Once Aryan Skynet Goes Live It Doesn't Matter Who Pulled The Switch
The violent history of anarchism in Argentina is inextricable from the story of the country’s importation of thousands of European Jews. Historian José C. Moya, whose essay “What’s in a Stereotype?” serves as a scholarly introduction to the subject, relates that many studies “have shown what seems to be a remarkably high level of participation among the Ashkenazim” in twentieth century anarchist movements.
Various historians have asserted that in Russia the anarchist movement was born and attained its highest intensity in the Jewish towns of the western and southwestern borderlands.
From the towns and shtetls of the Pale, emigrants took this militancy to the ghettos of European and American cities. In London’s East End they founded in 1885 the Arbeter fraynd, apparently the first Yiddish anarchist newspaper, which by 1905 reached a circulation of five thousand, and a federation of Jewish anarchist associations in 1902. […] A similar, although apparently smaller, community existed in Paris. […] The community of Jewish anarchists in New York’s Lower East Side developed a few years later than London’s but eventually surpassed it in importance. […] By the early decades of the twentieth century, Jews, along with Italians, had replaced Germans and Bohemians as the mainstay of the anarchist movement in the urban centers of the East Coast and the Midwest.1
“Buenos Aires offers an appropriate case to study” toward an understanding of Jewish radical activity in the western world, Moya observes. “By the outbreak of World War I, the city had become the second-largest metropolis in the Atlantic world, after New York, […] and it boasted a large and expanding Jewish population (16,500 in 1909 and 120,177 by 1936).” These figures are all the more startling in view of the fact that in 1887 Buenos Aires boasted a mere 289 Jews2. Zionist forefather Theodore Herzl “himself described the choice facing the Jewish masses in Eastern Europe as one between ‘Palestine or the Argentine’,” writes Raanan Rein, an Israeli historian of Argentinian Jewry.3
Serendipitously for Jews desiring to emigrate from the Russian Empire, Argentinian authorities during this period were eager to facilitate European immigration and thereby “whiten” the young nation’s demographics. “Rumors about the possibilities offered by immigration to Argentina, where one could live freely and prosper, spread among urban and rural Jews in central and eastern Europe,” Rein relates, so that by the early years of the twentieth century, roughly half the population of Buenos Aires was foreign-born.4 Unfortunately for those eugenics-minded establishment leaders, they were to get much more than the fair racial stock they had bargained for with the rapid and massive influx of eastern European Jews.
“Unlike orthodox Marxism, which viewed the proletariat as the only revolutionary class, anarchism embraced all sorts of marginal groups,” Moya explains. “The embrace was ample enough to include the lumpen proletariat, petty delinquents, and ruffians (a term that, coincidentally, retained in Argentina its original French/Italian meaning of pimp).”5 An anarchist editorial published in 1890 with the title “Who Are We and What Will We Do” answered these questions in the following terms: “We are the vagrants, the malefactors, the rabble, the scum of society, the sublimate corrosive of the present social order.”6
This corrosive agency was in strong evidence on May Day, 1909, when anarchists gathered in the Plaza Lorea in Buenos Aires for purposes of agitation. That afternoon, “the Plaza Lorea began to fill with folk not habitués of the city centre: lots of moustaches, berets, neckerchiefs, patched trousers, lots of fair hair, lots of freckled faces, lots of Italians, lots of ‘Russians’ (as the Jewish immigrant was called in those days) and quite a few Catalans.”7 This heavily Jewish mass of angry troublemakers came waving red flags and shouting “Death to the bourgeois! War on the bourgeoisie!”8 The group, as it passed storefronts, “smashed the windows of bakeries that had failed to close their doors to mark their support for the Festival of Labour, bludgeoning the trams conductors and drivers and destroying hire cabs and unhitching the horses.”9
After a bout of rabble-rousing speechifying, the radicals clashed with the Buenos Aires authorities. Police reported that provocateurs in the crowd fired the first shots10, but anarchist historian Osvaldo Bayer gives this account of what transpired:
But worse was to come. In the Avenida de Mayo, a vehicle unexpectedly drew up. It was Colonel Ramon Falcon, the chief of police, arriving in person to direct the forces of repression.
People recognized him and began to shriek: “Down with Colonel Falcon! Death to the Cossacks! War on the Bourgeoisie!” And defiantly the flags and banners were waved. Falcon, only meters from where the anarchists were massed, looked on impassively, as if taking the measure of [the] crowd. It looked as if he was taking stock of the enemy’s strength, like a general before battle. Falcon was regarded as an officer “of the old school”, a “priest of discipline”.
There he stood, spare and gaunt, resembling a falcon, opposite workers who were in his view, as in the eyes of much of the ruling class, “foreigners, without discipline, without tradition, without roots, anti-Argentinians”. […]
After a quick word with Jolly Medrano, the commander of the security squad, Falcon gave the go-ahead for the attack. First in were the cavalry, riding over the people, then the shooting.
Many decided to run for it, but not all. The ones who decided not to beat a retreat did not even bother to take cover behind a tree but boldly faced the repression. But after a half hour of tough and unequal fighting, the square was cleared. Leaving the pavements littered with berets, hats, walking sticks, neckerchiefs, and thirty-six pools of blood. Three corpses and forty seriously wounded were removed immediately. […] Virtually all of the wounded were Spanish, Italian, and Russian [i.e., Jewish].11
Police reported that “the manner in which the Russians [i.e., Jews] who accounted for part of the cosmopolitan mass of workers conducted themselves was noteworthy” and also recorded the proliferation of revolutionist manifestoes printed “in the Hebrew tongue and containing the most violent propaganda”, including the exhortations to loot and kill.12 The scale of the May Day eruption was smaller than some among the militant force of foreign undesirables had intended. “Anarchists were reportedly stocking up on bullets,” Moya reveals, “and at 1:00 a.m. on May 1, they were still meeting, planning how to bring public transportation to a halt by bombing the tramways.”13 The Buenos Aires Herald suggested that “the only way to deal with these gentry is to proclaim a state of siege and rush them off to Russia, where there are policemen carefully trained to deal with wolves and wild beasts.”14
Anarchists called for Falcon to resign and organized a series of strikes and other provocations in Buenos Aires, which resulted the arrest of a number of “Russian [i.e., Jewish] nihilists”15. The ethno-radicals determined to exact a terrorist vengeance for Falcon’s merciless quashing of their May Day riot. The ethnically charged character of the vendetta was evident from the fortunately foiled attempt of one criminal Jew, Pablo Karaschin, to bomb the El Carmen chapel16. One of Karaschin’s associates would, however, hit the mark when he tossed a bomb into the carriage of Colonel Falcon, killing the chief of police as well his secretary, Alberto Lartigau17.
The bomber, Simon Radowitzky, or Szymon Radowicki, was a mechanic and recent immigrant who as a juvenile delinquent had participated in the disorders known as the Russian Revolution of 190518. After fleeing the scene of the crime, Radowitzky was shot and captured, at which point he proclaimed “Long live anarchism!” When one of his captors said, “Wait and see what is in store for you now,” Radowitzky is reported to have replied in bad Spanish, “I don’t care. I have a bomb for every one of you.”19 Radowitzky, who wore a “black broad-brimmed soft hat”20 at the time, was later described as follows by his prosecutor:
The killer’s physiognomy boasts morphological features which display, in exaggerated form, all of the tell-tale signs of the criminal. Undue development of the lower jaw, prominence of the zygomatic and superciliary arches, depression of the forehead, ferocious gaze, slight facial asymmetry […] the characteristics that betray Radowitzky as the classic criminal type.21
The prosecution sought the death penalty in spite of Radowitzky’s claiming to be only eighteen and therefore a minor according to Argentinian law. The murderer looked older than his years, and some believed he deserved to be executed irrespective of his age. Radowitzky, who even gloated about his murder of Lartigau22, showed no remorse whatsoever and also refused to answer questions about his personal connections “in the belief that he might thereby keep the investigation in the dark.”23
Authorities were able to discover, however, that Radowitzky was a comrade of the would-be church-bomber Karaschin and that he belonged to a gang that included members with names like Moises Scutz and Josef Buwitz24. Radowitzky was saved from execution after his cousin Moises Radowitzky, “a singular personage with a hint of the rabbi and second-hand dealer about him”, produced “a scroll of brown paper” containing what purported to be the defendant’s birth certificate, corroborating his status as a minor25. (Curiously, Radowitzky’s gravestone gives the year of his birth as 1889 – which, if true, means that he and his cousin had lied about the defendant’s age and that the document they introduced was likely a fake.) In the end, Radowitzky was sentenced to an indefinite term of penal servitude – he would spend twenty years of his life imprisoned in Argentina – most of which he would pass in Tierra del Fuego at Ushuaia, the country’s equivalent of Alcatraz or Devil’s Island, “surrounded by the dregs of society” – which is, of course, to say, his peers26.
Radowitzky biographer Osvaldo Bayer attempts to excuse the assassination of Falcon as a function of the murderer being “a product of despair”27; but the social or economic pressures that could have driven a Jewish mechanic in Argentina to such depths of “despair” as to have no other option than to assassinate a public official are rather elusive. Overblown tales of eternal Jewish woes aside, Rein asserts that “government-sponsored anti-Semitism has been rare in Argentina.”28 Moreover, the country’s first anti-Semitic organizations did not appear until 1910 – the year following Radowitzky’s assassination of Falcon29.
Many of Argentina’s Russian-Jewish malcontents arrived in the aftermath of the troubles of 1905 and carried along with their baggage their hatred of Christians in authority. This continuity of their alienated resentment, in accordance with which they appear to have held their Latin American neighbors culpable for the real or imagined wrongs perpetrated against them by their previous hosts under the Russian Empire, is illustrated by the fact that the anarchist Jews in Argentina referred to police as “Cossacks” and called for them to be executed. The immigrants’ loathing of Christians is further evidenced by an anticlerical rally in a heavily Jewish neighborhood of Buenos Aires in 1906, at which protestors shouted “Viva la anarquia … down with the police … let’s burn the convents” – a terrorist program which, according to Moya, was actually attempted30. The historian also relates the following:
The cover for the December 2, 1905, issue of Caras y caretas, the magazine with the largest circulation in Buenos Aires, offers a different sort of evidence about the impact of the Russian Revolution of that year and the increased arrival of Jewish anarchists. Under the caption “Los inmgrantes,” the illustration shows a line of long-haired and bearded immigrants disembarking from a ship. On the dock, a police officer watches with surprise while a figure with a top hat representing Argentina or its president exclaims, “Onward, Russian gentlemen. Come in, you will find yourselves right at home.” The first Russian on the line holds a suitcase stamped “Odesa-Buenos Aires” with one hand and a bomb in the other.31
Jewish immigrants’ frequently coupled penchants both for political extremism and specialization in the vice trades were clearly legitimate causes for national concern. “Police raids of anarchists at times rounded up petty criminals and pimps as well,” Moya writes, adding that “in 1909-1910 the raids became so massive that […] it became difficult at times to differentiate between anarchists and pimps among the hundreds of individuals being arrested in the Jewish quarter.”32 A 1909 British diplomatic dispatch from Buenos Aires warned of a bomb threat from anarchist “Russians” – Jewish pimps, as it turned out – “believed to be connected with the White Slave traffic” in Argentina33.
Radowitzky, in any event, was transformed into a folk hero by the anarchists and other anti-establishment elements in the country, and a plot to liberate the prisoner was implemented in 1918, when he briefly escaped aboard a boat called the Ooky34. Leftist opinion had been inflamed by allegations that the convict had been the victim of beatings and “sex offenses” in Ushuaia35. The escape attempt was a debacle, however, and Chilean naval police may have saved Radowitzky’s life when they captured him in a place called Aguas Frias, where, indeed, he was found with his clothes frozen on him36. He had murdered an agent of the Chilean police37 – a detail Bayer omits entirely from his biography of the “Christ of the Twentieth Century”, as one anarchist periodical dubbed him38.
Radowitzky was known to the Ushuaia inmates as “Rasputin the good”, a “mystic”39 and “a mixture of Russian muzhik [i.e., peasant] and ghetto rabbi”40. Bayer, Radowitzky’s clownishly fawning anarchist hagiographer, is unable to settle on a consistent characterization of how incarceration had affected his subject. He quotes a sympathetic newspaper profile sketching the terrorist’s undiminished “virile dynamism”41, but a few pages later Bayer tugs at readers’ heartstrings with a line about how Radowitzky had vegetated “like one of the living dead.”42 (Elsewhere, Bayer stupidly refers to “the Stalinist massacre of the anarchist sailors in Kronstadt”43 – either unaware or unconcerned that the Bolshevik suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion occurred in 1921, several years before Stalin came into power.)
The killer came into a piece of great luck when Apolinario Barrera, who had been a party to the prison break plot of 1918, became the manager of Critica, an Argentinian daily paper, which did much to stir public sympathy for Radowitzky with a full-page report on his life in prison in 1930. Writes Bayer:
By now no one doubted that Radowitzky would have to be pardoned. The anarchists spared no effort: through their [presumably, disproportionately Jewish] sister organisations in the United States, they managed to trace Radowitzky’s parents and these wrote to [Freemason] President Yrigoyen: “Before we die we should like to see our son a free man.”44
In 1916, before being elected – and before the terrorist martyr had committed his third murder – Argentinian President Hipolito Yrigoyen of the Radical Civic Union had promised an anarchist delegation that he would pardon Radowitzky; and, though tardy by more than a decade in delivering on his promise, he did so in the spring of 1930 – much to the consternation of the outraged police and the military45. President Yrigoyen would be deposed a few months afterward. A condition of the pardon was that Radowitzky would be exiled to Uruguay, prompting an editorialist of the Montevideo newspaper La Mañana to gripe that “the Argentinians are making us a present of this undesirable because they have no idea what to do with him, and we Uruguayans have to afford our help to the resolution of their problems.”46
Radowitzky’s parents, using the name Radoff, had settled in Milwaukee with another son, Joe, the proprietor of a grocery store. The Milwaukee Journal carried a story about the assassin’s new lease on life with the headline “Mother of Bomb Hurler Happy at His Release”. “There was a quick little smile about Mrs. Radoff’s face – half hope, half fear,” the article observed, “about what the papers might say about her [fortyish] boy, Simon Radowitzky, anarchist, bomb expert and slayer of three men in the Argentine and Chile.”47
Established in Uruguay, where he was warmly received by the local anarchist community, Radowitzky ostensibly found work as a mechanic, but once more became deeply involved in revolutionary activism, running messages and networking between subversive groups in Uruguay and Brazil. Under the fascist-friendly government of Gabriel Terra, Uruguayan authorities placed Radowitzky under house arrest late in 1934 and eventually moved him into confinement on the Isla de Flores. There he slept in a “cellar that had formerly housed sheep” before being moved into a bathroom. Transferred again to Montevideo, Radowitzky was imprisoned there for several more months before finally being released in 193648.
When the Spanish Civil War erupted that year, Radowitzky traveled to Madrid, where he joined the anarcho-syndicalist rabble and could believe for a time that the conflict “had made a reality of his old dream of unity among all on the left,” Bayer writes. “That is, until, in 1939 he was the eye-witness to an unwelcome truth: In Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona, the [communists’] shootings of anarchists began.” He “must have thought more than once,” Bayer muses, “that the bourgeoisie [those, that is, whose orderly society Radowitzky and his fellow revolutionist Jews had sought to obliterate with bombs] had at least afforded him the chance of a trial and the chance to produce [or even fabricate] a birth certificate, and that a president described as senile, weak, and irresolute had pardoned him regardless of everybody.”49
An article from the British Organise! Magazine of the Anarchist Federation sketches the last decade and a half of the Jewish murderer’s existence:
With Franco’s victory, he had to flee to France, where like so many others, he was interned in the concentration camp at St. Cyprien. From there, he got away to Mexico [where he operated under the alias Raul Gomez]. Here, a poet managed to get him a job as a clerk at the Uruguayan Consulate. At the end of the World War, he worked in the Mexican branch of the International Rescue and Relief Committee to help political refugees in Europe, alongside the German [Jewish] anarchist Augustin Souchy [Bauer], sending CARE food packages. He wrote for anarchist publications in Mexico.
Simon’s last years were plagued by ill health. The prison years had taken their toll. When not in hospital, he lived in a shabby attic of an apartment building [where, according to Bayer, he lived with “the first woman he had known in his whole life”50].
He died of a heart attack on February 29, 1956 whilst working in a toy factory.51
“His name is as vilified by repressors as ever it was,” Bayer excoriates the law-and-order fuddy-duddies of the world52 – and to that list of “repressors” Aryan Skynet must now append its own ignominious name. Radowitzky, moreover, is not an unusual case. As his prosecutor observed, when the “entry [of the Radowitzky type] into a free society, like ours, generously returns to them their rights of men, opening to them wide horizons of regeneration and prosperity, when they should consider these societies as a true promised land, the instinct of perversity in them bursts out, poorly disguised under the pretext of vindications that no longer have any justification, perpetrating assassination, devastation, and disorder.”53
To many, however, Falcon’s assassin remains a folk hero. Moya goes so far as to indicate a “positive side” to the stereotype of Jews as anarchists in that it “made Jews the object of emulation” among their fellow immigrants.54 “In this light,” the scholar concludes, “Radowitzky’s crime became another feather on the collective Jewish cap rather than a stigma.”55
[Read more about the history of Jewish rioting and street brutality here.]