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The New York Librarian Who Spied On American Nazis

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Florence Mendheim was a Jewish librarian who went undercover in the 1930s to spy on Nazis around New York City. This program, co-presented by the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Brooklyn Public Library will explore her fascinating life and legacy.

Mendheim went undercover at a moment in which American Nazism was flourishing. Local Nazi groups in the New York area were distributing propaganda, setting up summer camps, and hosting large rallies. Mendheim, an employee of the New York Public Library, was inspired to document and resist these groups. In the course of her undercover work, she used at least three pseudonyms: KQX (for correspondence with a Rabbi), Gertrude Mueller (for the Nazis), and Anna Hitler (for conducting genealogical research on Adolf Hitler).

The program will feature:

  • Marshall Curry, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker who directed the short film “A Night at the Garden”;
  • Dr. Daniel Greene, President and Librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago, adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University, and curator of “Americans and the Holocaust”; and
  • Michael Simonson, Head of Public Outreach and Archivist at the Leo Baeck Institute.

The discussion will be moderated by Treva Walsh, Collections Project Manager at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.