On the Horizon: Austria's Anti-Bigotry Film
The factual background of the new Austrian film—The Trial: In the Name of Humanity—is the story of a sickly and neurotic peasant girl named Eszter Solymosi, fourteen years old, who on April 1, 1882 disappeared from the small village of Tisza Eszlar in Hungary. This happened a few days before Passover, and the girl’s mother, believing that Jews murder Christians to use their blood in the preparation of matzoth, accused Joszef Scharf, the local Jewish sexton, of ritual murder.
The villagers themselves were not hostilely inclined towards their Jewish fellow-townsmen, and the ensuing storm would quickly have subsided if it had not been stirred up from the outside. Unscrupulous Hungarian politicians, led by Baron Geza von Onody, a parliamentary representative of the small but vociferous and vicious Freedom party, exploited the incident in order to “pacify” the economically oppressed Hungarian masses. Onody and his tool, District Attorney Bary, tortured Scharf’s 13 year-old son, Moric, until the exhausted boy said he had looked through the key-hole and seen his father and several other Jews slaughtering Eszter. Even after Eszter’s unmarred body had been found in the Tisza River, the court in Nyiregyhaza continued proceedings against a large number of Tisza Eszlar Jews, who were held in custody and subjected to all kinds of tortures and humiliations. While the trial itself was conducted in an illegal and most brutal manner, Onody and his party instigated bloody anti-Semitic riots in various Hungarian cities.
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