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Jewish Persecution in the Middle Ages

4 Pages 891 Words March 2020

The small town of Endingen in Breisgau, located between Breisach and Riegel was a small market town for the surrounding countryside. With a population of about a thousand people in 1470, most of the townsfolk cultivated a strip of land as their main source of income. Corn and wine were their major produce together with grain, winemaking, and barrel making as the town’s leading trade. The people of Endingen had limited political rights, so they didn’t have a say in matters such as whether they would want an ethnic group, such as the Jews, the people who killed Jesus, to let them live in the town with them. To keep the people happy, in 1427, Duke Friedrich of Austria assured them that he wouldn’t force them to accept Jews, a promise he did not hold. Then, during the Easter of 1470, while workers were removing bones from a charnel for reburial, they came across the remains of a man, woman, and two small, headless corpses. Someone remembered that about eight years ago, in 1462, many Jews had gathered in the house of Elias in celebration of Passover and a poor family had been given shelter by Elias. Suspicion of murder quickly fell upon the Jews of Endingen, and that was how it all began.
On March 24, 1470, Elias and his brothers Eberlin and Mercklin were arrested, thus beginning the infamous Endingen ritual murder trial. All three were brought to trial and questioned about what they knew of the murder committed eight years ago. The first hearing was with Elias. He confessed that he knew about the killing and was a witness of the murder. He also gave away names other people who were there during the murder and who took part, but as the author writes, “Elias was trying to gain some respite and a lighter sentence. Except for the first question, which he answered voluntarily, torture was undoubtedly applied during the rest of the interrogation”(238). Next came Eberlin, who confessed everything without being tortured. In his confessi...

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