The Bund and the bat

Apologies for quoting from the Daily Mail. Occasionally it does render a valuable public service:

The national editor of Politico’s weekly news magazine resigned his position on Tuesday after he came under fire for advocating baseball-bat attacks on a white supremacist leader – and publishing the address of the man’s two homes.

It happens. Politico is a partisan operation, so no wonder it’s staffed by partisans. The editor in question, Michael Hirsh, also wrote:

‘He lives part of the time next door to me … Our grandfathers brought baseball bats to Bund meetings. Want to join me?’

An interesting pedigree. Eric Dezenhall, “an author and damage control expert based in Washington, D.C…. the CEO of Dezenhall Resources, a nationally recognized high-stakes communications firm,” had an article in the American Spectator in 2011 focusing on “the very real collaboration between Jewish mob boss Meyer Lansky and U.S. Naval Intelligence”:

With the help of men like his [Lansky’s] childhood friend, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, cutthroats like Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro, Allie “Tick Tock” Tannenbaum, and Seymour “Blue Jaw” Magoon, Jewish racketeers had been breaking up Bund rallies in the Yorkville section of Manhattan using guns, knives, and baseball bats. The mob hastened the Bund’s demise by introducing mortal risks to its leadership.

When Commander Haffenden sought Lansky’s help in preventing potential German sabotage at US ports (“The Navy understood that the mafia controlled the waterfront”), the mobster agreed to help “because ‘it’s patriotism’.” And to some degree, patriotism it must have been. Perhaps the most amazing fact about Lansky is that he tried to enlist after Pearl Harbor but was rejected as too old and too short. But some other players from the underworld did join the army and serve in the War:

One of Meyer’s men, Doc Stacher of Newark, served in the Army. Cleveland boss Moe Dalitz entered the Army a private and came out a captain. Minneapolis killer Davie Berman and Chicago’s Charlie Barron were rebuffed, but enlisted in the Canadian army using fake names.

Real men of business are not walking cutouts, but I still doubt Michael Hirsh holds up Meyer Lansky’s associates for role models. But then, does it matter? More interesting is the near-perfect contrast between the two historical Bunds: the Nazi-leaning German-American Bund and the Jewish social-democratic party once active in Russia, Poland and Lithuania. The Jewish Labor Bund is seldom discussed these days. Its story has no happy ending; its legacy is underappreciated.


  1. I’m going to recommend it to my wife then. BTW, this is my favorite from Dezenhall’s article:

    “The deranged mob boss Albert Anastasia was said to have told Meyer, “Someday, my boy’s gonna run the Brooklyn waterfront.” Meyer responded, “That’s nice. My son works at NASA.”

    He wasn’t kidding. Paul Lansky was an engineer on the Apollo space program and one of the first military advisors in Vietnam.”

  2. Meyer responded, “That’s nice. My son works at NASA.”

    That’s a great quote, and it says a lot. Mainly, that gangsters want their offspring to be legitimate rather than gangsters, because they know what being a gangster involves.

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