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Jüdische Weisheit
The Bransky-Cerny-Kieval-Schroubek-Syndrome

Based in many year's discussion, I have named this syndrome after 4 scholars who have faced a similar experience throughout the years.

They have done important research work into Jewish history in the Czech lands. They have found little if any response from the Czech Jewish Community. They have, in large part, experienced some sort of bitterness by that ignorance. But they continue, nevertheless, with their work.

Jaroslav Bransky, born 1928, PhD, former teacher of Latin and Czech at the 'gymnasium' in Boskovice, Moravia, has dedicated a great part of his life to the history of once so important Jewish Community of Boskovice. Due to his endless efforts, the ghetto was not completely destroyed by the communist government before 1989. Today, a yearly summer festival is bringing life and culture to the city. Bransky published many books, e.g. about the last transport of the Boskovice Jews to the concentrations camps in 1942. His 400-pages volume "Dejiny Zidu v Boskovicich" - History of Boskovice-Jjews - remains unrivalled. Thanks to him, the Jewish past of Boskovice is fairly well known in the Czech Republik today.

Bohumil Cerny, born 1922, PhD, expert no. 1 on Leopold Hilsner,. He has written many books on this topic, and they all reflect the political climate in Prague of the time they appeared: the first one - Vrazda v Polne (Murder in Polna) - appeared during the Prague Spring of 1968. After the Soviet occupation, Cerny lost his post at the Historical Institute of the Czech Academy of Science. The Hungarian translation appeared under the titel "Gyilkossag Polnan" in budapest already in 1987. Again, as in the period of the blood libel accusations in the last quarter of 19th century, Hungarian society shows itself more mature than Czech society. A second, revised version was published under "Justicni omyl" (Miscarriage of Justice) after the 'Velvet Revolution' 1990 in Prague. In 1999 Cerny was editor and co-author of "Hilsneriada 1899-1999", published in Polna, Czech Republic. The same year he also took part in the three-day-conference about Hilsner case in Prague. In May 2000 he hold a lecture at the Czech Center in Vienna and participated in the opening of the Polna synagogue in september the same year. A second edition of his "Hilsneriada", which has been reviewed by most of the Czech quality papers in the meantime, came out in late 2000.

Hillel J. Kieval, professor of Jewish History and Thought at Washington University, St. Louis, may be regarded as the world's leading expert on Czech Jewry. In fact, his opus magnum of 1988 bears the titel "The making of Czech Jewry". In 2000. the University of California Press published his "Languages of Community: The Jewish Experience in the Czech Lands". By the end of 2001, he itends to publish a comparative study on the ritual murder accusation of Xanten, Tisza-Eszlar, Konitz and Polna.

Georg R. Schroubek, born 1922, former professor of ethnography at Munich University, author of the best German study on the Hilsner Case "Ritualmordwahn und Aberglaube", Berlin 1988. To this topic, Schroubek has dedicated a great proportion of his research, pointing out how the image of veneration changed, not only in Anezka Hruzova's case. She, in fact, soon became the object of a rural antisemitism. One may observe relicts of this even in the sanctification of St. Agnes, Patron of Bohemia, in October 1989, shortly before the political changes in Czechoslovakia. Schroubek has written also about the Tyrolian counterpart and ist cult, which is still alive in the Alps.

Petr Vasicek
Wien/Prague 20.09.2001

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