.'

Pretty Amberg's continuing ties with Brownsville were not based solely on sentiment. He took control of all bootlegging in the area, and speakeasies took Pretty's booze or none at all, a business practice Pretty established with a few bombings and frequent use of a lead pipe. Soon, Pretty was wallowing in money, and he became a lavish-spending, if rather grotesque, figure in New York's night life. Waiters fawned over him because he never tipped less than $100. He was a regular at the Central Park Casino, where in time he became a nodding acquaintance of the city's playboy mayor, James J. Walker. It was Runyon who reported that when the mayor first saw Pretty, he vowed to stay off booze.

Pretty expanded his rackets to include laundry services for Brooklyn businesses. His rates were rather high, but his sales approach was particularly forceful. It was at this time that laundry bags stuffed with corpses started littering Brooklyn streets. One victim was identified as a loanshark debtor of the Ambergs who owed a grand total of $80.

Pretty was arrested for that one, but he just laughed: 'I tip more than that. Why'd I kill a bum for a lousy 80 bucks?'

In fact, it was Pretty's philosophy to kill men who were indebted to him for small amounts so that their loss of life would not cause him to have to write off a major capital investment. It also made an excellent object lesson for more substantial debtors. And while the police knew the particulars, they could not prove them in court and Pretty went free.

By the early 1930s Pretty was considered among the most successful racketeers in the city, one who could withstand any inroads by other kingpins, such as Dutch Schultz and Legs Diamond. Once, Schultz told him: 'Pretty, I think I'm going to come in as your partner in Brooklyn.'

'Arthur,' Pretty was quoted as replying, 'why don't you put a gun in your mouth and see how many times you can pull the trigger.'

Pretty was famous for such pithy comments. Another big racketeer, Owney Madden, mentioned to Pretty one day that he'd never visited Brownsville in his life and thought he would come out some time and 'let you show me the sights.'

Pretty was carving up a steak at the moment. 'Tell you what, Owney,' he said matter-of-factly while continuing his meal, 'if I ever see you in Brownsville, I'll cut your heart out on the spot.'

He was even more direct with Legs Diamond, whom he buddied around with.

'We'll be pals, Jack,' Pretty told Diamond, 'but if you ever set foot in Brownsville, I'll kill you and your girl friend and your missus and your whole damn family.' With the end of Prohibition, however, such threats proved insufficient.

Dutch Schultz, without his former bootleg rackets, was down to only a multi-million dollar numbers racket centered in Harlem, and he kept casting greedy glances over at Brooklyn and the Amberg loanshark operations around Borough Hall.

Pretty had by now firmly established himself in the laundry business, but loansharking remained his principal source of funds. He was therefore hardly overjoyed in 1935 when Schultz ensconced his top lieutenants, Frank Dolak and Benny Holinsky, in a new loan office just a block away from the Amberg enterprise. When Pretty stormed into the place, the pair glared back at him defiantly.

'We ain't afraid of you,' Holinsky said, and Dolak echoed, 'That's right, we ain't afraid of you.'

The statements qualified as famous last words because 24 hours later their bodies, riddled with bullets, were found on a Brooklyn street. The Ambergs and the Schultz forces faced off for total war. The first to go was Joey Amberg, who was ambushed by Schultz' gunmen.

In October 1935, both Amberg and Schultz died. Some historians have insisted that each man was responsible for the other's death. According to this theory Amberg had paid professional killers $25,000 down to kill Schultz and promised them $25,000 more upon completion of the job. In the meantime, however, the fire department, responding to an alarm, found a blazing automobile on a Brooklyn street.

In the back seat of the car was the body of a man roasted beyond all recognition, with wire wrapped around his neck, arms and legs. It took a few days for a positive identification: it was Pretty Amberg. But by the time the identification was made, a couple of killers had gunned down Dutch Schultz in a Newark chop house.

Despite the war, it is not certain that Amberg was killed by Schultz. A more convincing theory attributed Pretty's passing to a gang of armed robbers he had joined and offended by insisting on taking virtually all the loot for himself. Another view held that both Amberg and Schultz were 'put to sleep' by the increasingly dominant national crime syndicate bossed by Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky.

But whoever was to blame, Pretty Amberg was dead, and as a Brooklyn Eagle reporter observed: 'There was joy in Brownsville'."
Abe Bernstein was the leader of Detroit's Purple Gang, which dominated the rackets in that city throughout the twenties and thirties.

The Purples were responsible for the deaths of more than 500 men during the so-called 'bootleg wars.' Abe and his gangsters joined the National Crime Syndicate in 1931.

Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter was the original head of Murder Incorporated, an almost totally Jewish organisation, which was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people.

Many of their victims were trussed up with wire and hung upside down with their throats slashed 'kosher style.' Buchalter was the only national crime boss ever to have been executed judicially, losing his life in the elctric chair in 1944.

Bugsy Siegel was Buchalter's number two at the time of his arrest. He was later to be instrumental in the creation of Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the USA. Siegel had just got the Flamingo Hotel up and running when, in June, 1947,he was shot dead in his Las Vegas home.

Joseph Sacher, who was the boss of the Sands Hotel in Vegas, was second only to Meyer Lansky in the Syndicate. Years later he fled the U.S. and went into exile in Israel.

Harry 'Pittsburg Phil' Strauss was Murder Incorporated's top hitman and he killed over 100 (some say over 500) men from the late 1920s up to 1940.

The Encyclopaedia of American Crime describes this Jewish gentleman as 'the most prolific and certainly the most cold-blooded professional hit man this country has ever seen.'

When Abe Reles turned squealer, Pittsburgh Phil was, finally, arrested and, though he put on a good show of insanity in court, the jury saw through his little act and found him guilty on every one of the 33 murder indictments that the prosecution had managed to dredge up. He went to the electric chair in 1941.

In the Spring of 1940, the aforementioned Abe 'Kid Twist' Reles was taken into custody for questioning on a gang-related murder charge. Reles became known as the 'Brooklyn Canary' when he 'sang' to the authorities. He told the cops that he was a key member of Murder Inc, and confirmed the fact that there was indeed a national crime syndicate which was responsible for many dozens of unsolved murders. He also named it's leaders. Louis Buchalter, as previously mentioned, was arrested, found guilty and executed as a result.

Reles was later thrown from a twenty story window. He was being guarded around the clock by six policemen at the time.

Other very well known American-Jewish gangsters were:

Longy Zwillman, Mickey Cohen, Moe Dalitz, Samuel 'Nails' Morton, Irving 'Waxey' Gordon, Moe 'Moses' Annenberg, Maxie Annenberg, Max 'Kid Twist' Zweibach, Vach 'Cyclone Louie' Lewis, Joe 'the Greaser' Rosensweig, Johnny Spanish, Nathan 'Kid Dropper' Kaplan, Max 'Kid Twist' Zweifach, Big Jack Zelig, Isador 'Kid Cann' Blumenfeld, Harris Stahl, Joseph 'Yoski Nigger' Toblinsky, Boo Boohoff, Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz, Sam 'Sammy the Greener' Jacobson, Eddie Zion, Otto 'Abbadabba' Berman, Harry Keywell, Abe "the General" Greenthal, Murray 'the Camel' Humphreys, Moe 'Dimples' Wolensky, Mendy Weiss, Joe 'Nigger Joe' Lebowitz, Big Mike Abrams, Hymie 'Loud Mouth' Levine, Max 'Puddy' Hinkes, Willie Weisberg, Abe 'Bummy' Goldstein, Allie Tennebaum, Joe Bernstein, Isadore Bernstein, Abe Saffron, Happy Meltzer, Louis 'Diamond Louie' Cowan, Charles Leiter, Henry Shorr, Lou Greenberg, Frank Gusenberg, David Berman, Yiddie Bloom, Davie and Chickie Berman, Sam Tucker, Lou Rothkopf, George Tane, Ray Bernstein, Hymie Paul, Isadore Sutker,Sol Levine, Irving Milberg, Puggy Feinstein, Michael Kurtz, Morris Rosen, Gus Greenbaum, Morris Kleinman, Sam Tucker, Lou Rothkopf, Morris Sidwirts, Jack Dranga, Michael Kurtz, Mannie Kessler, Wady David, Herman Rosenthal,Abe and Izzy Minkers, Charlie Birger, (Sachna Itzik Berger) Alex Fudeman, Maxie Eisen, Willie Bioff, Murray 'the Camel' Humphreys, Willie Weisberg, Abe and Izzy Minkers, Alex Fudeman, Louis Arthur Chesler, Morris 'Mac' Schwabel, Charles 'Ruby' Stein, Nicholas "Jiggs" Farlano, Morris Shenker, Max Eder, Allen Dorfman, Shondor Birns (Birnstein), Maxie Diamond, Mervin Gold and many, many more.

A number of Jewish fortunes were founded on links to the underworld in the Prohibition era.

Most noteworthy, the Seagram's fortune grew up as a result of their gangland connections. Samuel Bronfman, the founder of Seagram, had a distribution deal for his booze with the all-powerful Meyer Lansky, who saw to it that Seagram's alcohol got into the United States with the minimum of fuss.

Seagram has long been a financial and organisational mainstay of the Zionist lobby in North America and its Chief Executive, Edgar Bronfman Jr., Samuel Bronfman's grandson, owns Polygram and Warner Music and is a close friend of Hollywood deal-broker Michael Ovitz, who was once Hollywood's most powerful man. On Ovitz's resignation as President of Walt Disney, he received a severance package of $69.5 million.

Edgar Bronfman Jr. is now the President of the immensely powerful Zionist organisation, the World Jewish Congress.

Jack Ruby, who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald and thus prevented the alleged assassin of JFK coming to trial, was a Jewish gangster from way back.

In England, Jacob 'Jack Spot' Comacho, Max Moses ('Kid McCoy' in the boxing ring), Isaac 'Darky the Coon' Bogard and Harry 'Little Hubby' Distleman were just a few of the well known Jewish gangsters in the twenties and thirties.

In 1999, The Daily Mail described the most notorious gangsters of recent times, Ronnie and Reggie Kray as being 'of Jewish and Romany stock.'

In the illuminating 1999 history, Tough Jews, Rich Cohen romanticises the Jewish gangsters of the prohibition period and seems to delight in their violence. He writes:

"When [Abe] Reles took a mark, he was not just ending a life: he was expressing the essential freedom of the Jew in America."
It seems that, to some law-abiding Jewish folk, the most brutal criminality imaginable is something to be eulogised when it is being perpetrated by a fellow Jew.

But we knew this already, didn't we?

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