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Babe Ruth's Courageous Actions on Behalf of the Jewish People

Harold FriendChief Writer IAugust 13, 2011

Linda Ruth Tosetti,
Linda Ruth Tosetti,Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Sometimes, Babe Ruth had to become serious. It wasn't always fun and games.

The issue of the Adolph Hitler massacres of tens of thousands of Jewish civilians was so compelling that Ruth had to act. The killings were not random events.

On Dec. 17, 1942 the U.S. and British governments confirmed that fact, but that was all. There was no talk of any other planned response to the slaughters.

As still happens today, the mass murders started to fade into the background, but Dorothy Thompson, the first American journalist to be banished from Germany, couldn’t let that occur.

Babe Ruth would be her ally.

Thompson, who was of German descent, contacted the World Jewish Congress in the fall of 1942. The idea was to get German-Americans to protest the persecution of Jews in Germany.

Near the end of Dec. 1942, the Christmas Declaration by men and women of German descent ran as a full-page ad in the New York Times and nine other major newspapers. It condemned the Nazi’s actions and urged the overthrow of the German government.

Heading the list of signatures was that of George Herman Ruth.

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Ruth used his status as the greatest player in the history of the game to make America aware of events in Germany.

The timing of the Christmas Declaration was crucial because U.S. officials hoped that the “problem” would go away. Ruth wouldn’t allow that to happen.

The New York Yankees have set aside Apr. 27 as Babe Ruth Day to commemorate Babe Ruth, the ball player. This season, Ruth’s efforts to help Jews in Europe as well as black Americans was celebrated as well.

During the off-season, Ruth led players on barnstorming tours. Players from the Negro leagues were part of the groups. He played against black players when they were not allowed in the major leagues.

Ruth’s granddaughter, Linda Ruth Tosetti, said it best:

“My grandfather made a powerful statement against racism,” Tosetti said. “Many people resented his actions—but they couldn’t lynch Babe Ruth. He was an American icon. And he used his status to demand equality for blacks.”

But there is more.

Ruth helped the Women’s Baseball League, which became known to younger fans in Tom Hanks A League of Their Own.

Ruth’s contributions cannot be overlooked. When there was much doubt about the Jewish people’s plight in Europe, Babe Ruth spoke out to break the silence.

Dr. Rafael Medoff, the director of the David S. Weyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, said Ruth’s willingness to participate in a protest against the persecution of European Jewry was “a welcome contrast with today’s athletes, whose off-field activities are too often sources of scandal and embarrassment.”

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