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August Spies was born in Landeck, Germany in 1855. Spies emigrated to the United States in 1872 and settled in Chicago where he became a upholsterer. He became involved in trade union activities and joined the Socialist Labor Party in 1877. Three years later he began contributing to the anarchist journal, Arbeiter Zeitung, and became editor in 1880.
Spies developed a reputation for his violent speeches. In October 1885 he told a meeting of the Central Labor Union that: "We urgently call upon the wage-class to arm itself in order to be able to put forth against the exploiters such an argument which alone can be effective - violence."
On 1st May, 1886 a strike was began throughout the United States in support a eight-hour day. Over the next few days over 340,000 men and women withdrew their labor. Over a quarter of these strikers were from Chicago and the employers were so shocked by this show of unity that 45,000 workers in the city were immediately granted a shorter workday.
The campaign for the eight-hour day was organised by the International Working Men's Association (the First International). On 3rd May, the IWPA in Chicago held a rally outside the McCormick Harvester Works, where 1,400 workers were on strike. They were joined by 6,000 lumber-shovers, who had also withdrawn their labour. While Spies was making a speech, the police arrived and opened-fire on the crowd, killing four of the workers.
The following day Spies published a leaflet in English and German entitled: Revenge! Workingmen to Arms!. It included the passage: "They killed the poor wretches because they, like you, had the courage to disobey the supreme will of your bosses. They killed them to show you 'Free American Citizens' that you must be satisfied with whatever your bosses condescend to allow you, or you will get killed. If you are men, if you are the sons of your grand sires, who have shed their blood to free you, then you will rise in your might, Hercules, and destroy the hideous monster that seeks to destroy you. To arms we call you, to arms." Spies also published a second leaflet calling for a mass protest at Haymarket Square that evening.
On 4th May, over 3,000 people turned up at the Haymarket meeting. Speeches were made by Spies, Albert Parsons and Samuel Fielden. At 10 a.m. Captain John Bonfield and 180 policemen arrived on the scene. Bonfield was telling the crowd to "disperse immediately and peaceably" when someone threw a bomb into the police ranks from one of the alleys that led into the square. It exploded killing eight men and wounding sixty-seven others. The police then immediately attacked the crowd. A number of people were killed (the exact number was never disclosed) and over 200 were badly injured.
Several people identified Rudolph Schnaubelt as the man who threw the bomb. He was arrested but was later released without charge. It was later claimed that Schnaubelt was an agent provocateur in the pay of the authorities. After the release of Schnaubelt, the police arrested Spies, Samuel Fielden and five German immigrants, George Engel, August Spies, Adolph Fisher, Louis Lingg, Oscar Neebe, and Michael Schwab. The police also sought Albert Parsons, the leader of the International Working Peoples Association in Chicago, but he went into hiding and was able to avoid capture. However, on the morning of the trial, Parsons arrived in court to standby his comrades.
There were plenty of witnesses who were able to prove that none of the eight men threw the bomb. The authorities therefore decided to charge them with conspiracy to commit murder. The prosecution case was that these men had made speeches and written articles that had encouraged the unnamed man at the Haymarket to throw the bomb at the police.
The jury was chosen by a special bailiff instead of being selected at random. One of those picked was a relative of one of the police victims. Julius Grinnell, the State's Attorney, told the jury: "Convict these men make examples of them, hang them, and you save our institutions."
At the trial it emerged that Andrew Johnson, a detective from the Pinkerton Agency, had infiltrated the group and had been collecting evidence about the men. Johnson claimed that at anarchist meetings these men had talked about using violence. Reporters who had also attended International Working Peoples Association meetings also testified that the defendants had talked about using force to "overthrow the system".
During the trial the judge allowed the jury to read speeches and articles by the defendants where they had argued in favour of using violence to obtain political change. The judge then told the jury that if they believed, from the evidence, that these speeches and articles contributed toward the throwing of the bomb, they were justified in finding the defendants guilty.
All the men were found guilty: Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fisher, Louis Lingg and George Engel were given the death penalty. Whereas Oscar Neebe, Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab were sentenced to life imprisonment. On 10th November, 1887, Lingg committed suicide by exploding a dynamite cap in his mouth. The following day Parsons, Spies, Fisher and Engel mounted the gallows. As the noose was placed around his neck, Spies shouted out: "There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today."
We urgently call upon the wage-class to arm itself in order to be able to put forth against the exploiters such an argument which alone can be effective - violence.
If we do not soon bestir ourselves for a bloody revolution, we cannot leave anything to our children but poverty and slavery. Therefore, prepare yourselves! In all quietness, prepare yourselves for the Revolution!
The contemplated murder of eight men, whose only crime is that they have dared to speak the truth, may open the eyes of these suffering millions; may wake them up. Indeed, I have noticed that our conviction has worked miracles in this direction already. The class that clamors for our lives, the good, devout Christians, have attempted in every way, through their newspapers and otherwise, to conceal the true and only issue in this case. By simply designating the defendants as anarchists and picturing them as a newly discovered tribe or species of cannibals, and by inventing shocking and horrifying stories of dark conspiracies said to be planned by them, these good Christians zealously sought to keep the naked fact from the working people and other righteous parties, namely: that on the evening on May 4, 200 armed men, under the command of a notorious ruffian, attacked a meeting of peaceable citizens! With what intention? With the intention of murdering them, or as many of them as they could.
Seven policeman have died, said Grinnell, suggestively winking at the jury. You want a life, and have convicted an equal number of men. If we are to be hanged on this principle, then let us know it, and let the world know what a civilized and Christian county it is in which the Goulds, the Vanderbilts, the Standfords, the Fields, Armours, and other local money hamsters have come to rescue of liberty and justice! Now, these are my ideas. They constitute a part of myself. I cannot divest myself of them, nor would I, if I could. And if you think that you can crush out these ideas that are gaining ground more and more every day; if you can crush them out sending us to gallows; if you would once more have people suffer the penalty of death because they have dared to tell the truth and I defy you to show us where we have told a lie I say, if death is the penalty for proclaiming the truth, then I will proudly and defiantly pay the costly price! Call your hangman! Truth crucified in Socrates, in Christ, in Giordano Bruno, in Huss, in Galileo, still lives - they and others whose number is legion have preceded us on this path. We are ready to follow!
During our trial the desire of the prosecutor to slaughter me, and to let my co-defendants off with milder punishment was quite apparent and manifest. It seemed to me then, and a great many of others, that the persecutors would be satisfied with one life - namely mine. Take this, then! Take my life! I offer it to you so that you may satisfy the fury of a semi-barbaric mob, and save that of my comrades. I know that every one of my comrades is as willing to die, and perhaps more so than I am. It is not for their sake that I make this offer, but in the name of humanity and progress, in the interest of a peaceable - if possible - development of the social forces that are destined to lift our race upon a higher and better plane of civilization. In the name of the traditions of our country I beg you to prevent a seven-fold murder upon men whose only crime is that they are idealists, that they long for a better future for all. If legal murder there must be, let one, let mine, suffice.
Seldom, if ever, have four men died more gamely and defiantly than the four who were strangled today. Every eye was bent upon the metallic angle around which the four wretched victims were expected to make their appearance. A moment later their curiosity was rewarded. With steady, unfaltering step a white-robed figure stepped out from behind the protecting metallic screen and stood upon the drop. It was August Spies. It was evident that his hands were firmly bound behind him underneath his snowy shroud.
He walked with a firm, almost stately tread across the platform and took his stand under the left-hand noose at the corner of the scaffold farthest from the side at which he had entered. Very pale was the expressive face, and a solemn, far-away light shone in his blue eyes. Nothing could be imagined more melancholy, and at the same time dignified, than the expression which sat upon the face of August Spies at that moment.
August Spies - History
From The Great Anarchist Trial. The Haymarket Speeches, as delivered on the evening of the throwing of the bomb, at Haymarket Square, Chicago, May 4, 1886. Chicago: The Chicago Labor Press Association, 1886. 3-5.
The Speech Delivered by August Spies at the Haymarket, May 4, on the Occasion of the Bomb Throwing.
Friends,--The speakers of the evening not having arrived I shall entertain you a few minutes. I am told that a number of patrol wagons, carrying policemen, were sent to Desplaines street station, and I understand that the militia have been called under arms. There seems to prevail the opinion in certain quarters that this meeting has been called for the purpose of inaugurating a riot, hence these warlike preparations on the part of the so-called "Law and Order." However, let me tell you at the beginning that this meeting has not been called for any such purpose. The object of this meeting is to explain the general situation of the Eight-Hour Movement, and to throw light upon various incidents in connection with it.
For more than twenty years have the wage workers of this country begged and prayed their masters, the factory lords, to reduce their burdens. It has been in vain. They have pointed out the fact that over a million of willing and strong hands were in a state of enforced idleness and starvation, that to help them to obtain employment it would not only be advisable, nay, it was necessary to reduce the hours of daily toil of those who were fortunate enough in having found a buyer for their muscles, their bones, and their brain. The masters of this earth have treated them with contempt, have condemned them to vagabondage whenever they insisted. The legislatures have been called upon, one petition has succeeded the other, but with no avail.
At last the condition of the disinherited producers has become unbearable. Seeing that neither "boss" nor law would concede anything to them, they have organized for the purpose of helping themselves--a wise and prudent resolution.
All over the land we behold vast armies of producers, no longer begging, but demanding that eight hours shall henceforth constitute a normal working day. And what say the extortionists to this? They demand their pound of flesh, like Shylock. They will not yield one iota. They have grown rich and powerful on your labor. They amass stupendous fortunes, while you, who bring them into existence, are suffering from want. In answer to your pleadings they ask for the bodies of your little children, to utilize them in their gold mints, to make dollars out of them! Look at the slaves of McCormick! When they tried to remonstrate with their master he simply called upon "the protectors of these free and glorious institutions"--the police--to silence them.
You have no doubt heard of the killing and wounding of a number of your brothers at McCormick's yesterday. Mr. McCormick told a Times reporter that Spies was responsible for that massacre committed by the most noble Chicago police. I reply to this that McCormick is an infamous liar. (Cries of "Hang him.") No, make no idle threats. There will be a time, and we are rapidly approaching it, when such men as McCormick will be hanged there will be a time when monsters who destroy the lives and happiness of the citizens (for their own aggrandizement) will be dealt with like wild beasts. But that time has not yet come. When it has come you will no longer make threats, but you will go and "do it."
The capitalistic press, like the "respectable gentleman" McCormick, howls that the anarchists are responsible for the deeds of violence now committed all over this country. If that were true one would have to conclude that the country was full of anarchists, yet the same press informs us that the anarchists are very few in number. Were the "unlawful" acts in the Southwestern strike committed by anarchists? No, they were committed by Knights of Labor, men who never fail to declare, whenever there is an opportunity, that they are law and order abiding citizens. The attack upon McCormick's yesterday--Was it made by anarchists? Let us see. I had been invited by the Central Labor Union to address a meeting of lumberyard laborers on the Black road. I went out there yesterday at the appointed time, about three o'clock in the afternoon. There were at least 10,000 persons assembled. When I was introduced to address them a few Poles or Bohemians in the crowd cried out: "He's a socialist." These cries were followed by a general commotion and derision--"We want no socialist down with him." These and other exclamations I was treated to. Of course, I spoke anyway the crowd became calm and quiet, and fifteen minutes later, elected me unanimously a delegate to see their bosses. Nevertheless, you can see that these people are not socialists or anarchists, but "good, honest, law-abiding, church-going Christians and citizens." Such were the persons who left the meeting, as I afterwards learned, to "make the scabs at McCormick's quit work." In my speech I never mentioned McCormick. Now you may judge for yourselves whether the anarchists were responsible for the bloodshed yesterday or not.
Who is responsible of these many "lawless" acts, you ask me? I have told you that they are generally committed by the most lawful and Christian citizens--in other words, the people are by necessity driven to violence, they can't carry the burden heaped upon them any longer. They try to cast it off, and in so doing break the laws. The law says they must not cast it off, for such an act would alter, yea, revolutionize the existing order of society! These acts of violence are the natural outgrowth of the present industrial system, and every one is responsible for them who supports and upholds that system.
What does it mean when the police of this city, on this evening, rattle along in their patrol wagons?
What does it mean when the militia stands warlike and ready for bloody work at our armories?
What are the gatling guns and cannons for?
Is this military display of barbarism arranged for your entertainment?
All these preparations, my friends, ARE made in your behalf! !
Your masters have perceived your discontent.
They do not like discontented slaves.
They want to make you contented at all hazards, and if you are stubborn they will force or kill you.
Look at the killing of your brothers at McCormick's yesterday. What did they do? The police tell you that they were a most dangerous crowd, armed to their teeth. The fact is, they, like ignorant children, indulged in the harmless sport of bombarding McCormick's slaughter house with stones. They paid the penalty of this folly with their blood.
The lesson I draw from this occurrence is, that working men must arm themselves for defense, so that they may be able to cope with the government hirelings of their masters.
German saboteurs executed in Washington, D.C.
During World War II, six German saboteurs who secretly entered the United States on a mission to attack its civil infrastructure are executed by the United States for spying. Two other saboteurs who disclosed the plot to the FBI and aided U.S. authorities in their manhunt for their collaborators were imprisoned.
In 1942, under Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s orders, the defense branch of the German Military Intelligence Corps initiated a program to infiltrate the United States and destroy industrial plants, bridges, railroads, waterworks, and Jewish-owned department stores. The Nazis hoped that sabotage teams would be able to slip into America at the rate of one or two every six weeks. The first two teams, made up of eight Germans who had all lived in the United States before the war, departed the German submarine base at Lorient, France, in late May.
Just before midnight on June 12, in a heavy fog, a German submarine reached the American coast off Amagansett, Long Island, and deployed a team who rowed ashore in an inflatable boat. Just as the Germans finished burying their explosives in the sand, John C. Cullen, a young U.S. Coast Guardsman, came upon them during his regular patrol of the beach. The leader of the team, George Dasch, bribed the suspicious Cullen, and he accepted the money, promising to keep quiet. However, as soon as he passed safely back into the fog, he sprinted the two miles back to the Coast Guard station and informed his superiors of his discovery. After retrieving the German supplies from the beach, the Coast Guard called the FBI, which launched a massive manhunt for the saboteurs, who had fled to New York City.
Although unaware that the FBI was looking for them, Dasch and another saboteur, Ernest Burger, decided to turn themselves in and betray their colleagues, perhaps because they feared capture was inevitable after the botched landing. On July 15, Dasch called the FBI in New York, but they failed to take his claims seriously, so he decided to travel to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. On July 18, the same day that a second four-man team successfully landed at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, Dasch turned himself in. He agreed to help the FBI capture the rest of the saboteurs.
Burger and the rest of the Long Island team were picked up by July 22, and by July 27 the whole of the Florida team was arrested. To preserve wartime secrecy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered a special military tribunal consisting of seven generals to try the saboteurs. At the end of July, Dasch was sentenced to 30 years in prison, Burger was sentenced to hard labor for life, and the other six Germans were sentenced to die. The six condemned saboteurs were executed by electric chair in Washington, D.C., on August 8. In 1944, two other German spies were caught after a landing in Maine. No other instances of German sabotage within wartime America has come to light.
In 1948, Dasch and Burger were freed by order of President Harry S. Truman, and they both returned to Germany.
The claim in the section "Trial" should be changed because it is not historically true that a relative of one of the policemen sat on the jury. According to the record of the trial, M.D. Flavin was examined and during the course of his questioning noted that Officer Flavin was a “distant relative”. The defense challenged him for cause and Judge Gary did overrule the challenge and the defense used one of their 180 peremptory challenges to remove Flavin from the jury pool. Flavin did not serve on the jury that convicted the anarchist defendants. (Abstract of Record, vol. 1, pp. 84-85. See also, http://blogs.bgsu.edu/haymarket/myth-1-the-relative-on-the-jury/MesserKruse (talk) 14:32, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
This section is not compatible with the claims in the Haymarket affair page, it reads: "Known for his aggressive rhetoric, an enraged Spies published a leaflet on May 4, 1886 entitled Revenge! Workingmen to Arms!" But on the Haymarket affair page it states that a seperate individual wrote the leaflet and Spies said he would not speak unless the "offensive" title was changed, which it was. I have not edited because I am not familiar enough with the subject but I believe editing is in order unless I am misunderstanding something. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk) 17:57, 23 December 2009 (UTC)
Agreed, these articles do conflict. I will bring the Spies article into conformity with the Haymarket article citing pages 193-96 in Avrich's Haymarket Tragedy. User: AecwriterAECwriter 16:43, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
From the Article: "Violence erupted and a pipe-bomb was thrown, killing seven policemen." This may mislead readers into believing the pipe-bomb killed 7 policeman, while the Haymarket Affair page, which links to this page directly, states, "A pipe bomb was thrown at the police line and exploded, killing policeman Mathias J. Degan." and, "Aside from Degan, several police officers appear to have been injured by the bomb, but most of the police casualties were caused by bullets, largely from friendly fire."  The latter page's claim that a single officer was killed by the bomb itself is evidenced by detailed, in-line citations, which this page notably lacks. --WebWaster (talk) 15:51, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
“Witnesses testified that none of the eight men charged threw the bomb.” This statement makes it sound like there was a question as to whether or not the men on trial threw the bomb. There was no such debate. The prosecution always maintained that Spies’ associate Rudolph Schnaubelt threw the bomb.
“Death and Legacy” The first two paragraphs are about other defendants, not Spies.
AECwriter 07:20, 19 February 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aecwriter (talk • contribs)
Schnaubelt was not one of the eight men on trial. He was indicted, I believe, but never arrested and he was not tried in absentia. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 17:42, 20 February 2012 (UTC) You're correct. On second thought I don't think my first suggestion warrants any action. User:Aecwriter (talk)AECwriter 07:42, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
Today on March 2, 2012, I added significant information to the Haymarket and Trial sections.
I was hesitant to label the "Monday Night Conspirators" as "extremists," but found that Avrich, one of the scholars said to represent the "consensus opinion" on the Haymarket, indeed uses that word. See citation in article.
I have deleted "the trial was controversial." I think I weigh both sides to an adequate degree that this need not be stated.
I have focused on those elements of the trial directly relating to August Spies as much as possible. For this reason, I have deleted a reference to the "special bailiff," often cited by those arguing the trial was rigged and the defendants unquestionably innocent. I feel if the special bailiff is mentioned, it should be contextualized, as I have argued on the Haymarket Talk page (Special Bailiff section). To do so here would detract from the Spies case. I think the special bailiff should be discussed in the main Haymarket article, as this impacted all the defendants.
I also debated whether I should add information that throws August Spies' statement at sentencing into question. Although there are multiple instances where Spies' accounts are contradictory or shown to be false, I chose to mention only one instance, the Legner issue, and this one because it relates directly to Spies' statements at sentencing, which I have added. I don't think we need to hammer home the dubiousness of some of Spies' claims, but I think one reference is in order.
I intend to work on Death and Legacy also when I get a chance. User:AecwriterAECwriter 02:00, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
Spies was a member of the BVP from 1919 to 1933 . After the Second World War he was one of the co-founders of the CDP in the Palatinate , from which the Rhineland-Palatinate state association of the CDU later emerged. Later he was elected chairman of the CDU district association Kusel and the state board of the Palatinate Christian Democrats.
Spies was elected to the district council of the Kusel district in 1946. In 1946/47 he was a member of the Advisory State Assembly of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and then a member of the Rhineland-Palatinate State Parliament until his resignation on October 31, 1953 . Johann Klinkner succeeded him in the state parliament . He was a member of the German Bundestag from 1953 to 1961. In parliament he represented the constituency of Kaiserslautern .
Spies was a member of the 1st and 3rd Federal Assemblies for the election of the Federal President.
August Vincent Theodor Spies (10. desember 1855–11. november 1887) var sjefs-redaktør og utgivar av den sosialistiske avisa Arbeiter-Zeitung og talsperson for den amerikanske arbeidarrørsla i Chicago.
Spies vart fødd i Landecker Amt i Hessen, men emigrerte til Chicago i 1871. Rundt 1876 byrja han å interessere seg for arbeidarrørsla, og i 1877 vart han medlem i det sosialistiske arbeidarpartiet i Nord-Amerika. I 1880 vart han så utgivar og forretningsførar for avisa Arbeiter-Zeitung på staden, og var frå 1884 til 1886 òg sjefsredaktør der. Han vart talsperson for den radikale fløya i arbeidarrørsla.
I november 1887 vart han avretta ved eit justismord etter å ha vorte dømd for eit bombeåtak mot politiet under Haymarket Riot 4. mai 1886. Dette skjedde da politiet gjekk til åtak på streikande og demonstrerande arbeidarar som slåst for 8 timarsdagen. Tre andre vart òg urettmessig hengde for dette, mens éin gjorde sjølvmord i fengselet, og atter tre vart sleppte fri i 1893, da guvernøren annullerte dommen mot dei.
File:Photocopy of photo engraving (from August Spies' Spies' Gallery of Photo Engravings, Soldiers' and Sailors' Home, Sandusky, Ohio, (August Spies), 1902) VIEW SOUTHEAST, HABS OHIO,22-SAND,1D-13.tif
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History Crash Course #13: The Tragedy of the Spies
Every major disaster in Jewish history is connected to the 9th of Av. It all began with the 12 spies.
After a year at Mount Sinai, the Jewish people pack up their portable sanctuary and come to the borders of the Land of Israel.
They should have entered the land at this point, but the Jewish people came to Moses and said, "Wait a minute, let's scout out the land first before we enter."
So they select 12 "scouts" or "spies" -- one from each of the 12 tribes -- and send them in to do some reconnaissance work.
We have to spend a little time talking about the tragedy of the spies, because the implication of this event is going to reverberate throughout all of Jewish history. It's going to put into place one of the most significant and certainly most depressing dates in the Jewish calendar -- the Ninth of Av -- Tisha B'Av. Virtually every major disaster in Jewish history is going to be connected to the Ninth of Av -- which is the exact date when both the first and second Temples were destroyed.
Again, actions of the Jews have huge consequences which reverberate throughout history. Jews have suffered throughout history because of that mistake they made "back then." So what was the terrible mistake of the spies?
These 12 spies spend 40 days scouting out the land and they come back with a huge cluster of grapes saying, "You all see the size of these grapes? You should see the size of some of the people who eat them. They are giants! No way can we beat them. We may as well go back to Egypt."(1)
Only two of the spies dissent from this report: Joshua ben Nun, who is Moses' chief student, and Caleb ben Yefuna from the tribe of Judah.
But the Jewish people accept the majority report of the spies. The people break down in tears at the news and refuse to budge.
Moses is absolutely horrified and God is very angry. He issue two decrees of punishment:
- God tells the Jews that because they displayed this lack of faith after He had brought them so far, they are doomed to wander in the desert for 40 years (One year for every day they spied out the land) until the entire adult male population (except for the Levites who did not listen to the spies) had died off. (The women, who always carried the standard of faith in Judaism, didn't listen to the spies and lived to go into the land.)
- God tells the Jews that because they cried on this day for no good reason, they will cry on this day in history for some very good reasons. (We will see how this is carried out in future installments in this series.)
The Jews wander for 40 years. It's interesting to note that virtually none of the text of the Bible deals with the details of the wandering. If you examine the text in the Book of Numbers you will notice that between the Torah portion dealing with Korach's rebellion (Num. 16-18) and the next Torah portion Chukot (Num. 19-20), there is a gap of 38 years. The only brief mention of the travels that took place during those 38 years comes at the end of the Book of Numbers in the portion entitled Masei. We see these gaps many times in the narrative. Since the Bible is meant to teach us lessons and was not meant to be a diary or history book, only events that have a lesson relevant to us today are recorded others are mentioned only briefly or skipped altogether.
Near the end of the 40 years of wandering, they find themselves -- as they did a number of times before -- without water.(2) And as they did a number of times before, they are complaining. God tells Moses to speak to the rock and water will flow.
For the past 40 years Moses has had the hardest job on the planet earth -- leading an unruly group of people God himself described as "stiff-necked." We've talked about the Jewish people's greatest strength and greatest weakness. What's their greatest strength? Their complete dedication to an idea, which enabled them to, exist for 2,000 years as the only monotheists in the world, outlast the greatest nations in history and die for an ideology that would change the world.
What's their greatest weakness? This national characteristic of idealism and independence is a double-edged sword that has a negative side to it. Their complete, stubborn dedication to an idea that makes every Jew think he's right and every Jew think that he's going to change the world his way. This is a group that is very, very difficult to unify and almost impossible to lead. It is far easier to be the premier of a billion Chinese than the prime minister of a few million Jews. (3)
(A humorous story illustrating this point is told about a meeting between former US President Harry Truman and the future Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir. Truman was bemoaning the difficulties of leadership and remarked, "You have no idea what it is to be a president of a country of 200 million people." To which Meir responded, "You have no idea of what is to be a prime minister of a country of 2 million prime ministers.")
So after 40 years of trying to lead this stubborn nation, Moses loses his temper for one moment. "You rebels!" he shouts. And instead of speaking to the rock as he was commanded to do, he hits it. (4)
And God says to Moses, "Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the Children of Israel, you're not going to go into the Land of Israel with the Jewish people." (Num. 20:12)
The Sages say that anger is a form of idolatry, because if God runs the world, then everything that happens to you, whether for bad or for good, is the will of God. Losing your temper is a form of denial that God is running the world, a rejection of the idea that whatever happens is for your own good.
For Moses -- the ultimate prophet to whom God spoke face-to-face -- to get angry even for a few seconds, the consequences are awesome. It's a desecration of God's name, done publicly in front of the Jewish people.
The consequences show just how accountable people on such high levels are for the little mistakes they make and the repercussions of those mistakes. This theme will repeat itself over and over again throughout the Bible.
Moses, of course, sees his error right away and accepts God's judgment.
Moses now prepares the people for their entry into the Promised Land. The last of the Five Books of Moses is his farewell address to the people.
When Deuteronomy begins, Moses already knows he's not destined to bring the Jewish people into the Land of Israel, and this entire book is Moses' farewell address to the people. Here Moses reviews the commandments, and reiterates the Jewish national mission. The most common idea he repeats over and over again is: "Keep the Torah."
In a nutshell, Moses says, "If you keep the laws between 'man and God' and between 'man and man', everything will go fine for you. No other nation will touch you. You'll have material prosperity, and you will live to change the world. But if you don't keep the Torah, if you break your end of the bargain, then the land will vomit you out, your enemies will attack, and you will suffer."
The message is clear. The solution to all our problems has nothing to do with external threats-external threats are merely symptoms of the deeper problem which is always the Jewish people not keeping their side of the bargain. It always has to do with the Jews' relationship to each other and their relationship to God.
The late 19th and 20th centuries were the first time in Jewish history where large numbers of Jews left God (by choice and not by force, a la the Expulsion from Spain in 1492) , and were left wondering, "Where is God?" World War One broke out on the Ninth of Av. The German sweep into Eastern Europe beginning in 1914, uprooted Jewish communities and demolished centuries of tradition. It was the precursor to the horrendous Holocaust.
A Holocaust survivor writes: "The quintessential element that distinguishes this event (the Holocaust) was the search for God. Every Jew who remained in the ghettos and the camps remembers "the God Syndrome" that shrouded everything else. From morning till night we cried out for a sign that God was still with us. We sought Him, but we did not find Him. We were always accompanied by the crushing and unsettling feeling that God had disappeared from our midst." (Machshavot Magazine, Vol. 46, p. 4)
Throughout the rest of Jewish history, Jews in even the worst circumstances have viewed external problems, even the worst problems like being slaughtered en masse in the Crusades, as divine retribution for their mistakes. You will rarely find Jews, until the 20th century, saying "Where is God?" They are almost always saying, "It's because of wrongdoing that God has done this to us."
Prior to his death, Moshe completes the writing of the first Torah scroll. In addition, he writes another twelve scrolls which were given one to each of the twelve tribes. The thirteenth was placed in the Ark of the Covenant and eventually deposited in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. This last scroll, which was occasionally removed from the Ark, served as the proof text for future scrolls to insure the accuracy of transmission of the text of the Oral Law. (5)
Having delivered this final message, Moses dies and is buried on Mount Nebo somewhere across the mountains in Jordan. We are deliberately not told where it is, so nobody will worship his grave over there.
Joshua assumes leadership. Judaism is a meritocracy. Real leadership in Jewish history goes not to those who were born into the right families, but to the people who are best suited for the job. (A great Torah scholar with integrity and leadership skills) So the job of successor does not go to Moses' sons (who are barely heard of) but to Joshua ben Nun, Moses' chief disciple who had proven his mettle in the incident with the spies. In addition to Joshua ( and from the time of Moses-see Numbers 11:16) there was a supreme legislative body of the seventy top Torah scholars know as the z'kenim, or Elders -- later known as the Sanhedrin (Greek word for 70). These too were chosen on the merit of their scholarship and integrity thus creating history's first meritocracy. (6)
At this point in our story we have finished the Five Books of Moses and now enter the next phase of Jewish history and the next section of the Bible-The Book of Joshua.
1) The obvious question that would be asked at this point is: The Jewish people had just seen God destroy the most powerful civilization in the ancient world-Egypt. Why should they be afraid of the Canaanites? The answer seems to be that that while they we in the desert they lived a supernatural existence: manna from heaven, water from a rock, clouds of glory and pillars of fire. They recognized that upon entering the land all that would end and they would have to resort to a normal and more difficult existence of fighting and farming. Their desire not to enter was, therefore primarily fueled by a desire to prolong their supernatural existence. Their mistake was in not trusting in God enough to see that even through natural means they would be able to conquer, settle and prosper in the land.
2) The supernatural phenomenon of the Manna, water from the rock and clouds all came on the merit of Moses (manna), Aaron (Clouds) and Miriam (water). As each of them die toward the end of the wanderings, the supernatural phenomenon cease.
3) A number of years ago I was sitting in lecture given by one of Israel's foremost military historians, Meir Pe'il. He mentioned something which beautifully illustrates this point: He told the audience that he has taught in numerous war colleges around the world: West Point, Sandhurst etc and viewed many of the world's armies in action. Then he said: "On one point every army in the world is the same. In every army in the world the officers give orders, but in the Israeli army the officers have to explain things."
4) Immediately after the Exodus from Egypt (see Exodus 17:5-7) God had commanded Moses to strike the rock in-order-to get it to bring forth water.
5) Ramban, Intro. to the Yad Dvarim Rabbah9:4 Midrash Tehillim 90:3 Tosafoth, Bava Matra 14a. The accuracy of the transmission process of both the Written and Oral has always been a crucial factor in the preservation of both the Torah and the Jewish people. The laws regarding the accuracy of a Torah Scroll are very, very strict. During the weekly reading of the Torah portion, even the smallest mistake on the part of the reader is corrected by the entire congregation. A Torah scroll (which is always copied by hand) that has even the smallest error (one missing or wrong letter of the 304,805) cannot be used and must be fixed within 30 days or buried. A brief quote from the Talmud illustrates this point: Rebbe Meir said: When I came to study with Rebbe Yishmael, he said to me, "My son, what is your line of work?" I told him I was a scribe. He said to me: "My son, be careful with your work, for it is the work of heaven. Should you perhaps omit one letter or add one letter- you could destroy the entire world." Talmud, Eruvin 13a.
6) For more on the Sanhedrin see: Deut. 1:17 Deut. 16:18 Ex. 23:2. The best detailed description can be found in Miamonides Yad,Shoftim: Laws of the Sanhedrin.. Also see Chapter 11 of WorldPerfect-The Jewish Impact on Civilization.
August was born on January 14, 1937 and passed away on Thursday, December 1, 2011.
August was a resident of Morland, Kansas.
The information in this obituary is based on data from the US Government's Social Security Death Index. No further information is available. More details on this data source are provided in our Frequently Asked Questions section.
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On this day in history August 29, 1949: To the shock of the United States, the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb code-named First Lightning aka &ldquoJoe-1&rdquo at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan. Why was the United States shocked? They didn&rsquot think the Soviets were that far advanced in their development of the Atomic bomb.
It is believed that this first Russian atomic bomb was based of plans of the first American Atomic bomb that made its ways into Russian hands via spies. One of the main names attached to the stealing of the plans was Klaus Fuchs (pictured above). The article Spies Who Spilled Atomic Bomb Secrets by Marian Holmes of the Smithsonian website dated April 19, 2009 describes Fuchs as follows:
Dubbed the most important atomic spy in history, Klaus Fuchs was a primary physicist on the Manhattan Project and a lead scientist at Britain&rsquos nuclear facility by 1949. Just weeks after the Soviets exploded their atomic bomb in August 1949, a Venona decryption of a 1944 message revealed that information describing important scientific processes related to construction of the A-bomb had been sent from the United Sates to Moscow. FBI agents identified Klaus Fuchs as the author.
Born in Germany in 1911, Fuchs joined the Communist Party as student, and fled to England during the rise of Nazism in 1933. Attending Bristol and Edinburgh universities, he excelled in physics. Because he was a German national he was interned for several months in Canada but returned and cleared to work on atomic research in England. By the time he became a British citizen in 1942, he had already contacted the Soviet Embassy in London and volunteered his services as a spy. He was transferred to the Los Alamos lab and began handing over detailed information about the bomb construction, including sketches and dimensions. When he returned to England in 1946, he went to work at Britain&rsquos nuclear research facility, and passed information on creating a hydrogen bomb to the Soviet Union. In December 1949, authorities, alerted by the Venona cable, questioned him. In a matter of few weeks, Fuchs confessed all. He was tried and sentenced to 14 years in prison. After serving nine years he was released to East Germany, where he resumed work as a scientist. He died in 1988.
This detonation by the Russians in 1949 would launch the arms race between the two world Superpowers. Both countries would detonate their Hydrogen Bombs in the mid 1950&rsquos to further escalate the arms race.
For an in-depth description of what went into the Soviets detonating their Atomic Bomb on August 29, 1949, click on the link for People & Events: First Soviet Test from the American Experience page for the Race for the Superbomb.
The Cold War continued to get colder and colder in the long shadow of these weapons of mass destruction.