The Jewish 48’ers: In the American Civil War

The Jewish 48'ers: In the American Civil WarThe film will tell the story of the forgotten Jewish freedom fighters of 1848 who fought for a better Europe and for the Jewish emancipation during the Spring Revolutions of 1848, and later became Heroes of the American Civil War when they took up the arms against the slavery. We are presenting a researched based content with the contribution of top scholars. Most of the film’s materials have never been published and new discoveries will be presented too. The journey starts with the prelude of 1848 in Europe.

Prior to 1848 the Jewish people had limited rights across Europe, and they suffered centuries of brutal persecution and oppression. 1848 was a year of the great European revolutions which were democratic and liberal in nature, and in which the European Jews took a huge part. Both on the battlefield and in the cultural and social life too.

Jews of Europe believe that their rights for the equality have finally come, and they throw themselves into these initiatives. Jews prove the Anti-Semites wrong by becoming excellent and decorated soldiers on the frontlines, despite being previously ousted from the military. 1848 also gives birth to the Reform Jewish Movement which will later highly impact the American history. How and why?

By 1849 most of the revolutionary movements are crushed by the European monarchs and the reformers are forced to leave the old continent behind. Many of these Jews will find their expectations in America, such as David Einhorn, Isaac Mayer Wise, Adolphus Hubsch, Alexander Kohut etc. – all distinguished and great rabbis who transformed the American Jewish life.
When the civil war breaks out in 1861, we will find our characters rising to high ranks of the Union Army and contributing to its victory. These ex-veterans who fought in 1848 or were influenced by its ideology are the ones who are commonly called as 48’ers. They are exemplary men who are not going to suffer defeat again, and who are devoted to their new home that saved them from the European retribution. These Jewish 48’ers are also committed to destroy the slavery which is against their religious and moral beliefs.

Having fought the European revolutions, our heroes are coming with a massive military experience and many will form volunteer brigades for the Union Army.
Some of them will receive the highest military award the Medal of Honour. Many will highly contribute to victorious battles such as: Edward Selig Solomon at Gettysburg. Leopold Karpeles at the Battle of Wilderness (for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor), Charles Mundee at Petersburg and General Frederick Knefler at Missionary Ridge.

These Jews not only fight on the battlefield but in academic life too: prominent scholars, scientists and rabbis such as language genius Michael Heilprin will strongly influence the Jewish view on slavery. Reports say 48’ers have been known to treat Afro-American troops with dignity, remarkable of the age. From personal letters of a Jewish Colonel Marcus Spiegel, we will bring an untold story of the Jewish fight against slavery. Another Jew, an ardent abolitionist called August Bondi rides with John Brown and later will fight in the Union Cavalry till the end despite being three times wounded in action.

Jewish doctors are also saving lives on both sides, one such 48’er invented the ambulance wagon too, called Dr. Ignatius Langer. Others, like Mano Lulley will become one of the best spies of the Union Army, his sons also take up the arms for their new country.

After the civil war their contribution is not finished. They all shaped the face of the USA into a country we have today, a free land and a hope for many. Heilprin integrates Russian Jewish refugees and helps them establishing agricultural settlements. Joseph Pulitzer becomes one of the most successful businessmen and father of modern journalism.
Their story and sacrifice are told by us for the first time in a colourised film on the Jews and the American Civil War.

Directed by Peter Kovacs Rosenbluth (UK)

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