eNews Edition: Spring 2018
In the 1930’s the spread of organized anti-Semitism in the United States sparked local Jewish leaders and their allies to form a special defense organization known as the Los Angeles Community Relations Committee, later known as the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles Community Relations Committee (CRC). The CRC's purpose was to work with the Anti-Defamation League, B'nai B'rith, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Council of Jewish Women, and other organizations to fight anti-Semitism in the United States. The Los Angeles Jewish Community Relations Committee Archives, securely housed in the Oviatt Library, have proven to be a highly sought after source for researchers, national and international scholars, and CSUN faculty and students. As one of the most-frequently consulted archives used in the Oviatt Library, the Los Angeles CRC collection documents the organization’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism and educate the public through cooperation with both Jewish and non-Jewish groups, spanning from 1921 to the early 2000’s. A large portion of the archival documents are still awaiting funding for processing, cataloging, and digitization.
Most recently, two university professors in California were inspired by these valuable archives, spending countless hours in the Oviatt Library’s Special Collections and Archives researching their highly acclaimed books: Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against America by USC History Professor Steven J. Ross and Hollywood’s Spies: The Undercover Surveillance of Nazis in Los Angeles by Laura B. Rosenzweig from the University of California.
At a presentation and book signing on the CSUN campus in February 2018, Professor Ross shared that he has been approached by Hollywood to bring his story to the big screen or television. He strongly feels there is too much information for a two hour movie and would prefer to see a mini-series. “This story isn’t about Jews protecting Jews. This story is about average Americans taking a stand against fascism, not using violence, but their intelligence,” said Ross. This spring, Ross’s Hitler in Los Angeles received the prestigious honor of being chosen as one of two finalists for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in the history category.
Hitler in Los Angeles and Hollywood’s Spies shine the light on the little-known story of the underground plots waged by Nazis against major Hollywood figures as part of a plan to dominate the United States. The heroic acts of unsung hero Leon Lewis and his allies command our attention, reminding us of the difference that can be achieved through the power of determined citizens fighting to abolish prejudiced antagonists.
The Los Angeles Jewish CRC archives in the Oviatt Library demonstrate the significant impact on and contribution to improving community relations and ending discrimination, which are so deserving of a national and international profile. To contribute to the preservation of these valuable historic archives, please visit https://library.csun.edu/Give.