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Assassination Attempt on President Roosevelt

John Simkin

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I have always been puzzled by the attempt to assassinate Franklin D. Roosevelt. The assassin, Guiseppe Zangara, was known to have developed a strong hatred of President Herbert Hoover, who he blamed for his problems caused by the Great Depression. However, Roosevelt had just defeated Hoover and was of course not responsible for anything suffered by Zangara.

On 13th February, 1933, Zangara read that Roosevelt was to visit Bayfront Park on 15th February, 1933. Zangara bought a .32 caliber pistol and joined the crowd. As he was only 5 feet tall, Zangara had difficulty seeing his proposed victim. He climbed on top of an old unstable wooden chair and started to fire. One bullet hit Anton Cermak the major of Chicago who was with Roosevelt. Four members of the crowd were also injured but none of the bullets hit the president. Roosevelt comforted Cermak who had suffered an abdominal wound. On the way to the hospital Cermak told Roosevelt, "I'm glad it was me and not you, Mr. President." Cermak died three days later and Zangara was executed on 20th March, 1933. This seems very quick and suggests a cover-up.

Some political commentators such as Walter Winchell believed that Cermak was the real target. It was argued that Al Capone or Bill Thompson had hired Zangara to assassinate Cermak. However, a FBI investigation concluded that Zangara was a mentally deranged loner and was not involved in any conspiracy to kill Cermak.




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"However, a FBI investigation concluded that Zangara was a mentally deranged loner and was not involved in any conspiracy to kill Cermak"

I will take that as confirmation that it was a hit on Cermak.

At the time that this happened, there was open warfare betwen the Outfit and Cermak. Not only was Cermak in the beer business, with Chicago police guarding the delivery trucks, but Cermak had sent two Chicago cops to kill Frank Nitti. When Nitti survived, revenge was certain.

Among the books that detail the hit is 'The OUTFIT' by Russo. Zangara apparently was deranged, and already in big trouble with 'the boys'. The story is offered that he knew he was going to be killed anyway, so he performed the hit on Cermak in return for compensation for his family.

I have also heard a similar story from my grandfather, who actually knew Cermak and was a fellow Bohemian. The country, not the lifestyle.

I have also read that Tony Accardo was one of the people who had copies of the intimate photographs of Edna and Clyde, so the idea of an FBI coverup doesn't seem farfetched.

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