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How one woman destroyed the Jewish mafia in Argentina
How one woman destroyed the Jewish mafia in Argentina

Argentina at the beginning of the 20th century. From across the ocean, it seemed like a Latin American paradise and a great place to start a new life. But up close one could clearly see the almost total corruption fueled by international organized crime. Among them was a group of Polish Jews, who for more than two decades have been exporting girls from Eastern Europe to work in Argentine brothels.

The not yet bribed police commissioner, who was helped by a Jewish girl of easy virtue who escaped from a brothel, was able to destroy this criminal syndicate.

Raquel Lieberman

On the last day of January 1930, a young woman, who was already beginning to gain weight, came timidly and hesitantly into one of the police stations in Buenos Aires. She was a 29-year-old native of Berdichev, Polish Jewish emigrant Raquel Lieberman, who by that time had already received Argentine citizenship and owned one of the antique shops in the capital.

Raquel Lieberman in 1918

The woman came to the station in order to apply for her husband, Solomon Jose Korn. Raquel claimed that her husband allegedly embezzled all her savings and forced her to go to work "on the panel." However, during the conversation, which Commissioner Julio Alsogaray conducted with Senora Lieberman, the woman behaved unnaturally - she was clearly worried and as if she did not finish saying something. And later she returned to the police station to collect her application.

The police officer, seeing the frightened state of the woman, promised her complete anonymity and protection in exchange for her honest testimony. It is Raquel's testimony that will help Commissioner Alsogorai expose and destroy the Jewish mafia, which has owned thousands of sex slaves from Eastern Europe for almost 30 years. Who worked in several hundred Argentine brothels.

Here is the story of Raquel Lieberman as she told at the Buenos Aires police station.

Gallant Mr. Rubinstein

While still living in Warsaw, in 1919 Raquel Lieberman married Jacob Ferber, a poor tailor. In 1921, Jacob leaves for his own sister, who at that time was already living in Argentina, with the intention of later transporting his wife and two sons there. In November 1922, Raquel received an Argentine visa and set off with her children on a 3-week voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

Arrival of a ship with immigrants to the port of Buenos Aires, early XX century

Once, one day, on the deck of a ship, a gallant gentleman dressed in an expensive suit spoke to a young woman in Yiddish. He introduced himself as an Argentine businessman Zvi Rubinstein, who was born in Chisinau, but has long lived in Buenos Aires. After a short pleasant conversation, the gallant Mr. Rubinstein handed Raquel a business card and assured that he would always be able to help her with employment.

From immigrants to prostitutes

In the port of Buenos Aires, the family was met by Jacob Ferber, who took them to the home of his sister Helke and her husband Moishe Milbrot. The house was located 300 kilometers from the capital, in the town of Tapalka. Jacob himself by that time was already in the last stages of tuberculosis - he was terribly thin and weak. Less than a year later, Raquel Lieberman became a widow. The sister of the late husband made it clear that they were not going to feed her with the children.

Dining room at the Immigrant Hotel (a complex of buildings built in 1906-1911 in the port of Buenos Aires to receive immigrants), early 20th century

Then Raquel, who did not yet speak Spanish, remembered the courteous Mr. Rubinstein. She gave his business card to Moishe Milbrot, who often traveled to the capital on business, asking him to go to a merchant and find out if he had a job as a servant or a seamstress for her.

Milbrot returned from Buenos Aires rather quickly with good news - Mr. Rubinstein has a job for Raquel.Moreover, she must urgently leave for the capital herself. And he and his wife pledge to take care of her sons. Moreover, the couple did not have their own children, and Helke managed to fall in love with her nephews.

Children of immigrants in Buenos Aires, 1930

Despite the fact that no one Raquel said anything about the nature of the upcoming work, the woman did not think of anything bad. After all, Mr. Rubinstein was also a Jew, a fellow believer - therefore, he could not harm her in any way. Raquel Lieberman did not even suspect that her relatives had simply sold her to pimps. And now they only expected a generous reward.

After arriving in the capital, Raquel found herself in one of the brothels. Most of them were located near the Undecimo de septiembre (September 11) railway station - a kind of ghetto where immigrants of Jewish origin settled since the 19th century.

Trade compatriots

In Argentina, "sex for money" was legalized in 1875, immediately after the start of the mass migration of Europeans. Along with honest people who came in search of a better life, all sorts of criminal elements rushed to Buenos Aires. Among them were Jewish pimps from Poland, who were called "kaftins" (after the name of the clothes of religious Jews).

Jewish colonists in Mauricio

Getting a license to open a brothel in Buenos Aires was easy. It was much more difficult to recruit a "staff" for him - there were an order of magnitude more men in Argentina than women. That made it possible for the latter to choose their wealthy suitors. However, the Kaftans quickly solved the problem with the personnel.

They began to import hundreds of girls and women from Eastern Europe. Without knowing Spanish, without documents (they were taken away by pimps), unable to complain to the authorities, yesterday's immigrants turned into powerless sex slaves.

Polish immigrants in Buenos Aires

The "caftans" found their victims in the Jewish townships of Poland and Ukraine, which at that time often suffered pogroms. The malefactors had 2 main recruitment scenarios: the girl was either married to a “rich man overseas looking for a bride in his native land”, or a decent gentleman announced the recruitment of “servants for a rich Jewish family”.

To consolidate the effect, girls and their relatives were sometimes given expensive gifts. After the consent, there was only a path across the ocean and a nightmare that began for women right in the port of Buenos Aires. All documents were taken from unsuspecting "wives" and "maids", they hung large monetary debts on them and forced them to work out in local "houses of tolerance". If the victim resisted, she was severely beaten and sexually abused.

This illegal business was so profitable that the "caftans" bribed not only individual police commissioners, but entire sections. In order to finally "legalize" its activities, the Jewish mafia in 1906 founded the Varsovia ("Warsaw") Mutual Aid Society, which in 1929 was renamed Zwi Migdal ("Great Power").

As a victim of compatriots destroyed the entire Jewish mafia of Buenos Aires

All the while Raquel Lieberman was forced to make "venal love", she saved up her "tips". After 3 years, the woman gave this money to one of her regular clients, who, pretending to be the owner of a brothel from the province, was able to "outbid" Raquel from her owners. Having found freedom, the woman took her sons to Buenos Aires and opened an antique shop in the capital.

Zwi Migdal Synagogue in Buenos Aires

Everything went well until the bosses of Zwi Migdal realized that they were fooled. To the former "priestess of love" they sent a fake groom Solomon Jose Korn, who, after a beautiful courtship, became the legal husband of Raquel Lieberman. And then Korn robbed his wife and, by blackmail, forced her to return to her former craft.

Although the maintenance of brothels was allowed by Argentine law, human trafficking was considered a crime. Raquel, in an interview with Commissioner Alsogaray, told him the address of the secret headquarters of Zwi Migdal on Cordoba Street in Buenos Aires.And although the police raided and searched the luxurious mansion in May 1930, the police were unable to detain the pimps (who were warned and fled abroad), law enforcement officers found a bunch of documents in Yiddish.

Four suspects from the criminal organization Zwi Migdal

At that time, the government of General Uriburu, known for its anti-Semitic sentiments, was in power in Argentina. The press raised a fuss, and by the end of 1930, authorities had arrested over 100 Zwi Migdal members. And although almost all of them were soon released due to lack of evidence, the business of trafficking in Jewish pimps was forever destroyed in Argentina.

After all this, Raquel Lieberman planned to return with her children to Poland. She saved up savings and took care of all the paperwork. However, doctors soon diagnosed her with cancer, from which Raquel died in 1935 at the age of 34. A year before her death, in 1934, the provision of intimate services for money in Argentina was prohibited by law. This ban lasted in the country until 1954.

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