Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Oral History Interview with
A. J. Granoff
Kansas City, Missouri
April 9, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs
FUCHS: Mr. Granoff, I wonder if you would mind starting
this interview by giving us a little of your background, where you were
born, where you have lived and your education, and anything else that
you think might be pertinent to researchers who are interested in knowing
who this interviewee is.
GRANOFF: I was born on February 22, 1896, in the Province
of Kiev, Russia, one of three children, the oldest. My father, a tradesman,
deserted the Russian army, my guess is around 1898 or
like that. He hitchhiked clear across to the English Channel, and then
got over to England and eventually became "ballast" on the Battleship
St. Louis and landed in New York. It was then easier to get into
the United States than today, I assure you. He had no trade, but got
a job in a sweatshop on the East Side of New York City. He never could
articulate how he got the pennies and the nickels to bring over this
family, his wife and three children, and we arrived here on Labor Day,
1904. I caught sight of him from the ship--they wouldn't let us off
on that day, Labor Day, until the next day. He moved us into a dilapidated
tenant house on Monroe Street in New York City. There he remained about
a year, developed lung trouble and moved his little family to Palmerton,
Pennsylvania, where he became a peddler with an old dilapidated horse
and wagon, to try to make a living; in a way he never could make a
living, poor man.
I entered the public schools immediately, I spoke Russian
fluently--I don't know a word of it today--and Yiddish, but I learned
English very quickly. He then moved us from Palmerton to Allentown,
Pennsylvania, and continued his peddling. To cut a long story short,
I graduated from the Allentown High School in 1914.
Meanwhile, while working on a fruits and vegetable counter
in a butcher shop, I learned how to cut meat, and I became a meatcutter,
a butcher. By the way, some of the clients I have had probably still
think I'm a butcher. Anyway, I became a butcher and I worked my way
through college in that capacity. In Lawrence, Kansas, where I went
to law school . . .
FUCHS: What college did you go to?
GRANOFF: I went to Muhlenberg College for a year and a
half, in Allentown, but I never got my undergraduate degree. I did get
my LL.B. from K.U. Law School.
FUCHS: How did you happen to go to K.U.?
GRANOFF: Because it was the most convenient.
FUCHS: When did you move to Kansas City?
GRANOFF: Oh, I forgot to say, in 1915.
FUCHS: That was with your family?
GRANOFF: My father came first and then he brought us here
in 1915 and we have lived here since then, with the exception of close
to three years when I practiced law and cut meat in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
FUCHS: How were you able to gain admittance to K.U. Law
School without a college degree?
GRANOFF: In those days you didn't need one. Anybody could
get in those days. It was different times in those days.
FUCHS: Was that a three-year course?
GRANOFF: It was a three-year course.
FUCHS: And upon graduation you went to Tulsa?
GRANOFF: I went to Oklahoma as a tutor of three or four
classmates, who paid my way there, to take the examinations. I went
FUCHS: State examinations, you say?
GRANOFF: State bar examinations. While there I decided
to take the examination, too. It was no effort for me, pardon my immodesty,
but I didn't need a tutor.
FUCHS: Had you already passed the bar of Missouri?
GRANOFF: No, I took that much later, by motion.
there almost three years, and the only thing I can show for it is the
beautiful girl who decided to marry me, and she lived in Tulsa. You've
met her already. She's not as beautiful today as she was then. You can
tell her that.
FUCHS: Neither are we.
GRANOFF: At any rate, I finally left there because my
father and my mother were almost literally starving and I had to quit
Tulsa and come here. I got myself a little office and tried to make
a living, but at the same time I cut meat at 6th and Walnut Streets,
and in those days it paid very well, you know.
FUCHS: What market was that?
GRANOFF: It was Kansas City Market, between 5th and 6th
on Walnut, on the West side of the street, owned by Hickman Brothers.
FUCHS: Where was your law office?
GRANOFF: In the Scarritt Building. I had rented a desk
with George K. Brasher, who is now gone. I couldn't make a living, and
got myself a job with a law firm known then as Achtenberg and Rosenberg,
for one hundred dollars a month, and I worked seven days and seven nights
a week, which Mr. Rosenberg will confirm. He's still alive. I was with
them for quite a while.
FUCHS: What year was that, about?
GRANOFF: Oh, let me think. I'd say 1924 or 1925. I became
associated with this man--Phineas Rosenberg withdrew from the firm,
and Mr. Achtenberg asked me to become a member of the firm. A big deal.
The firm became Achtenberg, Fredman and Granoff. And my draw was increased
from one hundred to one hundred and twenty-five dollars a month.
That was my partnership.
Later on, Mr. Fredman and I withdrew and organized what
was known then as Fredman and Granoff Law Firm. That was an unfortunate
venture for me. Mr. Fredman turned out to be dishonest and it cost me
plenty of money. I had to pay creditors for his defalcations, but it's
unimportant. I then went out for myself and stayed that way until I
had to retire six years ago because of ill health.
While in school, I participated in debate and oratory.
It's hard to believe to hear me talk now, but I turned out to be what
they said was the number one orator of K.U. in 1920. I represented the
university in the association then known as the "Big Eight," and came
out second as a speaker and debater.
I then developed a fairly good practice. By accident I
became known as an expert in bankruptcy, an allegation I never have denied.
I used to laugh about being an expert, but the lawyers and the
courts made me an expert, and I handled many hundreds of cases, mostly
from other law firms and assignments from the courts. Later on, thanks
to then Senator Truman, I was appointed as a public member of the War
Labor Board, Ninth Region, eight or nine states. It was quite a job
and I eventually was the chairman succeeding Bill Wirtz, who went to
Washington, and I succeeded him as chairman of the region. You know,
Secretary of Labor.
GRANOFF: A fine gentleman, by the way. And after the agency
was dissolved, subsequent to the end of the war, the parties made me
an arbitrator. So for the next fifteen or sixteen years, until I was
disabled, I was quite a notorious labor arbitrator in this general
a number of states. I heard hundreds of cases, some of them small, some
of them large. One lasted some sixty days in St. Louis, involving millions
of dollars. I used to love that work. It didn't pay very much, but I
sold myself the idea that I was contributing something to industrial
peace. I loved the work. I was just called for a case about a month
or so ago, but I told them I couldn't handle it. My vision is bad and
so on; but I enjoyed that, so I became a labor expert, too, an allegation
which I would not deny. But a lot of my work at the bar, a good portion
of it, was trial work, mostly for other law firms, highly complicated,
technical cases, no criminal cases, all civil. I would try these cases
for other law firms, and was well compensated. I appeared, I think,
only once in a state court in twenty-five years, just once. All my work
was in Federal
Court, sometimes by and through the bankruptcy courts,
sometimes, of course, from the District court, to begin with.
In the meantime, of course, I married, and I have two
wonderful children, and I'm grateful that my poor poverty-stricken father,
who never could explain where he got the pennies--thankful for being
in America, a fact which my children, I'm afraid, do not appreciate
as much as I do. I donít know, sir, if that's enough of my background
or not. I might say this: It sounds immodest. Although I never got an
undergraduate degree, a college degree, I studied constantly: sociology,
economics, history, philosophy. I had a veritable library around the
bed. And I like to boast that I've given myself any number of degrees
in these subjects, degrees I would not have had time to obtain if I
had stayed in school. Again, I'm supposed to be somewhat
of a scholar,
also an allegation that I do not deny. Now that's the situation. I never
was interested in politics, and, only to raise a few dollars for a man
by the name of Harry S. Truman when he was running for office, outside
of that, I never was interested in politics. I did agree to make speeches
the first year, about 1924-25, but I didn't like it, and I gave it up.
I never was active in politics excepting to solicit funds, Eddie Jacobson
and I, for a man named Truman, little pennies and nickels, it wasn't
too much, but it raised a little money. That is my background.
Oh, I have been active in the community. I have held some
very high offices. I organized, as chairman of the committee, the Kansas
City Jewish Federation and Council, and was its chairman for over a
year. That's the most powerful of the local Jewish organizations today.
It's all philanthropic, you understand, to raise
money. I went through
almost every chair, high and low, of the Bínai Bírith.
FUCHS: When did you first become associated with Bínai Bírith?
GRANOFF: My guess is at this moment, about 1924. I'm sort
of notorious in Bínai Bírith. I'm now a life member of the Hillel Foundation
Commission of the Supreme (International) Lodge of Bínai Bírith. There
are very few, there are just about five or six life members and I am
one of them.
FUCHS: Just what is the Hillel Foundation, for the benefit
of the users of this transcript?
GRANOFF: The Hillel Foundation was organized some forty
years ago to try to bring a semblance of relationship between Judaism
and the Jewish boys and girls attending our universities. It now is
functioning in 273 campuses: United
States, Canada and Britain. It employs
approximately two hundred rabbis full-time, and some forty or fifty
part-time rabbis who supervise the activities of these kids on the university
campuses, religiously, sociologically, and to keep them interested in
their religion. Although we do our best, it's an unfortunately discouraging
effort. The same thing is true with the Newman Clubs of the Catholics.
They have the same problem. Kids are not today interested in such things.
Now, that's it. I've held other high offices in Bínai Bírith.
FUCHS: We discussed in our preliminary conversations that
Bínai Bírith entered into the story of the creation of Israel, and we
also mentioned that Hillel was part of Bínai Bírith. Just what is Bínai
GRANOFF: Well, Bínai Bírith is a brotherhood. Bínai Bírith
means "sons of the Covenant."
It is a brotherhood, functioning over
the years on philanthropic fronts. It has since spread its activities
on political fronts, like the Anti-Defamation League, you may have heard,
that is also a B'mai B'rith agency, just like Hillel is. It is to protect
civil rights, not only Jews, but everybody. B'nai B'rith tried to promote
religion, social activities, patriotism, and has a membership now of
approximately three hundred thousand men and women.
FUCHS: Has B'nai B'rith taken a stand, a policy stand on Zionism?
GRANOFF: That's an excellent question. To begin
with, no. To begin with, they were so-called neutral. Why? Because a
good many of their members were Reformed Jews, many of whom, in the
early years, were violently opposed to Zionism, on the theory, which
I never believed
in, that it split their citizenship, half American,
half Zionist. And it's only since the creation of the State, that to
be a Zionist is no longer unpopular today among most Jews. And yet a
lot of people belonging to the Reform Temple, a lot of people still
FUCHS: Are you speaking of your own experience in the
Temple in Kansas City?
GRANOFF: No, no, generally.
FUCHS: As a general term.
FUCHS: Well, now, several men, such as Frank Goldman,
who I believe was president at the time we're mainly interested in,
of Bínai Bírith, and Maurice Bisgyer, were, it would seem to me, in
my limited reading, rather pro-Zionist to quite
GRANOFF: That's right. But at first they had to sort of
cover it up, but they then became openly zealous.
FUCHS: This was their own personal feelings.
GRANOFF: Their feelings were pro-Zionist, but it was because
of the large membership of German Jews, Reformed Jews--and of course,
Hitler decimated the German Jews, so you had left only the Eastern Jew.
I sometimes wonder that if Hitler had failed to kill 6,000,000 Jews--a
lot of them, of course were German Jews--as to whether or not they would
have succeeded in stopping the establishment of Israel. They were very
strongly opposed to it. I might say to you, while I'm at it, that one
year I joined the Zionists, got a card and gave them five dollars for
their annual dues; Eddie Jacobson
never did join.
FUCHS: What year would that have been?
GRANOFF: I'm talking about 1923, 1924 or 1925. I attended
one meeting. The gentlemen were so fanatical--there's no use going into
detail--so fanatical that to me it offended me, my sense of fairness,
my sense of love for my country, that I quit. I never had a damn thing
to do with them. And Eddie and I were non-Zionists, we were not anti-Zionists,
if you know what I mean, but neither Eddie nor I were Zionists. And
to be a Zionist in the days we started talking to the President is another
story. It was like waving a red flag in front of him, because they abused
him terribly, frightfully. They tried to contact us all the time, but
we wouldn't speak to them, none of them.
FUCHS: When did you first become acquainted with
GRANOFF: I think I said it must have been in the early
thirties, or the middle thirties would be more accurate, when he stopped
at my house on Edgevale Road to pick up my son to take him to Sunday
School. Now how he got to do it, whether Mildred--she doesn't remember--but
that's when I first met him, more or less casually, and then paid no
particular attention to him until he moved across the street, his office,
916 Walnut Street. And we used to, on, say, Saturday afternoons, he
and two friends and we'd play gin rummy for pennies.
FUCHS: In his office?
GRANOFF: His and Mr. White's and Mr. Gershon's office.
FUCHS: Were they all in the same suite?
GRANOFF: They had two sets of offices.
FUCHS: They were selling . . .
GRANOFF: . . . he was selling shirts and pajamas, and
Harry White was selling roof material, and Gershon was selling notions
of some kind.
FUCHS: I see. When did you first become acquainted with
GRANOFF: I met Mr. Truman, I'd say, within a month after
that barbershop at the Title Building opened up in May 1924.
FUCHS: That was Frank Spinaís?
GRANOFF: Frank Spina was the barber. I came down one day
for a haircut. We had the office upstairs, just moved over there. I
had just started with Achtenberg and Rosenberg, just began my tenure
with them. I went downstairs and this poor little Italian fellow, about five
feet tall, standing back of his chair doing nothing, and I took
a seat there, and that's how I met Frank Spina. This was in 1924--that's
forty-four, forty-five years ago.
FUCHS: Did he introduce you to Mr. Truman?
GRANOFF: Well, I wouldn't say he introduced us. Then one
day, while I was coming in or going out, a man by the name of Truman
walked in, whether we were introduced or not, I don't know. But we started
talking. And we would see each other in the barbershop, or on the street
then. At first it was very, very casual.
FUCHS: Do you know what he was doing at that time?
GRANOFF: I've forgotten his title, but I do know this,
he was working for the county. He doesn't remember, I checked it with
him. I think he was making $230 a month; but he had some kind of a minor
job in the county and Jim
Pendergast, who fought with him in the war,
got him this job. Jim was a nephew, you see, of Tom. But our acquaintance
was very, very casual for several years. I hadn't met or heard of Eddie
Jacobson for ten years.
FUCHS: Well, now the facts were that Mr. Truman, of course,
was elected Eastern County Judge in 1922 and served in 1923 and 1924.
GRANOFF: Then, I say he was a county judge, of course,
but I don't remember that.
FUCHS: Well, I'm interested, because in the period 1925
and 1926 when he ran again for Presiding Judge, he was out of county
government and I wondered if he had been in one of those interim jobs.
GRANOFF: I don't remember that. Our acquaintance to begin
with was extremely casual.
FUCHS: How did it develop over the years? Was there a
certain amount of relationship other than in the barbershop?
GRANOFF: Hardly any. I didn't handle any political cases.
FUCHS: Did you ever belong to a political club, a ward club?
GRANOFF: Never did, never did. What was the question that you asked?
FUCHS: How your relationship developed over the years?
GRANOFF: It developed later when I became acquainted with
Eddie. Eddie once or twice or three times invited me to his house, or
some of his friends to their house, to play poker. I remember that two
or three of those poker players became very fast friends, and Truman
was one of them. Caskie Collet became another, and got pretty
across the table--and Al Ridge.
FUCHS: You don't recall ever being in Mr. Truman's haberdashery
when he and Eddie Jacobson were there?
GRANOFF: No, no, I don't.
FUCHS: Do you recall anyone else who played poker with
you, you and Mr. Truman?
GRANOFF: Oh, sure. Well, his brother "Doc," amongst the
others, Hy Vile, Earl Trainin, about seven or eight of us.
FUCHS: These games were generally at Eddieís?
GRANOFF: Generally, when I was invited, they were at Eddieís.
FUCHS: Where did he live then?
GRANOFF: Near Oak Street. I've forgotten the number.
FUCHS: Was it on Oak Street?
GRANOFF: No, it was a side street. That's when I got really
acquainted with him, not ever dreaming that he would ever be Senator,
Vice President, or President, in those days. I never had thought of
it, of course. He was a lot of fun, a lot of fun. And these things developed.
We used to sit next to each other and talk about things, and I seemed
to have made an impression on him, don't ask me why.
FUCHS: Were Jewish affairs, specifically Zionism, ever discussed?
GRANOFF: Never. Never. Nothing, not even politics, unless
generally. I'm supposed to dislike, and I do dislike risqué stories,
I don't like them. I never told them and I don't dare tell them. Truman
would participate in trying to embarrass me by telling some off-color
story, and then
claimed that I blushed. Maybe I did. Even in the White
House, many times, he and Eddie would get into these dirty stories,
and then roar with laughter when they claimed that I was blushing. There
was no deep conversation of any kind. Those two men were quite good
judges, Caskie Collet, and Al Ridge. But nothing of any depth was discussed
even when we would stop for a half an hour to have a bite to eat. Just small talk.
FUCHS: What were your impressions of him as a poker player?
GRANOFF: He was a good poker player, and I never was,
by the way. I think I told you that--maybe I didn't--if held sit next
to me, held lean over and look at my cards and say, "I got you beat already."
FUCHS: Did he like to drink?
GRANOFF: Yes, and he did have pinkish color in his cheeks,
but never drank to the extent to where he would be in any way offensive.
Never. He knew his limits. The limit was then--he could drink.
FUCHS: How did your relationship with Eddie Jacobson develop
over the period?
GRANOFF: Well, I told you we got started by playing gin
rummy, but the real start was when he bought, I've forgotten the year,
when he decided to buy that store. I represented him. Later on, he got
mad at me because I wouldn't charge him anything. It wasn't much work
at all. It was a simple matter. He more than paid me back, you know,
suits and shirts and socks and pajamas and what have you. And we got
to know each other pretty well, pretty well. Then he would come in with
little legal matters after he bought the store. It didn't amount to anything
and I would always take care of him. I never sent him
a bill. He sent me all of these other things, and never sent me a bill.
We were very, very close. We would talk about our families and things
of that kind. But we never discussed Jewish questions or anything of
that kind. We'd see each other maybe once a week for lunch at Bretton's
or some other place--it wasn't known as Bretton's then, it was known
by some other name. Until I had that call from Washington, which I told
FUCHS: This call came in what month and year?
GRANOFF: To the best I know now, I may have a record of
it, but it came in, I would say, around in June of 1947. May or June,
my guess now is that it was June, 1947, from Maurice Bisgyer, who started
talking, and Frank was on another extension. Maurice was executive vice-president
and Frank was president. I had served under
them and we knew each other
very, very well, almost intimately.
FUCHS: Did you hold office at that time in this area?
GRANOFF: Yes, I did, some commission or something . . .
FUCHS: . . . of Bínai Bírith?
GRANOFF: Yes. I was called on frequently on their problems
in this area, and I was most active, not only locally but nationally,
in Bínai Bírith. He called up and we started, "How are you," and so
on. He said, "Frank is on another line. Do you know a man by the name
of Jacobs?" He said everything excepting "Jacobson." "A man by the name
of Jacobs, Jacobstein, or something like that, who is supposed to be
a very close friend of President Truman?"
I said, "Yes, you mean a man named Eddie Jacobson."
Well, at that time it was too early for the partition
business, but he wanted to discuss with him the matter of the hundred
thousand refugees, the refugee problem, to persuade Britain to lift
up the bars and let these poor refugees go in.
I said, "I'll talk to him and let you know."
I called up Eddie and he said, "Sure I'll talk to him.
He, like Truman, cussed a blue streak. Every word was a damn or a hell
or something else. "I don't know what in the hell I can do, but sure
I'll meet him." He passed it off as if it was nothing.
I made the appointment and Frank and Maurice came to Kansas
City, and I had these two gentlemen meet. Once in a while he talked
to me about going to see Truman, but he couldn't get anywhere. He could
with Truman, but Truman couldn't get anywhere with Britain, you
see, on this refugee problem. And gradually, of course
we fell into this partition business.
FUCHS: Now, Bisgyer and Goldman were both New Yorkers?
GRANOFF: No, Goldman was a Massachusetts man, that town
close to Boston, I've forgotten, Iíll get it for you later.
GRANOFF: Lowell, yes. And Bisgyer originated in New York.
FUCHS: They called you from New York?
GRANOFF: No, this was in Washington, because the home
office of Bínai Bírith was in Washington.
FUCHS: Now, how had Eddie Jacobson come to their attention,
do you know?
GRANOFF: I guess I know, but I can't tell you right this
minute. I'm sure they told us but I
FUCHS: Now, when you met in Kansas City, do you have a
recollection of the meeting?
GRANOFF: Oh, I was with them the several hours they were
here, then they flew back. Eddie agreed to see Truman, and did, of course.
And he continued to see him, and then of course, gradually came to the
FUCHS: Do you remember when he first saw Mr. Truman about
the refugee problem?
GRANOFF: I would imagine within a week thereafter.
FUCHS: Did he go to Washington?
GRANOFF: Yes, and he couldn't afford to, really, in those
days, and he went at his own expense. And I went at my own expense.
FUCHS: Did you go with him on that first visit?
GRANOFF: No, sir. I had nothing to do with the refugee
problem. He didn't ask me and I certainly didn't volunteer and I had
no activity except to discuss with him, to orient him to the problem.
Of course, he knew next to nothing about it, you see. He hardly read
the newspaper about it, he didn't know the refugee problems until they
were mentioned to him. I would then brief him on things, you see.
FUCHS: It wasn't at this time, though, he took what has
been termed a rather intense course in Jewish history?
GRANOFF: No, he never took an intense course in Jewish
history. I don't think he did. He did it the easy way. I would go with
him a lot of times, you see.
FUCHS: He didn't become at this time in 1947
committed to [Chaim] Weizmann's policies and Zionism?
GRANOFF: Well, Weizmann was never mentioned. Weizmann
never came into the picture until almost a year later, you see.
FUCHS: Yes. Well, now what is the next recollection that
you have of you and Mr. Jacobson becoming involved in negotiations with
the President, clear recollection?
GRANOFF: Well, the clear recollection is, and I can't
pinpoint the exact date, is when the idea of implementing a Jewish state
came to the fore, became intensely interesting, intensely interesting.
And Jacobson took hold right away.
FUCHS: Was this prior to the resolution of November 29, 1947?
GRANOFF: Oh, Lord, yes. It had to be. Oh, yes. It started
almost at the very beginning. No, when it came to the resolution, it
started to appear in the United Nations around in, I'd say--I'd have
to look--in August 1947. And then, of course, it grew and grew. Of course,
Russia was for it strong. I have often wondered how much that one factor
influenced us, influenced Truman. Russia, from the very beginning to
the end, was very strong for the Jewish state, and there's a reason.
Of course, its motives, it's only a guess, one, that they would get
a foothold in that area, I'm sure. It's just a guess, of course.
FUCHS: Your thinking is that Truman felt that he had to
trump their cards?
GRANOFF: No, it's a funny thing. I discussed with Eddie
this Russian factor, but as I sit here,
I cannot recall as I sit here, a single instance when
I was present, which was many times, when Russia was ever mentioned,
by either Jacobson, Truman, or myself. I do not recall, excepting that
Eddie and I, more than once thought about it and talked about it, but
we never mentioned it to the President.
FUCHS: Could you hazard a guess as to how many times Mr.
Jacobson or you and Mr. Jacobson went back prior to the March, 1948 . . .
GRANOFF: You mean, prior to November?
FUCHS: Well, I was thinking from the period, say, when
the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine came out in favor of partition,
up to the time that Mr. Jacobson went back to influence Mr. Truman to
see Weizmann to recognize Israel?
GRANOFF: Most of my visits with Eddie, excepting on three
or four occasions, thereafter, like
that testimonial dinner that I told you about, were prior
to November 29. I always remember that a few days later, and when Eddie
and I got together that Saturday afternoon when the news came out, we
both couldn't restrain our tears, when the partition resolution passed
by a vote of 33 to 13. I remember that it was a day or two later, I
told you, that he was very much emotionally aroused. He called up, and
that story is in that article, he calls up, Eddie, and he said, "I got
"What's on your mind?"
He said, "We have bothered the President so many times,
don't you think we ought to go there right now to Washington and say
only, 'Mr. President, thank you and God bless you."'
I said, "Do you call that a brainstorm? That's an inspiration.''
And we two poor guys dug into our little bank accounts
and went there. We were ushered
in and stayed quite a while. The article says we didn't
but we stayed quite a while. And we came here once in our lives not
as king you for anything. Just to say thank you and God bless you."
FUCHS: Now, this was after the recognition?
GRANOFF: No, no, after the partition.
FUCHS: After the resolution was passed.
GRANOFF: Yes, I'll tell you the date offhand. It was December
8th. It happened to be Eddie's twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. We
got in there and he said, "Sit down, you bastards, sit down." That's
the way he talked. And those two buddies started talking about each
other. And I think they forgot that I was even there, trying to relive
and all of a sudden Eddie said, "Harry, where was I twenty-eight years ago today?"
He looked up, thought for a minute or so, and to quote
him directly, "Twenty-eight, 1919, why, you and I were on 12th and Baltimore
Streets losing our asses in that store."
The President of the United States.
He said, "No, indeed not. I got hitched that night."
"My God," he says, "I got hitched in June of that same year.
And they said, it was a bitterly cold night, and they
started to tell the story how Truman went over to Eddie and they were
going to kidnap Bluma. The wedding was at his father's house, Eddie's
father's house, and they were going to kidnap Bluma. "I'll tell you
what I'll do, Iíll go downtown, get my car. " Donít forget, this is
1919. No heater and the cars were not equipped with any closed doors,
there was just canvas, you know. He went down--and he described the
bitterness--of that cold night--
he went by streetcar downtown from
43rd and Prospect to the garage downtown, eventually came back and took
him and Bluma over with his sis and a couple of other friends to the
station on the way to St. Louis, to the station in Independence. They
got there. You should hear them describe this. It was a red bellied
stove. They were frozen to death, Truman, Eddie and Bluma. They turned
their behinds--he used another term--to thaw out and when the train
stopped the conductor said, "Oh, you're the newlyweds. Thereís a big
crowd out there that's looking for you, at Kansas City." And they went
into detail about that night. It was interesting. They didn't know I
was even there.
FUCHS: This was in his Oval Office in the White House?
FUCHS: Did you always see him in the Oval Room, in his
regular presidential office?
GRANOFF: Yes, always there.
FUCHS: Who did you usually see when you went to the White
House, what other individuals?
GRANOFF: Outside of Matt and some secretaries who knew
us, we didn't know them, nobody else.
FUCHS: Did you feel that Matt Connelly was an influence
on these matters with Mr. Truman?
GRANOFF: Let me answer it this way. The answer is no.
And once in a while, without any reason whatsoever, we were afraid that
maybe he was anti, because of the Vatican position on partition. But
we had no reason. We never discussed it with him at all. Many times
we would sit down and greet each other, and Matt would go around the
President's desk and start to arrange some papers, we always thought hoping
against hope that he'd catch a phrase as to why we were there.
And after a minute or two passed, the President would say, "That's all
right, we'll fix that up later on." And heíd leave. I don't know. I
don't think he would have had, call it "nerve," to try to influence
the President on this matter. I don't think so.
FUCHS: Were there ever any other individuals present such
as Dean Acheson, Under Secretary of State?
GRANOFF: We thought that Dean Acheson was in our favor,
but he was never at our conference, not a single man.
FUCHS: Did you say you did see him?
FUCHS: You never did see him.
GRANOFF: We saw him. Met him in town or somewhere and
say hello and that was all.
FUCHS: What about Dave Niles, did you have any conferences with him?
GRANOFF: Yes, I told you that on occasions, but not always,
we would call up Dave. He would meet us in the room, or in some restaurant,
some obscure restaurant in the corner, and try to get from David whatever
information he had to work on. We felt that he was helpful. He was more
discouraging than encouraging.
FUCHS: Was he a Zionist?
GRANOFF: Yes--well, I shouldn't say that. I don't know.
He was certainly pro-creation of the State. Now, whether as a Zionist,
I don't know.
FUCHS: Are you familiar with Max Lowenthal?
GRANOFF: Met him just casually, no. Very casually.
FUCHS: You don't know of any part or influence he
GRANOFF: No, I don't.
FUCHS: What about Loy Henderson of the State Department?
GRANOFF: Don't know him.
FUCHS: Did you meet Clark Clifford on any occasion?
FUCHS: Do you recall the gist of any of your conversations
with Mr. Truman, prior to the resolution?
GRANOFF: Oh, Lord, yes, of course.
FUCHS: Would you care to relate some of that?
FUCHS: I'd like to know how your conversation went.
GRANOFF: Can't we leave that? It's so important.
FUCHS: Very important. Why don't we discontinue now and
I'll come back another day. Would that be the way you'd like to do it?
GRANOFF: O.K. Yes. I don't want to be tired on that question,
it's too delicate.
FUCHS: Well, why don't we just stop now.
GRANOFF: I don't think there's too much that I gave you
there. I'll say this, again, that the relationship between these two
friends was amazing. I cannot visualize even two brothers being as close
and affectionate as these two friends were.
FUCHS: Very good.
Second Oral History Interview with
A. J. Granoff, Kansas City, Missouri. August 27, 1969, by J. R. Fuchs
FUCHS: Mr. Granoff, Maurice Bisgyer in his book Challenge
and Encounter mentions that there was an observance of the seventy-fifth
anniversary of the Kansas City lodge of Bínai Bírith and this was in
October of 1947 and, as you indicated before, the refugee problem was
more or less being pushed by Mr. Truman, so that wasn't a major concern
by that time, although it seemed to be a subject of discussion, or speech,
at this dinner. What else was Mr. Jacobson and perhaps yourself, and
Mr. Goldman, maybe, approaching Mr. Truman about? In other words, by
this time were you talking about other matters with Mr. Truman?
GRANOFF: Well, when you talk about October 1947, the matter
that was on our minds at that time was the matter of the resolution of partition
then pending in the United Nations. The refugee problem
was hardly mentioned then.
FUCHS: Had you had meetings by this time with Mr. Truman
about the partition?
GRANOFF: Oh, yes. Yes. I would say that the first time
that I became active on the partition resolution was around in August
of 1947. That's a rough date.
GRANOFF: I had next to nothing to do with the refugee
problem prior to that time, or thereafter. I do not at this moment recall
that October dinner. I'm sure I was there, maybe have been the toastmaster,
so far as I know; I don't recall it.
FUCHS: I see.
GRANOFF: Don't forget that we talked on the
frequently, saw each other frequently in Washington, and very little
could have been done at this dinner, if anything.
FUCHS: You are speaking of--you saw whom in Washington,
Mr. Truman, or are you speaking of Goldman?
GRANOFF: Oh, no. We saw Goldman as a secondary thing.
Goldman saw us because they wanted to know what was going on but they
gave us no help.
FUCHS: I see.
GRANOFF: And Goldman and Bisgyer, understandably, tried
to, oh, publicize their activities far beyond where they should have.
And later on both Eddie and I resented both Maurice and Frank's statements
to indicate that they really had something vital to do with Truman's
decision, which is not so. All they did was
hang around until we let
them know what was happening, and many times we didn't tell them everything,
of course. But outside of bringing Eddie into the picture, in the way
I described before, they had really nothing as to influence. They would
beg Eddie to take them to see the President and have a picture taken
and then publicized it in the National Monthly. But that's all.
FUCHS: Could you give me a rough estimate of how many
times you and Mr. Jacobson may have seen Mr. Truman prior to the partition
resolution of November?
GRANOFF: Together, I would say five, six times, maybe
seven. Very expensive to us, but to this you must add separate visits
by Jacobson without me, for one reason or another. But I say, five,
six, seven, maybe even eight, I don't know.
FUCHS: You were not financed by B'nai B'rith or . . .
GRANOFF: Nobody. Nobody.
FUCHS: Jewish Agency for Palestine?
GRANOFF: Nobody. Nor was Eddie.
FUCHS: Then it was all done by yourselves.
GRANOFF: By ourselves when we could ill afford it, both
of us. We paid our own expenses, transportation, and hotel and what
have you, nobody offered to reimburse us and never did.
FUCHS: Did you have any relationship with the Jewish Agency
for Palestine in this country?
GRANOFF: No sir. None. Absolutely none.
FUCHS: Well, now how was liaison handled between Mr. Jacobson
and yourself and Dr. [Chaim] Weizmann?
GRANOFF: Well, this happened, of course, in 1948. I had
next to nothing to do with it because on February 10th I was operated
on, the larynx, and I was in the hospital for weeks and weeks. I did
compose a telegram, one or two of them to Truman through Connelly.
GRANOFF: And Eddie would see me at the hospital every
day practically. 1 knew, of course, that Goldman contacted Eddie Jacobson
when Weizmann failed to get Truman's permission to come to see him,
finally. And you know the story, it's been written up.
FUCHS: Yes, I want to go into that later; but I just wondered
about whether the approach to Jacobson from Weizmann was always made
through Goldman or the White House or . . .
GRANOFF: It was made through Goldman.
GRANOFF: Initially, at one time, and Eddie jumped at the
opportunity to have something to do for Weizmann. Of course, he claimed
then that he was a great admirer of Weizmann. Now whether that was an
emotional exaggeration I don't know. But he jumped at the opportunity
of trying to do something that everybody else failed in, namely to get
Weizmann into the White House, which he succeeded. And the story is
there in detail.
FUCHS: Well, that's what I was wondering. Had you ever
heard him mention Weizmann to any extent prior to that?
GRANOFF: Prior to that I never did. I don't think Weizmann's
name ever passed our lips before this incident came up, where Weizmann
came here and Goldman got in touch with Eddie to try to get him in the
White House. I do not
think that we ever mentioned him.
FUCHS: Of course this is interesting in light of the story
that Mr. Jacobson told, that he looked at the statue of Andrew Jackson
and then said, "I have had a hero all of my life. "
GRANOFF: That's right. I made fun with Eddie. I'd poke
fun at him. I'd say, "How could you talk about Weizmann who you never
saw and never thought of, as your greatest hero, in front of the man
who should have been your greatest hero, Harry Truman?" I said, "That
was dumb." I used to poke fun at him for that. He had that story. That's
Eddie's own story and I sort of let him know that I took it with a grain of salt.
FUCHS: In other words . . .
GRANOFF: And he never knew Weizmann was alive
FUCHS: In other words, he said this but he used it merely as a . . .
GRANOFF: As a means of arguing the President to give his
consent and I'm sure it's true that the President said, "All right you
baldheaded son-of-a-bitch, let him come." It sounds like them, both
of them. But I said, "It's stupid, here's a man you hardly ever thought
of and he became your hero all of a sudden." We both laughed.
FUCHS: Do you think Mr. Truman might have suspected that
there was less than the truth in that?
GRANOFF: Well, it would be a guess. You can't fool Truman
very much. I think Truman inwardly laughed about it. I think so. I don't
know, of course. But that story's--although it's true, it's more or less fiction.
He never paid attention to Weizmann. Weizmann was here
several times before that. He never bothered to attend the dinner. He
didn't know him. And, of course, Weizmann never heard of him, naturally.
But that--I'm sure it happened.
FUCHS: Oh, yes.
GRANOFF: And I think his reply, Truman's reply was clever
and humane, "All right, you baldheaded son-of-a-bitch, let him come."
FUCHS: How early do you think Mr. Truman might have made
up his mind to support partition?
GRANOFF: That is a question that's basic. With all due
respect to Truman's statement that interest in the welfare of Jewish
people was alive. I say that's a statement he gave me to read you know,
in Israel when I dedicated a building, you know. That is the hall, Bínai
Bírith Hall. You know about three and a half years ago?
You know about that?
FUCHS: Yes, I remember reading of it, yes.
GRANOFF: I do not think the President who is busy with
many other things as the war was drawing to a close, and other matters
that he had to contend with through the years, ever thought of the Middle
East, good or bad. I am sure not, and if he was himself he would say
so now. One of the things he inherited, as President, was the unsettled
Middle East, particularly the question of a home for the Jews which
was then only a dream or a prayer-nothing. Now whether that answers
your question, I don't know. At first he had to be educated and he educated
himself. I think I once told you he had a file in his drawer; studied
it, the geography, but he knew next to nothing about Zionism, a Jewish
State, a Jewish
homeland, Balfour Declaration. I think that, up to about
August 1947, those terms were Greek terms to Harry S. Truman. He was
too busy with other things to even give it a second thought, and the
same thing goes for Eddie Jacobson. I do not recall, from the time he
and I got acquainted . . .
FUCHS: That's Eddie?
GRANOFF: . . . to the time I got a call from Bisgyer,
of ever having discussed Israel, Palestine, Jewish history, the butchery
of six million Jews, its historic impact on the world, with Eddie Jacobson.
It would be just like having discussed Greece or Babylonia with him.
It never occurred to me, or it never occurred to him. We never discussed
those things. We would meet frequently, but small talk.
GRANOFF: Shirts, pajamas . . . I want to emphasize that,
never did we discuss a Jewish question, Eddie and I. Don't forget Eddie
was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home. After he married, he went over
to the Reformed side and was a more or less faithful attendant on Friday
night's services, and that's all. A card carrying Reformed Jew, so to
speak. He took no interest, no magazines, never read nothing. He never
went to a lecture, never manifested any interest whatsoever. We used
to play gin rummy a couple of hours a Saturday afternoon. Our offices
were across the street from--together. We never talked about Jewish
affairs or anything, communal affairs. He was a paying member of Bínai
Bírith, but that's all; never did attend a lodge meeting, I don't believe,
ever. Was inactive, he was not interested.
FUCHS: I see.
GRANOFF: Now that's the background so far as Eddie is concerned Jewishly.
FUCHS: Well, now if I remember what I read correctly,
your phone call, originally, from Bisgyer was in June 1947 and Eddie
made at least one trip then primarily in regard to the refugee problem.
GRANOFF: No, I wouldn't say one trip, he probably made
several. I don't know.
FUCHS: He made several. Did you make more than one?
GRANOFF: On the refugee program? Oh, no, none at all.
FUCHS: None at all?
GRANOFF: None at all.
FUCHS: You didn't go back with him the first time?
GRANOFF: No, at no time.
FUCHS: I see.
GRANOFF: Outside when we parted company, Bisgyer, Goldman,
Granoff, and Jacobson, we never met again on the subject. I don't think
I ever discussed it with him.
FUCHS: Then say from June to the resolution at the end
of November in 1947 there was maybe four, four and a half months there,
and in that period you say you probably made five to seven trips back.
What was the . . .
GRANOFF: On the partition.
FUCHS: Yes, now this was prior to the resolution, but,
I say, what did you discuss at those meetings? I mean, Mr. Truman you
don't think had yet made up his mind, did he interpose objections to
your support of the partition?
GRANOFF: No. You're a little ahead of the story but I'll
go into it a little bit.
FUCHS: Well, if there is something else you would like
to take up in that period, I would like you to relate the story as you
remember it chronologically, which would be better than my asking you questions.
GRANOFF: Well, as to what was said during those visits
when I was there and when I wasn't there, and as Eddie reported them
to me, let's go a little later. More of the background I think should
be covered in the nature of the personalities of these two men.
It is something that is really hard to describe. The familiarity
between those two men when you consider that one of them was the President
of the United States, and the other one a poor struggling haberdashery
operator, it's amazing. During, before when he was still
Senator and when he was still--before he went to the Senate,
they used to kid each other around, and Eddie used to say some rough
things to Truman; but after he became President things changed. Truman's
attitude towards Jacobson never changed, he kidded around and so on,
but Eddie's respect for Truman almost amounted to awe. For example,
every time I would be there with Eddie, he greeted me just affectionately
and enthusiastically as he greeted Eddie. Held sit down, I'd say no
matter how busy he was or how critical our visit was to us, that
is Eddie and me, he would start out wondering: "How is Mildred? How
is Loeb? How is Jody?" He would take out a dollar bill and, you know,
sign his name and give it to us. How is Bluma, how are the children,
by name. He wouldn't seem to be in a hurry and he wanted to have an
answer; if the answer wasn't adequate he would
pump us for more information
before we'd break in and tell him what we came for. It never failed, never failed.
FUCHS: Did you have a fifteen minute or a half hour appointment?
GRANOFF: I'd say never as short as fifteen minutes. I'd
say closer to a half an hour, maybe a little bit longer, depending.
GRANOFF: And I think I told you--this is sort of important
emotionally--that almost invariably, maybe with one or two exceptions
out of the six or seven visits we made, Eddie and I would have adjoining
rooms, connecting doors, that maybe most of those visits we didn't sleep
that night, so nervous. We'd sit in a chair, talk, snooze, wake up,
and talk again, never hit our beds.
FUCHS: Is that right?
GRANOFF: And the reason for it, to rationalize now, was
that our attitude towards our visits was awe, awe. We didn't go to see
our poker playing friend, we didn't go to see an old friend, we went
to see the President of the United States. I cannot put that too
strongly, and we were scared to death, frightened to death; and we presented
Mr. President's what's new and so on. I'm also sure of this--can't prove
it--that rarely did President Truman take us into fullest confidence
as to the status of the resolution in the United Nations. Not for lack,
certainly not for lack of confidence in us, but he felt that perhaps
that certain aspects of the situation affecting the United States of
America was just like a deity to him, but none of our business. It would
be a violation of his trust by taking us into his
confidence. And we,
many times, left here discouraged and frightened. He never would commit
himself one way or another, and sometimes his demeanor, grim, tight-lipped,
frightened us to death that he would not support it. I would say--I
would have to look somewhere into my papers--I would say that we were
certain only that he was going to support the resolution, I would say
maybe ten or fifteen or twenty days, not even twenty, ten or fifteen
days before the 29th.
FUCHS: Was that about the last time you visited him?
GRANOFF: One of those last times, that's right. Dave,
what's his name from Boston, I've forgotten, his name's in there, his
assistant on minor matters . . .
FUCHS: Noyes or Niles?
GRANOFF: Niles. Dave Niles. Dave Niles was also present.
He did take us into his confidence as far as he could, Dave did, and
maybe he took us into his confidence more than he should have, but he
did; and we were scared to death that he would not support it.
That influence of the State Department and others, even such men as
Lehman was against the Jewish State, Senator Lehman. The Jews are now
trying to memorialize him. He was a Reformed Jew; anti-Zionists violently,
wouldn't support it.
FUCHS: What was his main objection, do you recall, against
the Jewish State?
GRANOFF: All I know--none. I got a volume here. It is
his statement against a Jewish State but he's in favor of a Jewish Commonwealth.
Don't ask me the difference, I don't know.
FUCHS: How did you think George Marshall viewed
GRANOFF: Marshall, and while I'm at it I might as well
say, if Truman ever stood in awe of a human being, it was George Marshall.
FUCHS: Could you illustrate that?
GRANOFF: I cannot give you an illustration. Just a feeling--just
FUCHS: Do you recall . . .
GRANOFF: Once or twice we met Marshall coming out of his
office when Eddie and I were going in. He never gave us a look of recognition,
just looked at us stoney. We despised him.
FUCHS: Had you met him?
GRANOFF: Just casually, that's all. Just casually passing,
FUCHS: Do you think he knew who you were and what
you were there for?
GRANOFF: Oh, yes, I'm sure he did. He knew about Eddie
and me, sure. But he would pass us by with a stoney look. He almost
FUCHS: He almost what?
GRANOFF: Wrecked it, wrecked the idea.
FUCHS: You think he was very much against the idea?
GRANOFF: Oh, very much, is putting it mildly. Putting it mildly.
FUCHS: How did you become aware of this? Through Mr. Truman's
statements or . . .
GRANOFF: Marshall's name was never mentioned, but through
Davels statement and one or two others, can't recall for sure, but Dave
Niles for example. But he absolutely stood in
awe of George Marshall; and I think poor Truman would
be shocked if he heard me say that, and then when held thought about
it he would admit it was true. Now you say the State Department, you
really mean George Marshall.
FUCHS: What about Loy Henderson, did he ever come into
your conversations, or did you meet him?
GRANOFF: I met him, yes, several times. He's a nonentity.
I don't think he was for it, put it that way.
FUCHS: You don't think he was for it.
GRANOFF: Nope, I don't. But Truman would never, outside
of cussing the State Department, he never mentioned a figure, a man,
a name, that might influence him one way or another you see. Never did.
And I say he did not take us in the full confidence of the situation.
FUCHS: Did you ever see Dean Acheson in the White House
during that period?
GRANOFF: Yes, several times. Yes. Never stayed, never.
I saw him going in and out.
FUCHS: Did you know him?
GRANOFF: Slightly, slightly. In fact I brought him here
to speak later on, I was chairman of a banquet and Truman sent me to
Washington; he had already fixed it up and I had to go see Acheson.
FUCHS: It was just your feeling that he was supporting statehood?
GRANOFF: Who, Acheson?
GRANOFF: That's it, yes. And I think that feeling is correct.
FUCHS: Who else did you come in touch with in the White
House that we haven't already mentioned in the prior interview?
GRANOFF: Nobody, outside of going in to Connelly and chatting
and kidding around and so forth. Nobody.
FUCHS: You think. . .
GRANOFF: They were very careful, that goes for Eddie.
Not that being that friendly but that sort of goes back to Truman.
FUCHS: Do you think Connelly was a major influence on
Mr. Truman in the matter?
GRANOFF: I really don't know. We suspect that he might
have tried, because of the Vatican's attitude, to influence Truman adversely, but
we have no evidence of any kind of that. None.
FUCHS: For instance it's been felt that Connelly was somewhat
of a political advisor, a political man, and the fact that there was
an election year do you think he might have favored this because of
GRANOFF: I'm talking about in 1947, the year before. The
election year never even entered our minds.
FUCHS: You don't think it was in Connelly's mind or in
the President's mind?
GRANOFF: No. Don't forget, it was November 1947; the election
was in November 1948. I don't think so.
FUCHS: You don't think they were looking that far
GRANOFF: No. I don't. And I do not believe that Truman's
agreement to see Weizmann had a damn thing to do with the election scheduled
for six months hence. I don't think it had a damned thing to do. He
just impulsively wanted to favor poor Eddie, that's all.
FUCHS: Did you know Samuel Rosenman?
GRANOFF: No. I met him socially once or twice but never
to discuss anything with him.
FUCHS: What about Oscar Ewing?
FUCHS: The Federal Security Administrator, who was somewhat
of an advisor?
GRANOFF: No. No sir.
FUCHS: Who was Niles dealing with, do you think,
in regard to the problem?
GRANOFF: Nobody. Nobody I know of. He was a political
appointee of Truman's and a very faithful one.
FUCHS: Yes, of course he was.
GRANOFF: He was pro-Jewish State, strongly so; and my
recollections is he sought us out as an informer.
GRANOFF: It should be mentioned, it's always been significant
to me, to illustrate the closeness between these two men, Truman-Jacobson.
One thing is that Eddie never needed anybody as an intermediary between
him and Truman. If anything, others wanted to use him as an intermediary,
but he never. And another thing to illustrate, with the exception
a wire which I drafted in my hospital bed to Connelly, to be shown to
the President, signed of course by Eddie, Eddie never, either with me
or alone, ever asked for an appointment. We came to Washington, first
making sure that the President was in Washington, and called
the White House, Matt; and he and Matt would go through and throw a
cussing spree at each other, jokingly. What the hell are you doing here
without his permission, and so on. And we would get an appointment within
a few hours. No limitation as to time. And most of these we were ushered
in through the back door, so to speak, so that the reporters and photographers
wouldn't see us.
FUCHS: Your appointments were all off-the-record?
GRANOFF: Yes, with one or two exceptions. When they were
made we saw to it they would be off-the-record. When they were on record we were
bothered to death when we came back home. The Star would
have an article about it somewhere, and they would bother us to death
unless it was off-the-record.
FUCHS: Was your feeling that Connelly had orders from
the President to at least notify him when you wanted an appointment?
GRANOFF: I never thought of it.
FUCHS: Because, as Appointment's Secretary, he was awful
good at, you know . . .
GRANOFF: We never asked him before we came. We called
him after we arrived in Washington.
GRANOFF: I don't think so. I cannot give you the occasion,
but on one or two or three occasions, Truman would say, "Now never mind
bothering Matt, but call Rose [who was also Catholic] that you're coming
but don't bother Matt," the way he would put it. Now why that is, don't ask me.
FUCHS: Did, to your knowledge, Secretary of the Treasury
Snyder play any part?
GRANOFF: Never. No, sir, socially we met him quite a bit
through the President. Nice guy. To our knowledge, never. You're the
first man to mention Snyder in connection with this subject.
FUCHS: What about Secretary of Defense Forrestal, James Forrestal?
GRANOFF: Well, of course, we know that he was a terrible
influence, damn him. Hot tempered with us you understand; we knew that
he was violently in it, although the real opponent was, of course, George
Marshall. Forrestal--I got a picture, he attended a social affair,
a picture with him upstairs--he was an anti-Semite. He was an anti-Semite.
Now whether Marshall was or not, I couldn't tell you. He was opposed
to the Jewish State, put it that way.
FUCHS: Do you think Dave Niles was dealing with some of
the individuals such as Rabbi [Abba H.] Silver and [Dr.] Nahum Goldman and . . .
GRANOFF: He was dealing with these men so long as these
dealings did not in any way reflect on the man he idolized, Mr. Truman.
I think he dealt with them in order to keep the President informed.
And I think many times he took us into his confidence.
FUCHS: Did you have acquaintance with any of these gentlemen,
[Rabbi Stephen S.] Wise or . .
GRANOFF: Yes, quite an acquaintance, yes.
FUCHS: They never made approaches to you though?
GRANOFF: They tried to make appointments with me when
Eddie wouldn't see them and I turned them down as well. Oh, yes.
FUCHS: Abraham Feinberg is another personality in the
story. Do you have . . .
GRANOFF: Well, I know him quite well and he had very little
to do with Israel. He gave a lot of money and Truman appreciated it.
He gave a small fortune to support Truman's candidacy in 1948, and raised
a lot of money; and Eddie liked him very much; so did I. And when they
gave a dinner in his honor, Truman and I were both invited, we were
there. I got some pictures they took at the airport, and so on. I knew
him very well; but he had next to nothing to do with--Eddie would never
ask anybody to do anything for him as an intermediary for Truman. He
wouldn't have thought of it; but Eddie was a real friend of Truman and still is.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything about boundary discussions,
the Negev for instance? Did you go into such things with Mr. Truman?
GRANOFF: Yes, to begin with, yes I did. I soon discovered
after my first, maybe my second visit, that he knew next to nothing
about Israel, historically, Biblically; so--I think I told you this
story before, maybe I didn't--I got myself, still have it someplace
here, a beautiful map of Israel, that was Palestine at that time, Palestine--and
then whenever I went there, I'd keep it in my pocket.
FUCHS: Now, you're speaking of, Eddie Jacobson knew next to nothing.
GRANOFF: No, Truman.
FUCHS: Truman, oh, I thought Truman.
GRANOFF: Eddie never either. They were both
Both of them were. I would take the map, and I remember about the second
or third visit to the White House I happened to mention that, when talking
about the Negev--when I talked about these things, geographically, historically,
Eddie would let me do the talking of course, he was uninformed. I mentioned
I said the Negev. And characteristically the President said, "What the
hell is that?" So, I'd take out the copy of my map from my pocket, spread
it and show it to him. We were there a few weeks later, he knew the
Negev, every boundary, every brook, every stream, he knew it. I showed
him where Negev was, that's when they tried to take away Negev to begin
with. He said, "What in the hell is that?" but he knew afterwards. Whenever
we were there he had the Palestine file, called the Palestine, file that thick.
FUCHS: About a foot thick?
GRANOFF: About a foot thick, in the right hand drawer,
and bring it out and he started--and more than once later he embarrassed
me by little facts that--geographic, historic facts--embarrassed me
by my ignorance. He had studied, yes. But to begin with he knew next to nothing.
FUCHS: What about Elihu Epstein? Did you have any contact with him?
GRANOFF: No, outside of a meeting once in a while, that's all.
FUCHS: Is there anything more that you could say about
the relationship, the comradeship, between Mr. Truman and Eddie Jacobson?
GRANOFF: Well, as I said before, they were most intimate.
Two brothers couldn't be so close. They were interested in each other's
welfare, financial or otherwise.
FUCHS: Did you ever hear them discuss the haberdashery?
GRANOFF: Oh, yes, sure. I told you the first ten, fifteen
minutes were the family and then the store. And Truman wanted to know
how many hats he had left, straw hats or winter hats, or pajamas, winter
pajamas, summer pajamas, and he knew the business.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything that might have been said
about their earlier business venture together?
GRANOFF: Well, I mentioned that once.
FUCHS: Any other details. People, our researchers, are
interested in that early part of his life, and any little detail, there's
not too much in writing on it.
GRANOFF: Well, they opened this store, with limited
At that time, of course, the credit was easy and they started up the
store; and then 1920 the market went down and wiped them out. Neither
one was experienced in buying and operating a store, and on top of this
many of their buddies would come into the store and buy on credit and
then lost their jobs and couldn't pay; and they went under in less than
two years. But they paid everybody back, even though the statute of
limitations had run; and even after Eddie had taken bankruptcy, not
Truman, but Eddie had--did you know that?
GRANOFF: Not Truman, had taken bankruptcy. They paid everybody.
In fact some of them I took care of, as always, and they were very late.
FUCHS: Let's see, you met Truman, now, I've forgotten what year?
GRANOFF: 1924, I think it was.
FUCHS: 1924, he was a county judge then.
GRANOFF: In a barbershop, yeah.
FUCHS: What was your reaction to his first candidacy in
1934, for the Senate?
GRANOFF: I couldn't believe my eyes or ears, believe it
or not. Of course I supported him, raised some money. I couldn't imagine
Harry S. Truman as Senator. I couldn't--kept this in my own mind, I
didn't say anything. Neither could Eddie. We were astounded--of course
Pendergast picked him. And it wasn't long until he started making a record.
FUCHS: Of course his Truman Committee, the Senate Committee
to Investigate the National Defense effort wasn't started until right
after he was re-elected and went back to the Senate in 1941.
optimistic about his chances for re-election in 1940?
GRANOFF: You mean when he ran against
FUCHS: Maurice Milligan . . .
GRANOFF: Against Milligan and ex-Governor, what's his name?
FUCHS: Stark. Stark in the primary.
GRANOFF: We didn't give him a chance. Neither did Eddie.
We expected him to be beaten badly. We scratched for dimes and nickels.
But we ha no hopes that he would be elected in 1948, but Eddie claims
he did. But he didn't--he didn't think held be elected.
FUCHS: How did you react to his nomination for the Vice
Presidency, did you have occasion to talk to him around that time?
GRANOFF: No. I hadn't seen him for months. His
mentioned, I reacted favorably of course. His opponents were--what's
his name, the Secretary of Agriculture, by the name of . . .
GRANOFF: Wallace and somebody else.
FUCHS: Jimmy Byrnes?
GRANOFF: Jim Byrnes. He was for Byrnes by the way.
FUCHS: You weren't in touch with him around that time?
FUCHS: You don't know of his feelings about it?
GRANOFF: No, I don't. Of course this is true of later
on, even after he won the election, he actually appeared he didn't want it. That's
absolutely true, he didn't want it, scared to death. He knew
then, as everybody else did close to Roosevelt, that Roosevelt wouldn't
survive. He was frightened. Of course I reacted favorably, naturally.
FUCHS: And you felt by then that he could handle that job?
GRANOFF: I can't say yes or no, I don't know. He did a
pretty good job as an investigator in the Senate; but when Roosevelt
died on April 12th, I was scared stiff. The war wasn't yet over you
know. I was making a speech at Bínai Bírith and then learned at the
time that Roosevelt dropped dead.
FUCHS: Did you have any contacts with Mr. Truman as Senator
in any capacity other than . . .
GRANOFF: No. Poker game now and then, no, nothing WHATSOEVER.
I had no business with him whatever
and neither did Eddie. We never
asked nothing--when he was County Judge we never asked him for anything
of any kind, never approached him. Maybe approached him--I don't recall
it--maybe to give a fellow a job or something, but never for ourselves,
nothing. More than once he told Eddie and me, "You bastards are the
only ones that never tried to embarrass me in any way," which we thought
was quite a compliment.
FUCHS: Yeah. Think we might come down to the partition now or . . .
GRANOFF: No. Let me try and make some notes on that. The
conversations we had, things like that. Next time, next two or three
weeks I'll sit down for half an hour a day and go over it in my mind.
FUCHS: I wish you would do that.
GRANOFF: Because it is very important.
FUCHS: Well, we might conclude now. You're a little tired.
If there's nothing more you think you ought to say about the earlier period.
GRANOFF: No, I don't. I see that you have notes and it
makes me ashamed, I should have notes.
FUCHS: I do want to thank you very much.
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
List of Subjects Discussed
Acheson, Dean, 42, 70
Achtenberg and Rosenberg Law Firm, 7, 20
Allentown, Pennsylvania, 3, 4
Anti-Defamation League, 15
Balfour Declaration, 57
Bisgyer, Maurice, 16, 46, 48-49, 57, 59, 60
B'nai B'rith, 13
Brasher, George K., 7
Byrnes, James F., 87
Challenge and Encounter, 46
Clifford, Clark, 44
Collet, Caskie, 23, 26
Connelly, Matthew J., 41-42, 51, 71-72, 75, 76
Conway, Rose, 77
Edgevale Road, 19
Epstein, Elihu, 82
Ewing, Oscar, 73
Feinberg, Abraham, 79
Forrestal, James, 77-78
Fredman and Granoff Law Firm, 8
Goldman, Nahum, 78
Granoff, A. J.:
Achtenberg, Fredman and Granoff, works for, 7
Achtenberg and Rosenberg, works for, 7
background information, 1-12
bankruptcy, as an expert in, 8-9
B'nai B'rith, association with, 13
butcher, as a, 8
college, attends, 3-5
debater, as a, 8
Hillel Foundation Commission of the Supreme
(International) Lodge of B'nai B’rith,
member of, 13
knowledge of, 80-82
partition and recognition, efforts to gain
support for, 34-38, 60
Kansas City Jewish Federation and Council, as
organizer of and chairman, 12
Kansas City, Missouri, moves to, 4
labor arbitrator, as a, 9-10
larynx, operation on, 51
law offices of, 7
law school, attends, 3-5
poker player, as a, 23-26
Scarritt Building, law offices in, 7
Truman, Harry S.:
first acquaintance with, 20-22, 84-85
Senator, reaction to, as a, 85-86
visits with, at the White House, 32, 36-41, 47-48, 49-50, 60, 62-71, 75-77
Tulsa, Oklahoma, moves to, 4-6
War Labor Board, as a public member of the sixth region, 9
Zionism, views on, 15-18
Henderson, Loy, 44, 69
Hillel Foundation Commission of the Supreme (International)
Lodge of B’nai B’rith, 13-14, 15
Hitler, Adolf, 17
Independence, Missouri, 40
Granoff, A. J.,knowledge of, 80-82
Jacobson, Edward, knowledge of, 80-81
partition and recognition of, the issues, 34-38
Truman, Harry S.:
knowledge of, 80-82
possible political motives of policy toward, 72-73
Jackson, Andrew, 53
Jacobson, Bluma, 39-40
Jacobson, Edward, 12, 17-18, 22, 24, 46, 49, 67, 68, 71, 73, 79, 80, 85, 88
Jewish Agency for Palestine, 50
Jewish State, partition and recognition of, 34-38
Kansas City Jewish Federation and Council, 12
Kansas City, Missouri 4, 6, 40
Kansas City Star, 76
Kiev, Russia, 1
Lawrence, Kansas 3, 4
Lowenthal, Max, 43
Marshall, George, 77-78
Milligan, Maurice, 86
Muhlenberg College, 4
National Monthly, 49
Negev, Israel, 80, 81
Newman Clubs, 14
New York, New York, 2
Niles, David, 43, 65-66, 68, 73-74, 78
Oak Street, Kansas City, Missouri, 24-25
Palmerton, Pennsylvania, 2
Pendergast, James, 21-22
Pendergast, Tom, 85
Presidential election, 1948, Harry S. Truman's chances for victory, 86
Refugee Drobleins, 30-33, 47, 59
Ridge, Albert, 24, 26
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 88
Rosenberg, Phineas, 7
Rosenman, Samuel, 73
St. Louis, Missouri, 2, 10, 40
Scarritt Building, 7
Silver, Rabbi Abba H., 78
Spina, Frank, 20-21
Stark, Lloyd, 86
Title Building, Kansas City, Missouri, 20
Trainin, Earl, 24
Truman, Harry S.: 12, 42, 51, 69, 78, 79
Weizmann, Chaim, 34, 50, 51, 73
White, Harry, 19-20
White House, 52
Granoff, A. J. visits President Truman at, 32, 36-41, 47-48, 49-50, 60, 62-71, 75-77
Jacobson, Edward, visits President Truman at, 32, 36-41, 47-48, 49-50, 60, 62-71, 75-77
Wirtz, William Willard, 9
Wise, Rabbi Stephen S., 78
Zionism, 15-18, 43
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]