Translated by Myra Yael Ecker
Edited by Yocheved Klausner
|Events at Vienna on 13th March 1848. The Equalrights petition. Establishment of the National Committee. The Jews in the delegation and on the Vienna National Council. Jewish delegates to the Galician Sejm. Declarations of brotherhood by the Poles and the Jews. Stadion's proposal to annul the taxation on [Kosher] meat and on candles. The conflict between the Orthodox and the Enlightened. The AntiJewish mood. The proclamation to the village residents. Elections to the Reichstag. The political factions of Lwów's Jews. The communities' memorandum to the Reichstag. The controversy over Rabbi Abraham Kohn and its bleak outcome. The Jewish debate at the Reichstag. The riots at Lwów. The onset of the reactionary regime. The legislation of 4th March 1849. Thanksgiving prayer at the Temple of the Enlightened .|
The 1848 Spring of European Nations had a significant effect on the lives of Austrian Jews too, and even on the way of life of the Jews of Lwów. The 13th March 1848 shooting at Vienna (*) and the barricades in the streets alarmed the population throughout the lands of the Austrian Empire, and for its own preservation, the Kaiser's House was forced to make concessions to the people. Those included the dismissal of Prince [von] Metternich who embodied tyranny at the time.
On Sunday 19th March 1848, Lwów's Jewish congregation first heard of the events at Vienna. Crowds in high spirits gathered in the streets, especially near the governorship. The Jews too welcomed the events at Vienna, which they considered the harbinger of a new era. They came in droves and were welcomed, with Poles walking arm in arm with their brethren of the Jewish faith. Governor Stadion's announcement that the Constitution was approved at Vienna on 15th March 1848, was met with jubilation.
Prior to establishing the National Committee during the night of 19th March 1848, the Polish politicians Franciszek [Franz] Smolka, Robert Hefern and Florian Ziemiałkowski, had prepared a written petition to the Emperor, which the citizens were asked to sign in order to dispatch it to Vienna.
On 19th March the signing began in front of the publishing house of Dziennik Mód Paryskich [Journal of Paris Fashions], on 301 Halytska Square [Plac Halicki] (opposite the George Hotel). Thousands of citizens crowded around the publishing house and waited patiently for their turn to sign, after Smolka had read out from the balcony the wording of the petition. The first to sign was Archbishop Wacławiczek, followed by the mass of the citizens. The Jewish leadership soon appreciated the significance of the petition which included some demands of interest to the Jews, too. Marek Dubs, Rachmiel Mieses and Rabbi Abraham Kohn ordered the Jews to sign the petition, while stressing that The Poles are liberal and back the Jews. The Jews followed their advice and the first to sign were Dr. Oswald Menkes, M. Dubs, Joschua Leib Horowitz, Rabbi Abraham Kohn and Meier Rachmiel Mieses.
Till five in the afternoon the ceremony continued peacefully, when suddenly the municipality's clock sounded and rumours spread that a fire broke out in the Zólkiew suburb. With Governor Stadion fearing a possible mayhem among the crowded masses, military companies were immediately on the scene. The presence of the military caused unrest, but the Hungarian cavalry companies were greeted by cries of Éljen! (Hurrah), and the crowd calmed down. Some twenty thousand persons from all walks of life, with many Jews among them, turned toward the Governor's Palace, and the representatives from all strata of the population headed by Prince Leon Sapieha, Smolka and Mieses reached the palace to hand to Governor Stadion the signed petition forms. The delegation's Jewish representatives were Rachmiel Meier Mieses and Rabbi Abraham Kohn.
The Petition required the Kaiser to grant autonomy to Galicia as an independent entity; general amnesty to all political prisoners; establishing a national education system; annulment of the peasants' serfdom (Leibeigenschaft). Clause 9 of the petition demanded that the Kaiser grant equal rights to all strata of society, irrespective of religion, civil, judicial or political stance; revocation of all taxes associated with religion, such as candle tax,
(*). The 15 killed included two Jews: Heinrich Spitzer and Bernhard Hirschmann.
Kosher meat taxes and any restriction stemming from the affiliation to a religion, and granting equal rights and status to the Catholic, Roman and Greek clergy as well as to the leaders of all other religions.
|Rabbi ZwiHirsch Ornstein|
Governor Stadion promised to send the petition to Vienna, but feared that the incidents at Lwów might adversely affect the country's situation and the Poles' attitude towards the central authorities. So the following day 20th March 1848 he sent a secret circular to the regional ministers, pointing out the possible dangers the authorities might expect from the Lwów protests which, according to him, had been promoted by the political party that aspired to social changes and to incite the population to revolt.
Nevertheless, he hesitated to establish an armed National Guard as proposed by the population's representatives. His opinion on the matter was guided by the Policedirector Leopold [von] SacherMasoch who despised the Poles and was keen on their outbursts.
On 20th March 1848, Kol Kore Davar Be'Ito, a small pamphlet addressed to the Jewish citizens of Galicia, (^) was published at Lwów by Izak Jehuda ben Abraham who considered himself someone who loved the Jewish People and was fond of all Nations. The pamphlet which was also published in Polish, German and Yiddish set out to explain the events at Vienna. In simple terms it reported that the Kaiser's good hearted advisors did not wish to inform him of his Nation's request, and so conceal from him the population's condition. But under pressure from the students, a memorandum was submitted to the Landtag, and before it had reached the Kaiser, the Vienna events broke out. Having described the events up until the Kaiser fled, the author focused on the events at Lwów, after the Vienna events had become known on Purim 19th March 1848. In his description of the petition with 13 Clauses, of which the 9th Clause focused on granting equal rights to the Jews, the author praised Governor Stadion as Father of the citizens who dismissed an officer who hated the Jews. The pamphlet aimed to ascertain that the time was right for the Jews to abide by the saying Love thy neighbour, because the Christians refrained from hating the Jews.
On 21st March 1848, some forty men representatives of the Poles, the Ruthenians and the Jews, craftsmen and the clergy assembled at the Municipality and established a committee to arrange the management. When Governor Stadion became aware of the meeting, he came in person and ordered to clear the hall. Organizing the management was handed to a Polish estateowning nobleman, Count Agenor Goluchowski [Gołuchowski] who was a governorshipofficial and was appointed deputy mayor, replacing mayor Festenburg who was hated by the entire population and who resigned from the mayoralty. Part of the disbanded committee continued consulting in a private flat and decided, in face of Governor Stadion's hostile stance, to hand the petition compiled by Franciszek Smolka, to the delegation sent to Vienna rather than rely on the Commissioner to deliver it. They immediately elected a delegation of forty members some of whom were Jews.
|Rabbi Abraham Kohn,
the first rabbi of The Temple synagogue
There is conflicting information as to who the Jewish members were. According to Stadion's report to Pillersdorf, Abraham Mises, Dawid Horowitz, Rabbi Abraham Kohn, Herz Bernstein and Meier Münz represented the Jews of Lwów. Prince Sapieha, in his memoir, recalls that the banker
(^). What are those interminable events at Vienna and Lemberg.
Nirenstein was also part of the delegation; the Polish historian SchnürPepłowski mentioned also Klemens Kolischer.
The delegation which reached Vienna on 31st March, included delegates also from Krakow, with Rabbi DovBerisz Meisels representing the Jews. The preparation and translation of the petition into German was undertaken by the lawyers Dr. Ziemiałkowski, Dr. Aleksander Sękowski [Senkowski] and by Rabbi Abraham Kohn who knew German well; he also drafted clause 9 which dealt with equal rights of Jews and the annulment of their taxes.
The audience with the Kaiser was set for 6th April. As it was not possible to present the entire delegation to him, a 13 members committee was elected, with Meisels representing the Jews.
Lwów's Jewish representatives at Vienna were ignorant of the Poles' aspirations. Unlike Rabbi Meisels of Krakow who fully supported the Poles, Lwów's Rabbi Kohn overlooked the two clauses and did not concur with all of the Poles' demands for full autonomy. His great attachment to Austria caused the Polish leaders, especially Florian Ziemiałkowski, to distrust him, whereas they considered Rabbi Meisels a loyal and true Pole.
Florian Ziemiałkowski wrote of Rabbi Kohn that he was a dishonest man, who joined us for fear that we might slaughter the Jews, or with the hope of some benefit. He belittles us and our aspirations to such an extent that despite his cunning he is unable to cover it up.
Under his influence, Mises and Horowitz did not side with the Poles either, unlike Rabbi Meisels. The Poles suspected Rabbi Kohn who did not wish to sever relations with the government, unlike Rabbi Meisels who actively opposed the government, which was welcomed by the Poles.
On 6th April 1848 the delegation was received by the Kaiser, and delivered the petition. The Kaiser promised to study it. The delegation remained at Vienna and awaited a reply from the government, which in turn approached the Governor Stadion and demanded his opinion.
To minimize the delegation's activities at Vienna, on 26th April 1848 Governor Stadion called a regular session of the Galician State Sejm ([Galicyjski] Sejm Stanowy) in which he implemented a change by increasing the number of urban representatives. Among Lwów's twelve delegates, two were Jews Rachmiel Mieses [Mizys] and Nathan Sokal and another two, Majer Kallier of Brody and the physician Dr. Roseneck of Kolomyea [Kolomyja]. In addition, apart from the Catholic and Evangelical legates, the Jewish Rabbinate's envoy, Rabbi Abraham Kohn, was also elected. The Jews were thus represented by five delegates. By means of the Sejm, Governor Stadion hoped also to solve several urgent issues regarding the Jews.
On 25th April 1848, the Pillersdorf Constitution (Pillersdorfsche Verfassung) was published at Vienna, and formed the basis for the Austrian National Diet [Reichstag].
The Constitution's publication brought joy to the Jews of Lwów, in particular clause 17 which promised to all the kingdom's citizens, full freedom of religion and conscience as well as personal freedom, and Clause 27 which determined that a bill would be brought during the first National Diet, regarding the lifting of all civil and political restrictions from the religious denominations.
On 28th April 1848, the Polish established a National Council (Rada Narodowa) made up of 25 members. Since it was prohibited to sustain political organizations, the newspaper Rada Narodowa was launched and the National Committee was declared its editorial committee. Dr. Oswald Menkes, Abraham Mises, Meier Münz and Rabbi Kohn were invited to represent the Jews. The Council oversaw the national management which also included a Jewish company of 300 men under the command of Emanuel Gall. Every Polish management member had to sign the declaration acknowledging the German and Jewish students, as citizens of equal rights.
On 20th April 1848, the National Council appealed to the townspeople to consider the Jews as equal citizens, whose sole ambition is the resurrection of our homeland, where we will live as brothers of one family, and to expunge any hate and resentment from their hearts. And the Jews were asked to disregard the words of villains whose aim was to drive a wedge between Jews and Poles.
When an Italian named Ricci displayed in his Lwów shop caricatures of Jews from among the administration, Poles smashed his shopwindows and forced him to apologize. Once Governor Stadion was forced to abolish the censorship brought to an end by the Constitution Abraham Mohr published the newspaper Die Zeitung, written in Hebrew script.
Concerned that not many Jews joined the Poles, the National Council addressed the Jews in a proclamation on 13th May 1848, pointing out that during the recent events the Poles reached out to the Jews and that Poland received them with open arms after they had been expelled from Germany and other countries. In the petition submitted to the Kaiser, they demanded to grant the Jews rights equal to the rest of
the population, therefore the Jews should willingly accept the hand of friendship extended to them.
The union with the Poles also required the establishment of a linguistic union, just as the Jews of France, Italy and Germany speak the national language, so the Jews of Poland should speak Polish. That demand probably appeared in conjunction with Abraham Mohr's new publication of the newspaper Die Zeitung, and the fact that most of the Jewish intelligentsia was predisposed to the German language and culture.
Unlike the Jews of Western Galicia who supported the movement of the Polish Federation, Lwów's Jewish intelligentsia preferred Vienna's centralization of power. The intelligentsia formed included also a group predisposed towards Polonization; the group formed an association which strove to impart to the younger generation the Polish spirit and encourage it to adopt the Polish language as the national language. Committees and societies were formed to spread the Polish language and literature. A few were even fully inclined towards the Poles, such as the physician Dr. Johann Beiser, a [Jewish] administration member who published a poem in German in praise of Poland, which was translated into Polish by Count Leszek [Aleksander] DuninBorkowski. The physician Moritz Rappaport, whose renown as a poet rested on his opus Mose: [Episches Gedicht] (1842), and who was brought up on German culture, found himself attracted to the Polish and to the Jewish People, and expressed the emotional rift in the poem Bajazzo (1863), in which he effusively stressed patriotism to Poland. In an enthusiastic poem he lauded the release of Polish political prisoners from the jails at Spielberg [Špilberk] and Kufstein.
This pervading mood drove the youth of Lwów's Jewish intelligentsia to join the Polish faction, and laid the ground for the future movement of assimilation. The trend towards Polonization affected only limited circles, however, and did not reach the circles of veteran Maskilim, let alone the masses. Supporters of the Hebrew Enlightenment (Haskalah) did not see eye to eye with the circles of the assimilated, and by circulation of leaflets they made every effort to guide the masses in the spirit of Judaism.
Governor Stadion acted against the National Council which in his opinion undermined the authorities' power. When he realised that members invited to the Sejm session on 26th April 1848 planned to boycott him, he decided to abolish the National Council with the excuse that it was an illegal institution. He failed, however, when news from Vienna announced the granting of the Constitution (25.4.1848) which, in Clause 22, granted to all citizens of the Empire the right to petition and to establish companies and associations. His decisions were thus thwarted and the Council turned into a legal institution.
On 27th April 1848, Governor Stadion announced he was willing to recognize the National Council with the proviso that he would head it. When his proposal was rejected, the National Council appointed from among its members an advisory committee (Beirat), made up of three Ruthenian priests, a (Polish) Catholic priest, a German townsperson, six estate owners, five Polish government officers (led by Gołuchowski), and two Jews (Rabbi Kohn and Mejer Rachmiel Mieses).
At every opportunity subject to the amendments, Governor Stadion showed his willingness to fundamentally and comprehensively improve the legal and political status of the Jews. He consulted with Rabbi Kohn on all matters, which the Poles viewed with suspicion. They feared that he supported the Ruthenians and encouraged them to submit a petition to the Kaiser, on 19.4.1848, with the request that the Ruthenian language be accepted by the State offices and by schools, and that the Uniate clergy be granted equal rights; that he wished to cultivate the Ruthenians and the Jews as counterbalance to the Poles and their aspirations.
The Council also discussed the taxes with which the Jews were burdened. In one of the early sessions Rabbi Kohn proposed the annulment of the restrictions on marriage, and the taxes levied on the Jews. Governor Stadion's plot to use the Council as counter balance to the National Council, failed however, once he was appointed minister of Internal Affairs of the Vienna central government.
On 4th June 1848, he surreptitiously left the town of Lwów.
Even Lwów's municipality which only a year earlier had refused to grant Jews the rights of urban citizenship, elected eight Jews among its 40 members: Dr. Blumenfeld, Mardochaj Dubs, Meier Mieses, Dr. BarachRapopport, Osias Meier Goldbaum Dr. Kolischer, Meier Münz, Elischa Mendrochowicz. Their active involvement on the committees' works included, Dr. Blumenfeld, M. Dubs and Meier Mieses on the Finance committee; Dr. BarachRapopport on the Health committee; I. M. Goldbaum, Dr. Kolischer, Meier Münz and E. Mendrochowicz on the committee of Police Affairs. The municipality conferred on new regulations for election. The Jews were represented on the Regulation committee by Herz Bernstein, Dr. Emanuel Blumenfeld and Rachmiel Mieses, who had to sanction 15 Jews among the 100 municipality members, as well as five Jews among its 30 deputies. After the regulations had been confirmed in July 1848, the election took place in October 1848, and only progressive candidates were elected. Candidates from among the Chassidism and the Orthodox, failed.
The Constitution gave rise to the question whether
it was necessary to continue applying the Jewish taxes. The community sent a delegation to Governor Stadion, to relate the affair to him, but he retorted in jest: He who consumes nonKosher food pays little, and he who eats Kosher food has to pay more.
The response astounded the community's representatives.
Despite the excitement generated by [political] events, the masses remained indifferent. It was left to the Maskilim to explain to the population the meaning and importance of the revolution and its benefit for the Jews.
Nevertheless, Governor Stadion was obliged to send to the Vienna Treasury, with his endorsement, the Jews' demands to annul the taxes and he proposed to annul the Jewish taxes forthwith since the Jews refused to pay them, citing Clause 25 of the Constitution, and due to the desire to attract the sympathy of the Jewish section of the population.
The government accepted his recommendation and debated it during its 24th May 1848 session. The minister of Finance, the Lwów born Baron Philipp [von] Krauss who was familiar with the situation of Galicia's Jews, maintained that it had to be expected that soon the National Diet would revoke the Jewish taxes. Due to the government's fiscal situation, however, it was difficult to forego the annual 80,000 Florins income. Following his direction, in order for the Treasury to avoid becoming embroiled in legal compensation with the tax lessees, the Cabinet decided to maintain the tax collection till the end of 1848. That did not contravene the 25th April 1848 Regulation, which determined that the final decision would rest with the Reichstag which had yet to be convened at Vienna.
Leaflets written in Yiddish explained the significance of the change brought about by the Constitution which had been granted to Austria's Nations. Abraham Mohr and his brotherinlaw Iakob Bodek published a pamphlet titled Good Advice, [followed in Yiddish] Good counsel and advice, what one should do at this time, here at Lemberg [Lwów] as well as at all the smaller communities and towns, which called the Jews to participate in the freedom proclaimed in the world. They should converge on the parliament rather than deal with minor issues. They strongly attacked the wealthy Orthodox and the tax lessees whose wealth had derived from exploitation of the population. The text of the Constitution was published in Yiddish, in a pamphlet titled [in Yiddish] The Constitution. The Empirical Licence with all the 50 Clauses of the Constitution. This Constitution brings to an end many offices and taxes which had oppressed the public, including the two damaging taxes, the candle and [Kosher] meat leasing, and the 1000 Gulden cointax… and one will have additional freedoms too.. (Lwów 1848)
One of the pamphlets was the biography of Prince Metternich titled [in Yiddish] Biography of the swindling Minister Metternich (1848).
Influenced by events, Jewish cultural clubs were established at Lwów and other towns of Galicia for the advancement and the spread of Enlightenment. Lwów's club was headed by Iakob Bodek, Abraham Mohr and Izaak Aron Rosenstein. It was the venue where all political activities were held, and it also initiated evening classes for craftsmen, apprentices, merchants' assistants and labourers. The Orthodox congregation objected to those activities of the Enlightened. In response they published a pamphlet against Mohr and Bodek titled: Cancelling the advice of the evil… A call to uncover evidence of ignorant advice. [then in Yiddish] One should not follow nor listen to the false advice which the wicked wrote in Good Advice (in the year of the beard shavers and traitors, consumers of kosher and nonkosher food together they will perish) In that pamphlet the Orthodox resumed their attacks on Rabbi Kohn that he was a sinner, a heretic etc, and on the community management, the Temple and the Enlightened. The Maskilim's counterarticles in the Vienna newspapers Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums and [Oesterreichisches] CentralOrgan [für Glaubensfreiheit, Geschichte und Literatur der Juden], denigrated the Orthodox Herz Bernstein and Hirsch Ornstein, and blamed them that together with the tax lessees they had submitted a petition against the revocation of the candletax and the tax on Kosher meat. The Orthodox published a denial, stating that they had no hand in the petition, the shameful doing of the candletax lessees and their supporters.
The anonymous writer, however, insisted on his accusations and reproached the lawyers Dr. Landsberg and Mahl who, for money, had lent their pens to the Enlightened rebels. The Orthodox who worried that the Enlightened might gain control over the Jewish population, decided to submit a petition to the Kaiser and to the National Diet against Rabbi Kohn as the source of all evil whom they wished to have fired, and for the dispersal of the community management which was controlled by the Enlightened under whose yoke of arbitrariness, the Jewish citizens sigh.
Seven members on the community administration had been appointed by the district minister Milbacher around the year 1848. In their struggle against the communitycommittee, the Orthodox were also supported by the lawyers Dr. Landsberger and Dr. Mahl and Meier Münz who were offended for not being appointed community members.
While one of the Orthodox, Grünfeld, was collecting signatures, the petition of the Orthodox had reached the community officer Bernhardt Pipes.
Pipes ordered to jail him and to ban the
petition. On 23rd April 1848, after his return from Vienna, an angry Orthodox crowd burst into Rabbi Kohn's flat at the Bernadine Courtyard, and shattered his windows with stones. As the Jewish Company of the national elite started to disperse the Orthodox, the latter attacked them, and only with the aid of an army company did they succeed in restoring order, detain the rioting protestors and put them behind bars. The incident spurred the moderate Orthodox to meet the community leaders at Natan Sokal's house in order to reach a compromise. The Orthodox were unwilling to relinquish their demand that Rabbi Kohn leave Lwów, and agreed only to pay him compensation. The Enlightened rejected their proposal, however, leaving the matter unconcluded. Relations worsened further, the Orthodox even disrupted funerals in which the Temple cantor ([Osias] Abras) officiated, and intensified their fight against Rabbi Kohn. The petition they wished to present to the Kaiser was handed to the commission and was published as a pamphlet.
The attacking Orthodox were supported by the tax lessees who opposed Rabbi Kohn for his refusal to confront the candletax and Kosher meattax transgressors. A few of the leading Orthodox were themselves tax lessees and they found it easy to incite their followers against the community management and Rabbi Kohn. All their efforts to be rid of Rabbi Kohn were however in vain, and the government refused their petition. The Orthodox representatives then tried to attract the support of the Poles to their demands, and raised the question of Rabbi Kohn with the National Council, contesting that he was not a native Galician, and pleading: we wish to have a Polish rabbi. They even asked the Reichstag representative, Count Aleks[ander] Borkowski, to lobby for the rabbi to be elected without government intervention, and that the government should grant rabbis the right to punish any Jew who transgressed Jewish Law.
The Maskilim were angered by what they considered a gross act of denunciation, and the mutual relationship greatly eroded.
Lwów Jewry suffered from lack of political unity and from an internal division. The Orthodox with their spiritual leader Rabbi Hirsch Ornstein grandson of Lwów's Rabbi, Seb Jakob Ornstein strongly objected to the demands of the Enlightened.
The leader of the Orthodox was in effect NaftaliHerz Bernstein, greatgrandson of Rabbi Arieh Leb Bernstein from Brody, the first Rabbi of the Land of Galicia. He was wealthy and independent and his talents superseded those of Ornstein. He considered that his role was to maintain the interests of the Orthodox; he despised the Maskilim, especially after 1848 when the Maskilim began to wear European outfits nevertheless, his children's education also included a general education. He considered every Deutsch (Maskil) a criminal nonentity. He was known for his saying A Chassid might be contemptible, but the Deutsch is inevitably contemptible. He despised Rabbi Kohn personally and considered him the root of all the community's evil, and would have supported any plot against him.
Some of the Maskilim, Meier Münz etc., who were truly attached to the Jewish tradition, supported the Orthodox, especially in matters of the local community. The contrasts were accentuated not only due to Rabbi Kohn, but also due to the political struggle for Jewish rights. The twoway split of Lwów's Jews harmed the entire Jewish cause and prevented them from presenting a united front at the elections to Vienna's first National Diet [Reichstag].
But just when Jews and Poles celebrated fraternity, clear signs of an AntiJewish movement loomed over Galicia's political horizon.
On 19th June 1848, a leaflet by an anonymous Ruthenian was disseminated throughout Lwów, demanding that the Jews be granted emancipation only when they were worthy of it. First, however, the government had to treat the morals of the unkempt and neglected Jewish People. Dr. Leo Grünberg, a founder member of the Hechal [Temple], secretary of the first committee and a prominent Jewish Enlightened, responded to that leaflet with a pamphlet, in German:
Are the Jews ready and mature for emancipation? Retort to some wishes of a Ruthenian, made public in a leaflet of 19th June 1848, about some Galician Jews' advancement from an association July 1848.
The depth of AntiJewish sentiment despite the brotherly demonstrations and enthusiastic affirmations towards the Jews, is evidenced in the following: Galicia's delegates to the Reichstag received petitions from their voters, that when debating urbanlaw, they should propose transferring a large portion of Galicia's Jews to Hungary, Dalmatia and Austria, where the population was sparse, and that they be settled in agricultural settlements specific for them.
On 26th May 1848, the reactionists who wanted to block the achievements of the revolution, incited on the streets of Lwów the rebells against the Jews, as traders, restaurant owners and tradesmen refused to accept payment in banknotes according to the official rate; the Jews were only saved from riots by the National Guard. News reached Lwów of the peasants' confrontations even with estate owners' officials
due to incitement by government officials. The Jews in the villages were also affected by the conflicts. During the June 1848 Reichstag elections, government officials incited the peasants against the Szlachta [Polish nobility]. For fear of riots similar to those of 1846, the Jews of Lwów were asked, as in 1848, to instruct the lessees and the owners of taverns in the villages, to explain the true situation to the peasants. The proclamation To our Jewish brothers who reside in the villages, stressed in elementary Yiddish that thus far only the government officials' opinions had been heard by His Majesty the Kaiser and it was they who discriminated against the peasants and maintained the peasants' subjugation. The forthcoming legislative elections called for unity and peace among all strata of the citizens. The masters (Szlachta) abolished the peasants' serfdom and made also peace with the Jewish people, promising to support their demands to relieve us of the yoke of exile and also permit us alternative livelihoods. Therefore, our entire redemption relies on peace. Let no Jew from the villages believe the deceit of rioters, but rather, that it is appropriate and necessary to make peace among men. And especially you, villagers, whose words are listened to by the farmers, you must secure peace between the Gentiles and the masters, and explain to the Gentiles that there is no intention against His Majesty the Kaiser but only the desire to make peace. After all, one knows that the Polish landowners have actually proclaimed to the entire world that they would abolish serfdom (Pańszczyzna). The proclamation ended by emphasizing that It is incumbent upon us, fellow Jewish People, to make peace. After all, our livelihoods and subsistence have always depended on the noblemen, and on their peace rests also ours. The Jews expect favours from the Kaiser, and those would materialize when the nobles will testify in our favour as they have done thus far, and as they have published in all newspapers that they would support us in the Sejm, but everything rests on peace, and peace will bring us the Redeemer.
Dr. Kolischer again proposed to the community committee the plan that the Jews should take up agriculture, but due to opposition from the Charedim [the ultraorthodox] the plan was abolished from the start.
It seems that events of the period drove the Jews to the conclusion that gradually their situation was disintegrating. Between July and September 1848 another calamity hit Eastern Galicia with the outbreak of cholera, to which 843 persons succumbed at Lwów alone, of whom 371 died. The financial condition deteriorated and trade plummeted. The desire increased to leave Galicia, for America. On 3rd June 1848, the Vienna publication CentralOrgan carried the Lwów proclamation to support the emigration enterprise. The desire to emigrate was probably also influenced by the Vienna events of May 1848, and the antiSemitic movement. Notices were put up on the streets of Vienna, inciting to attack Jews.
Debates within circles of the Jewish intelligentsia questioned whether in face of the antiSemitic manifestations, at Vienna and the provinces, it was not advisable to abandon that ungrateful homeland and immigrate to America.
On 6th May 1848, the author Leopold Kompert published a proclamation in CentralOrgan (Issues 6; 7) to assist in the immigration of Jews to America, for although The sun of freedom shone over the homeland, over us Jews, however, it only appeared as the bloodstained northern Venus. According to the statement by the Jewish author [Simon] Szánto, an emigration committee was also established at Pest.
At Vienna, the 14th May 1848 saw the publication of the programme of The Association of Jewish Emigration to the United States by Dr. Max Engel and Dr. Ludwig August Frankl.
In the strongly worded article: Remain in the Country, David Mendl and Rabbi Dr. Schmiedl from Moravia objected strongly to the emigration movement. At Lwów too, the Enlightened circles discussed the schemes and an emigration committee was established which requested detailed information from the Vienna editorial board of the CentralOrgan. At the beginning of 1848, Dr. I Polak of Vienna was interested to establish a Jewish settlement in America, and even submitted suggestions to the Galicia authorities for the training of Jewish candidates The project failed, however. The question of emigration to America, which was initiated by the Vienna committee, was debated at Lwów in a meeting where doubts arose and counter proposals were put forward of settling in villages rather than emigrating to America. The Lwów committee expressed the view that it was preferable to consider Jewish agricultural settlements within Galicia itself, where Jews were permitted to purchase land. The emigration cost per family would suffice to settle it on the land in Galicia.
As said, the agricultural settlement was also debated by the community committee, but it was rejected due to opposition from the Charedim.
The Jewish leaders were so embroiled in dispute that they had taken no measures to secure a Reichstag delegate for Lwów's Jews. Subject to the electoral areas, Lwów's Jews were assured one mandate. The Jewish arbitrators wished to hand the mandate to Meier Münz, but the Enlightened who opposed him since he supported the Orthodox, passed a municipal ruling that the town be split into three electoral areas, thus annulling the possibility of electing a Jewish delegate.
On 2nd July 1848 elections were held at Lwów: the progressives preferred to support the candidacy of the Polish
supporters of the Jewish People, Dr. Marian Dylewski, Dr. Florian Ziemiałkowski and the baron Leszek Borkowski.
Although the leaders of the Enlightened and the Maskilim, such as Mohr and his newspaper sided with the concentration of power, they supported the Poles and took part in all their national demonstrations. On 4th May 1848, crowds of Jews joined the funeral of the Polish émigré Edward Morgenbesser, who came from France to Krakow where he fought at the barricades and was wounded on 26th April 1848. From Krakow he was taken to Lwów where he died. On 31st July 1848, the anniversary of the execution of Teofil Wiśniowski and Józef Kapuściński, the Enlightened held a memorial in the Temple at which Rabbi Kohn gave an address.
The Jewish leaders were certain that the Polish Reichstag delegates would protect Jewish affairs and would support their demands for full equal rights and the abolition of Jewish taxes which had not been annulled despite the Constitution.
The issue of taxes exacerbated the relationship between the community leadership and the Orthodox, since wealthy Orthodox Jews were among the taxlessees who influenced their friends and submitted to the Vienna authorities a memorandum against the annulment of the taxes: according to the Constitution the Reichstag set for 3rd July 1848 was scheduled to discuss the matter, but meanwhile the Jews had to pay the taxes.
The community sent to the Governor representatives, who explained to him that according to Clause 25 of the Constitution there was no ground for the collection of taxes. The masses had stopped paying the candletax and buying meat. That angered the lessees who stood to lose much and hoped to convince the government in their favour. Brazenly, the lessees stated in their memorandum that the Jews themselves were asking for the tax to be maintained. To substantiate their claim they supplemented signed pages which they had appended at the time to the petition in the Rabbi Kohn's affair. The lessees asserted to the masses that by paying the special taxes one could count on the authorities' patronage. They further justified their position with the claim that by annulling the taxes thousands of Jews would lose their income as clerks, sublessees, supervisors and assistants.
The Polish representatives, Archbishop Wierzchleyski, Dr. Smolka and Dr. Ziemiałkowski opposed the petition.
Not satisfied, however, the Lwów community summoned the representatives of all Galicia's communities to a meeting at Lwów, where it was decided to send a memorandum to the Vienna Reichstag set for 26th July 7th September 1848.
The memorandum opened with: Galicia's Jews hope that the National Diet will not only decide on the future and the direction of the Kingdom, but also on the civil existence of the Jews and their future. Under the Polish rule, prior to the Austrian occupation, Galicia's Jews enjoyed privileges that granted them full freedom in their economic lives, and they were entitled to purchase houses and even estates. They enjoyed the right to purchase land even under Joseph II. Here the memorandum entered in detail the restrictions and levies imposed on them, with which the Emperors had been confronted on several occasions during the Austrian Rule. Although the Constitution of 25th April 1848 proclaimed the granting of civil and political equal rights, the Jews were subject to certain restrictions and they had to pay special taxes which were collected with full legal backing, and which led to the impoverishment of the masses. Galician Jews' hope rested wholly in the Reichstag's effort to bring to an end the injustice done to the Jews. Is it not time to grant them equal rights and complete freedom? For tens of years the press and the national diets have spoken of the Jews' emancipation, which was also their demand. In the petition of 18th March and 6th April 1848, Galicia's residents demanded equal rights for all Nations and faiths and the National Diet need comply with the demand.
The Orthodox were quite unable to face the reality that Abraham Kohn was acceptable to the Jewish and to the nonJewish population.
Bernstein, the leader of the Orthodox, was unable to forgive him for heading the delegation to Vienna, in autumn 1847, which submitted the community's memorandum on the annulment of taxation on candles and on [kosher] meat. Bernstein even offered him compensation if he were to leave his position in Lwów, but Rabbi Kohn rejected that offer.
Having run out of options they started to adopt immoral means to harass him. In January 1848, on his return home with a group of teachers, the Orthodox waited for him at the school gate, attacked him and wounded his hand. They also bribed the Jewish pauper, Joel Schorr, to testify that Rabbi Kohn falsified the residents' register, ate nonkosher food and desecrated the faith. The investigation disproved Joel Schorr's testimony, for which the authorities jailed him, and he was only released on Rabbi Kohn's personal request. His situation worsened daily. His wife urged him to leave Lwów and he almost agreed, but the Maskilim asked him to stay, for they realised that his departure would result in the destruction of the Temple and of all the community's undertakings attained with great effort, with his assistance.
His foes continued searching for stratagems to be rid of him. And then they happened upon the thug Berl Pilpel, who was
willing to execute their scheme. On 6th September 1848, the Orthodox spread the rumours along the Wide Street (Breite Gass) that Rabbi Kohn and his family had contracted Cholera. The Rabbi and his children went for a walk to the Wysoki Zamek [High Castle] hill, and his wife went to the market. On her return, the doctor arrived to see Theresa, their young daughter. There was no one in the kitchen when Pilpel entered and put poison in their soup pot.
Oblivious of that, the entire family had their middaymeal and soon fell ill. The doctors were alerted but all their efforts were in vain. The Rabbi and his daughter Theresa died.
The news that the Rabbi was poisoned stunned the entire town, Jews and nonJews. Governor Zaleski sent a report to the Vienna authorities and ordered the police immediately to investigate the matter thoroughly. A number of Orthodox men were arrested, with Hirsch Ornstein and Herz Bernstein among them. Pilpel concealed himself, but on the day of the funeral he went to a barber and requested to have his beard and hair shaven off. His request raised suspicion, and the barber called the leaders who arrested him. The Rabbi's daughter and the maids recognized him as the man who had entered the Rabbi's house and kitchen.
|The tombstone of Rabbi Abraham Kohn|
Large crowds, including leaders of the authorities and the military, attended Rabbi Kohn's funeral. On behalf of the community, Dr. Emanuel Blumenfeld gave a funeral oration for him at the Enlighteneds' Temple, the [ritual] judge Ehlenberg gave a funeral oration in front of the synagogue outside the town, and the teachers Michael Wolf and Bernhard Frankl at the cemetery. His body was interred next to the grave of Jakob Ornstein. As rumours spread that the Orthodox would remove his body from the grave, the grave was watched over by the management. Nevertheless, they said that the Orthodox had carried out their scheme.
During the funeral and after it several other suspects of Rabbi Kohn's poisoning were arrested by the police, including: Joel Schorr, Isaac Schramek, Gabriel Suchestoff, Abraham Weinreb, Motel Urich, Aron Mimlys, Meschulem Feibusch Schorr, Chaja Karpel, Mojzesz Chiger, Jossel Bubriki, Simche Piper and Abraham Atlas.
The Reformers established a special committee to protect the rights of Rabbi Kohn's family, headed by Dr. Blumenfeld and Dr. Menkes, who brought from Vienna the renowned defence lawyer Dr. Weissenstein, who took up their defence in March. Soon he realized that some behind the scenes had interest in blurring the incident. Under his initiative, the committee submitted a memorandum in German to the Governor, regarding those activities:
Regarding the activities undertaken by the fanatic Jewish party, in order to thwart the success of the criminal investigation into Rabbi Kohn's murder.
The Governor sent the memorandum to the chairman of the criminal lawcourt. The investigation lasted several months, with the prosecutor eventually determining to cancel the trial against the suspects, with the exception of Pilpel, who in the first instance was sentenced to death. With the assistance of interested parties, however, he managed to escape from jail and, according rumours which circulated through Lwów, the Orthodox furnished him with a false passport to escape to Eretz Israel, where he settled at Safed [Tsfat].
After a lengthy negotiation with the authorities who refused to grant the widow and children a fixed pension, the Vienna ministry of the interior allowed the community to pay Kohn's widow an annual pension of 400 Gulden for the rest of her life, and 200 gulden annually for the children's education until 1860.
Thus concluded the ignominious, sad affair of the malicious poisoning brought on Rabbi Abraham Kohn and his family by the Orthodox circles.
On 3rd June 1848, as previously mentioned, Governor Stadion left Lwów and handed the civil authority to Agenor Gołuchowski, who was appointed head of the governorship, and the military authority to Galicia's military supreme commander, General Baron Hammerstein.
On his arrival at Vienna, Stadion proposed the partitioning of Galicia into two provinces. The plan was accepted by the government and its execution was set for 1stAugust 1848. Nevertheless, events in Hungary and Italy forced the government to postpone the undertaking. The Vienna authorities were liberal with the masses, hoping to succeed, in Italy under the command of [Joseph] Radetzki, and in Hungary with the help of the Croatians under General Jellachich [Josip Jelačić], which would enable them to annul the Constitution and subject the kingdom to an authoritarian regime.
On 30th July 1848, after the partitioning proposal was deferred, the Polish Wacław [Michał] Zaleski was appointed Galicia's Governor, replacing Stadion, and Gołuchowski remained as his deputy.
Prior to his appointment Zaleski set conditions as: no partitioning of Galicia; appointing Galician born Officers; strengthening the autonomous authorities; adopting Polish identity throughout the educational establishment and convening the Galician Sejm, at Lwów. During his two months' stay at Krakow, before arriving at Lwów on 25th October 1848, he had introduced significant changes to the administration and the educational establishment.
His efforts failed however. On 12th November 1848, a few days after the bombardment of Lwów, Zaleski left for Vienna at the behest of Hammerstein and never returned to his seat of Office. At Olmütz [Olomouc], the seat of government at the time, he failed due to the conspiracies of the radical military group, which paved the way for the Austrian reactionary regime with the assistance of Field Marshal [von] WindischGrätz.
The constituent assembly of the House of Representatives (Konstituierender Reichstag) convened at Vienna; a parliamentary committee which processed the Constitution, and determined the principle of civil and political equal rights for all faiths, including Jews, freedom of movement and of mixed marriages in the form of civil marriage.
On 26th September and 5th October 1848, in his speeches to the general assembly, Noah Mannheimer, the Brody delegate and deputy president of the parliament [Reichstag], demanded the abolition of the Koshermeat tax and the candle tax, and under his influence it was decided by 243 votes against 20, to revoke the demand for the special Jewish taxes. That established the principle of full equal rights of Jews and Christians. The 20th November [a] 1848 Imperial Decree (patent), made the decision legally and fully enforceable from 1st November 1848.
The Reichstag's decision to abolish the specific taxes was received with joy and great satisfaction by Galicia's Jews. The Jewish newspaper Tsaitung [Zeitung] published at Lwów, edited by Mohr, announced: My dear brothers, 1st November is coming, remember that the candle and the meat tax was abolished, do not listen to the inciters' sayings trying to convince you that the taxes are still in force, since the Kaiser has not yet signed the decision. Know, that whatever the [Reichstag] has decided, the Kaiser is unable to alter. We know that the Kaiser himself does not wish such contemptible taxes. The announcement ended with the demand that the Jews should not be taken in by the officers' and lessees' threats, and avoid having the taxes docked.
In their joy at the abolition of the taxes, and in their hatred for the lessees, Lwów's Jewish masses attacked them and their houses causing much damage. And it was only due to the intervention of the leaders that a serious clash was avoided.
The rest of the issues concerning the Jews' equal rights were not debated by the Reichstag since the following day, 6th October 1848, riots broke out at Vienna and the following Jews died: Adolph Kalinski, Emanuel Epstein, David Löb. The riots led to Vienna's siege and to a counter uprising, led by Field Marshal Prince WindischGrätz. The Reichstag relocated to Kremsier [Kroměříž] where it continued its work, but had no time to decide on the emancipation of the Jews. On 2nd December 1848, Franz Joseph I (18301916) became Emperor and Prince Felix Schwarzenberg was nominated Prime Minister.
Straight away, the government began to deal with the existing situation, and with preparing the new Constitution.
The 11th February 1849 session of the ministers' council also dealt with the question of the Jews, and after an extensive deliberation it accepted Clause 1 of the basic law, in which each citizen was guaranteed freedom of faith and the enjoyment of civil and political rights, irrespective of faith.
On 7th March 1849, the Kremsier parliament was dissolved and a new Constitution was provided, by force (Oktroyierte Verfassung), signed and approved by the Emperor on 4th March 1849. The Constitution, penned by the Minister of the Interior, Franz Stadion, was imbued with a liberal spirit and included the principle of equal rights for people of all faiths, with an emphasis that a difference in faith is no ground for discrimination in the enjoyment of political and civil rights.
That was the start of the reactionary regime. Following WindischGrätz's orders, Hammerstein was tasked with suppressing the riots which broke out at Lwów on 1st November 1848. The true reasons for those riots have not been settled, to date. Lwów's masses erected barricades. Two young Jews who took part in the fighting at the barricades, Nachman Sternklar and Seidner, were mentioned in particular in the authorities' report. The notables' companies tried to quell the unrest
but were unsuccessful. In the town's outskirts shots were fired, without knowing who started them Commander Hammerstein found a welcome excuse to intervene and surround the town centre with soldiers and cannons. Governor Zaleski and the notables' commander, General Wybranowski, lobbied Hammerstein to remove the soldiers. He agreed, with the proviso that the notables leave the town centre and the barricades be removed from the streets. The condition was met, but as the notables retreated the soldiers attacked them with beatings and shooting.
The events angered the masses and the riots resumed. Natan Hammerstein ordered the artillery companies to bomb the town from the Wysoki Zamek [High Castle]. 648 canon shots were fired till noon. The municipality, the university, the technical college, the science high school, the theatre and many private houses were almost wholly destroyed. According to the government report 55 people (13 of whom were women) were killed, and 75 (19 of whom were women) were injured.
Among the Jewish fatalities were Grabscheid Bernhardt, Lipa Goldberg, the teacher Igulnizer and Ludwik Krasnopolski (a merchant from Brody, who had come for a wedding and in his Angielski hotel room was hit by bullets fired by grenadiers beyond the Governor's buildings.
A state of emergency was declared at Lwów, the national elite and all the organizations and clubs were dismantled, the newspapers shut down.
Thus ended at Lwów the spring of the Nations 1848.
On 10th January 1849, a state of emergency was declared all over Galicia. On the 15th, Zaleski was called back to Vienna where he died six weeks later. Rumours spread throughout Lwów that he had been invited for a meal at Stadion's, and that while drinking black coffee the latter gave him a poisoned cigar.
On 24th January 1849, Agenor Goluchowski became Galicia's Governor which opened a new period in its history.
Despite the population's depressive condition, the Jews were joyful over the new Constitution which granted equal rights to all faiths including the Jews.
On 15th March 1849, the community held a festive prayer in the Temple and the preacher Dr. Moritz Löwenthal, Rabbi Abraham Kohn's successor, delivered a patriotic sermon which appeared in print. But there was yet a long way from the promised emancipation to its implementation.
Notes CHAPTER 16
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