Hollywood’s Spies

The Undercover Surveillance of Nazis in Los Angeles

320 pages

18 halftones

September, 2017

ISBN: 9781479855179



Add to Cart Available: 8/18/2017

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Laura B. Rosenzweig, PhD is an independent scholar.  She has taught U.S. History and American Jewish History at the University of California, Santa Cruz and at San Francisco State University.  She is currently an instructional designer for the University of California, Office of the President.

All books by Laura B. Rosenzweig

Finalist, Celebrate 350 Award in American Jewish Studies

Tells the remarkable story of the Jewish moguls in Hollywood who established the first anti-Nazi Jewish resistance organization in the country in the 1930s
In April 1939, Warner Brothers studios released the first Hollywood film to confront the Nazi threat in the United States.  Confessions of a Nazi Spy, starring Edward G. Robinson, told the story of German agents in New York City working to overthrow the U.S. government.  The film alerted Americans to the dangers of Nazism at home and encouraged them to defend against it.
Confessions of a Nazi Spy may have been the first cinematic shot fired by Hollywood against Nazis in America, but it by no means marked the political awakening of the film industry’s Jewish executives to the problem.  Hollywood’s Spies tells the remarkable story of the Jewish moguls in Hollywood who paid private investigators to infiltrate Nazi groups operating in Los Angeles, establishing the first anti-Nazi Jewish resistance organization in the country—the Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee (LAJCC).
Drawing on more than 15,000 pages of archival documents, Laura B. Rosenzweig offers a compelling narrative illuminating the role that Jewish Americans played in combating insurgent Nazism in the United States in the 1930s.  Forced undercover by the anti-Semitic climate of the decade, the LAJCC partnered with organizations whose Americanism was unimpeachable, such as the American Legion, to channel information regarding seditious Nazi plots to Congress, the Justice Department, the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Hollywood’s Spies corrects the decades-long belief that American Jews lacked the political organization and leadership to assert their political interests during this period in our history and reveals that the LAJCC was one of many covert "fact finding" operations funded by Jewish Americans designed to root out Nazism in the United States.


  • "Laura B. Rosenzweig provides a different perspective on a complex topic [namely, how Leon Lewis, a Los Angeles attorney who happened to be Jewish, organized the LAJCC...and filed meticulous reports on pro-Nazi activities.]"

    Western States Jewish History

  • "The product of over a decade of research, this book documents the work of the Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee in infiltrating and combating Nazi groups in Los Angeles between 1934 and 1941.The LAJCC findings quoted here will surprise readers in showing how extensive and active pro-Nazi groups were in Southern California. Rosenzweig has produced a fine, very-well-documented study."

    Publishers Weekly

  • "Hollywood's Spies has a good story to tell."

    The Weekly Standard

  • "A remarkable tale...Hollywood moguls did not speak out publicly against Nazi Germany, but Ms. Rosenzweig's book show[s] that they did take vigorous action against the Nazi threat."

    Wall Street Journal

  • "Reveal[s] the hitherto untold story of Jewish resistance to Nazi infiltration, not in Berlin or Warsaw but in Los Angeles during the 1930s, a time when Nazism, a distant rumble on the horizon for most Americans, was for tens of thousands of others a siren call to action."

    Chronicle of Higher Education

  • "Hollywood's Spies expose[s] a buried story about underground plots waged by Nazis against major Hollywood figures as part of a plan to win over the United States. The quiet heroism of Lewis and his allies is a too-long-neglected tale about the power of volunteers and activist citizens to make a difference in frightening times."

    Los Angeles Review of Books

  • "Hollywood’s Spies is a very insightful book...[It] fills several holes in our knowledge of Nazi operations on the US soil and Hollywood."

    The Washington Book Review

  • “It is rather remarkable that a story that has waited 80 years to be told should be the focus of two books released within a month of each other. But we are fortunate that this story has finally emerged and that it has been related so capably.”


  • "If you have little interest in intrigue, history, and unearthing new worlds, then by all means read no further.  If, however, you want to read a vitally important story, skillfully written by a new and gifted voice in the world of modern Jewish history, then pull up a chair and begin.  You are in for an exciting ride!"

    —Rabbi David Woznica, Stephen Wise Temple

  • "Laura Rosenzweig uncovers a fascinating history of systematic Jewish efforts to infiltrate pro-Nazi organizations in Los Angeles in the 1930s. She tells the story with verve and vigor, raising important questions about American Jewish political activism in the years leading up to the Holocaust."

    —Deborah Dash Moore, author of Jewish New York: The Remarkable Story of a City and a People

  • "A welcome new voice in the world of Jewish writing and scholarship, Laura Rosenzweig has produced a book that tells a virtually unknown story and that deserves to be told, the struggle by American Jews to infiltrate and discredit pro-Nazi antisemites. Rosenzweig is a gifted storyteller and the story she tells in Hollywood's Spies is an important one."

    —Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Jewish Literacy

  • "Expertly mining a previously unexplored treasure trove of covert reports, Laura Rosenzweig’s carefully researched monograph sheds new light on Berlin-sponsored pro-Nazi activity in America and on the daring defense work of one American Jewish organization in response to that activity. Rosenzweig carefully documents the Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee’s extensive undercover surveillance of hostile groups in Southern California and provides a brilliant analysis of its impact on national perceptions of the domestic pro-Nazi menace. Demonstrating the active role of Jewish Hollywood moguls and detailing the cloak-and-dagger exploits of individual informants, Rosenzweig adds a new dimension to our understanding of American Jewish responses to domestic antisemitism."

    —Ellen Eisenberg, author of The First to Cry Down Injustice? Western Jews and Japanese Removal During WWII