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      THE Jews have been historically useful to Western man, providing him with a handy vehicle for hooliganism, statecraft, and righteous orthodoxy against the race of Antichrist. Europe's Jews in the early Middle Ages were relatively better off than in other periods-before and since-and suffered only spasmodic frenzies of persecution which, being capricious rather than calculated, died out as quickly as they had begun. Although Jews were shunned by Christians as dabblers in the black arts and assassins of the Redeemer, they were generally left to their own devices such as money-lending, an occupation forbidden to Christians as Scripturally unjustifiable.

      Unfortunately for the Jews, however, in the latter half of the eleventh century, infidel hordes from hither Asia began pressing hard on the flanks of Eastern Europe.

      By 1096 these descendants of Attila, known as Seljuk Turks, had overrun all of Asia Minor, threatening at any moment to burst into Europe itself. Worst of all, they had seized the Holy City of Jerusalem, polluting the Purple Blood of the Lamb with their unclean Mohammedan abominations, as Western holy men liked to put it. West Europeans responded to the Saracen threat with a series of military expeditions to the East which ultimately came to be known to Christian posterity as the Crusades to the Holy Land.

      To stimulate enthusiasm for the Crusades, preaching friars, hermits, and other persons of undoubted sanctity travelled about Europe enumerating the virtues of exterminating the Infidel and exhorting the Faithful to take up arms against the Saracen host. The precarious toleration accorded the Jews in Europe quickly dissolved in the universal excitement created by the prospect of a Holy War. If it was a pious necessity to destroy infidels in the deserts of Asia, why should they be permitted to blaspheme the Savior at home? Peter the "Venerable, " abbot of the great French monastery at Cluny, in urging Louis VII of France to undertake the second crusade, spoke for a whole generation:

     Of what use is it. (he wrote) to go forth to seek the enemies of Christendom in different lands. if the blasphemous Jews, who are much worse than the Saracens, are permitted in our very midst to scorn


with impunity at Christ and the sacrament! The Saracen at least believes as we do that Christ was born of a virgin, and yet he is execrable. since he denies the incarnation. How much more these Jews who disbelieve everything. and mock at everything! Yet I do not require you to put to death these accursed beings.. because it is written, "Do not slay them." God does not wish to annihilate them. but like Cain, "the fratricide, they must be made to suRer fearful torments. and be preserved for greater ignominy, for an existence more bitter than death. They are dependent, miserable and terror-stricken, and must remain in that state until they are converted to the Savior. You ought not to kill them, but to afflict them in a manner befitting their baseness.

      If God had no desire to annihilate the Jews, as the Venerable Peter said, some of His flock did. The two centuries of the Crusades against the Saracens of Asia were paralleled by continuing massacres of the Jews of Europe. In the very first year of the Holy Wars, hordes of self - styled crusaders in Germany began the work of purification by wiping out the Jewish communities of Treves, Speyer, Worms, Mainz, and Cologne. In two months some twelve thousand Jews are estimated to have been killed, while thousands of others saved themselves by accepting Christian baptism.

      Crusaders from all countries soon caught the fever and warmed up for the Saracens by destroying Jewish communities in the path of their march eastward. The Jews back home fared no better. A body of crusaders assembled in Aquitania attacked a number of Jewish


communities throughout southern France, offering their inhabitants the alternatives of Christian baptism or infidel death. When the bulk of the Jews rejected the Cross, the crusaders trampled them beneath the hoofs of their horses, a popular method used against the Saracens in the Holy Land. Then they burned down the Jews' houses and built great bonfires with their sacred books. During one wild summer, some three thousand Jews perished in southern France, and five hundred were "converted" to Christianity.

      In England the Jews were relatively undisturbed until the Lion - Hearted crusader, Richard I, ascended the throne in 1189. On the day of Richard's coronation, the London mob celebrated by looting and burning Jewish homes, murdering their inhabitants, and sacking the London synagogue. The following year, while Richard was chasing infidels in Asia, his subjects were rooting them out at home. Mobs attacked the Jewish communities in several English towns, the greatest violence taking place at York. There the terrified Jews held out for six days against a besieging army of rabble, sometime crusaders, and clergy. When all hope of resistance was gone they slew one another to avoid falling into the hands of the Faithful.

      In the years which followed, public massacres in England increased in fury. Fifteen hundred Jews were killed during the celebration of Easter Week in London. In Northampton a rumor that the Jews there had crucified a Christian child brought bloody retribution when a number of suspects were torn apart by horses and their remains distributed about the town square.


     Meanwhile, Parliament was grinding out new restrictions against the Jews and the Crown was prying money from them for "reasons of state," which led a contemporary cynic to observe that the Jews of England were being treated like their ancestors in Egypt, except that they were required to furnish gold instead of bricks. The end finally came in 1290 when Edward I expelled all Jews from the realm. The edict of expulsion met with popular approval, and certainly won the admiration of the Italian bankers who replaced the Jews as money-lenders to the English Crown.

      The French seemed to have trouble making up their minds about expelling the Jews of that country. A royal edict of 1181 banned all Jews from Paris and its environs. The Hebrew problem still plagued the rest of the .country however. A few years after the purging of Paris, King Philip Augustus had to burn upwards of a hundred Jews at the town of Bray because, rumor had it, they had avenged themselves on a man who murdered a Jew by crowning the culprit with thorns and then hanging him. The Jews were expelled from all of France in 1306, but the law was not strictly enforced and was rescinded nine years later. Soon after that, the French Jews were caught up in one of those spontaneous "crusades" which had lately been flaring up among the rustics of Western Europe. On this particular occasion, a band of forty thousand sheepherders, led by a local prophet whose heavenly visions guaranteed him and his followers sure victory over the Saracens, decided to get in some practice against their Jewish neighbors before embarking for the Holy Land. They marched through France, a swarm of avenging angels in buckskin and pitchfork, burning and


killing as they went. At Verdun, where some five hundred Jews took refuge in the city's fortress, the sheepmen-crusaders stormed the tower and slaughtered all those who had not wisely committed suicide. Similar massacres followed in Bordeaux, Gascogne, Toulouse, and other towns in the south of France. Before this preliminary crusade was over, more than one hundred and twenty Jewish congregations had been destroyed. Whereas England and France had some semblance of national organization in the person of the Crown, Germany in the Middle Ages was a disorganized political hodgepodge of several hundred petty feudal principalities and independent towns. Consequently the persecutions there lacked overall direction or sanction, and varied with the moods and circumstances of local governments. But what the Germans lacked in organization they made up for in enthusiasm. The domestic battalions of the third crusade, made up mostly of God -fearing peasants, marched on Jewish communities from the Rhine River all the way to Vienna. Some years later, during a disorderly interval between the death of one German emperor and the disputed election of his successor, Jews were slain by the thousands in Coblenz, Erfurt and Sinzig. In the latter city all the members of the congregation were burned alive while celebrating the Sabbath in the synagogue, and public - spirited citizens assumed the title of "Judenbreter" ("Jew-Roaster"), vying with one another over the number of Jews they had ignited with their own hands.

      At Rottingen, in Franconia, the natives were stirred by the appearance in their midst of a Jew-killer named


Rindfleisch. Like others of his breed, he had received an appointment from Heaven to wipe out the accursed race of Moses. It did not take him long to recruit an army of crusaders among the good folk of Rottingen, which began its work by rounding up all the Jews in town and setting fire to them. From Rottingen the crusaders marched on other towns in need of cleansing, the ranks of their army growing constantly. Everywhere they went the most exciting slaughter followed. The Jewish quarter at Willzburg. which had pulled itself together again after being worked over by earlier crusaders, was this time destroyed for good. At Nuremberg, where the Jews took refuge in the town fortress, their resistance was overcome in a series of bloody assaults and they were all butchered on the spot. Elsewhere in Germany other inspired leaders operating under celestial orders led armies of holy avengers throughout Bavaria and into Austria. For seven months the orgy continued. By the time it spent itself, more than one hundred and forty Jewish congregations, comprising one hundred thousand persons, had been swept away.

      When the Crusades were over and the enthusiasm for killing infidels had been dissipated by the attractions of a revived trade and commerce, a new disaster fell upon the Jews. Trading ships from the East, infested by rats, brought with them the terrible Black Death. Within two years (1348-1349) bubonic plague carried off one fourth of the people of Western Europe and so dislocated every phase of life that it even forced the French and English to settle for a temporary peace in their dreary Hundred Years War.


     As the number of deaths grew, it became increasingly obvious that the plague was a diabolical Jewish plot to wipe out the entire Christian population of the West. Confessions wrung from a handful of Jewish "conspirators" on the torture racks at Geneva verified the general conviction: the Black Death had originated with the Jews of Spain, who had a deep knowledge of the occult arts. In Toledo, the center of Jewish learning, specialists in black magic were brewing poisons made from spiders, frogs and lizards, or as some of the more sophisticated versions had it, from the hearts of Christians combined with the dough of consecrated Communion wafers. From there the poison was shipped to Jews all over Europe, convoyed by secret agents bearing instructions for its most effective use. Local Jews, skulking about in the dead of night, poured the poison into rivers, brooks and wells from which Christians obtained their water.

      The therapy for the Black Death, therefore, was to kill Jews. The results were so appalling that one's sense of the awful character of the which followed is blunted by their sheer quantity. A few samples will suffice. In numerous cities the entire Jewish congregations of men, women and were burned alive. The city fathers of Basle built a large house on an in the Rhine, herded all local Jews into it and burned it down to the ground. Four hundred Jews at Worms, and two thousand at Strassburg, died in flames. The Jewish colonies of Oppenheim an.d Frankfurt committed mass suicide to escape their enemies. Rioting mobs in Mainz stoned, pummelled and stamped to death nearly six thousand Jews. In Vienna all the members of the


congregation killed themselves in the synagogue. Before the Black Death had passed, the same drama had out to the same disgraceful climax all over Europe. A popular accompaniment to these orgies of persecution was the growth of the legend of the Jewish Ritual Murder. The modern psychoanalyst, probing into the dark corners of the mind, might cast some light on the origins of such legends as this one. Our own lack of sophistication in the subtleties of psychological investigation, however, restricts us to more commonplace speculations. In the historical memory of the race, there were in the Middle Ages (and still are today) certain residual impressions of barbaric rituals from the ancient past. Such rituals had their "practical" purpose: to placate the gods, to wheedle some special favor from them, or to fortify oneself against present and future dangers from a capricious Mother Nature or hostile demons. With the advance of civilization and the apparent desire for more socially acceptable methods to achieve the same the ancient practices were discarded in favor of less strenuous pastimes like knocking on wood and dancing around a maypole. Nonetheless, the memories of ancient science were still strong in the Middle Ages, and while no respectable person practiced such things, respectable people attributed them to their enemies. The Jewish Ritual Murder, which is one illustration of this habit, is an interesting compound of several elements of savage practices from the dim past.

      Human sacrifice was an almost universal custom in early times. Adult victims, especially criminals and prisoners of war, were sometimes used, but children


were more popular. Young maidens were the special favorites of unfriendly dragons, while little boys were useful for a wide variety of purposes. In ancient Greece the kings of Thessaly sacrificed their first son to Zeus. Their Hebrew counterparts, according to Philo of Byblus, sacrificed their sons in times of danger to propitiate the avenging demons. The Old Testament relates how King Mesha of Moab effected the withdrawal of a besieging army of Israelites by delivering up his son as a burnt offering on the town walls. Abraham was on the point of sacrificing his only son Isaac when an Angel of the Lord stayed his upraised knife at the last moment. A legendary king of Sweden sought immortality by offering his nine sons to Odin in exchange for a little more time, and in medieval Europe everybody knew that witches improved their own standing with the Prince of Darkness by the ritual sacrifice of unbaptized children.O

      Another element in the Jewish Ritual Murder legend is the use of a substitute when the original object of interest is unavailable. One of the most common of all superstitions was that a man could be injured through his footprints. History is full of examples of vengeful aborigines piercing an enemy's footprints with spears, while their medieval cousins preferred to hammer nails in them. And everybody has heard of the modern voodoo festivals in Haiti where native witches can kill a man by abusing his effigy in doll size. Different problems call for different solutions: an exciting variation of this theme of magical sympathy calls for the use of a live human being in place of the god. This was once a common practice in the Eastern Mediterranean and also


in Mexico, where the Aztecs annually sacrificed a young man in the role of the god Tezcatlipoca.

      The human heart has always enjoyed a special cult of its own as the seat and symbol of life. Before the white men came to domesticate them, the Indians of the New World used to cut out their victims' hearts and offer them to the sun god to build up his energy for the long trip across the heavens. A more selfish motive prompted the ancients to eat the heart of a valiant enemy to acquire his powers for themselves. This seems almost finicky in comparison with the modern "Leopard Man" of the Cameroons, who eats the whole body, including the heart and all the other internal machinery. But this is too gross to interest anyone except the sensual dullard and the anthropologist. Other examples are more imaginative: Arab chroniclers of the ninth century tell of a man-tiger named Ibrahim ibn Ahmed, Prince of Sicily and North Africa, who confounded his enemies by cutting out their hearts and weaving them into a garland with which to festoon the gates of Tunis.

      Blood also has a special fascination for the practitioner of the occult arts. Babylonian legend tells of Lilith the "night-monster" who had a special power of evil over children. In the Rabbinical literature the Jews, she became the first wife of Adam but left him to become queen of the succubi and suck the blood of infants. Blood had its practical uses as well as its pleasures. The Gauls of the early Middle Ages drank the blood of an enemy to inherit his strength. In Peru the Incas kneaded maize with human blood to make a paste which they rubbed on their bodies to protect them from disease.


      Early Christian writings relate how the Faithful rushed into the arena to smear themselves with a protective coating of the blood of their martyred colleagues. Cotton Mather spoke of "getting the Blood of the Great Passover sprinkled on our houses" to stop an epidemic of measles in Boston in 1713, and in 1890 a Galician magician was convicted of stealing the corpses of two Jewish children and sprinkling their blood to sterilize a house infected with typhoid.

      If we place these residual recollections against the prevailing superstitions of the Middle Ages, the Jewish Ritual Murder fits perfectly into a popular system of insane logic. For this was a world in which the invisible was terrifyingly real.- a world where witches sailed across the sky on broomsticks, warlocks destroyed innocent babes in the womb, incubi and succubi lay with unsuspecting humans to propagate the infernal race of demons, and agents of the Devil swarmed around the dying to snatch their souls to Hell. If we add to all this the hot conviction that the ,Jew was a Doctor of the Black Arts, the sworn enemy of all Christians and, indeed, the Antichrist himself, then we have all the necessary ingredients for concocting the myth of the Jewish Ritual Murder.

      The favorite sport of the Jews, as medieval gossip had it, was to torture and cruellY a Christian boy in celebration of the Passover, which generally coincided with the Christian Easter. These stories started, naturally enough, with the launching of the Crusades, although it was almost fifty years before the first case of a Jewish Ritual Murder was formally recorded in the


"history" books for transmission to a credulous On Easter eve in 1144, so the story goes, the corpse of a young skinner's apprentice named William was discovered in a wooded area near Norwich, England. A rumor started that he had been done in by Jews who had crucified him after the synagogue service during Passover, in mockery the Passion of Christ. The body was brought back to town, tearfully paraded through the streets and interred with solemn ceremony in the local cathedral, where it promptly began to work miracles. An outraged mob set out after Jews of Norwich, who saved themselves by taking refuge in town fortress until Christian tempers had cooled, although one of the leaders of the Jewish group was murdered shortly after by one of his debtors seeking a profitable revenge for the Lord.

      Other cases followed in rapid succession: the Jews of Gloucester were of torturing crucifying a Christian youth named and dropping his mutilated

1. They are still being recorded in our own day. Waves of Ritual Murder scares swept over Eastern Europe between 1928 and 1934. The Nazis, of course, pulled out all the stops and 1111934 Julius Streicher's Der Sturmer devoted a special issue to the revival of all the old Ritual Murder accusations. Here at home the American Jewish Yearbook of 1929 reported the following incident: "On Saturday, September 22nd, 1928. a four year old girl. the daughter of one of the residents of Massena. in St. Lawrence County. New York, disappeared. On the following day, after a search for the child had proved vain, a State trooper interrogated one of the Jewish resIdents of the village and also the rabbi of the congregation as to whether the custom exists among the Jews to offer human sacrifice. The rabbi indignantly resented . . . and later the trooper stated that the Mayor had been consulted on the matter and that it was he who had suggested that the rabbi be called to police headquarters for questioning. Toward the close of the following afternoon, the child was found in the woods about a miIe from her home, where she had been lost."


corpse in the Severn River. Similar reports from Bury St. Edmunds and Bristol firmed up the popular conviction that the Jews were stepping up their campaign against the Savior through members of His flock. In all these affairs the corpse and assorted relics of the victims were enshrined and venerated in the traditions of the Christian martyr-saint.

      In France meanwhile, the first instance of a Jewish Ritual Murder was being recorded in the town of Blois, where a Christian servant appeared before the town mayor with a horrifying announcement. He had been watering his master's horse in the nearby Loire River when this rich Jew, riding a fancy horse, appeared and threw a mysterious bundle into the river. The mayor, who was obviously more sophisticated in these matters than the servant, reported to his overlord, Count Theobald of Chartres, that the Jews of Blois had just crucified a Christian child in celebration of Passover. Count Theobald immediately had all the Jews in town thrown into prison pending further investigation. But further investigation by torture brought nothing to light. The rack could not jog memories of a recent crucifixion, no mother appeared looking for a lost child, no corpus delicti could be found, and the Christian servant was unable to identify the man who had thrown the "body" into the river. So the servant was subjected to the medieval lie-detecting device of the water test. He was set in the middle of the river in a boat filled with water. When the boat failed to sink, no doubt remained that he had been telling the truth and that the Jews were liars as well as murderers. Count Theobald therefore


sentenced the "ringleaders" to burning at the stake. Thirty four men and seventeen women perished in the flames, and the chronicler of these events recorded the deed for posterity in the dispassionate tone of the professional historian:

Theobald. Count of Chartres. caused several Jews of Blois to be burnt. because they had crucified a Christian child at the celebration of their Passover and had thrown its body into the Loire.

      The most celebrated of all the Jewish Ritual Murders of the Middle Ages was that of Little Hugh of Lincoln. In August of 1255 the body of a lad named Hugh, who had been missing for three weeks, was discovered in an open cesspool near the home of a singularly unfortunate Jew by the name of Copin. How Little Hugh got there nobody knew, although a plausible explanation is that like most little boys he wasn't looking where he was going and he fell in. To the thirteenth century mind, however, it was obvious that Little Hugh was the victim of a Jewish crucifixion. His body was reverently extricated from the cesspool and removed to the cathedral, convoyed by the local church dignitaries and town officials, amid much chanting and waving of crosses and candles, while the general populace wept. In the cathedral Little Hugh was laid to rest in a special shrine, with various relics scattered about him which began effecting stupendous cures among the ailing Christians of Lincoln.

      Retribution followed swiftly. The Jew Copin, near whose home the body was found, "confessed" under torture


that Little Hugh had played. the part of Jesus in a recent Ritual Murder. King Henry (III) himself, on hearing the new s, hustled over tb Lincoln to look into the matter personally. In a preliminary demonstration of the royal justice, Copin was tied to a horse's tail, dragged up and down the city streets and then hanged. The other Jews implicated in the affair-almost one hundred-were then carried off to London where some were hanged and the others were left to ponder their sacrilege in prison. The case of Little Hugh-or "Saint Hugh" as the locals quickly dubbed him-soon entered into the body of English folklore. Chaucer speaks of him hI the "Canterbury Tales" and he became a favorite topic of numerous ballads recited by traveling bards all over the Christian West.

      By the thirteenth century so many accusations of Jewish Ritual Murder were being noised around Europe that Christians were easily persuaded to believe the worst on the flimsiest evidence. On one occasion, for example, a river ship from Cologne put into the Rhine town of Boppard. There the passengers saw the body of a Christian woman who had apparently just died. Somebody suddenly remembered that a ship loaded with Jews had recently passed that way and it was immediately agreed that the corpse on the pier had been left by these Jews after a Ritual Murder at sea. The Christians set sail after the Jewish ship, overtook and boarded it and hurled its passengers into the Rhine. In Mainz, on the strength of a whispered rumor that the Jews of that city had bought and crucified a Christian child a mob set fire to the synagogue and burned to death some two hundred Jews inside.


     The same mentality which gave birth to the Jewish Ritual Murder began early to add some refinements to it. The Jews were supposed to have a particular fancy for their victim's heart. While he was still suspended from the Cross, they would cut a hole in his side, reach in and tear out the heart. Then they would grind it up with specially selected herbs into a potion of formidable but undefined proportions. The blood was also drained from the body and turned to a variety of practical uses: to add flavor to unleavened bread and body to the Seder wine and to cure disease. It was also the basic ingredient in loathsome witch-brews guaranteed to protect Jews from their enemies and to turn Christians into mad dogs.

      Another favorite among these popular bedtime stories had the Jews wreaking vengeance on a different Christ-substitute, the consecrated Communion wafer. The most common version told of Jews stabbing the wafer with sharp knives to make it spurt blood. Communion wafers , especially consecrated ones, were not items for public distribution, particularly to the sons of Moses. But Jewish cunning stopped at nothing. A Jew of Paris was burned alive on the charge of abusing a wafer which he had fished from the vomit of a sick woman just returned from Mass. A resourceful Jew of Brussels, who had apparently saved them up for years, was burned at the stake for mass murder because, it was said, he had stabbed sixteen such wafers until they dripped blood.

      A traffic in international wafer - smuggling was exposed by a Brussels Jewess who confessed to the illegal transportation of a case of stolen wafers to the Jews of Cologne for purposes of profanation. Advised of these


doings, the authorities at Cologne rounded up the smugglers, who were hiding in the Jewish quarter, and burned them alive.

      The ancient peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean believed that a slain god-substitute was certain to avenge himself on his murderers whenever the opportunity offered itself. The medieval man-in-the-street obviously thought so too. When the corpse of a martyred boy in Germany was tossed into the Rhine it not only insisted on floating but it radiated a continuous halo of light which finally led to its discovery and a proper punishment of the murderers. Another time, a drowned girl ~crucifixion was for boys only) is said to have bled in the presence of the accused and to have raised her arms the second time they were brought into her presence. The most edifying example of heavenly revenge, however, occurred in Posen toward the end of the fourteenth century. A group of Jews participating in a wafer stabbing found to their dismay that the blood which spurted in their faces would not wash off. In desperation they sneaked out of town in the middle of the night and buried the wafer in a field. But the birds of the air kept circling over the fateful spot and the beasts of the field insisted on kneeling around it. The secret was thus discovered and the culprits, easily identified by their blood-stained faces, were bound together with dogs and burned to death, the terrified dogs tearing at the Jews' flesh as the flames crackled around them.

      By the end of the fourteenth century the Jews in northern Europe had entered upon their darkest days since the time of Nebuchadnezzar. In the Spanish king-


doms south of the Pyrenees medieval Jewry for many years followed a different and happier course. The howling of the great masses for Jewish blood was yet to be heard there. When it was, the fate of Spain's Jews would one day be sealed in the name of her first Grand Inquisitor. Thomas de Torquemada.

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