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Outrages Committed On The Jews At Gesecke.


The following account of the sad outrages recently perpetrated on Jews in Gesecke, a town in Westphalia, is taken from the “Allgemeine Preussische Zeitung,” under date of May 12:—

“Most deplorable excesses have been committed here (Gesecke) on the evening of the 9th instant, which are the more lamentable on account of their being caused by religious fanaticism. They must be indirectly attributed to the conversion of a Jewish lad to the Roman Catholic religion last year. Most of the Jewish children in this place, after having received elementary instruction from their own teacher, have been in the habit of attending the public grammar-school, the teacher at which is a Roman Catholic priest; they have even occasionally attended the religious instruction in this school. This is not the place for inquiring into the means by which the above-mentioned young Israelite was induced to change his religion; it is sufficient to state that in the course of last summer he was baptized, in direct opposition to the will of his parents. Shortly afterwards he attended, it is said at the expense of some ecclesiastic, the Gymnasium at Paderborn; but being claimed by his father, he was brought home about three weeks ago, from whence he was, however, again sent away by his parent, after a few days, without any one knowing whither he had gone. This circumstance gave rise to the most senseless and contradictory reports. The excitement thus caused in the neighbourhood was increased by the former teacher of the young proselyte receiving a few days ago, an anonymous letter, which had been posted at Paderborn, and contained low and foolish invectives, not only against the priest himself but also against the Christian religion. Instead of ignoring. and destroying this letter, the priest was incautious enough to suffer its contents to be known, which inflamed to redoubled fury, the minds of the lower classes, already excited by what had taken place. Without any sufficient reason every one pointed to the Jews as the authors of that letter. On the evening of May 8th, the windows in the houses of two Israelites were broken by the populace. But on the 9th, the contents of the letter having become more generally known, it  was easy to perceive, in the general appearance of the place, indications of approaching serious disturbances. Before dusk the streets usually so quiet and deserted, were filled with people, and the expression, “Hepp, Hepp,” (which has so often been the watchword and signal for acts of violence perpetrated on the Jews by mobs in different parts of Germany), was frequently heard among the children who congregated before the houses of the Jews. At the ringing of the vesper-bell, the attack on the house of the father of the young proselyte commenced with the breaking of windows and shutters. The mob, not satisfied with one sacrifice to their fury, extended their zeal also to attacking the rest of the Jewish inhabitants. Doors and shutters were demolished with hatchets, windows broken, furniture and stock of goods destroyed, beds cut open and scattered about. The cries of lamentation for the oppressed Israelites, who, no longer secure of their lives, had sought refuge on the roofs of their houses, were heard above the wild cries of exultation which proceeded from the mob. Stones weighing twenty pounds were the next morning found in the rooms of many of the Jewish houses. Not until the work of destruction was nearly over, did two magistrates make their appearance, on which the mob immediately dispersed.

“Stirred up by the proceedings at Gesecke, a mob led on by a drummer, demolished the houses inhabited by Jews in the village of Stormede, half an lour distant, in the night, from the 10th to the 11th day, and not satisfied with this, they broke to pieces the whole stock in trade of a Jewish ironmonger, and destroyed the manufactured goods belonging to a Jewish merchant.”

In addition to the above we learn from the Voice of Jacob, that “the judicial investigation ordered to be made by the Westphalian authorities into the recent outrages upon the Jews in this place, has re-awakened the hostility of the people against them. Some of the rioters are already in custody, and reports implicate persons in a still higher station. In consequence of this, every effort is made to harrass and intimidate the Jews, so as to terrify them into a suppression of the charge. A letter in the Cologne paper states that during that week, stones had been thrown after the father of the baptized boy, and almost every night some damage or other had been done to the gardens of the Jews, so that the fruit harvest will scarcely produce any thing. The police replied to the appeals for their protection, that nothing more could be done for the security of the Jews’ property, although in a small place like Gesecke, a very little energy on the part of the magistrate would suffice for the purpose.”