2.2 How An American Edition Was Suppressed

Leslie Fry

Waters Flowing Eastward

There is a saying in several languages that only the truth hurts. Recognizing the fact beneath this expression, one is little surprised at the zeal with which certain parties seek to disprove documentary evidence. If the evidence were false, then it would be ignored by those concerned and pass quickly into the realm of forgotten things. But if the evidence is genuine and open to verification from many angles, then the truth will hurt, and thus not be ignored.

If this reasoning is correct, the violent methods used by the Jews, particularly those affiliated with the Zionist movement, to discredit and suppress the document entitled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, would alone constitute a proof of its authenticity.

Nilus and Butmi had published the document without comment. Its success was therefore entirely due to:

  1. The self-evident character of the document;
  2. The logical reasoning expressed in clear, simple terms;
  3. The explanation it gives of international politics;
  4. The fact that the events predicted in it have actually occurred since.

But if its publishers gave no guarantee of its genuineness, those who have attacked it have failed even more conspicuously to discredit and refute it. To quote Nesta Webster, in her World Revolution:1

"The truth is, then, that the Protocols have never been refuted, and the futility of the so-called refutations published, as also the fact of their temporary suppression, have done more to convince the public of their authenticity than all the anti-Semite writings on the subject put together".

There is plenty of indisputable, documentary evidence which explains the Jewish plan of action, without recourse to the Protocols. Their importance lies in the fact that, published at a definite date, they foretold historical events which have upset the world, that they explained these events by the principles set forth in the work itself: this fact makes it superfluous to enquire whether the author of the Protocols is the Zionist Congress in corpore, a member of the congress, or some Jewish (or even Christian) thinker. Their source is of small moment: the facts, the relation of cause and effect, are there; the existence of the work prior to the events foretold in it can never be brought into question, and that is enough.

The first attempt at refutation appeared in 1920, entitled, The Jewish Bogey and the Forged Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, by a Jew, Lucien Wolf; it was followed by articles in the Metropolitan (New York) signed " William Hard ". The effect of these articles, contrary to the intention of their authors, was to draw wider public attention to the existence of the Protocols. At the same time in America the Jewish Anti-Defamation League2 filled the papers with denunciations of the libel from all parts of the country, thus proving how powerful is Jewish organization. One of its members was Louis Marshall, and, as an illustration of its activity, the story of the suppression of the edition of the Protocols which an American publishing house tried to bring out, is instructive. It shows not only the pressure the Jews can bring to bear on anyone who dares to lift his finger against them, but their own mental attitude of absolute intolerance towards others, while demanding of the world complete acquiescence in their schemes.

George Haven Putnam, head of the firm Putnam & Son, New York, after his annual visit to London, brought out in 1920 an American edition of The Cause of World Unrest.3

About the same time, he decided to issue The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in book form. Advance notices were released and the book set up and ready to go on the stands about October 15. On the eve of its appearance, Putnam received the following letter from Louis Marshall.4


As one who believes in those qualities that constitute the true American spirit, I have been greatly disturbed by the accounts given by the newspapers of the outrage to which you were subjected at the meeting held at Erasmus High School in Brooklyn the other evening. Knowing your patriotism, I can only regard the alleged cause, namely, that you had condemned the Declaration of Independence and were of the opinion that we owed an apology to England for severing our relations with her, as a slander, born of prejudice and ignorance.

I had scarcely finished reading this episode which had thus aroused my indignation, when I found upon my table a book, bearing the imprint of your firm, entitled The Cause of World Unrest, bound in a flaming red and purporting to be a republication of articles that have recently appeared in the London Morning Post with which I had become familiar. To say that I was shocked that your honoured name should be made the vehicle of disseminating among the American people these outpourings of malice, intolerance and hatred, this witches' broth of virulent poison, is merely to confess the poverty of my vocabulary. On opening the book I turned to the publishers' note, which was apologetic and disclaimed responsibility for the publication. It was followed by an introduction which made it absolutely clear that the purpose of the book was to charge the Jews with an age-long conspiracy to destroy civilization in order that they might absorb the wealth and power of the world. Thus proclaimed, at length came the stupid drivel intended to support this thesis and calculated to make the Jew repulsive in the eyes of his fellow-men and to exterminate him, not figuratively, but literally, appealing, as it does, to the lowest passions and proceeding upon the same processes that were employed in the Middle Ages for the same object. Then it was the blood accusation, the charge of poisoning wells, of spreading plagues and pestilence, of the desecration of the Host. Now it is pretended conspiracy to overturn the economic system of the world by inciting warfare and revolution.


La Silva Curiosa La Silva Curiosa

LA SILVA CURIOSA: Photostat of the letter from the Grand Sanhedrin Constantinople to the Chief Rabbi of Spain in 1492.

Mr. Stephanovs Deposition

Mr. Stephanovs Deposition

MR. STEPANOVS DEPOSITION: the story of how the Protocols reached Russia and thence came into general circulation.

The slightest knowledge of history, the most elementary capacity for analysis, or even a minute inkling as to what the Jew is and has been, would suffice to stamp this book and the forged Protocols on which it is based, as the most stupendous libel in history. These writings are the work of a band of conspirators who are seeking to continue to make the Jew, as he has been in all the centuries, the scapegoat of autocracy. The Protocols bear the hall-mark of the secret agents of the dethroned Russian bureaucracy, and the book which you have published is a mere babbling reiteration of what the murderers of the Ukraine, of Poland, and of Hungary are urging as justification for the holocausts of the Jews in which they have been engaged. It has been intimated, and there is much to sustain the theory, that the real purpose of these publications in the United States and in England is to arouse sufficient hostility against the Jews to subject them to mob violence and thus to give justification to those who have incited pogroms in Eastern Europe.

I have also observed that, upon the cover of the book to which I am now referring, you are advertising the publication of The Protocols, which I unhesitatingly denounce as on their face palpable forgeries. If you were called upon to circulate counterfeit money or forged bonds, you would shrink in horror at the suggestion. What you have done and what you propose to do is, however, in morals, incalculably worse. You are assisting in spreading falsehoods, in uttering libels, the effect of which will be felt for decades to come. You are giving them respectability, whilst the name of the author is shrouded in secrecy. Even Mr. Gwynne does not avow paternity for the book which he has heralded. Much as you may desire to shake off responsibility, therefore, the real responsibility for hurling this bomb, for such it is, prepared though it has been by others, rests upon you. Whoever may read this book and is of such a low type of intelligence as to be influenced by it, will not be apt to draw the fine ethical distinctions with which you are seeking to salve your conscience. As a patriotic American, do you believe that you are contributing to the creation of that spirit of justice and fair-play, of unity and harmony, which is the very foundation of that Americanism for which every good citizen has yearned, when you stimulate hatred and passion by the publication of these dreadful falsehoods? If there should occur in this country, in consequence of those publications and those of Henry Ford, what is earnestly desired by the anti-Semites with whom you have arrayed yourself, do you suppose that, when the Almighty calls you to a reckoning and asks you whether you have ever borne false witness against your neighbour, you will be guiltless in His eyes because of your publishers' note disavowing responsibility ?

I know that you must have been pained, as I was when I read of the treatment to which you were subjected, because of lying accusations directed against you. Are you able to appreciate the pain, the grief, the agony, that you are causing three millions of your fellow-countrymen and to millions of men, women and children in other parts of the world by your participation in the disgraceful and inhuman persecution which is now being insidiously carried on by means of publications in the distribution of which you are now actively engaged ? I look upon this as a tragedy.


Major Putnam, still feeling and sincerely believing that he was an independent American, though not a very brave one, for throughout he uses the name of Mr. Gwynne as a screen, answered:

New York, October 15th, 1920. DEAR MR. MARSHALL:

Your letter of the 13th inst., which has to do with the publication of the volume entitled World Unrest and the announcement of the companion volume The Protocols, has been read before the members of our publishing board and has received the respectful consideration to which any communication from a citizen of your standing and reputation is assuredly entitled. I am asked by my associates to make report as follows as to our own understanding of the matters in question:

1. We are not prepared to accept your view of the responsibility that attaches to a publishing imprint, or to the association of such imprint with one volume or another. We believe that our own policy in this matter is in accord with that of the leading publishing houses on both sides of the Atlantic. It would be impossible to carry on the business of publishing books of opinion, whether the opinions have to do with the issues of to-day or with matters of the past, if the publisher was assumed to be in accord with the con clusions arrived at by one author or another. It is the intention to bring into print only such volumes as may present on such issues information that is understood to make an addition to the knowledge of the subject, or con clusions which appear to be entitled to consideration, to analysis, or possibly to refutation.

2. We have on our own catalogue, for instance, volumes expressing almost every phase of theological or religious belief. The list includes some books accepted by the Christian Scientists as fairly representative of their doctrines. In publishing such books we have, of course, no intention of announcing ourselves as upholding the theories of the Christian Scientists any more than in the publication of a volume by a Presbyterian divine we have expressed our acceptance of the Westminster catechism, or in printing a book by an Episcopal friend, we have been prepared to approve the reasonableness of the thirty-nine articles.

3. The volume, World Unrest, was, as you will have noted, brought into publication in London at the instance of Mr. Gwynne, the scholarly editor of the Morning Post. You doubtless have knowledge of the journals of England and will realize that the Post does not belong to the sensation-monger journals like Bottomley's John Bull or Hearst's American. It is a conservative paper which has the reputation of avoiding sensational material.

Mr. Gwynne had convinced himself that the papers brought into print in the Post, and later published under his direction in book form, were deserving of consideration. As we have stated in the publisher's note, we are not prepared to express any opinion whatsoever in regard to the so-called information presented, or as to the weight of the conclusions arrived at by the writer and endorsed by Mr. Gwynne. The recommendation came to us that, as the Gwynne volume used as a large part of its text the document entitled The Protocols, the readers of World Unrest would be interested in having an opportunity of examining the full text of The Protocols. You have already knowledge of this curious document. It has, it seems, been in print since 1905, and possibly earlier. An edition was published some months back by Eyre & Spottiswoode, conservative law publishers of London. The text that was brought to us is a translation freshly made from the Russian and is accompanied by a record of what is known of the original document.5

It is evident that the document has, as you point out, no voucher for authenticity and it is quite possible that it will be found to possess no historic importance. Attention has again been directed to it during the past year simply on the ground, according at least to the understanding of Mr. Gwynne's author and of himself, that certain of the instructions given and policies recommended in The Protocols appear to have been carried out by the bolshevik government in Russia. Certain suggestions in The Protocols have also been connected with the policies of the Zionists, policies which, according to Mr. Gwynne and some other writers, are causing serious unrest in Palestine, Syria and Arabia.

In presenting The Protocols to American readers in a carefully printed edition, we have not the least intention of expressing the view that the documents are authentic, or that they will in the end be considered as possessing historic authority.

Mr Gwynne takes the ground that neither World Unrest nor The Protocols themselves present charges against the Jews as a whole. They emphasize certain things that have been done, or are alleged to have been done, by certain groups of Jews. It would be as fair to say that a record of lynching in Texas or Arkansas, or a record of the attempt of the Bryan group to secure the payment of debts fifty cents on the dollar, was to be considered as a charge against the whole American people.

Mr. Gwynne's associates take the ground that the leading Jews on both sides of the Atlantic, men whose patriotism is unquestioned, ought not to put these documents to one side as of trifling importance. The time may very properly have come at which the charges made as said, only against certain groups of Jews should be analyzed by the Jews whose judgments would be accepted as authoritative by English and American readers. If the charge is unfounded that bolshevism as carried on in Russia has been conducted largely under Jewish direction, the statement ought to be refuted.

I received only yesterday a copy of a monthly entitled The Brooklyn Anti-Bolshevist. The magazine undertakes to make " defense of American institutions against the Jewish bolshevist doctrines of Morris Hillquit and Leon Trotzki." It seems to me that American citizens of the Jewish race (and the group comprises some of the best citizens that we have) might properly interest themselves in making clear to the public that there is no foundation for any charge against the World Patriotism of the Jewish race.6

I wish very much that you might yourself be interested in preparing a volume that should give consideration to the whole subject matter and particularly, of course, to these publications which have come into print as a result of the world's indignation against the Moscow government.

G. P. Putnam's Sons would be well pleased to associate the imprint of their New York and London Houses with such a volume from the pen of a distinguished jurist like yourself.

One further thought occurs to me: You and I are believers in freedom of speech. We recognize that in war times certain reservations are in order for the sake of the nation, but we hold that, with the necessary reservations as to the rights of an individual, or as to a possible libel upon an individual, it is in order, and, from the point of view of the community, wise, to allow full freedom for platform utterances. If, however, this be true for the spoken word it should logically be applicable also to the word, that comes into print.

In case you may be interested in considering the suggestion of a monograph from your pen to be prepared by yourself, or by some competent authority whom you might be able to interest, I should be ready to keep an appointment for a personal word at such time and place as you might find convenient.

Submitting the suggestion for your consideration, I am, with cordial regards,

Yours faithfully, GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM.

The suggestion of a ' monograph' from Louis Marshall's pen was somewhat ironical. There is no doubt that on October, 15, 1920, Major Putnam still felt himself an independent American.

And the binding of The Protocols went on as usual.

But on October 29th came one more letter from the president of the American Jewish committee:

New York City, October 29th, 1920. MY DEAR SIR:

Absence from the city and professional engagements have prevented me from replying earlier to yours of the 15th inst., in which you define your policy regarding the publication of The Cause of the World Unrest and your announcement of your intended publication of The Protocols.

I cannot accept the theories on which you seek to justify acts which, in all moderation, I sought to characterize in my letter of the 13th inst. You disregard entirely the proposition on which my criticism is based. Nobody can go farther than I do in upholding the freedom of the press and freedom of speech. - It has been my privilege to aid in the creation of important precedents in furtherance of these fundamentals of liberty. Libel and slander, however, have always been looked upon in American law as abuses of a free press and of free speech and as attacks upon the integrity of the constitutional guarantees that you invoke. Nor do I question the right of any publisher to issue " books of opinion " to whatever subject the opinions may relate.

They may be polemical or they may attack the soundness of scientific, political or theological theories or doctrines. No fair-minded man would for a moment venture to find fault because of strictures directed against his cherished doxy.

The Protocols and The Cause of World Unrest are not, however, books of opinion. They assume to deal with facts. The Protocols purport to be the pronouncements of so-called " Wise Men of Zion". The Cause of World Unrest undertakes to charge that the Jews and the Freemasons are together engaged in a conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and the arrogation by them of world domination. It is these alleged facts that I denounce as falsehoods and as libels criminal in intent and criminal in their operation. The Protocols, which are made the basis of the Cause of World Unrest and which you properly describe as companion volumes, are so intrinsically false that even Mr. Gwynne concedes that he himself has a serious doubt as to their genuineness. That The Protocols are a fabrication similar to those that have appeared in every period of history, appears from every line of that document. I am credibly informed that the manuscript was offered for publication to seven different publishing houses in this country, who refused to have their names connected with it, before Small, Maynard & Co, undertook to issue it to the American public. The author of the Cause of World Unrest hides behind anonymity. You yourself speak of the author as being " Mr. Gwynne's author." Apparently even you do not know the pedigree of this incendiary book. Yet you have, I repeat, given it your endorsement by publishing it, even though you disavow responsibility. Your position is that of one who endorses a note to give it currency and at the same time makes a mental reservation against meeting his obligation.

No, Major Putnam, the principle which you seek to establish will not work. Whoever touches pitch is defiled. Whoever retails falsehoods and spreads them, whether it be orally or through the medium of the press, is responsible for those falsehoods. It will not do to say that you have many friends among the Jews whom you respect and that these books are not intended to reflect upon all Jews. The world is not so discriminating. People whose passions are aroused do not differentiate. The forger of The Protocols and the mysterious author of The Cause of World Unrest make no distinctions. Neither did their prototypes of the middle ages, nor the black hundreds of modern Russia, indulge in such refinements. Troy and Tyre were alike to them.

Do not for a moment misunderstand me. I contend that there are no Jews who are now engaged or who have ever been engaged in a conspiracy such as that charged by you as existing in these books which emerge smoking from your presses. The cry of Bolshevism will not suffice. Your reference to the Brooklyn Anti-Bolshevist shows what a sad pass you have reached. To shelter yourself behind the bulwarks of an infamous pasquinade of the guttersnipe variety and to insinuate that because that sheet pretends to defend American institutions " against the Jewish bolshevist doctrines of Morris Hillquit and Leon Trotzki " you may therefore descend to the same depths, is a revelation to me. I had not believed that any real, true American would thus lend himself to the creation of ill-will and malevolence. The fact that out of the mass of Russian Jews there is an infinitesimal percentage who are Bolshevists, affords no justification for laying the sins of Bolshevism at the door of the Jewish people. To say that Bolshevism is a Jewish movement is as ridiculous as to say that the Jews are responsible for capitalism, or because there are Jewish musicians, actors and poets, that music, the drama and poetry are Jewish movements.

I am not a Zionist, and yet I regard the slurs that these books are attempting to make against Zionism to be unworthy. The very Zionists whom these books are attacking have been persecuted by the Bolsheviks and have been denounced as counter-revolutionists, just as the mass of the Jews of Russia have been pursued as members of the bourgeoisie. I am not a member of the Masonic or of any other secret order, but the attempt in these books to charge Freemasonry with participation in such a conspiracy as is proclaimed almost argues the existence of a pathological condition on the part of the author that betokens mental aberration. When one remembers that fifteen of the presidents of the United States, including George Washington, have been Freemasons, it is unnecessary to go further in condemnation of these volumes which you are pleased to denominate " books of opinion ".

I had not believed that a Jew in this country would ever be called upon to occupy the humiliating position of defending his people against the charges such as those which are being spread broadcast through your agency. If ever the time comes when it shall be desirable to answer such books, I am quite sure that it will be unnecessary for me to avail myself of your invitation to make use of the services of your firms as publishers.

Very truly yours, Louis MARSHALL.

Two days later, Putnam bowed before the will of Jewry in the following terms:

                      November 1st, 1920. DEAR MR MARSHALL:

Mr Gwynne, at whose instance we brought into print the American edition of his volume on World Unrest, had taken the ground that the publication of the document known as The Protocols might throw light on the organization of the Bolshevists. Their operations have caused grave concern throughout the world and they are, therefore, a matter of legitimate public discussion.

It was his opinion that if it had not been for the apprehension aroused by bolshevism, the document would probably have been permitted to rest in obscurity.

An edition of The Protocols was, therefore, published in London by Eyre & Spottiswoode, law publishers of high standing.

It had seemed to us that the readers of " The World Unrest " were entitled to have the opportunity of examining the complete document (to which frequent references are made in Mr Gwynne's volume) and we had, therefore, undertaken the publication of a carefully prepared translation by us, which is now nearly in readiness, and has involved a considerable outlay.

We now find, however, that an edition printed in Boston is being distributed as a regular publication. There is no necessity for bringing into print another volume containing substantially the same material. We have decided, therefore, in deference to the objections raised by yourself, and by my valued friend, Oscar Strauss, not to proceed1 with the publication. I am, Yours very truly.


What had taken place between October 29 and November 1 ? Putnam wrote to one of the parties interested that so much pressure was brought to bear on him that he had to give up publishing The Protocols, and would be obliged to withdraw unsold copies of World Unrest. It is safe to conclude that Putnam's firm was threatened with bankruptcy if it persisted. We understand that Small, Maynard & Co. of Boston and The Beckwith Co. of New York and in fact practically every firm which has published The Protocols had difficulties within a year or two. Of course it is said that that is purely accidental: but it was just such an " accident " that Putnam wished to avoid!


1. 1st edition, p. 305.

2. This League compelled the Beckwith Co, which subsequently published the Protocols after Putnam's withdrawal, to insert in every copy sold a copy of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League's refutation.

3. The reproduction in book form of a series of articles which had appeared in the Morning Post of London.

4. See ante, ch. V.

5. This edition prepared by G. H. Putnam was subsequently published by The Beckwith Company, 299 Madison Avenue, New York.

6. Our italics.

7. Our italics.

· Previous · Contents · Next ·