August – Cruelest Month

Saturday, August 1, 2009

August Is The Cruelest Month

Anne Frank at deskThe month of August in Jewish history is filled with arcane memories. Many remain in our collective consciousness as examples of mankind at his least enviable, but a few still touch the heart: Can you see, dear reader, that only acceptance and service is how we triumph in relations with our brethren in the byways of the world?

August 19, 1509: The Battle of the Books took place in Frankfurt, Germany: Johann Pfefferkorn, an apostate Jew, convinced Maximillan I to destroy all Jewish books, especially the Talmud. The books were defended by a gentile, Johann von Reuchlin, a noted humanist, scholar and student of the Zohar. The… decree was rescinded.

August 10, 1824: All foreign Jews were prohibited from settling in Russia. Alexander I, after an initial period of liberalism, reverted to the anti-Jewish proclamation of his predecessors. It began with forbidding Jews to have Christian servants.

August 18, 1846: The Jewish Oath, originally established by Charlemagne, is abolished in Austria. Until then, a Jew who took oath in a Christian court against a Christian was forced to stand on the skin of a dead animal or be surrounded by thorns…

1906: August Von Wasserman instituted the Wasserman test for the diagnosis of syphilis.

1919: Thirty-five members of the Jewish Defense Organization were disarmed and shot after the Ukrainian National Army recaptured Kiev from the Bolsheviks. As an organized unit, the Jews had played an important role in the defense of Kiev.

August 7, 1925: Nahum Shtif established YIVO as a Yiddish academic institute with its center in Vilna. Its goal was to promote scholarly research in Yiddish, especially on Jewish life and history in Eastern Europe. In addition, it standardized Yiddish spelling and gathered thousands of documents on Jewish culture and folklore from over much of Europe.

In 1934 Chancellor Paul Von Hindenburg died, leaving Adolf Hitler as the sole German leader.

August 21. 1940: Communist leader Leon Trotsky (Bronstein) was assassinated, most likely upon orders from Stalin. Trotsky was the son of a Jewish Odessian farmer. Believing there was no future for the Jewish people as a people, he became a contemporary of Lenin.

August 2, 1943: Led by a small group of prisoners, Jewish inmates of the German death camp, Treblinka, attacked the guards using primitive weapons and pistols and burned down the barracks. Most escapees were eventually captured.

In March 1945, 15-year-old Anne Frank (see picture) was arrested with her parents. She died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with 51,000 others. Oh, remember, remember…

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