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Supreme Court Justice Brandeis Sends Financial Support to his Austrian Cousins

Signed by Louis D. Brandeis

Item: 20445
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BRANDEIS, LOUIS D. (1856-1941). Supreme Court Justice. ALS. (“Louis D. Brandeis”). ½p. Small 8vo. Chatham, June 29, 1939. On his Washington stationery, which he has struck through and amended to read “Chatham, Mass.” To his second cousins Betty Brandeis (1892-1973) and Louise Brandeis (1903-?) immigrants from Austria.

By reason of illness, your letter of the 9th did not reach my attention until today. I am enclosing, with my best wishes, check for Eighty (80) dollars…”

Noteworthy as the first Jewish judge to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, Brandeis became known as the “People’s Lawyer.” During his lengthy career he ruled against monopolies, for workers’ rights and for affordable life insurance. Outside the courtroom, and initially inspired by his uncle, Brandeis became an ardent Zionist around 1910. He joined the Supreme Court in 1916 as an associate justice and assumed senior status in February 1939.

Louis D. Brandeis portrait

Louis D. Brandeis


“Brandeis’s desire to help Eastern European Jewry find a safe haven in Palestine [the future Israel] was heightened by his contact in 1910 with Russian immigrant garment workers, whom he met while mediating a strike. He saw in these Jews a democratic spirit and idealism he had not expected. In 1913, Brandeis agreed to chair a Zionist meeting in Boston. Not content to be a mere figurehead, by 1915 Brandeis became Zionism’s leading public spokesman in America… By 1917, the American Zionist movement increased its membership tenfold to 200,000 members. The American Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs, which Brandeis chaired, raised millions to relieve Jews who were suffering throughout war-torn Europe,” (“Louis D. Brandeis and American Zionism,” The Jewish Federation of North America, Feldberg).

Our letter concerns Brandeis’ ongoing assistance to his Austrian cousins. After the Anschluss, the March 12, 1938, annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany, “Brandeis swore out an affidavit in May 1938 that he had ample resources and would be willing to sponsor them in the United States so they would not become public charges. The two women arrived in New York in July, where officials of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society met them and secured temporary lodgings for them. Brandeis also made contributions to a group organized by his former law clerk David Riesman to rescue academics and find them positions in American Universities,” (Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, Urofsky).

Darkly written and signed. Folded once horizontally. With some light creasing and wear. In very good condition. With the original envelope.

Supreme Court Justice Brandeis Sends Financial Support to his Austrian Cousins

Signed by Louis D. Brandeis

$400 • item #20445

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