May 27, 2005

Published May 27, 2005, issue of May 27, 2005.
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100 YEARS AGO

• With fists flailing, knife-and-ax-bearing mobs attacked the Jewish quarter in Warsaw this week. Now eight Jews are dead and more than 100 are wounded, some grievously. The unusual aspect of this pogrom was that it was entirely Jew-on-Jew action. As part of an effort to clean up the Jewish quarter, members of the Jewish Socialist Bund attacked the Jewish-run brothels and criminal hideouts that strike fear into the residents of some of the poorer neighborhoods in Jewish Warsaw. The police, for their part, stayed out of the fracas and gave a wide berth to the Bundists in their quest to crush the Jewish underworld. One report indicates that the Bundists attacked the Jewish criminal class as a response to recent activity in which criminals have been going around to Jewish storekeepers, posing as Bundists and extorting money from them. Another aspect of the attack has to do with the fact that underworld pimps and criminals have long been serving the tsarist authorities as spies and informers, giving information on underground revolutionary activity.

75 YEARS AGO

• The Viennese journalistic world is cooking with a sensational story of recently uncovered documents indicating that the family of former Hapsburg emperor Franz Josef has Jewish origins. This news comes not from Jewish sources, who have a tendency to exaggerate when it comes to finding Jewish roots in famous people, but from Tomas Masaryk, historian and president of Czechoslovakia. Masaryk announced that he found this information in a rare book titled “Mayer’s Lexicon,” which was published about 150 years ago, but all copies were burned — except for one. Information from this book led researchers to discover that one of the earliest known Spanish royal families that married into the Hapsburg family was the Pierleone clan, who were descendants of the famous Rabbi Don Avraham Senor. The rabbi was adviser to King Ferdinand and was forcibly converted by Torquemada himself. Evidently some of the Hapsburgs did not want the world to know of their Jewish connection, and thus they had “Mayer’s Lexicon” burned. It has always been of interest to the Jews that the majority of Hapsburg rulers were friendly to them.

50 YEARS AGO

• As Hitler’s defeat became evident, a German engineer burned documents relating to the use of the gas Zyklon B on Jews in Auschwitz and in other death camps. This information was given by a witness at the trial of Dr. Gerhard Peters, who personally participated in the destruction of at least 300,000 Jews. The witness, Alfred Zaun, was a bookkeeper for the Hamburg-based company that shipped the gas to the camps after it was manufactured by another factory, of which Dr. Peters was the head. In 1947, Dr. Bruno Tesch, the owner of the company that distributed the gas, was sentenced, along with the manager, to death by a British military court.






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