How One of Hollywood’s Leading Moguls Saved from Hitler Hundreds of Jews from His Birthplace

Born in the German city of Laupheim in 1911, Rudy Bergmann escaped the Third Reich for the U.S. in 1937, thanks largely to the fortunate fact that he shared a hometown with the founder of Universal Pictures. His son, the novelist and screenwriter Andrew Bergman, tells his story:

“Uncle Carl” Laemmle was an authentic pioneer of the movie business—and a far more benevolent soul than founding ogres like Louis B. Mayer, Harry Cohn, or the Warner brothers. Laemmle had immigrated from Laupheim to New York in 1884 and almost immediately entrained to Chicago. He was then seventeen. After working as a bookkeeper for a clothing manufacturer, Laemmle abruptly pivoted and purchased a small movie theater in Chicago. He acquired an immediate appetite for this electrifying blend of art and commerce and headed for southern California to make his fortune.

Despite his full embrace of Hollywood and its palmy lifestyle, Laemmle never forgot Laupheim or its . . . inhabitants. Blessedly, he was a soft touch; thanks to his largesse, my father gained employment at Universal Pictures in Berlin (the famed UFA), doing odd jobs and loving both Weimar Berlin and the louche ambience of movie work.

Exiting Germany gained urgency once anti-Semitism was codified by the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935—which, for openers, stripped Jews of their citizenship and forbade intermarriage. At this juncture, Rudy once again turned to Laemmle, who provided an affidavit vouchsafing that my father and his fellow Jewish townsmen were guaranteed jobs in the U.S. and would not become wards of the state. By offering his assurance in this way, Uncle Carl saved the lives of at least a thousand people, whose situation became increasingly dire as Hitler’s race war escalated in lethality and it became obvious that the Western democracies had no more appetite for Jews than did the Nazis.

Thus, I owe my life—and hence my children and grandchildren’s lives—to this mild-mannered soul with a fortune built from a multitude of coins dropped by Americans famished for this new entertainment. Those early moviegoers, in their derbies and flouncy dresses, the boys in knickers and newsboy caps, lined up to drop their nickels into the pocket of Uncle Carl, who ultimately used this amassed small change to do more tangible good than the leaders of the so-called free world.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American Jewish History, Hollywood, Immigration, Nazi Germany

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas