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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

LEAGUE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

LEAGUE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

The LEAGUE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS was organized in Cleveland in 1933 by Rabbi ABBA HILLEL SILVER and journalist LEON WIESENFELD after they attended a national convention of the League for Human Rights & Against Nazism. The Cleveland league's initial purpose was to promote a boycott of goods produced in the German Nazi regime and to disseminate accurate information about that regime's anti-Semitic and antiliberal activities. The Cleveland league had a 2-level structure: a letterhead committee of 60 sympathetic individuals, mostly Gentile, and a controlling "committee of fifteen" leaders from the Jewish community. The former included prominent social workers GEO. A. BELLAMY, ALICE GANNETT, and RUSSELL W. JELLIFFE, and religious leaders such as Bp. WARREN ROGERS and Rev. PHILIP SMEAD BIRD. The latter included future JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION president MYRON E. GLASS, Dorothy D. Kates, and Elma Schever. A salaried director and secretary administered daily functions. The first director, MILDRED CHADSEY, remained for slightly more than a year. Her successor, GRACE MEYETTE, stayed with the organization until its dissolution.

During the mid-1930s, the league exposed the local pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic activities of organizations such as the German-American Bund, the Silvershirts, and the United Mothers for Peace. It investigated and denounced the Cleveland publishers of Halt, a right-wing magazine, and national figures such as Chas. A. Lindbergh, Gerald K. Smith, and Rev. Charles Coughlin, who had a large local following. The league also worked against other discriminatory activities with organizations such as the NATIONAL ASSN. FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE. During the initial phases of World War II (1939-41), the league advocated preparedness and aid to the Allies, watched for subversive activities, and condemned peace organizations as pro-Nazi. Before its demise in 1946, the league published 6 issues of This is Cleveland, a periodical focused on different ethnic groups.


League for Human Rights Records, WRHS.