german american man

I hope Ubisoft never sets a game during WWII, I can’t imagine how they wouldn’t mess it up.  As a jew who who comes from a family of Holocaust survivors, I’m sick of seeing video games and movies and television shows where the main characters are non-jewish, non-rromani, almost always white americans, going off to fight overseas for glory.  

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Bodyslammin’ Nazi’s,

Believe it or not, in the 1930’s American had its own Nazi party.  The German American Bund was a fascist organization founded by the German immigrant Heinz Spanknoble under the directions of Nazi Deputy Chief Rudolf Hess.  The group was openly pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic.  On the eve of World War II a Nazi group in America was about as popular as well… a Nazi group today.

One day in 1939 the Nazi’s at the German American Bund headquarters in New York were astonished to see a diminutive man place a ladder in front of their building and tear down the large sign at their doorway which read “No Dogs or Jews Allowed!”.  The Nazi’s wanted retribution, and faster than a Hitler salute the 5'4", 140 pound little middle aged man found himself surrounded by 20 armed fascist thugs.

The diminutive little man was a Jewish immigrant named Joseph Greenstein.  As a child Greenstein was forced to flee his home in Poland in the early 1900’s to escape a rash of anti-Semitic violence.  Joe Greenstein, also known by the stage name “The Mighty Atom” made a fine living for himself in America as a circus strongman and professional wrestler.  Earning himself the title “The Worlds Strongest Man”, Greenstein’s act included such feats as bending metal bars, straightening horseshoes, biting nails in half with his teeth, driving nails with his bare hands, changing a car tire without any tools, snapping chains wrapped around his chest through chest expansion, squat lifting a car, and resisting the takeoff of an airplane with his hair.  He was also known for having apprenticed with strongmen from Russia and India, trained with the famous heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson, and once sustained a .38 caliber pointblank gunshot to the skull without being injured.

The Nazi’s intended to re-arrange Greenstein’s face, free of charge.  One of the Nazi’s sneaked behind Greenstein and pinned his arms while three or four others proceeded to punch and kick him.  The fight only went downhill for the Nazi’s from there.  Moments later the police arrived on the scene to find 20 incapacitated men, and one uninjured Joseph Greenstein.

Greenstein was charged with aggravated assault, grievous bodily harm, and mass mayhem.  However the judge dismissed the case due to disbelief that one man could take on 20.  There was also a severe lack of evidence since 20 of the Nazi’s, many of whom were still in the hospital, refused to testify against him.

During World War II Greenstein did war bond tours for the US Military.  He also trained police officers and soldiers in Jiu Jitsu and unarmed combat.  Greenstein continued his act even into his old age.  He was featured in the Guiness Book of World Records and Ripley’s Believe it or Not.  On his off time he made and sold his own handmade coconut body soaps.  His last act occurred on May 11th, 1977 at Madison Square Garden.  Six months later he lost his final battle, succumbing to cancer at the age of 84.