Although Made into an Avatar of Nazi Germany, Max Schmeling Was among the Righteous

In 1936, the German heavyweight boxer Max Schmeling faced off against Joe Louis at Yankee Stadium, in what became the first loss of Louis’s professional career. When the two fought again, in the same venue, two years later, spectators saw the match as a contest between a representative of a state that had embraced racism as its guiding principle, and an African American. But, writes Dean Karayanis—drawing on an interview with the veteran Jewish sportswriter Jerry Izenberg, who listened to the 1938 fight on the radio as a boy—Schmeling was hardly the avatar of Nazi Germany spectators on either side of the Atlantic imagined:

President Franklin Roosevelt, Mr. Izenberg said, “let it be known he had called Louis and said, ‘You’re fighting for America. You’ve got to do this,’ and Louis was ready to go.” He chuckles at the narrative now. “That’s according to the myth.”

Later, Mr. Izenberg got to know both men. “Schmeling,” he told me, “wasn’t fighting for Hitler. He was fighting because he beat this guy, [Louis], once. He was too old to win the title, everybody said, but he could win it now. That’s what motivated him.”

Schmeling, meanwhile, fought Hitler’s overtures to join the Nazi Party and on Kristallnacht, even hid two Jewish brothers in his apartment. “Max asked me several times over the years not to mention it, . . . not to ‘glorify’ him,” one of the brothers, Henri Lewin, said in 1989. “He told me that what he’d done for me and my brother Werner in 1938 was ‘doing the duty of a man.’”

After so much hype, the rematch ended just two minutes and four seconds into the first round. This time, it was Schmeling who was beaten into submission. When his trainer threw in the towel, America rejoiced, but the man they’d cast as a Nazi stooge carried no hard feelings. When Louis died in 1981, Schmeling was a pallbearer and helped pay for his funeral.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Nazi Germany, Righteous Among the Nations, Sports


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7