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May 27: The End of the Paris Commune

May 27, 2014
765px-Communards_in_their_CoffinsThe Paris Commune and the revolutionary spirit it embodied was brought to a bloody end on this date in 1871 with the execution of hundreds of communards against the wall of Père-Lachaise cemetery. Among Jews active in the Commune were Leó Frankel, a Hungarian-born communist who was elected to the Paris Commune in March, suffered wounds in its defense, and managed to escape execution to become a leader of the First International in London. Frankel was an assistant to Freidrich Engels and corresponded frequently with Karl Marx. After a meeting with Theodor Herzl, he also became interested in the fledgling Zionist movement. He died in Paris in 1896; an obelisk in his honor was erected in Père Lachaise. Armand Levy and Lazare Levy were two Jews who signed to the Commune’s electoral declaration of March 23, 1871. The former was close to the Polish revolutionary Adam Mickiewicz, with whom he worked in Constantinople to organize a Polish and Jewish armed militia to fight under the Ottomans against the Russian Empire in the Crimean war. Levy’s dream, writes James H. Billington in Fire in the Minds of Men: The Origins of the Revolutionary Faith, “was to liberate Jerusalem, its flag was to be the ‘scroll of the Law.’ ” “WORKERS: We have fought and we have learned to suffer for our egalitarian principles; we cannot retreat now that we can assist in laying the first stone of the social edifice. What have we asked for? The organization of credit, exchange, and association in order to assure the worker the full value of his labor; free, secular, and integral education; the right to meet and to form associations; the absolute freedom of the press and of the citizen; the municipal organization of police services, armed forces, hygiene, statistics, etc....” -Electoral statement of the International Workingmen’s Association Federal Council of Parisian Sections (Paris Commune)
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