Overview of the Collection
Arrangement of Materials:
Scope and Contents
Overview of the Collection
Collection Title: Jewish Federation Council of
Greater Los Angeles, Community Relations Committee Collection, Part 1
Bulk Dates: 1933-1937
Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles.
Community Relations Committee
Physical Description: 14.72 linear feet
Language of Materials:
Abstract: In response to the spread of organized
anti-Semitism in the United States during the 1930s, leaders of Los Angeles' Jewish
community formed a special defense organization known as the Los Angeles Jewish
Community Committee. The committee later changed its name to the Jewish Federation
Council of Greater Los Angeles, Community Relations Committee. The collection documents
the committee's efforts to combat prejudice and educate the public through
cooperation with both Jewish and non-Jewish groups, from its formation in 1933 through
the early 1990s. Part I includes the years 1921-1937 and consists primarily of
administrative records, documentation of fact finding and community relations
activities, and also contains the personal papers of Leon Lewis, the committee's
Initial inventory of this collection was funded in part through a gift from Sol
Lesser, a member of the Jewish Community Committee. The J. Paul Getty Trust provided
an additional grant to continue processing the collection.
In response to the spread of organized anti-Semitism in the United States during the
1930s spearheaded by domestic groups like the Ku Klux Klan and international ones like
the propaganda arm of Hitler's Third Reich in Germany, leaders of Los Angeles'
Jewish community formed a special defense organization known as the Los Angeles
Community Relations Committee. The committee's purpose was to work with the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL), B'nai B'rith, the American Jewish Committee
(AJC), the American Jewish Congress, the Council of Jewish Women, and other Zionist
organizations to fight anti-Semitism in the United States.
Mendel Silberberg, a respected community leader and motion picture industry attorney,
served as the first chairman of Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee, which consisted
of approximately forty representatives from various Jewish organizations. The committee
adopted the strategy set forth by the ADL in 1933 for combating
"un-Americanism", which was to infiltrate and expose pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic
organizations and, if necessary, turn the information over to federal government
agencies. The Community Relations Committee met on a biweekly basis to set policy and
report on right wing activities in Los Angeles. It had subcommittees on research and
fact-finding, public relations, legal and legislative matters, internal Jewish
relations, interfaith activities, and education.
The Committee maintained close relationships with other like-minded groups, even sharing
an office suite with the Southern California Anti-Defamation Council during the 1940s.
The Committee collected a massive amount of propaganda literature, primarily from
anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi, and other right wing organizations. Undercover agents and
informants were recruited from the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans, and
planted among suspect groups in the Los Angeles area.
The Americanism Committee of the Los Angeles County Council of the American Legion
presented information gathered by the Community Relations Committee to the House
Un-American Activities Committee (also known as the Dies Committee or HUAC), showing the
connections between local groups including the American German Bund, Friends of the New
Germany, and the German government in Europe. The Committee's work in the 1930s was
so effective that both the AJC and ADL considered it their Los Angeles branch.
The committee also worked closely with national Jewish groups such as the American
Jewish Committee and United Jewish Welfare Fund to fight the Nazi threat, and to
coordinate Jewish civic defense activities nationwide. It provided information on right
wing activities to the FBI, military and naval intelligence, and state and federal
government prosecutors. The evidence they gathered and reports they wrote were used in
trials involving naturalization proceedings, sedition and espionage.
In 1938, Joseph Roos, a newspaperman and screenwriter who had served as a volunteer
informant, joined the Community Relations Committee's staff. He set up a master
file system for the committee’s records, and edited the CRC's
News Letter, which provided "intelligence" news reports and
analysis of propaganda to committee, government officials, teachers, churchmen,
influential journalists, and radio commentators across the United States. Radio
broadcaster Walter Winchell and newspaper columnist Drew Pearson obtained many of their
sensational "scoops" about American extremist groups from the
News Letter. Under the News Research Service, Roos also
directed the CRC's Radio Project and produced news releases and newspaper columns.
The last issue of this noteworthy publication went to press on December 7, 1941.
With the United States' entry into World War II, the Committee's intelligence
gathering activities and investigative journalism were superseded by new activities with
patriotic organizations, veterans groups, inter-faith religious organizations, and local
schools and colleges to combat rising bigotry and discrimination. In 1941 the committee
changed its name to the Community Relations Committee (CRC) of the Jewish Federation
Council of Greater Los Angeles.
At war's end, the CRC again reorganized itself in an attempt to better serve the
larger Los Angeles community. Some of the most important issues the CRC addressed in the
post-World War II period included resettlement of refugees from Eastern Europe on the
West Coast, de-nazification in Germany, immigration legislation, religion in public
schools, communism, civil liberties, discrimination in housing, fair employment
practices, inter-racial relations, stereotyping in the motion picture industry and
religious tolerance. The CRC also kept in close contact with the motion picture and
television industries in an attempt to limit the cast stereotyping of Jews and other
This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Hollywood Anti-Nazi League
for the Defense of American Democracy
Ku Klux Klan (1915-
United States. Congress.
House. Committee on Un-American Activities
Genre/Form of Material:
Pelley, William Dudley,
Newsletter (News Research Service,
Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion
Anti-Nazi movement -- California -- Los
Anti-Semitism -- United States
Discrimination in housing -- California --
Espionage, German -- United
Fascist propaganda -- United
Propaganda, German -- United
Religion in the public schools --
1983, 1987, 1997, 2005
Robert G. Marshall, Sharon Howe, Katherine Cannarozzi, Wenceslao Quiroz, and Autumn
Conditions Governing Use:
Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s)
of this collection has not been transferred to California State University,
Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or
reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond
that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners.
Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of
the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Conditions Governing Access:
The collection is open for research use.
[Identification of item], [date],
Jewish Federation Council of
Greater Los Angeles, Community Relations Committee Collection, Part 1
Special Collections and Archives, Oviatt Library, California State University,
Arrangement of Materials:
Series I: Administration, 1932-1937
Subseries A: Hollywood Committee, 1933-1937
Subseries B: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee (JCC), 1933-1937
Subseries C: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee – Executive Office,
Subseries D: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee – Supported Groups,
Subseries E: Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee – Parent/Funding Organizations,
Series II: Fact Finding and Community Relations, 1921-1937
Subseries A: Complaints, Inquiries and Investigations (Complaints), 1933-1937
Subseries B: Court Cases and Legislative Hearings (Cases and Hearings),
Subseries C: Informant Files, 1932-1937
Subseries D: Investigated Groups and Individuals, 1921-1937
Subseries E: Jewish Groups and Individuals, 1931-1937
Subseries F: Secular/Interfaith Cooperating Groups and Individuals, 1933-1937
Series III: Leon L. Lewis (Personal and Law Practice), 1933-1937
Scope and Contents
Part I of the collection documents the Community Relations Committee's efforts to
combat prejudice and educate the public through cooperation with both Jewish and
non-Jewish groups, from 1921 to 1937. It provides a wealth of documentation regarding
the fight against prejudice by the Jewish community, and many other individuals and
organizations in the Los Angeles area, nationally, and even internationally. For the
period between 1933 and 1937, the CRC collection documents the formation of a spy
network and reporting system that often proved highly successful in infiltrating and
exposing Nazi and other fascist organizations operating in the Los Angeles area, as well
as these groups’ national and international connections. The collection is organized
into three series: Administration (1932-1937), Fact Finding and Community Relations
(1921-1937), and Leon L. Lewis (Personal and Law Practice) (1933-1937).
Series I, Administration, documents the JCC’s relationship with sponsors, other Jewish
community organizations, and the motion picture industry. It includes correspondence,
minutes, publications, editorials, and reports of the Jewish Community Committee (JCC)
and its related support groups. The series is divided into five subseries which are each
arranged in alphabetical order covering the period 1933 to 1937. Subseries A, Hollywood
Committee (1933-1937), documents the relationship between the JCC and Jewish executives
in the motion picture industry, as well as the monetary support the Hollywood Committee
provided to the JCC. The most extensive file is for Henry Herzbrun of Paramount
Productions, who was the Hollywood Committee’s liaison member to the JCC. Other
prominent people whose participation is documented in the collection include Eddie
Cantor, Carl Laemmle, Sr. of Universal Pictures, David O. Selznick, and Irving Thalberg
of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Subseries B, Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee (JCC)
(1933-1937), includes incomplete files of minutes, as well as correspondence between
committee members and the executive secretary. Subseries C, Los Angeles Jewish Community
Committee - Executive Office (1933-1936), includes indexed files for some of Leon L.
Lewis’s correspondence for the first year of committee operations. Subseries D, Los
Angeles Jewish Community Committee - Supported Groups (1932-1937), documents the
cooperative community relations activities the JCC undertook with Jewish and non-Jewish
groups. Subseries E, Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee - Parent/Funding
Organizations (1933-1937), documents relationships with Los Angeles Jewish
organizations that provided direct funding and administrative support to the JCC.
Series II, Fact Finding and Community Relations, documents JCC activities that include
the gathering and dissemination of information regarding fascist and anti-Semitic groups
and individuals, responding to community complaints of specific acts of discrimination,
and contributing information to court proceedings and legislative hearings. The series
is divided into six subseries each of which is arranged alphabetically. Subseries A,
Complaints, Inquiries and Investigations (Complaints) (1933-1937), consists of materials
pertaining to the investigations of individual complaints received regarding
anti-Semitism and discrimination. Subseries B, Court Cases and Legislative Hearings
(Cases and Hearings) (1932-1937), consists of materials that document the JCC’s
participation in legal and legislative issues on the state and federal level. Most
notable are files created by the JCC that provided information and testimony by its
informants in a legal battle to oppose Nazi control of the Los Angeles German-American
League [or Alliance, also known as the Stadt Verband]. The subseries also contains
extensive documentation of investigations conducted by the House Un-American Activities
Committee [HUAC], commonly referred to as the McCormack Committee during this period.
Subseries C, Informant Files (1932-1937), consists of correspondence with and reports by
informants working undercover for the JCC. It also includes documents and printed matter
collected by informants while in the field. Subseries D, Investigated Groups and
Individuals (1921-1937), consists of correspondence, reports, and printed matter of
groups and individuals suspected of fascist, communist, and/or anti-Semitic activities.
The files reflect those instances when an investigation absolved groups or individuals
of right wing allegations. Subseries E, Jewish Groups and Individuals (1931-1937),
consists of correspondence, reports, and printed matter that document cooperation as
well as disagreement within the Jewish community on issues and tactics of the JCC.
Subseries F, Secular/Interfaith Cooperating Groups and Individuals (1933-1937), consists
of correspondence, reports, and printed matter that documents JCC cooperation with the
Series III, Leon L. Lewis (Personal and Law Practice), is comprised of the personal
papers of Executive Director Leon Lewis and includes Lewis' reports,
correspondence, memoranda, and speeches. For several years the JCC used the offices of
Lewis’s law practice before getting their own offices, consequently Lewis’s personal
papers were intermingled with those of the JCC. The series is arranged in alphabetical
order by personal name.