Just over a century ago, on Aug. 25, 1913, a Georgia jury found factory superintendent Leo Frank guilty of the horrific murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, whose strangled corpse was found in the basement of Atlanta’s National Pencil Company, which Frank ran. Frank, who was 29 at the time, was said to have flirted with the young girl and was supposedly the last person to see her alive. A jury sentenced him to death for the crime.
In 1915, Georgia’s governor, citing concerns about a miscarriage of justice, commuted Frank’s sentence. Soon after that, a mob calling itself the “Knights of Mary Phagan” kidnapped Frank from prison and lynched him.
The Frank case reawakened the Ku Klux Klan, sparking its so-called “second era,” and inspired a wave anti-Semitic sentiment. And though Frank was posthumously pardoned in 1986, 100 years after the fact, his case remains a cause célèbre among American anti-Semites. In August, The Jewish Daily Forward published a groundbreaking article exploring the modern Leo Frank propaganda industry and the websites it has produced.
Most serious historians of the period have concluded that Leo Frank, a Jewish man who ran an Atlanta pencil factory, was innocent of the 1913 murder of a 13-year-old girl for which he was lynched. But that hasn’t stopped websites run by neo-Nazis from pronouncing him guilty — and typical of the Jewish “race.” BETTMANN/CORBIS IMAGES
Mount Carmel Cemetery in Queens, N.Y., grave site of Leo Frank.
As the Forward noted, most anti-Semitic sites dedicated to Frank are registered anonymously. On the 100th anniversary of Phagan’s death, The American Mercury, a resurrected and deeply anti-Semitic online version of H. L. Mencken’s defunct magazine of the same name, published an article by the apparently pseudonymous Bradford L. Huie titled, “100 Reasons Leo Frank is Guilty,” which has been widely reposted on white nationalist Internet forums.