1930s >> 1938 >> no-405-may-1938

Death of Moses Baritz

At the early age of 54, Comrade Moses Baritz has passed on. The majority of those years have been spent in the Socialist movement. He was a personality in the real sense. turbulent, impatient, yet a diligent student and great scholar. A good friend and comrade but a bitter and relentless political opponent, and many political ornaments on both sides of the Atlantic have wilted under the last of his invective, which was supported by a comprehensive knowledge of Socialism.

By profession a musician he was compelled while still in his ‘teens to relinquish his position as clarinet player in an orchestra on account of serious myopia.

For some years he knocked about without any settled plan. During this period he heard a Socialist holding forth in Stevenson Square, Manchester. As a Tory, he resented the speaker attacking capitalism. An argument ensued and Moses lost both the discussion and his Toryism. His temperament was such that to be beaten fairly in discussion could only have one result. He bacame a convert to Socialism.

Moses Baritz made more than one journey to America, where he made a reputation as a convincing speaker and a brilliant exponent of scientific Socialism. His last trip to the U.S.A. became a world tour—largely involuntary. In 1918 he was arrested and confined in the Immigration Station at Seattle, Wash. It is interesting to note in passing that the American interpretation of democracy at this period did not provide for the formulation of any charges, arrest, detention and ultimate release depending largely on the whim of a few officials.

The writer was arrested and confined in the same building. A political and personal friendship had commenced which has overcome many obstacles and has been terminated only by death.

About September, 1918, Moses was given permission to leave the U.S.A. and he sailed for the Antipodes. His reception there was marked by hostility verging on persecution, and before long he was on the move again. He discovered on his arrival in South Africa that his reputation as a Socialist propagandist had preceded him. The quantity of malicious venom levelled at him proved insurmountable and he landed in England again during the latter half of 1920.

A few years of poverty followed, during his sole income depended on the proceeds of musical lectures illustrated with gramophone records. These lectures were delivered mainly to proletarian audiences and he introduced a class of music that has survived the competition of musical shoddy.

A well-known recording company, appreciating his musical knowledge and recognising his analytical faculties, engaged his services. In the early days of broadcasting he was on the air regularly lecturing on music. Good English and a clear pronunciation were insufficient to survive the demand for an Oxford accent, and Moses bade adieu to the microphone.

His health began to deteriorate about three years ago and he passed through several severe illnesses in the meantime. Nevertheless, no call on his services were ignored and only a few months ago he made his last bow to a Socialist audience at a Bloomsbury meeting, when he concluded his lecture in a state of collapse.

The announcement of his death occasions no surprise to his friends, but it is a painful shock and a great loss. The Socialist Party and the Manchester branch in particular has lost one of its most able and sincere advocates.

T. Rimmer