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Jewish Martyrdom in Mainz

In May of 1096 Crusader armies attacked the Jews of Mainz and threatened to kill them if they did not of convert to Christianity. The Jews took refuge in the bishop's palace. When he could no longer protect them they decided to kill themselves rather than submit to baptism. More than one thousand Jews died, many by their own hand.

Known in Hebrew as Kiddush ha-Shem -- "Sanctification of the Name (of God)" -- martyrdom to avoid conversion became common in this period. This account is from the Chronicle of Samuel ben Simson.





The women girded themselves with strength and slaughtered their sons and daughters, along with themselves. Many men likewise gathered strength and slaughtered their wives and their children and their little ones. . . . They offered up their children as did Abraham with his son Isaac. . . . The saintly and pious women stretched forth their necks for the unity of the [Divine] Name. Likewise men to their children and brothers, brothers to sisters, women to their sons and daughters, and neighbor to neighbor and friend, bridegroom to bride, and betrothed to his betrothed. They sacrificed each other until the blood flowed together. The blood of husbands mingled with that of their wives, the blood of parents with that of their children, the blood of brothers with that of their sisters, the blood of teachers with that of their students, the blood of bridegrooms with that of their brides, the blood of cantors with that of their scribes, the blood of infants and sucklings with that of their mothers.