Isidor Srul Fisch (July 26, 1905 – March 29, 1934) was a German
Jewish friend and business associate of Bruno Hauptmann, from whom Hauptmann claimed
to have received a box containing gold
certificates which had earlier been used to pay a ransom in
of Charles Augustus Lindbergh jr.
born into a Jewish family in Leipzig, but
emigrated to America in
1925. Upon his arrival, he went to live with the
family of Herman Kirsten, his former boss back in Germany, and
continued to work in the fur trade as a cutter.
Isidor Fisch in a 1934 passport application
He lived in
rented rooms together with fellow German immigrants, Karl Henkel,
Gerta Henkel and Henry Uhlig. Sometimes, he earned as much as sixty
to eighty dollars a week.
well known in the German American
community of the Bronx as a very
He had approached many of the community
to invest in a variety of business schemes, most of which were
bogus. He was also involved in some small fencing operations which
included the purchasing of "hot"
money cheaply to store
and re-use later. Fisch and Hauptmann met in 1932, became friends,
and agreed to pool the risks and profits of Fisch's trade in furs
and Hauptmann's stock investments.
Coincidentally, Fisch had applied for U.S citizenship on May 12
, which was the same
day that the Lindbergh baby was found dead. On December 9
, Fisch set
sail on the ocean liner Manhattan
for a visit to Germany,
shortly after the ransom money was paid by the Lindbergh family. He
paid for his ticket with $420 worth of gold certificates that were
lent by Hauptmann. He had also purchased, with Hauptmann's money,
$600 worth of Reichsmarks.
According to Hauptmann, on December 5
, Fisch left various items, including a
shoe box in which Hauptmann claimed to have later found $14,000 in
gold certificates. One of the certificates was identified in
circulation on 18 September 1935
, although others reportedly appeared in
circulation years after Hauptmann's execution. During this period,
gold certificates were rapidly being withdrawn from circulation and
it was unusual to see one. One gold certificate used at a Bronx gas
station was traced to Hauptmann, and he was subsequently
Newspaper clip showing Fisch's relatives awaiting to testify at
During his trial, Hauptmann claimed he had discovered the money
while cleaning a closet with a leaky roof and that the leak had
made the shoe box fall apart. He took his findings to his garage
and began to dry the wet bills. He then hid them behind some wooden
boards in the garage. He figured that since he was owed $7,000, it
was okay for him to keep the money for his family. This sequence of
events, told by Hauptmann throughout the trial, was dubbed by
police and reporters as "The Fisch Story."
Throughout his trial, Hauptmann insisted that Fisch had owed him
money and he was only spending what he was owed. The defense never
convincingly tied Fisch to the crime, and the jury disregarded
Hauptmann's claims. However, to this date, a few investigators
still believe that Fisch was in fact, responsible for the
kidnapping and subsequent murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh
of tuberculosis in Leipzig, Germany in
March 29, 1934.
A Multinational police investigation of Fisch conducted by the U.S
and German police, in the aftermath of Hauptmann's arrest,
discovered that he was so poor that his parents had to regularly
send him money from his native Germany. He was constantly sick and
always virtually starving to death. An interrogation of Fisch's
brother, Pinkus Fisch, by the German police, revealed that Fisch
had never made any mention of Hauptmann prior to his death.
Moreover, Fisch's German acquaintances characterized him as a
"harmless fur trader"
Mrs. Laura Urant, the daughter of Hauptmann's landlady, told
American investigators that she had once met Fisch at a party in
Hauptmann's apartment, after which, she regularly saw him in
Hauptmann's company. Speaking of Fisch, she said: "Fisch knew
that he was plagued by an illness that would take many years to
cure. Knowing that, i do not believe that if he had a
great sum of money, he would have delayed getting the medical
attention that he so badly needed."
A police investigation into Fisch's financial records also revealed
that in 1931, Fisch had borrowed several thousand dollars to embark
in a pie-baking business that later went bankrupt. In April, 1934,
a few weeks after Fisch's death, Hauptmann wrote to his family
advising them that Fisch had left certain articles in his care. In
the letter, Hauptmann made no mention of a shoe box that Fisch had
- Jim Fisher, The Lindbergh Case. Rutgers University
Press, 1994. ISBN 0813521475
- Lloyd C. Gardner, The Case that Never Dies: The Lindbergh
Kidnapping. Rutgers University Press, 2004. ISBN