- Publicēts Otrdiena, 14 Februāris 2017 14:37
Dozenberg Part I - Party Functionary
One of the worst cases of labor violence in the United States occurred in June, 1922 in far downstate Illinois’ Williamson County. During two days of violence 23 people were killed including 3 striking miners with the rest being replacement workers and guards. The latter group was killed with particular brutality.
The horrendous events in Herrin, IL were part of a larger national labor clash. In April, 1922, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) called a national strike. After eight weeks the Southern Illinois Coal Company reneged on an arrangement with local Union representatives and utilized strikebreakers under heavy guard. Three union workers were killed by armed guards and this resulted in a violently cataclysmic response.
John L. Lewis President of the UMWA successfully deflected any union responsibility for the events. He skillfully directed blame to Communist agitators. This argument was aided by Nicholas Dozenberg from Chicago. Dozenberg was a Communist Party functionary, who bragged that the party had sixty-seven Lithuanian members in Herrin agitating against the mine owners. Contrary, to Dozenberg’s and Lewis’s claim, it appears that the tragic events in Herrin were driven by local factors: union and mine ownership. The claim of outsiders descending on Illinois’ coal region and having an impact seems almost comical.
Nicholas Dozenberg arrived from what is now Latvia in 1904. He joined other family in the Boston suburb of Roxbury, Massachusetts. He married Katherine A. Paegle, in the local Trinity Latvian Lutheran Church. In 1911, he became a Naturalized US citizen. Dozenberg became a member of the Latvian Workmen's Association, which later affiliated with the Socialist Party of America. Dozenberg later joined the Communist Party, then called the Workers Party of America (WPA), and became the business manager of the Voice of Labor, in Chicago. After managing the business affairs of the Voice of Labor, and later the Daily Worker, he became the Director of the Literature Department of the WPA.
To my knowledge, Dozenberg is the only Latvian-American to run for local political office. In 1925 he ran for Alderman of the 28th Ward on the WPA (Communist) ticket. His campaign manager was W. Ozol and he was actively supported by the the local Lettish (Latvian) and west side Scandinavian branches of the WPA . He received 167 (approx. 2%) of the votes cast. The 28th Ward was roughly bounded by Belmont Av, North Av., Sacramento Av. and the Chicago River. The Chicago Lettish branch had a regular Friday meeting at a tavern at 4359 W Thomas St.
Dozenberg continued on until 1927 when he managed and joined the party’s move from Chicago to New York.
The move to New York set the stage for the next and even more unpleasant chapter in Dozenberg’s life, that I will discuss in another article. I encourage the reader to check out this web site: http://www.amanoffamily.com . Nicholas Dozenberg’s descendants are trying to reach some sort of understanding of him. --- Artis Inka
- Publicēts Sestdiena, 28 Janvāris 2017 09:31
I always wondered how a rock fragment from Riga’s historic Powder Tower (pulvertornis) ended up embedded in the facade of the Tribune Building. The list of rock fragments is impressive and includes the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Westminster Abbey, Tomb of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Pyramid in Giza, the Taj Mahal and many others. This is what I came to find out:
The Chicago Tribune had a foreign correspondent in Rīga, Latvia throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. Donald Day was based in Rīga and reported on northern Europe and occasionally the Soviet Union. The legendary Tribune publisher Col. Robert McCormick, who built the iconic Tribune Tower on Michigan Av. seems to have had a special interest in artifacts. He instructed the Tribune’s far flung corps of international correspondents to gather rock fragments for the building. In the mid 1930’s Donald Day forwarded the Powder Tower fragment to Chicago.
Rock fragments that weren’t embedded in the facade were displayed inside Tribune Tower. Or at least that is how it worked in the early 1950’s. In 1954 Kārlis Dzirkalis the Chairman of the United Latvian Associations of Chicago approached the Tribune with a simple request: split the rock fragment in half so that it could be embedded in an outside wall as well as displayed in the collection. Dzirkalis organized the first Latvian Song Festival in Chicago in 1953. The Song Festival included a parade up Michigan Av. that passed the Trubune Tower. He was a remarkable organizer and Latvian community leader.
In January, 1955 Dr. Arnolds Spekke who was chargé d'affaires (Chief of Mission) of Latvia’s embassy in Washington, DC took part in a ceremony outside Tribune Tower marking the addition. It wasn’t actually embedded until the weather improved that Spring. Col. McCormick was hospitalized and could not attend. Spekke presented a representative of the Tribune a plaque for McCormick. In failing health since an attack of pneumonia in April 1953 Robert McCormick died on April 1, 1955.
Sixty-two years have passed since these events. The accomplishments of the early post-WWII Latvian settlers to Chicago continue to amaze me. – Artis Inka
- Publicēts Otrdiena, 03 Janvāris 2017 15:05