My Father's Diary of The Great Depression



Daniel B. Roth is Chairman of the Youngstown, Ohio, law firm of Roth, Blair, Roberts, Strasfeld & Lodge, LPA; and also chairman of McDonald Steel Corp. He was co-editor of The Great Depression: A Diary, Public Affairs, 2009.

By Daniel B. Roth

“I’m proud to be your grandson.”

These words, expressed by one of my six grandchildren at my recent 80th birthday celebration, really choked me up because I know that it was a direct result of the publication of my father’s diary. My father, Benjamin Roth, was a 35-year-old lawyer in Youngstown, Ohio, when the stock market crashed in October 1929. At first, he paid little attention to the crash because he had never invested in the market. However, by June 1931 he realized that the country was facing a major financial crisis, and he began writing a financial diary of what became known as the Great Depression. This was not a “diary” in the usual sense because he didn’t discuss family and friends. Instead, as he wrote in his initial entry on June 5, 1931:

For the first time in my personal business life, I am witnessing a major financial crisis. I am anxious to learn the lessons of this Depression. To the man past middle life it spells tragedy and disaster. But to those of us in the middle 30s, it may be a school of experience out of which some worthwhile lesson may be salvaged. With this thought in mind, I am going to write down brief accounts of developments as they occur from time to time.

When he wrote that, he had no idea that the Depression would last for a decade. Likewise, he couldn’t have foreseen that he would be analyzing the financial ramifications of the New Deal, nor did he realize the impact that his diary would have on future generations. As I re-read the diary, I clearly recognize the great impact that it has had on my life and how it has helped shape my basic beliefs. I share his faith in this country and his belief in our capitalistic system, as well as his fear of the government creating an unwieldy amount of debt that could result in serious inflation.

When growing up, neither my siblings nor I knew that my father was writing the diary. However, when I joined my father in the practice of law in 1956, my first assignment was to study his diary so that I could gain insight into the Depression mentality of his clientele. Reading it made a tremendous impression on me, and I was amazed by my parents’ strength in raising three children during a time when they were uncertain as to how to keep food on the table. Even more, I remain deeply impressed by my father’s ability to have studiously and objectively analyzed the great financial issues of those years. In re-reading his diary, I see a very bright and honorable man with an intense desire to understand the economic crisis and to learn how to protect oneself during such difficult times. His diary has provided me with a front row seat on the history of the Great Depression.

At times, he became quite emotional. On Oct. 17, 1931, he wrote:

As I bring to a close the first volume of my personal observations on the Depression, I must breathe deeply and pinch myself to be sure I am awake and not dreaming... It is all unreal to me. Each day I move about in a dream. I feel as tho I am experiencing a historic thing which will be long remembered. So far, I have not been badly hurt personally—we are all well—I still have faith in Youngstown and in the United States in spite of the dire prophecies that are heard on every side! Somehow it all reminds me of the war days of 1917-18 when with bated breath we asked "What next?"

On other occasions, he wrote positive sentiments. For example, on June 23, 1932 (the very bottom of the depression), he wrote:

These are stirring days and in spite of our troubles it is good to be alive. I am reminded often of the days of the world war when families and businesses were mercilessly uprooted and broken. It is same today. Fundamentals are being changed and new foundations are being placed for what we all hope will be a new era of prosperity.

He also developed strong opinions concerning efforts by the government to end the Depression. On March 1, 1938, he wrote:

After eight years of "pump priming" and other trick methods of bringing back prosperity, it is my conclusion that none of them are any good. In our capitalistic system, we must let the forces of competition and demand and supply work things out in a natural way. No man or group of men is smart enough to control prices or supply and demand or currency in a nation as large as ours.

Shortly before his death in 1978, my father gave me his diary and asked me to some day edit and publish his work; and although I promised I would, it was not until my son Bill (a money manager in New York) urged me to do so that I began editing the diary with the help of James Ledbetter, the editor of The Big Money, a web magazine on business and economics. The book was published by Public Affairs last October with the title, The Great Depression: A Diary. As a result, people from all over America have sent me correspondence telling me about their families’ experiences during the Depression. In many cases, they expressed fear that we are currently in another Depression with massive federal debt creation that will be followed by serious inflation.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude to my father for providing me and future generations with his detailed history of the Great Depression. His diary has become a window to the past and a link among four generations in my family.

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Daniel B. Roth is Chairman of the Youngstown, Ohio, law firm of Roth, Blair, Roberts, Strasfeld & Lodge, LPA; and also chairman of McDonald Steel Corp. He was co-editor of The Great Depression: A Diary, Public Affairs, 2009.


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On the radio program Tuesday, Glenn Beck broke down today's inflation, explaining what it is and giving proof that those at the top — politicians and world elite — continue to take advantage of our declining economy to advance their own agenda. He also revealed how a recent decision by Citibank and powerful investment management company, BlackRock, not only puts the U.S. further behind but also allows for China to gain worldwide control.

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For the first time in the history of "The Glenn Beck Program," former President Donald Trump joined Glenn to give his take on America's direction under President Joe Biden compared to his own administration. He explained why Biden's horrific Afghanistan withdrawal was "not even a little bit" like his plan, and why he thinks it was "the most embarrassing event in the history of our country."

Plus, the former president gave his opinion on China's potential takeover of Bagram Air Base, the Pakistani Prime Minister, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Glenn asked President Trump how similar the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan was to his administration's plan.

"Not even a little bit," Trump answered. "We had a great plan, but it was a very tenuous plan. It was based on many conditions. For instance, you can't kill American soldiers. ... You have to understand, I did want to get out. But I wanted to get out with dignity, and I wanted to take our equipment out. And I didn't want soldiers killed. ... What [Biden] did was just indefensible. He took the military out first and he left all the people. And then we became beggars to get the people out. I had a plan to get them out very quickly. But first, the Americans would go out."

Trump told Glenn that his plan included maintaining Bagram Air Base and explained why he would not have left "a single nail" behind in Afghanistan for the Taliban to seize.

"We were going to keep Bagram open," he explained. "We were never going to close that because, frankly, Bagram is more about China than it is about Afghanistan. It was practically on the other border of China. And now we've lost that. And you know who is taking it over? China is taking it over. We spend $10 billion to build that base. It's got the longest, most powerful runways in the world. And China has now got its representatives there and it looks like they'll take it over. Glenn, it's not believable what's happened. You know, they have Apache helicopters. These are really expensive weapons, and they have 28 of them. And they're brand-new. The latest model."

Glenn mentioned recent reports that Gen. Milley, America's top military officer, made "secret phone calls" to his counterpart in China while President Trump was in office.

"I learned early on that he was a dope," Trump said of Gen. Milley. "He made a statement to me — and I guarantee that's what happened to Biden — because I said, 'We're getting out of Afghanistan. We have to do it.' And I said, 'I want every nail. I want every screw. I want every bolt. I want every plane. I want every tank. I want it all out, down to the nails, screws, bolts ... I want every single thing. And he said, 'Sir, it's cheaper to leave it than it is to bring it.'

"The airplane might have cost $40 million, $50 million ... millions and millions of dollars. So, you think it's cheaper to leave it than to have 200 pilots fly over and fly all the equipment out? ... I said, you've got to be nuts. I mean, give me a tank of gas and a pilot and I just picked up a $40 million-dollar airplane. It was amazing. So, I learned early that this guy is a dope. But what he did, is he hurt our country ... and he shouldn't have been allowed to do it. And bad things should happen to him."

Watch the video clip below to catch more of the conversation or find the full interview on BlazeTV:


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In a shocking but underreported conversation ahead of the G7 Speakers' meeting in London last week, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitted that the administration knows China is committing "genocide" against the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region, but thinks working with the regime on climate change is more important.

On the radio program, an outraged Glenn Beck dissected Pelosi's speech and broke down how — along with the Biden administration's abandonment of Americans in Afghanistan, and the Democrat decision to follow measures of medical "equity" — the far left is revealing how little they really care about human life.

Glenn played a video clip of Pelosi making the following statement:

We've always felt connected to China, but with their military aggression in the South China Sea, with their continuation of genocide with the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province there, with their violation of the cultural, linguistic, religious priority of Tibet, with their suppression of democracy in Hong Kong and other parts of China, as well – they're just getting worse in terms of suppression, and freedom of speech. So, human rights, security, economically [sic].

Having said all of that ... we have to work together on climate. Climate is an overriding issue and China is the leading emitter in the world, the U.S. too and developed world too, but we must work together.

"We have Nancy Pelosi admitting the United States of America knows that they're not only committing [genocide], they're continuing to commit it. Which means, we've known for a while," Glenn noted. "And what does she say? She goes on to say, yes, they're committing genocide against the Uyghurs, but having said that, I'm quoting, 'the overriding issue,' is working together on climate change.

"Would we have worked with Hitler on climate change? Would we have worked with Hitler on developing the bomb? Would we have worked with Hitler on developing the Autobahn? Would we have worked with Hitler on his socialized medicine? Would we have worked with Hitler on any of his national, socialist ideas?" he asked.

"The answer is no. No. When you're committing genocide, no! She said 'we have to work together on climate,' because climate is the 'overriding issue.' The overriding issue? There is no way to describe this mindset. That, yes, they are killing an entire group of people because of their ethnicity or religion. They are systematically rounding them up, using them for slave labor, and killing them, using their organs and selling them on the open market. They are nothing more than cattle. For us to recognize it and do nothing about it is bad enough. But to say, 'we recognize it, but we have bigger things to talk to them about,' is a horror show."

Glenn went on to urge Americans to "stand up together in love, peace, and harmony," or risk watching our nation become the worst plague on human life yet.

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The fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008 marked the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history and economic collapse was felt throughout the world. But now China's own version of Lehman Brothers, Evergrande, is teetering closer and closer to that edge, too. On the radio program Thursday, Glenn Beck gave the latest update and predicted how it will affect Asian markets and what it could mean for America's economy.

Glenn explained why he believes a major collapse that is happening now in China will have a cascading effect into a "controlled collapse," a managed decline that will dramatically change America's economy and the way we all live.

"You will not recognize your lifestyle. Hear me," Glenn warned. "And that's not a right-left thing. That's a right-wrong thing. We're on the wrong track. I'm telling you now, there's new information and you are not going to recognize the American lifestyle. ... It could happen tomorrow. It could happen in five years from now, but it will happen. We are headed for a very different country. One where you don't have the rights that you have. And you certainly don't have the economic privileges that Americans are used to."

"The same thing that happened in 2008 is now happening in China," Glenn continued. "This time, it's going to take everything down. When it collapses, it will take everything down."

Watch the video below to hear Glenn break down the details:

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