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

April 1 2020

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


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria