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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Rintfleisch Pogrom of 1298

Rintfleisch Pogrom (1,2,3,4,5)

The Rintfleisch pogrom was a pogrom against Jews of southern Germany in April-September 1298, during the civil war between Adolph of Nassau and Albert I of Nassau.

The Jews of the Franconian town of Röttingen were charged with profanation of the Host, a medieval superstition that maintained that Jews defiled the communion wafer with blood.

Rintfleisch, whom the sources refer to either as an impoverished knight or a butcher (the name Rindfleisch means beef meat in German), believed to have received a mandate from heaven to avenge the sacrilege and exterminate the Jews.

Under his leadership, an armed band fell upon the Jews of Röttingen, who were massacred and burned down to the last one. After this, he and his mob went from town to town and killed all Jews that fell under their control, destroying the Jewish communities at Rothenburg-on-Tauber, Nördlingen and Bamberg. The great community of Würzburg was entirely annihilated. The Jews of Nuremberg sought refuge in the fortress but were overpowered and butchered.

The persecutions spread from Franconia to Bavaria, and within six months 146 Jewish communities were attacked and often destroyed. In Bavaria, only the congregations of Ratisbon and Augsburg escaped the slaughter, owing to the protection of the magistrates of the city.

The end of the civil war, following the death of Adolph of Nassau, terminated these persecutions. King Albert I finally had Rintfleisch arrested and hanged.

We may say in modern terms that - apart from the excesses of the Crusaders - it was the first case of Jewish “genocide” in Christian Europe. For the first time all the Jews of the country were held responsible for a crime imputed to one or at most several Jews.

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