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August 14, 1964 - Image 48

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-08-14

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Treece's Book Reviews Wholesale Massacre of Jews
During Crusades; Duggan's History Less Descriptive

Random House describes "The
Crusades" by Henry Treece, the
well known historian, teacher,
author of more than 30 books,
actor and editor, as an "authen-
tic account of 200 years of war,
sacred journeys and the quest
for loot."
On Page 104 of this illuminat-
ing story, in the description of
the Crusade that proceeded un-
der the leadership of Peter the
Hermit, in which many thou-
sands responded to the call of
Pope Urban for a procession to
acquire Jerusalem from the in-
fidel Saracens, Treece reveals:
"It seems that not all the
pilgrims themselves were aware
of the nature and seriousness of
their journey. One group of
German peasants was led by a
goat and a goose, two creatures
sacred among their forefathers,
and as they marched, these peas-
ants sang the old pagan songs.
This frightening crowd now to-
talling 40,000 men, women and
children were not long to be
kept in check by a handful of
knights. Suddenly it occurred
to them that Jews were as
much the infidel as were Sara-
cens—and had not Pope Urban
himself despatched them to
s l au g h t e r infidels wherever
they found them? So, as the
vast rabble moved through Eu-
rope, they massacred Jews
wherever they could find them
— in Verdun, Treves, Mainz,
Speyer and Worms. When the
Archbishop of Cologne flung
his palace open to the Jews, the
furious peasants broke down
the doors with their axes and
butchered all inside. In that
terrible affair a 1 o n e, 10,000
were slaughtered.
"When the Bishop of Speyer,
motivated by gifts of money
rather than by purely Christian
compassion, took the Jews of
his diocese under his special
protection, the pilgrims were
for a time baffled: but they suc-
ceeded in catching twelve of
these 'infidels' and beheading
them, having first offered them
the unacceptable alternative of
becoming Christians. The ex-
ample set by such 'Christians'
appalled the unbending Jewish
followers of J eh ova h; but
when they protested, the. pil-
grims took and publicly raped
the prettiest Jewess they could
find, as positive proof of their
new spiritual power. It is some
consolation to know that the
Bishop of Speyer, anxious to
give value for money, captured
some of the pilgrims concerned
and cut off their hands."
* * *
The entire record is that of
looting, pillaging, aspirations
for t err i t o r i al acquisitions.
Papal sinning, debaucheries,
licentiousness abound through-
out the book.
Decapitations, cruelties and
tortures imposed on opposing
forces—by Christians on Mos-
lems and vice versa — and
shocking manifestations of in-
human acts expose the evils of
the time during which Jews
suffered while Christians bat-
tled with Saracens.
Out of the motley of sadistic
Catholics, including several of
the Popes, emerge some truly
saintly Christians. But the en-
tire era is one of debauchery.
* * *
At the very outset the author
describes what the Crusades
really denoted, in these opening
paragraphs in his preface:
"To most of us, the word
`crusade' carries with it the
sense of noble and pure-hearted
endeavor, the spirit of Chris-
tian adventure unpolluted by
self-interest. In the imagination
lives that figure of brave self-
effacement, the idealized cru-
sader, a red cross on his white
mantle, his mailed hands
clasped on the hilt of the sword
which he had dedicated to
Christ and the salvation of the
Holy Sepulchre, a prayer al-

wayS on his lips; a paragon who
occupies a place somewhere be-
tween St. George and St. Gala-
had — the prototype of Euro-
pean, and specially nordic, hero-
ism and chivalry.
"But as we read more about
the crusades this vision tar-
nishes;; enquiry hardly bears
out the truth for which we had
hoped. Crusades and crusaders
are seen to be different from
what we had imagined; and
finally we are led to agree with
S t e v en Runciman's masterly
summing up in 'The Kingdom
of Acre'; 'The triumphs of the
Crusade were the triumphs of
faith. But faith without wisdom
is a dangerous thing. By the
inexorable laws of history the
whole world pays for the crimes
and and follies of each of its
citizens. In the long sequence
of interaction and fusion be-
tween Orient and Occident, out
of which our civilization has
grown, the Crusades were a
tragic and destructive episode.
The historian, as he gazes
across the centuries at their
gallant story, must find his ad-
miration overcast by sorrow at
the witness that it bears to the
limitations of human nature.
There was so much courage
and so little honor, so much
devotion and so little under-
standing. High ideals were be-
smirched by cruelty and greed,
enterprise and endurance by a
blind and narrow self-righteous-
ness; and the Holy War itself
was nothing more than a long
act of intolerance in the name
of God, which is the sin against
the Holy Ghost'."
* * *
These are Christian views of
un-Christian acts by Christians.
As Treece adds in his evalua-
tive opening of his account of
"The Crusades": "Superficially,
it may be proved that a certain
date in the Christian era men
stitched the red cross upon
their mantles and set off to
drive the Saracens from Jerusa-
lem; but further thought soon
shows that what we call 'cru-
sades' were relatively small
journeys encapsuled w i t h i n
much older and greater ones;
that men of the North and West
had been journeying into the
East to gain gold or land even
before the dawn-world of the
Hellenic Bronze Age; and that
when all the folk-movement had
died away, and the 'crusades'
had failed„ men continued to
push on toward the Levant, like
lemmings taking to the seas in
spring, but now under the ban-
ner of commerce and not of
Yet, without the necessary
explanations, Treece frequently
refers to "anti-Christian Jews"
— a phrase that is so certain
to arouse further suspicion and
prejudice. He might have elabo-
rated on the statement that "by
becoming the bankers of the
E as tern Mediterranean, the
Templars took on a function
which had previously been re-
garded as the prerogatiVe of
Jews and burghers." Why, in-
deed, did the Jews become
bankers if not under the com-
pulsion of developments like
the "crusades" and s i milar
Christian anti-Jewish acts?
In his description of "The
Second Crusade," Treece points
out that "the moment it was
known that a crusade was in
the air, Jews were massacred
without mercy in all the Rhine-
land towns — sometimes with
the approval of the Church."
Yet, the Jewish reviewer of
Treece's book is left a bit de-
pressed, in reading in his chap-
ters on "The Fourth Crusade,"
this paragraph: "The Venetians
the Lombards could have given
a lesson in usury and deceit
to any Jew living at the time.
Shakespeare's merchant An-
tonio, in tricking Shylock, was
not simply performing a dra-
matic function; he was doing

simply what all Venetians had
done for centuries—and break-
ing his contract in the bargain."
This generalizing about the
usury and deceit of the Jew,
which is an over-all exaggera-
tion, is unnecessary, and regret-
table, in so revealing a book.
Linguistically, industrially,
some gains are recorded in the
results of the crusades. In its
totality, Treece's study is an ac-
count of bloodshed, of a shock-
ing epoch when the trek of •
Christians on their road to
Jerusalem was marked by bru-
talities and inhumanities and
by wholesale massacres of Jews.
It was an era of shame for

Duggan's History
Short of Details

Alfred Duggan, author of a
number of acclaimed novels,
who has traveled widely and
surely has made a deep study
of the Crusades, has written
"The Story of the Crusades---
1097-1291" which has just been
issued by Pantheon Books (22
E. 51st, NY 22). It is an inter-
esting volume, appropriately il-
lustrated by C. Walter Hodges
to express the spirit of that
tragic period in history. But it
falls short of completeness in
its failure to indicate the exact
tragedy of those crusading ad-
ventures for Jews.
In his description of the Sec-
ond Crusade, Duggan makes
this reference to experiences
to which Jews were subjected:
"While S t. Bernard was
preaching the Crusade in Flan-
ders a message reached him
that another monk was inciting
the faithful of the Rhineland
to massacre the local Jews be-
fore setting out for the Holy
Sepulchre. St. Bernard hastened
to Cologne and suppressed the
fanatic . . ."
Dealing with the first libera-
tion of Jerusalem by the Cru-
saders, Duggan describes the
bloody fighting and states:
"The synagogue was burned,
with the Jewish community in-
side it. The Egyptians had per-
mitted them to remain in Jeru-
salem when the Christians were
exiled; that was considered
proof that they were allies of
the infidel. All the Moslems
were killed, men, women and
children. When the Crusaders
gave thanks in the Holy Sepul:-
chre where no priest remained
to serve the shrine, they took
over an empty city . . ."
This is not a complete story:
the burned synagogue "with
the Jewish community inside it"
meant a wholesale mas3acre.
Why not state it? Wasn't that
part of the bloody Crusades—
to destroy the Jews? Of course,
there were some priests who
came to the aid of the Jews,
but the masses went rampant.
At the very outset, des:a-thing
"The Preaching of the Cru-
sade," Duggan has this to say:
"This second wave of pre-
mature Crusaders conained
more brigands than peasants.
Before they set out they
achieved a great massacre of
Jews in the Rhineland, in
spite of strenuous efforts by
the clergy and imperial of-
ficials to keep the peace. It
was well known that in a war
between Christian and Mos-
lem the Jews would back the
Moslems; which may explain,
though it does not excuse this
This is telling only half the
story. Just as some Spaniards
now are trying to hide the facts
about the Inquisition by stating
that Jews were expelled from
Spain because they backed the
Saracens, so is the Duggan
contention a half truth unre-
lated to the horrors that were
perpetrated against Jewish corn-
muniyies. What a pity that a
good' history by an able writer
should thus be marred. —P. S.

UN Assembly Gets Draft of U.S.
Proposals Against Anti-Semitism

GENEVA (JTA) — The United
Nations Economic and Social Coun-
cil forwarded to the next session
of the General Assembly a pro-
posal made by the United States,
calling for outright condemnation
of anti-Semitism as a specific form
of racial discrimination.
A Russian amendment to that
effect, calling for the inclusion of
Fascism, Nazism, neo-Nazism and
other forms of discrimination
along with anti-Semitism, was also
forwarded to the Assembly. The
Council requested the next session
of the Assembly to discuss the
American draft as well as the
amendment, but recommended the
adoption of the American clause.
The proposal for the condemna-
tion of anti-Semitism had been in-
troduced to the Human Rights
Commission last winter by Mrs.
Marietta Tree, head of the U.S.
delegation to the Commission.
Here, the Council's Social Com-
mittee passed the measure on to
the full Council. The latter body,
in turn, has now decided to let
the entire Assembly deal with the
The rest of the draft Convention
on the Elimination of all Racial
Discriminatin, without the Ameri-
can-sponsored article and its Rus-
sian amendment, was adopted
unanimously by the entire Coun-
cil. However, the Convention can-
not become effective until the As-
sembly has voted on it. Such a
favorable vote is certain.
A companion document, pro-
posing a draft Declaration 'and
Convention an the Elimination
of All Religious Discrimination,
was sent to the Assembly for fur-
ther consideration. The Social
Committee had reported to the
full Council that it had not had
time to debate the religious
freedoms items in full.
Franklin H. Williams, of the
U.S. delegation, expressed "sur-
prise" at the Social Committee's
"meager accomplishments." He
told the Council that there have
been "far too many instances of
governments deliberately denying
human rights and individual free-
doms, too many examples of man's
inhumanity to man."
Since the Soviet Union had been
severely criticized here for its

48 Friday, August 14, 1964



persecution of Jewry by Ambas-
sador Moshe Barturs, official Coun-
cil observer for Israel, Mrs. Wil-
liams' remarks were understood as
a barb aimed at the USSR. The
UN Report Reveals Changes
in Israel's Economic Life
—Significant changes in Israel's
economy are indicated in two re-
ports by the United Nations Eco-
nomic and Social Council issued
here today. One report contains
economic data, the other gives fig-
ures on population, and shows that
Israel's population reached 2,469,-
000 at the end of June this year,
as compared with 2,183,32 in
May 1961.
The report brings out the rise
in wheat flour production and cot-
ton yarn production. It establishes,
however, that the production of
electricity decreased during the
last two years. Israel's foreign ex-
change holdings in millions of
U.S. dollars totaled 91 in 1958;
have risen steadily and totaled 524
milloin dollars by April 1964.

Hebrew Corner

Training Farmers,
Seamen in Israel

After two thousand years of Galuth,
during which Jews had no contact with
the soil, the first agricultural school,
"IVIikve Israel," was founded in 1868 to
train Jewish Youth in farming.
Mikve Israel started with five students
from five different countries. The school
now has 750 pupils. Since then agri-
cultural training has spread, having
thousands of students. There are now
29 agricultural schools in the country
with 8,000 students. Forty per cent of
them are from villages, while 60 per
cent are from cities that wish to pre-
pare themselves for farm life. Besides,
there are schools in rural settlement
areas that have over 8,000 pupils. Here,
too, these schools have 30 per cent of
their pupils from the cities. Farming
is also taught in evening classes in the
rural settlement area, Youth Immigra-
tion groups and Youth Centers. All to-
gether about 23,000 pupils receive agri-
cultural training.
• • •
Maritime training is divided into two
areas: fishing and seamanship. The
"Mevooth Yam" school prepares its stu-
dents for both seamanship and fishing.
The Israeli merchant marine has reached
one million tons and needs a great num-
ber of skilled workers. The sea is our
only open gate way to the world, while
by land we are closed in by the Arab
states. It is for this situation that
classes in maritime training were
. opened in port cities Eilath, Ashdod
and Haifa.
—Translation of Hebrew Column
Published by Brith Ivrith
Olamith, Jerusalem


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