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Jewish Ritual Murder

von Hellmut Schramm, Ph. D.


a Historical Investigation

a translation by R. Belser of

Der jüdische Ritualmord
Eine historische Untersuchung

Appendix 2

Vienna (Beginning of December 1840). [2]

Herr Crémieux has departed for Paris, heaped with tributes, and especially, naturally, with evidence of the participation of the local Israelite population. Prince Metternich, as has also been the case with several high statesmen, has received with honor the defender of injured and abused humanity, which always finds protection and the warmest sympathy in the humanitarianism of our principles of government, of whatever region or religion it may be.

The community of Jews has arranged a banquet for him, in gratitude for the protection of its brothers in Beirut, and not many have been seen of equal magnificence. This took place in the Hotel of the Roman Emperor, comprised over 80 place settings, and the arrangement was designed by the women, who nevertheless declined to appear there themselves.

Before the beginning of the meal, an address of thanks of the community, which expressed the sentiments of the rescued human dignity of their co-religionists, written on parchment and read aloud by the local teacher of religion, Dr. Manheimer, was delivered to him. This was enclosed in a golden case and so abundantly set with diamonds that its value is reckoned at 14,000 Florins. The address reads:

"The community of Israelites of Vienna, enspirited by the most moving sympathy for the sacred interests and rights of their people and faith, permeated by the innermost and deep respect and admiration for the noble men of word and deed, who have ventured themselves for these interests and rights and have proven themselves in the holy, glorious struggle, grasps with eagerness the opportunity which is offered to it here, to bear witness to its most (421) profound reverence and admiration for you, most highly respected sir, you, who have put yourself in the advance rank and have wrested the laurel of victory in this the struggle.

If we admire all the more the gifts of words and the power of speech which God has lent you in fullness, the more complete and compelling its success and influence is, and God's Rule of Mercy is recognized in that He, in a time when intellect and talent have been elevated to a prevailing power, has let men arise in our ranks who are full of the divine spirit and know how to speak in truth and clarity with frankness and victorious power;

if we, in a word, admire the talent which is the foundation of your reputation, and made you the equal as an orator and advocate to the most celebrated men of your class, so we revere and honor still more the noble attitude, the sacred zeal for the Right, which has guided you so fortunately thus far in the fulfillment and practice of your godly profession and in the application of these inestimable gifts of the spirit.

You have been the representative of Right, when and where it was imperilled. You have bestowed your protection upon the powerful man, when good fortune abandoned him, and chivalrously taken on the mantle of fallen greatness.

You have entered the lists for your co-religionists, when men wished to cast doubt upon their oaths and vows and thus throw suspicion upon the faith of Israel, and you have unburdened them of shame, annihilated the last trace of disgrace which still attached to them, in the nation where all barriers had been opened to them, yet prejudice was yet unconquered, where property and law, office and dignity had been granted and conceded to the Jew, yet doubt and suspicion of his lawfulness and loyalty had not been able to be eliminated and overcome.

You have saved their honor and shown that religion began with Abraham and his tribe, which first raised its hand up to Almighty God, who has created Heaven and Earth, who fills the world and placed firmly upon it the pillars of the law, of justice and morality.

You have now crowned these noble efforts, revered Sir, and everlastingly entered your name in the annals of the history of our people, which is as old as the history of the world, by chivalrously and fraternally entering the lists for the unfortunate victims in the battle against tyranny and religious frenzy, whose frightful fate was filling not only all the tribes of Israel, but also all the men of nobility and good will in the entire world with horror and terror.

You left hearth and home, as the prophets of ancient times once did, traveled across the sea into that old land of Egypt, where plagues rage and war and discord threaten life, you have spoken before the powerful for your people and their faith, and you spoke as Moses once did to Pharaoh: 'Let go the sons of my people, who are in chains, that they may serve me!'

You have broken the chains from the hands of those in bondage, you have rescued the imprisoned from out of their captivity -- as the prophet (422) described it, a godly calling. You have returned those who were outcast to free and unbound life, you have held back the sword in its descent, which was hovering but a hair's breadth above their heads, and those whom you could not save, who departed the world under torture, and who have found their declaration of innocence and vindication in a higher world and before a more elevated seat of judgement than Man can establish... have God's blessing over you!

You have fulfilled a divine commandment, which is the most sacred thing in Israel; You have fulfilled the commandment of Love...

If the name Damascus, which is to be found listed on the first and most ancient pages of our history, has again in most recent days attained a gloomy fame and leaves behind memories which for us are as unforgettable as they are painful, so, along with it, the names of the noble fighters, who have brought an end to the struggle and have wrested the chains from those in bondage and brought the tormented to freedom, will be as immortal and unforgettable.

The self-reliance we have won again, and the joyful consciousness that wherever Israel is in need and distress, and its name shamed and its faith ostracized, God awakens for it its heroes and fighters from out of its own midst -- that consoles us for the painful experience which we have recently had, and which we had never expected in our century.

With these sentiments we greet you as one of the champions in the holy struggle. And if our voices do not reach so far that they might also reach your noble comrade-in-arms, the high-hearted Sir Moses Montefiore, toward whom we have the same admiration, may this confession [of faith, admiration, etc.], which is the first that you have received on German soil, be a testimonial for you of the esteem and recognition which your efforts and exertions have found among your German co-religionists.

We say to you, in the words of the Scriptures: Stride forth vigorously and courageously upon the trodden path -- it shall be your glory and your honor!"

At this juncture, Herr Crémieux, moved by this expression of gratitude, arose and gave an improvised speech in the French language, which, due to the beautiful themes which are the basis of its contents and the recognition which the speaker expresses for humane principles, deserves to be more universally known:

"Gentlemen, I am greatly moved, you understand this and will not wonder if words fail me to express my thoughts. I was unable to hold back my tears at the sight of this precious empathy of my co-religionists, of the immeasurable reward of such a simple, such a natural action.

I am an attorney and saw to saving the unfortunate; I am a Jew and saw to fighting religious persecution; I am a human being and saw to crushing [the use of] barbaric torture; was I allowed to hesitate without committing a crime? I did my duty and such a reward! The Israelites surround me (423) on my journey as in an endless triumphal procession.

In Corfu I was received with acclamations and by wishes for good fortune; in Trieste I was surrounded by the sweetest, most touching sympathy; in Venice the heartiest festivals were duplicated for my sake; here, at last, my heart is succumbing to the feelings with which you have intoxicated it.

I have, you tell me, carried on the sacred matter of the emancipation of the Jews before the law courts and the press; but indeed, I was defending my own hearth, and the principle of the freedom of worship, the great, noble principle which ties Heaven to the Earth, in that it permits each human being to offer to God the homage of his love according to his own belief.

I took up my pen when the slanderers spread their poison against the Jewish religion, I called upon all the sympathies of noble persons to assist me; but I felt the strength of the Good, the Right and energy of soul; would not my silence have been an unworthy cowardice?

I have defied the personal danger with which fanatical hatred and a murderous atmosphere wanted to threaten me. Having stood upright, I did not think of this danger;

I would have answered him who would have wanted to frighten me: Death is everywhere, but fortunate is he who seeks a great death! Our mission has been crowned with success; the chains have fallen;

the prisons have opened [their doors] to the tortured, their families have been restored to those who were in flight. But our cause was such a righteous one, and our right was so great! I have also founded schools in the Orient for the poor children who have been abandoned until now.

But with this, I have only the merit of having understood your thoughts and have said to myself: it is good, that the Jews of the West unite with the Jews of the East through the bond of a sacred protection, whose consequences could be immeasurable for the cause of civilization and progress in the lands of fanaticism and ignorance.

What do they, who persecute us with their bitter hatred, want with their foolish prejudices? Why do they reawaken, in this century of philosophy and enlightenment, those wretched slanders of the Middle Ages and the ridiculous superstitions of crude times?

Do not they, who, in so many countries, still stand outside the law of the peoples among whom they live, possess all the virtues of free men, when they demonstrate such explicit, such moving, such unanimous gratitude toward those who demand for them the same common rights and social freedom?

And is not the sympathy for the maliciously persecuted brothers, which was suddenly awakened, as if by an electric shock at every point on Earth, a great virtue?

Does not this Jewish population, whose heart is so full of the fine feelings of love of relatives, deserve to live among other men and to have equal standing with them? What virtue do we lack... the love of country?

(424) We French Israelites, we citizens of a free country, which has given us a fatherland, our enthusiasm is intensified in that feeling which founds a people and makes it great, and you, gentlemen, who only can dimly know that [feeling of] country, since country is the equality of rights and duties, are you not all prepared to shed your purest blood for the happiness of the ground upon which you see the light?

Ach, you shall attain it, gentlemen, one day you shall obtain this precious fatherland, this life-within-life! And those, who will be able to call you their fellow- citizens, will see whether your hearts are not at one with their hearts.

Indeed, Jews of Austria, you will get the fatherland, for in that memorable affair of Damascus, Austria has shown that it knows no distinction of faith, when humanity speaks.

Austria was first to extend a helping hand to the oppressed. Ach, its power did not reach so far as to be able to restore to life those whom torture had murdered, but it stepped between the executioner and those victims whose death had been decided; it noble-mindedly protested against the bloody proceedings.

With joy I -- I, a Frenchman - call out in this capital city of the Austrian Imperial State: Honor to Austria! Honor to you, Prince Metternich, whose active as well as generous power covered like a shield those who were languishing beyond the sea; Honor to you -- you, who demonstrated a sublime spirit and an exalted philosophy in this final struggle of prejudice against reason, and unfolded the banner of humanity before the eyes of the world, without consideration for politics, which always is so foreign to justice!

The General Consul Laurin, who found in his own heart an abhorrence for injustice and first brought the light of his clear reason and the dedication of his noble heart into this bloody drama, has also shown himself to be worthy of you... Honor also to Merlato, who struggled even to the final day at the scene of the horrible executions, [3] and did not fear to unveil all secrets of this work of darkness, and with tireless zeal opened himself to the ideas of the General Consul. Let his name be for us a revered name!

Gentlemen, the Press, too, has forcefully supported us, the German, the French, the English Press; it dealt the most powerful blows to religious intolerance. The Press has its torches: the light terrifies fanaticism and persecution... the martyrs of Damascus will be our last martyrs.

The West is making incursions into the East with its civilization, not merely in matters of political questions, but also in social issues, as a guarantee of the future of the peoples. Thank you, gentlemen, a thousand thanks for (425) this precious pledge of your esteem, your friendship! I shall keep it as a precious treasure, as a legacy for my beloved son... "

The cheering of those present was boundless, and with great enthusiasm toasts were offered to the Kaiser and the whole Imperial House, to the Prince State Chancellor, to the Consuls of the Great Powers, etc., who rendered assistance in this affair of justice and humanity, and the celebration was inscribed inextinguishably in the emotions of the Israelites by its many significant features.

Fürth, 4 December 1840. [4]

At the arrival of Herr Crémieux on 2 December in Nuremberg, a deputation of the local Israelites left to show him honor and to invite him to a celebratory meal. The representatives of the local congregation solemnly received him. At the banquet the Rabbi, Dr. Löwi, gave an address of thanks, which he delivered to him, together with the book of Esther, in a beautiful manuscript in an antique case...

Frankfurt a. M.

Manifold evidence of respect and reverence for the celebrated advocate of innocence and advancer of civilization was also produced at this local setting... On 7 December Herr. C. Kann assembled a close circle of friends and admirers of the celebrated man at a dinner at the end of which Herr Crémieux visited the lodge of the Frankfurt Eagle [5] and attended till late at night the hurriedly arranged supper. The Society of the Frankfurt Eagle delivered to him 1000 florins as a voluntary contribution for the Crémieux School in Cahira...

Herr Crémieux also honored our Bürgerschule [a school roughly equivalent to grades 5 - 10] and Realschule [upper grade elementary school] with his presence and attended some classes. Finally, a fine banquet should be mentioned, which the Society of the Rising Dawn arranged to (426) celebrate the noble fighter and at which about 100 guests were present. In the gloriously decorated hall memorial tablets were displayed, which detailed the main events of his dynamic life....

With genuine friendliness, many accompanied the celebrated man to his quarters, in front of which a brilliant serenade by the members of the Society of the Frankfurt Eagle was prepared in his honor.

Copyright 2001 by R. Belser. Reproduction in whole or in part without express written permission of the translator is not permitted. All rights reserved.

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