The Point – February 1956

Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center

February, 1956

PROFILES OF TWO WHITE JEWS

Everybody knows at least one White Jew: one assimilated, non-gesticulating, clean-shaven Hebrew whose distinction — indeed, whose bright shining virtue — is that, “He’s not like other Jews!”

White Jews may be found in nearly every field of endeavor and The Point receives a constant influx of letters protesting that, “I know what you say is true of most Jews, but how about N.? He’s really different.”

In an effort to shed some light on this matter, we herewith examine two men, of widely divergent careers, who seem most to have impressed our readers by overcoming their innate Jewishness and achieving a universally-acknowledged status of “not like the rest of them.”

I — The Adviser

When Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov visited the United States a few months back, he called one day at the home of a prominent, but private, American citizen. After conventional pleasantries and cocktails, Molotov and his friend told reporters to go away, then closeted themselves for a leisurely luncheon and conference.

Ordinarily, news of such goings-on would have had Americans dithering with demands for an explanation. But this time it caused scarcely a ruffle. For the man on whom Molotov called is one whom Americans have long been trained never to question or suspect. He is that ancient and honorable Hebrew, Bernard Mannes Baruch.

It was in 1912 that Bernard Baruch resigned his seat on the New York Stock Exchange to devote his full energies to ordering the affairs of government. Having given his financial and racial endorsement to the candidacy of Woodrow Wilson, Baruch was rewarded by the new President with a series of jobs, culminating, in 1918, with the chairmanship of the War Industries Board. This assignment Baruch carried off with remarkable zest. It gave him, by his own testimony, “more power than perhaps any other man in the war,” and when the Armistice intervened he had plans all drawn up for clothing every adult civilian in the U. S. in “a cheap but serviceable sort of uniform.”

Meantime, Wilson invited Baruch into his Cabinet, as Secretary of the Treasury. Baruch declined, as he was to decline the same offer when it was made in the mid-thirties by President Roosevelt. To formulate his policies in public view, to be spotlighted with responsibility for them, was for Baruch a horrifying prospect. He found that by whispering his ideas into important ears, not only could he disseminate them with more telling effectiveness — and through more departments of the government — but could weather whatever political squalls might arise and sail smoothly from one Administration to the next. The Baruch-beholden Washington Post, trying to be nice, summarized the situation this way: “Bernard M. Baruch aspires to be known as the perpetual adviser to all Presidents, of all parties, at all times, and upon all subjects.”

By revealing his innermost thoughts to none but the privileged few, Baruch kept the public uncertain as to his true intentions. But, encouraged by the press, Americans took these intentions to be benevolent. As one gaga biographer put it. “The guiding impulse of Bernie’s life … is pure, unselfish and self-effacing public service.”

Once, this reputation almost got spoiled. President Hoover strongly suspected that the stock market crash during his Administration had been brought on by the financial finaglings of Baruch. The President ordered an investigation, but at the last minute, for reasons known to himself, called it off.

There were occasions, too, when Baruch was almost his own undoing — as when he sponsored publication of the book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions, and wrote for it an enthusiastic preface. So viciously anti-Catholic was this work that after it first appeared, the publisher, L.C. Page & Co., was descended upon by outraged Boston Catholics and forced to expurgate future editions.

By and large, though, Baruch has kept his impulses submerged and adhered faithfully to his whispering campaign, the effectiveness of which can be gauged by the following comment from Fortune magazine: “Bernard M. Baruch is called into frequent conferences with the President. He has financed many a Congressional campaign; and is surrounded by a praetorian guard of Senators, who hang on his every word. The figure of Baruch is swelling into enormous dimensions on the horizon of public life. … He is the Mystery Man of Washington and Wall Street.”

So powerful was Baruch in the Roosevelt administration, having lunch each week at the White House, holding court for lesser New Dealers twice weekly at the Carlton Hotel, and presiding between times from his bench in Lafayette Park, that he was generally acclaimed “Assistant President.” He was the supreme, infallible authority on all matters from conserving rubber to remaking the postwar world. And though he himself stayed at the rear, he saw to it that the men he had trained reached the front lines. Two of these, Hugh Johnson and George Peek, headed, respectively, the NRA and the AAA — both of which schemes Baruch himself had conceived, and both of which were ultimately declared unconstitutional.

Baruch enjoyed the rare distinction of being one man who was in good favor with Roosevelt from the beginning of his reign until its end. In the spring of 1944, one year before he died, the President took time out from his war-duties for a secluded four-week vacation with Baruch at the latter’s 20,000-acre estate in South Carolina. (Baruch’s own part in the war-effort was well prognosticated by Winston Churchill, who, in 1939, told Baruch, “War is coming very soon … You will be running the show over there.”)

When Roosevelt was succeeded by Harry Truman, Baruch was appointed American delegate to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, in which capacity he drew up and presented, as official U. S. policy, “the Baruch Plan,” recommending that all formulas and materials needed for the manufacture of Atom Bombs be put in the keeping of an international “Atomic Development Authority.” This absolute, anonymously-staffed bureau would also be empowered to deal “immediate, swift, and sure punishment to those (nations) who violate the agreements.”

After the Republican victory of 1952, Baruch lost little time in demonstrating to the nation that his own position was unshakably secure. On the 5th and 7th of January, 1953, two weeks before his formal inauguration as President, Dwight Eisenhower met and conferred with Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The place of their rendezvous: the New York apartment of Bernard Baruch.

But it was during the Truman tenure that there occurred that incident which, more than numbers of others, has left us a picture of Baruch with all his “Whiteness” laid aside. In those days, before the state of Israel was established, when gangs of Jewish terrorists sacked the Holy Land in a wild, vengeful orgy of destruction and death, a prosperous Hollywood Jew named Ben Hecht ran a full-page ad in some two dozen of the largest newspapers across the country. It was addressed “To the Terrorists of Palestine” and read in part as follows:

“The Jews of America are for you. You are their champions. …“Every time you blow up a British arsenal, or wreck a British jail, or send a British railroad train sky high, or rob a British bank, or let go with your guns and bombs at the British betrayers and invaders of your homeland, the Jews of America make a little holiday in their hearts.”

The Jews of America, of course, denied that they did any such thing. Every big Jewish organization in the country issued hurried statements repudiating Hecht, saying the sentiments he expressed were his own and not those of American Jewry.

In his recent autobiography, Hecht tells the aftermath of his advertisement: “One day the door of my room opened and a tall white-haired man entered. It was Bernard Baruch, my first Jewish social visitor. He sat down, observed me for a moment and then spoke. ‘I am on your side,’ said Baruch. ‘The only way the Jews will ever get anything is by fighting for it. I’d like you to think of me as one of your Jewish fighters in the tall grass with a long gun. I’ve always done my best work that way, out of sight.’ ”

Coming from the man whose ideas and influence have dominated American life for half a century, this statement, like a sudden light in a dark room, reveals a picture of recent history that is new, ugly, and glaringly plain. It clarifies some gigantic coincidences: during the era when Baruch has been the constant and intimate adviser to our Presidents, America has been ravaged with wars; has been hitched to an economic roller-coaster riding between boom and bust; has been brought to the brink of cultural and moral disaster; has been established as the foremost champion of World Jewry, the chief instigator in setting up and perpetuating the Jewish State of Israel.

At 85, Bernard Baruch can look back on a life in which he has served his race devotedly and with unprecedented success. Soon he, the Supreme Commander, will have to retire from the fight, but before he does we can be sure he will try to choose his successor, another White Jew who will lie in the tall grass, armed with a long gun.

II — The Refugee

The Point ’s second White Jew is drawn from the religious rather than the secular world, but he has been no less a problem to our readers than Mr. Baruch. He is a refugee from Austria who now conducts, at a Catholic college in New Jersey, a one-man propaganda agency called the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies. So “White” is this Jew that at the age of twenty he submitted himself to the ritual of Christian Baptism, and then went on to become a Catholic priest. His name is Father John M. Oesterreicher.

Before Baptism, John Oesterreicher had been a student of medicine. Three years and a few theology books later, he was ordained a Catholic priest. Even his most prostrate apologists have wondered at such a speeded-up process. And more thoughtful observers have concluded that in the Church which harbors such painful and multiple memories of deceitfully converted “Marrano” Jews, there is something most unusual, to say the least, about the urgency with which John Osterreicher was rushed from Baptism to Holy Orders.

Whether by deliberate design or not, the historical fact is that, for hundreds of thousands of German-speaking Jews, Father Oesterreicher’s sudden priesthood became an immediate weapon against the rising anti-Jewishness of Adolph Hitler. With the weight of the Catholic Church presumably behind him, and the passion of his Jewish blood clearly pushing him on, Father Oesterreicher began a frenzied crusade of writing and speaking. He invoked, as authorities, both saints and sociologists, popes and psychiatrists. He devised arguments from demonology and anthropology, from scholastics and rationalists — all to prove to the Catholics of Austria and Germany that anyone who speaks ill of a Jew is actually blaspheming Jesus Christ Himself!

The same Catholics who well knew that the program proposed by Hitler was hardly the Church’s solution to the Jewish question, knew quite as well that Father Oesterreicher did not have the answer either.

As Hitler proceeded across Europe, Father Oesterreicher managed to keep several towns ahead of him, and finally, in 1941, turned up as a curate in New York City. Since there were in our whole country only about a dozen Jewish-convert priests, Father Oesterreicher proved to be a popular novelty. He was the object of much parochial curiosity and found no difficulty in gathering an inquisitive crowd for the lectures he started to give within six months of his arrival here. His message was invariably of one theme. Always there was the appeal to respect, to admire, to love, to fall down in the mud and worship the Jewish race. And always the appeal was subtly charged with what Father Oesterreicher hoped would pass for the binding authority of the Catholic Church.

But Father Oesterreicher did not have to depend solely upon his own initiative. He had a number of American boosters, of whom perhaps the most zealous was Professor Jacques Maritain. Professor Maritain is the French-born, Protestant-reared, Catholic philosopher who married a Russian Jewess named Raïssa Oumansoff. Although known in this country as a speaker at Jewish seminaries and teacher at Masonic universities, Maritain did try to get a position at a Catholic school. Some years ago, he was interviewed for a job at Fordham University, and stipulated in the course of the discussion that he would expect to be given free rein in all his classes to criticize the pope. Fordham’s Jesuit president turned him down, and Maritain took a job at Princeton, no holds barred.

When Professor Maritain received an honorary degree a few months ago from Jewish Brandeis University, his support of Father Oesterreicher accounted for much of the genuine applause he received from the assembled representatives of American Jewry. For Father Oesterreicher, in every point of his Judaeo-Christian program, has complied exactly with the publicized objectives of the powerful American Jewish Committee. In his books, Walls Are Crumbling and The Bridge, Father Oesterreicher’s glorification of the Jews would erase forever from Catholic minds those New Testament texts which the Jewish Committee has so repeatedly attacked as “anti-Semitic.” Saint Peter’s accusation in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 5, that the Jews are the murderers of Christ; Saint Stephen’s vehement repetition of this charge in chapter 7; Saint Paul’s elaboration on the guilt and curse of the Jews in I Thessalonians, 2:15 — these and all other biblical indictments of the Jewish people are blotted out and replaced by Father Oesterreicher’s devotion to such unbaptized “saints” as Jewish logician Edmund Husserl and Jewish intuitionist Henri Bergson.

In his compliance with the American Jewish Committee’s declared aim, “to revise Christian religious teaching,” Father Oesterreicher has consistently depreciated the tall stacks of papal legislation against the Jews. And, even more boldly, he has demanded a rewording of the Church’s liturgy, proposing that our annual Good Friday reference to the “perfidious Jews” be changed in meaning! The American Jewish Committee followed up Father Oesterreicher’s proposal by pulling every string within its grasp from here to Rome. The result? The following half-hearted, much-guarded statement by the Vatican’s Congregation of Rites: “This Sacred Congregation, having been consulted about the matter, has deemed it advisable to make the following declaration only: That, in translations into the vernacular, phrases are not disapproved of which the meaning (for ‘perfidious Jews’) is ‘infidels without belief.’ ”

Although we may be assured from our Faith that nineteen hundred years of Church policy toward the crucifiers of Christ will never be undone by one strategically-placed Jew, still, it is encouraging to be presented with clear evidence of just how little pro-Jewish residue Father Oesterreicher leaves behind him. When President Truman’s Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine held its hearings in Vienna, the center of Father Oesterreicher’s “apostolate” during the thirties, there was not the least hint that Austrian Catholics had retained even a remembrance of the Oesterreicher “doctrines.” Indeed, the outlook of Austrian Catholics toward Jews was summarized most orthodoxly by His Excellency, Francis Kamprath, Vienna’s Auxiliary Bishop. As a gauge of the previous effectiveness of Father Oesterreicher’s Judaeo-Christian program, and a pledge of its ultimate failure, we conclude with the statement by Bishop Kamprath, taken from recorded testimony before the Anglo-American Committee:

“During the war and in the time of the Nazis there was a great deal of mistaken racial anti-Semitism. Today all anti-Semitism in Austria is religious anti-Semitism. That is justified.”

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