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Punched Jul. 31, 1934. (Penciled and inked notations: OK BBMc-K F. Appeal Bond Will Tate Wenonah Employee; Rate OK. A. Beecher. B. Rm.]
[Stamp: Aug. 8, 1934, Paid, By Voucher No. 76626.) Stamp: Handled through Gen’L OFFICE, Voucher Bureau, Jul. 28. Account No. Examined.)
(Stamp: Received, VOUCHER BUREAU, Jul. 31, 1934. July Account. Examined.)
Use Dixie Drive It Yourself System. Rent a new car, drive it yourself.
DIXIE DRIVE IT YOURSELF SYSTEM
BIRMINGHAM CO., INC., SUCCESSORS TO SAUNDERS SYSTEM
1917 5th Avenue Phone 3–7181
BirmingHAM, ALA., 5–81-84. Sold to: Tennessee Coal, Iron & R. R. Co., Address: c/o Brown Marx Bldg., Birmingham, Ala. Your Order No. 6-1899
(Stamped: Paid, June 9, 1934, by voucher no. 72439.) [Stamped: Received Jun. 5, 1934. Karl Landgrebe.]
Stamped: Handled through Gen'l Office, Voucher Bureau, Jun. 5, 1934. Account No. GA 5A1. Examined Do.)
(Stamped: RECEIVED, Voucher Bureau, Jun. 6, 1934. May Account; Examined.]
[Punched, May 31, 1934.]
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DIXIE DRIVE IT YOURSELF SYSTEM
BIRMINGHAM CO., INC., SUCCESSORS TO SAUNDERS SYSTEM
1917 5th Avenue Phone 3-7181
BIRMINGHAM, ALA., 5–31–34. Sold to: Tennessee Coal, Iron & R. R. Co., Address: c/o Brown Marx Bldg., Birmingham, Ala. Your Order No.
(Stamped: Paid, Jun. 9, 1934, by voucher no. 72439.)
(Stamped: Handled_through Gen'l Office, Voucher Bureau, June 5, 1934. Accounting GA5al. Examined D.)
(Stamped: RECEIVED, Voucher Bureau, Jun. 6, 1934. May Account. Examined.
(Stamped: Punched May 31, 1934.]
Court of Jefferson, 88:
My name is Israel Berlin. I am 35 years old. I was born in Lithuania in 1901 (in that year a province of Russia). I came to the United States in 1908 with my parents. My father took out citizenship papers in 1913 and under the then existing laws for acquiring citizenship, I, a minor aged 12, became a citizen of the United States. From the summer of 1908 to the present date my home has been in Alabama. I received my education solely in Alabama schools. After graduating from high school I worked two years for the T. C. I. Company until the fall of 1920 when I gave up my job to attend Alabama Polytechnic Institute at Auburn. I graduated from this institution in 1924.
After finishing college I was employed as a chemist by the Barrett Roofing Company in Fairfield, Alabama, until November 30, 1929. Since that time i have had no steady employment.
When I lost my job because of the depression and was unable to find other work, I began to spend a good deal of time seeking a cause for such conditions. The newspapers were unsatisfactory in offering panaceas; the politicians of the Republican and Democratic parties were also disappointing. The words socialism and communism meant little to me at the time. But as I came across them often when I was reading and trying to find out the causes of the 1929 depression I decided to make a determined effort to understand these terms. After doing a good deal of reading and studying I finally was convinced that the program of the Communist Party offered the only solution so in July, 1933, I applied for membership in the Communist Party. Shortly afterwards I became literature agent for this district and remained in that capacity until the fall of 1934.
On May 7, 1934, I was arrested in Birmingham at the Quinlan apartments in company with five others who were alleged or suspected communists. When questioned I gave an assumed name so as not to implicate or frighten members of
my family. The literature confiscated at this place was all classed as "communist stuff" but no charges were placed against any of us for its possession. Instead we were all charged with vagrancy. At the trial held in Jefferson County Circuit Court, presided over by Judge Abernathy, all charges were dismissed because of lack of evidence.
In July, 1934, J. T. Moser and H. Cole, members of the "Red Squad" of the Birmingham police department, drove over to my home about eight o'clock in the morning. I happened to be sitting on the porch reading when they arrived. They came up on the porch and Moser asked me, “Who lives here?" I told him. Then he asked me my name which I gave him. Then he wanted to know whether I had been arrested lately. I refused to answer. He said he wanted to search my room. I asked him if he had a search warrant. He answered, “No”, and then he started for the door, saying, “We are going to go in anyway. I cried, “Hold on. I don't want to cause any trouble and I can't keep you from searching my room but I want you to know I resent this unlawful search.” They made a thorough search of my room and confiscated all the literature they could find. I recall that among the books they took were Lenin's State and Revolution, Lenin's Imperialism, and a series of pamphlets known as the Marxist study course. I was tried before Judge Martin of the City Court of Misdemeanors and was released because the judge said, “Such literature can be found in the public libraries of Birmingham.
A week later I was arrested at the office of the American Railway Express as I was taking out a shipment of newspapers entitled The Southern Worker. I was arraigned this time on a charge of handling and possessing subversive literature. Again Judge Martin dismissed me saying it was not unlawful to have such newspapers, that though some people may not agree with the sentiments expressed it was not against the law to print such.
In August, 1934, Officer Duke of the Birmingham police force arrested me in Ensley for having in my possession a quantity of anti-war leaflets. Again I was tried in the City Court of Misdemeanors before Judge Martin—this time I was charged with criminal anarchism. I was convicted and given a maximum sentence of six months at hard labor and a hundred dollar fine.
I appealed this sentence and was retried in the Jefferson County Circuit Court presided over by Judge McElroy. The trial lasted only 15 minutes. Most of this time was taken up with wrangling-objections from both lawyers over questions asked, questions by Judge McElroy of my own activities and beliefs, and finally the judge's verdict: "I see no reason why this man should have the previous sentence annulled. He is guilty of criminal anarchism and I sustain the sentence of the City Court of Misdemeanors which is only six months and $100 fine." The judge's attitude at the trial was obviously prejudiced. I found out later that McElroy was a high official in the Ku Klux Klan, a fascist organization. I got this information from someone who had worked in the office with him prior to his becoming a judge in the circuit court.
I was placed in the Jefferson County jail on October 26, 1934 pending an appeal to the State Supreme Court. Bond was set at $2000 but was later reduced to $500. I remained there until May 15, 1935. After I had been in jail a few months. Milton McDuff, head of the McDuff National Detective Agency, came to see me. He offered me freedom and money to act as an informer on the activities of the Communist Party. I refused all offers and told him to make no further attempts to see me. Several weeks later a man by the name of Davis came to see me. He claimed to be a member of the American Liberty League but he showed me no credentials verifying his claim. He also offered me freedom and money if I would act as an informer. Again I refused because I could not betray the working people.
After more than 200 days' imprisonment waiting for a hearing from the State Supreme Court on my appeal, I was transferred to the city jail to begin serving a six months sentence at hard labor and $100 fine. I learned that the Supreme Court because of some legal technicality had refused to give my appeal a hearing, Within a few hours after my arrival at the city jail on May 15, 1935, I was placed in solitary confinement and I remained in solitary until I was released June 21, 1935.
ISRAEL BERLIN. Sworn to and subscribed before me this the 9th day of January, 1937 (SEAL)
H. F. Hazen, Notary Public. My Commission Expires May 10, 1939.
1-26-37 STATE OF New YORK,
City of New York, County of New York, sê: Paul Weller, being duly sworn, deposes and says:
My name is Paul Weller, I am an artist at present working on the WPA as a teacher. I am twenty-four years of age, married, a citizen of the U.S. A. I live at 431 East 15th St., New York City. I am a high school graduate and studied for several years at the National Academy of Design in New York City.
In the late spring of 1934 I was taking a trip around the United States sketching and getting material for some paintings about American life. While traveling in the South I learned of a strike in progress at the Ore mines on Red Mountain, south of Bessemer, an industrial suburb of Birmingham. I went to this strike area and talked with many of the pickets, being interested in studying the types of workers in this southern industrial area. The National Guard was mobilized here and the pickets seemed particularly angry that the guardsman had separated the negro and white strikers, forcing them to picket in separate places. Later I was talking with some strikers in picket headquarters. We had been discussing the general question of Communism, in which they seemed very interested, when one of the men who had separated himself from the rest of the group made a telephone call to someone whom he addressed by his first name. This name I don't recall.
About ten minutes after this call had been made three police arrived in a Ford car and took me away with them to the Bessemer police station. There I was questioned by several of the police for a few minutes. They wanted to know who was, why I was there, whether I was a Communist, the addresses of Communists in that district. They complained that many Communist leaflets had been issued around there and they wanted to know who issued them. I was not a member of the Communist Party at that time and did not know a single person in the Communist organization in Alabama. They accused me of coming down there and to stir up the Negroes and I said that I certainly hadn't come there for that purpose and that I believed in unity of the Negro and White workers. They also asked me how much I was paid by the Communist Party at which I said I was not in the pay of any political party or any other organization. At this time I told them that I was a member of the John Reed Club, a left wing, Nation-wide, artists organization. After one of the police had lectured me for a few minutes they emptied my pockets. They took a list of addresses of friends, my money my sketch and note book, my John Reed Club membership book and led me away to a cell.
I spent the night in this cell with one convicted prisoner. The cell was very filthy with an open toilet in one corner. During the course of the night I was awakened about every half hour and made to stand up in the cell while the jailer flashed a flash light in my face to allow several individuals who were outside the cell to look me over.
I was unable to see these people because of the glare of the flash light. When the light was flashed in my face some one would say, "Are you sure that you'll know him if you see him again?" The others would look at me closely and say that they surely would. During the course of the night at least thirty men were brought in to look at me.
In the morning I had a breakfast of one piece of corn bread, a piece of fat pork over which they had poured some kind of syrup served in tin plate and a tin cup of watery coffee. After I had eaten this I was taken out of the cell and led down a hallway thru the courtroom where the court was in session and into a small private room beyond the court room. In here were two men, one of whom I recognized as one of the arresting officers. The other one was a man of about thirtytwo years of age, of medium complexion slightly under medium height (about 5 feet 6 inches) weighing approximately 150 pounds, full faced, clean shaven and well dressed. He leaned against the table and had me sit down and questioned me for about a half an hour.
He asked me if I was a Communist, and who were the Communists in that area and where did they live? What was my idea in coming down here to “stir up" the Negroes? How much did I get paid? Why didn't I stay out of the South? I told him I had answered all these questions before and that I had as much right to be in the South as any other American.
Whereas he had acted tough at first, later he became fatherly towards me as though trying to win my confidence. He told me that he didn't think I looked like a trouble-maker. The chief of police even offered me a cigarette, which I refused. The chief and the other officer drifted in and out between this room and
the court room; they didn't ask any questions but kept injecting a few threats in the form of stories of what happens to Communists in the South. They asked me about a Ford car that had been driving around that area the day before evidently containing men who were connected with the strike. They insisted that I had been in that car and that that car had contained Communists. I did not give any information; I had none.
After this man had finished interviewing me I was taken back to the room where my pockets had been emptied (the warden's office). The man who had questioned me went down stairs, and I did not see him again. In the warden's office the police chief returned my possessions to me with the exception of a list of addresses of friends whom I intended to visit on my trip. These were not Alabama addresses.
At that time the chief of police told me that I had better keep out of a certain county (which name I cannot remember). He told me that they lynched Communists down there. He also said that they would like to charge me with something but they didn't have any charge they could place against me. He said that in Birmingham they had an ordinance against possession of Communist literature, but none in Bessemer. Incidentally I had no Communist literature, but he called a membership book of the John Reed Club “Communist Literature”. In the room at that time were two other men one of whom lectured me on what happens to Communists in Alabama. He said I had better leave that territory quick if I didn't want to get hurt. I told him that I had never had any intention to stay in that territory more than a day or two, and that I was leaving, but not because of his advice. Then I left the police station alone. I went to the heart of the City of Bessemer to get a street car for Birmingham. While I was waiting for the street car a Ford sedan pulled up to the curb. In it were four men, two of whom were the men who had been in the warden's office when my personal articles were returned to me. The driver was the one who had told me that if I didn't get out of that country quick I might get hurt. This was just before
They dragged me into the car, saying very loudly, apparently for the benefit of other people on the sidewalk, that they were taking me back to jail. They drove me north, then west and then turned south along the edge of a lake and then drove into the woods. They stopped the car in the middle of the woods on a dirt road. They took my John Reed Club book, my note book, and my pen knife. Then they took my pants off and took me half way up a wooded slope and made me lie on the ground, and then one of them took off a leather belt and whipped me across the legs for about five strokes. Another one then took the belt and whipped me about fifteen strokes. By this time my legs were cut and beginning to bleed. They stopped and got back into the car leaving me standing there. One of the men tossed the knife out of the car to me, but kept the other two articles. After uttering a few threats they drove off. They said “this is just a sample of what you'll get if you stay here”. I walked into Bessemer (it took me a least an hour) and got a street car and went into Birmingham. This whole experience had left me far more disgusted than hurt. If I had ever had any doubt about the necessity of fighting this kind of fascist lynch law before it can spread, I no longer had any. And I have since found that the reason these vigilantes go beserk at the mention of the Communist Party is because this organization is leading the struggle that will soon put these embryo fascists permanently out of business.
PAUL WELLER, Sworn to before me this 26 day of January, 1937. (SEAL!
GLADYS R. GREEN,
New York County Clk's No. 939, Reg. No. 70546.
City of Birmingham, County of Jefferson 88:
My name is Ben Winston. I was born in Dallas County, Alabama, June 10, 1896. I attended school in this county and in Jefferson County, where my family moved when I was still young. I have been an ore miner since 1909,