Sunday, September 6, 2009

Whacking Hitler: a True Story


[Please see updated story with more sources at December 12, 2012, "Stalking Hitler."]

The contract was straightforward and simple. Locate the target and eliminate him. Yet everyone involved knew that getting close enough to strike this specific target lethally, presented a serious problem. Because of that, the shooter was given the extraordinary sum of $1000 in addition to travel expenses – “a lot of money in 1933,” as one of those involved pointed out. The target was the new German Chancellor Adolph Hitler. The success of the contract could suddenly turn history in a new direction. And that is precisely what the man who took the contract intended. The contract was both personal and for the sake of all mankind. And in the summer autumn of 1933, for several weeks the fate of the world rode on a single bullet.
“Yeah, it was $1000, I heard that. How can I forget that amount? And it was 1933, remember. Hard times. That was a lot of money back then – a lot of money. An eye opener. But the travel expense was the giveaway. A one-way steamer ticket to Germany. One way mind you. I remember when I heard that. Now you figure, if they give a guy a one-way ticket, they don’t expect him to come back, right? But this guy, this Stern, he didn’t seem to mind that. He knew the risks. But he as a fanatic on this. ”
The man telling me the story is Abe Goldberg. When we first met in the summer of 1988 Goldberg lived not far from me, I learned. At that time I was teaching at Tel Aviv University and gathering material for a book on the history of Jewish gangsters in America. Several people steered me in the direction of Goldberg, “an excellent source,” they indicated. “But not very talkative.”
After hesitating for several weeks, out of an assumption that Goldberg would hang up on me when he heard my request for information, I called him. He responded courteously and we arranged to meet and talk.
He is hunched over the small table we share at the Picasso restaurant in Tel Aviv. He holds his coffee cup in both hands and slowly swirls the dregs around and around in the bottom, thinking. Remembering.
It is August 15, 1988, a warm and muggy Monday in Tel Aviv.. “Do you remember his name,” I ask. “the name of the shooter, I mean.”
“Remember, of course I remember. His name was Stern… He had a lot of enthusiasm but not a lot of brains. He was inexperienced. No record. He was almost perfect – with the exception of the brains, as I already mentioned. Of course nobody thought he’d get away with it. I mean, he’d be right in the middle of it all when he pulled the trigger. He’d go down too. But he didn’t seem to mind. He was determined and he didn’t care what happened to himself and somebody thought he was expendable.”
“What more can you tell me about this,” I responded. I’ve never heard anything like this. What else do you know?”
No much. But you can look it up.”
The speaker was old man, hunched over his cup of coffee at the Picasso restaurant in Tel Aviv. The year was

A file buried and forgotten for decades in in the archive of the FBI indicates that such a scenario -- one man with a gun going after Adolph Hitler in 1933 -- passed an initial planning stage but was foiled by an investigation by the U. S. Justice Department. In an effort to prevent an international incident -- an American citizen assassinating a German leader -- American law enforcement officials may have helped save the life of Hitler in 1933.
The tale of the conspiracy to kill the German Chancellor came to the attention of the American government by way of a letter. Datedted March 23, 1933, typed on plain white paper and addressed to "The German Ambassador, Washington, D.C., " the letter was passed to U.S. Attorney General Homer Cummings late on the morning of March 29, 1933, a Wednesday. The letter read:

Dear Sir:
I have asked President Roosevelt to publicly remonstrate with your government the outrages upon the Jews in Germany, and to demand an immediate and complete end of this persecution.

In the event that he does not make such a statement, I notify you that I shall go to Germany and assassinate Hitler."

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Stern.

German diplomatic officials demanded an immediate and full investigation of the threat.
The new Roosevelt administration had been in office only two weeks. Washington was awash in the heady excitement of the first 100 Days of the New Deal. The new president declared a bank holiday on March 5th closing all the banks and freezing financial transactions The 73rd Congress was called into emergency session by the president and convened on March 10th. Two days later the president went on national radio to explain in simple terms to concerned listeners across the country what he was doing and he intended to do to defeat the depression in the first of his “fireside chats.” Dramatic legislation made its way through Congress dealing with the lingering economic depression and the social instability it had created. Events in Germany -- including the recent accession to power of a new Nazi Chancellor, Adolph Hitler -- concerned most of the public and the government hardly at all. (check out the dates). As Attorney General Cummings considered the letter given him by the German Embassy Congress established the Civilian Conservation Corps to employ tens of thousands of American boys in projects in the countryside, giving them jobs and hope.
Within the Justice Department the principle concern of the new Attorney General was the crusade against domestic crime.

Opinion polls indicated that the primary concern of the American public was crime -- a greater concern even than the depression. Much of the crime was popularly associated with Prohibition -- the 13 year long campaign to rid the country of booze, which produced more crime than sobriety. Organized gangs in all parts of the country financed themselves through the international smuggling of illegal liquor as well as through, producing and retailing the stuff. The Capone organization in Chicago was but the best known and the most notorious of a dozen such organizations across the country. In Detroit, the Purple gang ruled supreme in the booze business and imported liquor from across the Detroit river into Michigan and then transported it across Michigan and Indiana into Chicago for Capone. The nation was divided up into private fiefdoms by the gangs.

The Justice Department's main man in the war on crime was the Director of the Division of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was a veteran of the department, having headed the Division of Investigation[The Division became the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935], since his appointment by President Calvin Coolidge in May, 1924. Cummings turned to Hoover to locate Daniel Stern and stop him.
Through the spring and the summer and into the fall of 1933, Hoover's "G-Men" searched for Daniel Stern. They sought out contacts in the Jewish-American underground and among legitimate businessmen, hotel employees, telephone operators, building janitors, students and anyone else who would talk to them about any rumors of a plan to assassinate Germany's Chancellor.
Stern's letter indicated that his objection to Hitler was the German leader's anti-Semitic policy. Thousands of Jewish-Americans shared Stern's concern and were trying to do something to get Hitler to reconsider the racist road he had chosen to follow.
Ethnic cleansing, which had obsessed Hitler and his friends, began within hours of Hitler's assumption of power in Germany on January 30, 1933. Germany's Jews became the target of that cleansing and the scapegoat for all that had gone wrong in the past in central Europe. Albert Einstein, who was already a refugee from German anti-semitism, appealed for the moral intervention of the world against Hitlerism. More militant members of the American Jewish community reacted to Hitler's policies by taking to the streets. Hundreds picketed German consulates, businesses and stores selling German products. Thousands attended protest rallies and parades in New York, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and other cities.
When Hitler and his Nazis declared war on the Jews, Daniel Stern's personal declaration of war against Hitler seemed a reasonable response and his threat to kill the Nazi leader was taken seriously.
For more than half a century, details of this threat against Hitler lay buried in case file number 65-53615 in the archives of the FBI in Washington, D.C. The file, acquired recently through a Freedom of Information Act request, describes the efforts of the Hoover and his G-men to find the man who planned to kill Hitler.
If Daniel Stern was a professional hit man -- and that as a distinct possibility -- and not just a kook, then he might be known to the members or associates of Detroit's Purple Gang, a group of Jewish mobsters who rose to prominence in the prohibition years. Or he might be known to other high-profile Jewish mobsters of the day like Max Hoff, Maier Suchowljansky(Meyer Lansky) , Isadore Blumenfield, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, Arthur Flegenheimer(Dutch Schultz) or Lepke Buchalter. Any of them might in some way be connected with Stern -- or might have been approached by someone to do the job and could then provide leads in the case.
Hoover assigned one of his top agents, Dwight Brantley, to coordinate the national investigation. Brantley alerted Division of Investigation field offices across the country to the news of a plot to kill Hitler. The Division probe began in earnest in April and continued throughout the summer
An early lead from Detroit led nowhere The Division received a report stating that a young man had come to authorities with information on a conversation he'd overheard involving a plot to kill Hitler. Agents were sent to interview him. The, source a "young Jewish boy, 19 years of age, with the appearance of a clean living and moral individual" told the agents that he overheard his dentist discuss a plot to kill Hitler. In detail he told how his dentist, who was also Jewish, said he had previously used German drills and that since Hitler had been persecuting Jews, he and other dentists had boycotted all German products. The dentist then said that one of his patients said that he did not want any German products used on him and that some one "should bump Hitler off." The boy thought the statement was made "in a savage way." The dentist was interviewed. The trail went cold.
Yet another lead came from a special agent in charge of the Division's Chicago office who found that there was in fact someone in Chicago named Daniel Stern with underground associations. This individual, moreover, had moved from Chicago to Philadelphia and the original Stern letter bore a Philadelphia postmark.
Agents in Philadelphia searched local and public records for Stern and found no listings for him. They then turned to Jewish gang contacts for information. Max "Boo Boo" Hoff, who dominated Philadelphia's criminal enterprises at the time, offered to cooperate in the search for Daniel Stern. He talked to the G-man R. G. Harvey for several hours, but simply could not recall meeting Stern or anyone else who had met the man. Harvey also interviewed several of Hoff's lieutenants and associates and all claimed they'd never heard of Stern or of the plot to kill Adolf Hitler or any other Nazi for that matter. But almost all of them, Harvey reported, were impressed by the plot and thought it was "a great idea!"
When Hoff and his organization proved to be a dead end in the search for Stern, Harvey's G-Men, undeterred, continued to dig for information. Their perseverance bore meager fruit. One source said he remembered that a man named Daniel Stern had rented an apartment in the city. He provided Harvey with the address. G-Men contacted the building's supervisor and gained entrance to the flat where Stern had lived. They were too late. Stern was gone. The building supervisor provided the agents with a description of Stern. He was "a very high type of person," he said, who got along very well with the other tenants. But as to where he had gone, the supervisor had no idea. Further investigation yielded nothing. After mailing his letter, Daniel Stern had vanished without a trace.
G-Men also interviewed the German consul in Philadelphia and examined his files. He stated that he had not been advised by the Embassy in Washington of the letters concerning the plot to kill Hitler. He said also, that in all probability the letter from Stern was written by "some crank, who is a sympathizer of the Jewish element." Harvey reported that the German consul said he was often "besieged by individuals who make threats upon him, but that they are all of the crank type and he dismisses them and pay s not attention to them as he does not consider their threats serious."
Then a promising lead came to the Justice Department from the Germany Embassy, which had received a letter from a source in Phoenix, Arizona. There, a man reported that on the evening of April 19th, 1933, he had overheard a group of men he described as "stout men in their fifties," including a rabbi, speaking Yiddish, discuss "a plan to murder Chancellor Hitler."
According to this informant, the men initially talked about conditions in Germany and the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Then, "one of the speakers told the others that Hitler would not last long; that a number of Jews in New York were sending a man to Germany to assassinate Hitler."
The speaker went on to say that "a young American Jew has already been chosen to perform the act." He was to leave for Germany sometime in May. The assassination was to occur "between May and September 1933. Hitler was either to be poisoned or shot." Upon hearing this, the informant went on, "the Jews present became jubilant."
Hoover reacted quickly. If this report was true, the Division was running out of time to find Stern before he left the country. Hoover wired the Division office in Los Angeles and ordered agents to investigate the lead with all possible speed.
Agents from Los Angeles flew to Phoenix and then drove to the San Carlos Hotel to meet with the source of the story. On August 16 they located and interviewed the source of the story. He was a mining engineer and had spent 25 years in Mexico as a soldier and an engineer. He had been a colonel in the Mexican Army when General Porfirio Diaz was in power and held a dual citizenship in the US and Mexico. He told the agents that he had been visiting a friend in a room at the San Carlos Hotel in May. The friend left the room for a few minutes and he was left alone. He heard a loud conversation in Yiddish in the next room -- yet agents did not ask him how he understood the conversation. The two men he overheard were speaking about conditions in Germany and Hitler's antipathy for the Jews. One of the men suddenly said that Hitler would not last long, that a number of Jews in New York City were sending a man to Germany to assassinate him. They named the boat on which the assassin would travel, he said, but he could not recall its name for the agents.
Later, he said, he saw the two men in the hotel lobby. He described them as men in their 50s, and heavy set. He could give no other specifics. When he asked the bellboy who the men were he was given their names and was told that one was a rabbi. But he could not recall the names. He said he immediately sent a letter reporting what he'd heard to the German Embassy giving the names of the men as well as the name of the ship the assassin was to travel on. But since that time he'd forgotten the names of the men and of the ship.
He seemed upset in his conversation with the agents, they reported, since "he had asked the German Embassy never to mention his name." Then, as agents listened to him, he launched into a tirade against the Jews of the US, stating that American "will have to take the same action against them within 10 years that Germany has taken." He told agents that he was attempting to patent and market an alloy of lead and copper to be used in bearings, "but that the Jews in this country have preventing his financing of same."
When agents checked his story with his letter to the German Embassy they found a serious divergence. He did not, as he told them, name the men or the boat in his original letter, and no bellboy could remember having provided him with names. They then interrogated everyone on the hotel's staff, from the manager to the bellboys. No one remembered anything of the alleged meeting or recalled anything unusual --not even a gathering of "stout men" and "a rabbi." Agents examined the hotel's registry and wrote down every "Jewish sounding" name. They then transmitted the names and the results of their inquiry to the Division headquarters in Washington.
The trail went cold again.
Then from Chicago an informant contacted the German Embassy in Washington and promised to reveal a conspiracy to kill Hitler for the payment of $1000 in advance and another $1000 following verification of his report. The Chicago informant announced that he would travel to Washington to meet with the German Ambassador. Arrangements were made to identify and follow the man, but he never showed up to collect his money or to provide further information on the plot against Hitler.
The German Embassy provided yet one more lead -- a letter dated April 21st stating that "In listening to a conversation between several New York Jews, I learned that a plan is under way to murder Reich Chancellor Adloph(sic) Hitler, and that a young American Jew Has(sic) already been chosen to perform the act. The Jews present were jubilant over the plan. I am informing you of the above in order to prevent a possible misfortune." The letter was signed, "Very respectfully, C. Portugall." It was forwarded to the Justice Department along with a note stating that the Embassy "would be grateful if the proper steps could be taken in the matter."
Hoover noted that Daniel Stern and the "young American Jew" alluded to in the Arizona and New York reports might be the same person. A request was sent to New York to contact an undercover source (whose name is still deleted from all reports) "and through him obtain any information possible concerning the identity of Daniel Stern."
The New York office mobilized all of its resources in an effort to find Stern and the other "jubilant" Jews described in the report. Agents examined New York City directories, telephone books and postal records. They tapped their covert sources in the underworld. Their investigation continued through July but again every clue eventually led them to a dead end.
In New York, Meyer Lansky also made no secret of his personal hatred for the Nazis, but he never betrayed any knowledge he might have of Daniel Stern. Later he remembered the rise of the Nazis and said, "I was a Jew and I felt for those Jews in Europe who were suffering. They were my brothers." Later in the 1930s Lansky acted on his sympathies turned to direct action against German sympathizers in the US, organizing attacks by armed thugs against German Bund meetings.
Bugsy Siegel shared Lansky's hatred for Nazis and was more than willing, it seems, to shoot them. But the Division's investigation of Siegel in 1933 provided not indication of his knowledge of the plot to kill Hitler. Siegel, later, had an opportunity to kill two leading Nazi officials and came close to doing it. According to one account, Siegel was visiting Rome in 1938 and was a guest in the Villa Madama, home of Count Carlo Difrasso and his wife, Dorothy. The countess and the gangster at the time were having an affair. Nazi officials Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Goering were also visiting Rome at the same time. And when Siegel heard they were nearby they "he became apoplectic." He announced his intention to kill them both. When the countess told him, "You can't do that!" he responded, "Sure I can. It's an easy set-up!" It took a good deal of persuasion to talk Siegel out of whacking two Nazis, but for the rest of his life(he was gunned down in 1947) he insisted that at one critical moment he had the power to alter history -- and didn't.
On August 19, 1933, special agent J. M. Keith sent a progress reported regarding "Daniel Stern and the Threat to Assassinate German Chancellor Hitler" to Hoover. Keith summarized the investigations in Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, Detroit and New York. He conceded that the Bureau had failed to locate Stern or to uncover any plot to kill Hitler. He concluded his report by saying that "this case has been reassigned and in the future will receive appropriate attention."
Nothing more was done.

On September 22, 1933, acting Special Agent Brantley submitted a final report to Hoover. All outstanding leads regarding the threat to assassinate Hitler, he wrote, "have been completed without any definite information having been obtained." Accordingly, "this case is being closed at the Washington field office." Brantley assured the Director that the case will be "reopened in the event further information is received by the German Chancellor."
Was there a plot by an American to murder Hitler in early 1933? Was there really a Daniel Stern? All leads investigated by Hoover's G-Men led to dead ends. The Division of Investigation file on the threat against Hitler, on the other hand, is not complete. A number of reports and memos referred to in some of the documents are missing. It seems doubtful that they would shed any more light on the existence or whereabouts of Stern.

Yet, it appears that there really was a plot to kill Hitler and J. Edgar Hoover and his men, unknowingly, foiled it. The source of this information is one Abraham "Dutch" Goldberg, who I interviewed in Tel Aviv. My conversation with Goldberg was supposed to center on his past associations with Jewish gangsters in New York during the 1920s and 1930s. Goldberg, who was 83 at the time of the interview, remembered growing up on the Lower East Side in New York City. He dropped out of school after the eighth grade and turned to petty crime to make a living. He stole from peddlers and waylaid drunks on the street, he said. Then, because he was a good fighter, he worked as a "shtarker"(muscleman) and for the right price would beat up on someone who owed money or who angered someone. From there he became a hired gun. He was arrested more than 40 times, he recalled, and had killed "more than one man." In the early 1930s he became a member of the Lansky and Siegel crime organization in New York.

In the early spring of 1933, he said, "someone respectable" approached him about killing Hitler. He was asked to take the request to Lansky and to any other associates who might show interest in the undertaking. When he asked for more details on the project, Goldberg was told that "there are people in Germany who are ready to assist us." Goldberg then "talked to some of the boys about it. And they were willing to go to Germany and do the job." They all spoke Yiddish, he said, and so believed that they could get around any language problems in Germany. But before the contract could be formalized any further "J. Edgar Hoover started snooping around and asking questions" and so Lansky and "the boys" thought it was wise to drop the matter. Reflecting on the plot, Goldberg concluded, "it was really a shame. Really. I wish we'd done it. Can you imagine that? They woulda given us all medals. It's a shame we didn't go through with it. We woulda been heroes."
When I asked Goldberg if he had any hard evidence on this plot he said he did not. But later he told me that Hoover probably wrote something about it and that I should check in Washington. When I submitted the Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI, I were given File 65-53615. Goldberg, it seems, was correct on all counts. And J. Edgar Hoover and the U.S. Department of Justice may have unwittingly saved the life of Adolph Hitler in the summer of 1933.

(Larry Engelmann is a professor of history at San Jose State University. Robert Rockaway is a professor of history at Tel Aviv University.)

The timing was all wrong and maybe somebody backed the wrong horse. Nobody knew that much about Stern. That was supposed to be good at first. But you never know. You never know.
That summer, 1933, we learned that just about everybody and his brother thought about tacking a whack at the Fuehrer. When you got to Germany, I mean, you had to take a ticket and get in line for your shot. Somebody starting asking about Stern in Germany. But nobody knew nothin’. Later someone said that there were more than a dozen attempts to get Hitler that year, one of them even involved a soldier. But he was bulletproof. We didn’t know that. Public figures are well guarded, but Hitler, he was somethin’ else. I mean someone even got to Roosevelt and Cermack in 1933. That was close. But Hitler? He was bulletproof. Who knew? I swear to God, the devil was his bodyguard. And you gotta remember, that in the end, the only guy who could whack Hitler was Hitler himself.

“Gangsters! Gangsters!” he protested. “Why would a nice professor want to write about something as crazy as that? There are a lot of things I can think of that need to be written…but gangsters… that is not one of them.”
The old man turned his gaze from my to the table and his waiting cup of coffee. He encircled the cup with his hands and waited for my reply. After several seconds he looked up and with his eyes demanded my response.
“I grew up in Detroit. The Purple Gang were still legends in the region when I was a kid. My grandfather even knew some of the members.”
Did he mentioned Sherman Billingsley?
Yes, he mentioned him.
Billingsley was a real gentleman. Did he tell you that?
I heard good things about most of the members. Yes, I heard good things about Billingsley.
(add something about gang and Billingsley)
Don’t let anyone tell you anything different. He was a gentleman.
After a pause, I can tell you some things you want to know. You ask me questions and I’ll answer them.
We went through the period, he sipped his coffee after he spoke and summoned the waiter for another cup.
When he was finished and I’d asked my last question. Abraham Goldberg thought for a long time while looking at me. Finally he asked. You don’t know anything at all about Stern do you?
“Stern?” I responded. “No the name does not ring a bell. Should it?”
“Daniel Stern? Nobody ever said anything about him? Are you sure?”
Again I thought back through my interviews and research. “No, I don’t believe so.”
He’s the guy took the contract on Adolph Hitler. You sure you never heard.”
Not a word, I said.
Goldberg closed his eyes and remembered. “It was a secret badly kept. But it was a good idea. Stern decided he’d go to Germany and whack Hitler. There was a contract involved. But
Stern couldn’t keep his mouth shut. As I said, the secret was badly kept.
What happened? I asked. What happened to Stern?
I’d love to tell you he whacked Hitler, Goldberg said, and chuckled for a moment. What a story that would be, wouldn’t it?
He stopped speaking and I nervously prodded. “Yes, that would be a story, Mr. Goldberg. But what happened?
What happened, they said, is Stern himself got whacked. In Germany. He made up in enthusiasm for what he lacked in brains, I guess. Poor guy. He was nobody and he wanted to be somebody and he ended up a dead nobody.”
Can you tell me about him?
A little bit. Only a little bit.
Can I find more someplace?
Evereyone else who could tell you is dead. Especially Stern.
Is there any evidence I can use?
“Evidence, Goldberg repeated and sat up straight. You said evidence? Are you nuts? That’s right, I almost forgot. You ARE a professor. Again he smiled to himself. “No, I don’t think there is evidence.”
So people can make up stories like this can’t they?
Yes, they can. I can. But I won’t. After a long pause during which Goldberg closed his eyes he opened them wide again, looked at me and smiled.
J. Edgar Hoover, he’d know.
He’s dead too, I reminded Goldberg.
He’s got files. Unless he burned them, Stern is in there, I’m sure.
Daniel Stern?
It was Monday, August 15, 1988. We were in the seaside town of Herzlia Pithuah in Israel.
Let's see, if I can visualize him: About 5 feet seven inches tall. Tanned from the sun. Thinning grey hair, but not totally bald. Brown eyes. Strong hands, but not fat fingers. Strong grip. He was slim, with a little bit of a paunch. He was very slightly stooped. He walked slowly, but was not an invalid by any means. He had a deep voice with a New York/Brooklyn accent. Funny, but he tended to talk out of the side of his mouth.

I’ve got one condition for you.
It’s absolute.
Yes, I understand.
Don’t use my name while I’m still breathing.
I can agree to that.
Then we can talk. I don’t want to be bothered. I want to sleep at night. And I never know what you’re gonna write. It might disturb my sleep if my name was in it.
I won’t use your name while you’re still around.
He smiled.
You ask questions, that’s the best way. I’ll tell you what I know. Some of it. The rest you don’t want to know. The rest of it…should stay where it is now.
Ok, I told him. I opened my notebook, pulled my pen from my pocket and jotted down a few notes before turning to a page where I’d already written down the questions I’d wanted to ask him.
Let’s start with the Purple Gang, I said. And then we can move on to others.
He answered my questions for the next three hours, patiently, as we reordered coffee, chatted about the weather and the people passing by, the problems of Israel and of America, of the past the present and the future.
When I was finished, he returned to Daniel Stern. There’s the good story he said. You go look it up and then come back to me. We rose, shook hands and parted. I drove back into Tel Aviv that afternoon
Never before had I heard the name Daniel Stern nor had anyone mentioned the plot to assassinate Hitler. Yet he insisted it was real and that I could locate sources to confirm what he’d told me.
I used the Freedom of Information Act provisions and wrote to the FBI requesting information on Daniel Stern and 1933. Honestly, I expected to hear nothing back. But several weeks later a thin packet of files and documents arrived at my home. I opened them and paged through them and as I did I realized that what he’d told me was true.

He had smooth skin on his face. But his hands and face had aging spots (brown spots). He sat back in his chair, but leaned forward on his elbows when he spoke. He was stooped when he walked, but sat up straight in his chair. He had a deep voice and tended to talk out of the side of his mouth. He was not bald. His hair was grey and thin at the top, but he still had hair, thinning, but hair. It appears to have once been brown. His eyes were brown and slightly watery. He was about 5 feet 7 inches. He had strong hands, a strong grip when we shook hands. His hands and fingers were not fat. He might have been of stocky build once, but now he was thin, but with a slight paunch. (After all, he's 88!)
Herzlia Pituah is the seaside suburb of the city of Herzlia. Herzlia is about 15 miles from Tel-Aviv on the seacoast. It had about 85,000 people at the time i interviewed dutch. Herzlia was named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism. The city of Herzlia was founded by an American Jew from Tennessee in 1924. I think his name was Nevo. His son was mayor in 1976 when I lived there. "Pituah" in Hebrew means "development." The seaside suburb of Herzlia got the name "pituah" in the 1950s, because it was in the process of being being developed. In English this suburb came to be called, "Herzlia by-the-sea."
The cafe we sat at was called "Picasso." It faced a road. Across the road was the Daniel Tower Hotel and the beach. To get to the beach you have to walk down stairs. The street, the road and the hotel were above the beach and sea. This is a fancy suburb with fine private homes and apartment buildings and five-star hotels. The suburb is home to the diplomatic corps of many countries. The U.S. government owns some homes in the suburb and puts its diplomats in them. The suburb then and now contains dozens of good restaraunts and cafes (Israeli, middle eastern, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Thai, Japanese, American style, etc.). Now it contains a large mall and a large marina (boats and yachts), and nice beaches (with cafes on the beach). The beaches and Marina were there in 1988. The mall wasn't.
We were served by a waitress, but there were also waiters. Most of them were students who were working during the summer months. When I interviewed Dutch it was 10AM. There were people on the beach, people walking on the sidewalks, and cars and an occasional bus passing by on the road. Since it was August, schools were out and lots of kids were walking and on the beach.
I walked to the cafe. I lived two blocks away in a penthouse apartment [in a three story building] overlooking a square. Dutch walked from his home. Neither of us drove. When we said goodby, he walked in one direction (east), I walked south along the road.

Oh yes, the town is residential, but is also known as a resort area. It's filled with tourists and Israelis during the summer months. And on Saturday you can't find a place to park. In the evening, the cafes and restaurants are packed.
The town is flat, but is built above the sea, like Malibu or Santa Barbara. It is home to the diplomatic corps of many countries. The U.S. government owns homes there and puts it diplomats in them. Homes sell from $ 500,000+ to three or four million and more. Apartments go for from $350,000 to 2 million or so. It's considered one of the more wealthy and upscale parts of Israel.

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