Archive | Historical Perspective by Jerry Kasten

Siegfried Marcus invented the ‘auto-mobile’

Posted on 04 September 2019 by admin

The 1800s German Jew introduced a liquid-fuel breakthrough

It sure is amazing. I just saw a TV report showing a self-driving car safely navigating the streets and eventually parking itself. So, can you imagine people’s reaction, way back in the late 1800s, when they saw one of the first cars on the street?
The person who generally gets credit for inventing the very first road vehicle is Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, a French military engineer, who in 1769, built a steam-driven three-wheeler designed to pull artillery. Other inventors followed with steam-driven and coal gas models, but most engineers describe the first true car as “one driven by liquid fuel.” Fulfilling this breakthrough was Siegfried Marcus, a German Jew and prolific inventor, who spent most of his life in Austria.
Starting as a 12-year old machine-shop apprentice, Marcus blossomed in the telegraph industry, eventually improving telegraphic relay systems and gaining recognition as an “up-and-coming engineer.”
One of his most well-known inventions was the T-handled plunger device used by mining and construction companies, which safely detonated explosives. By the 1860s, money from Marcus’ successful inventions allowed him to build his own research laboratory, where he could experiment with whatever he chose.
While using liquid fuels for ignition purposes, Marcus understood the force that developed when sparks ignited, enabling him to build a two-cycle engine. He mounted his motor to the rear wheels of a four-wheel cart, providing the basis for a motor-driven cart.
Finally, in 1888, Marcus announced his much improved car. Sporting a four-cycle, gasoline powered engine, the “auto-mobile” reached a top speed of 10 miles per hour.
For a brief time, Siegfried Marcus was celebrated as the inventor of the first automobile. However, when he was to be honored by the Austrian Auto Club, he surprisingly declined to attend, stating that the idea of the auto was a waste of time. And, interestingly enough, he made no further effort to perfect and market his car. I suppose once he accomplished what he set out to do, there was no longer a challenge.
Thirty-five years after Marcus died, and soon after Hitler came to power, evidence of the inventor’s achievements disappeared. Blueprints, files, and patents of Marcus and other Jews were destroyed. The Nazis attempted to destroy all evidence of Jewish achievements, including a monument honoring Marcus at the Vienna Technical University.
In 1950, Marcus’ second car was found where it had been hidden: bricked up behind a false wall of a Viennese museum by employees to protect it from Nazi destruction. Siegfried Marcus’ second car is now on permanent display at the Vienna Technical Museum.
While the Viennese support Siegfried Marcus as the inventor of the first car, most auto historians give credit to Gottlieb Daimler (1885) for the first modern engine and Carl Benz (1886) for the first gasoline-fueled car.
But Marcus, the Jewish inventor, also deserves to be remembered as one of the first inventors of the automobile.

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South African Lemba have similar lineage to Jews

Posted on 22 August 2019 by admin

You have heard of the Black Ethiopian Jews, many now living in Israel, but do you know of the Lemba people of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi and Mozambique?
The Lemba are estimated to number 50,000, resembling their neighbors, the Bantus, but have religious beliefs similar to Judaism and Islam.
After the destruction of the Temple, a group of Jews left Judea, settling in Yemen. When the economy failed in Yemen, Jews left for Africa, settling in both Tanzania and Ethiopia. Many in Ethiopia moved south into Zimbabwe.
They have certain dietary rules which closely resemble those of Judaism and Islam. Those Lemba who most resemble Jews also have close Christian beliefs.
Among the Lemba’s Jewish-like practices are:
• Observance of Shabbat
• Praise of a God who considers them the chosen people
• Teaching their children to honor their parents
• Avoiding pig and other certain foods
• Having ritual animal slaughter and preparation
• Practicing male circumcision
• Putting the Star of David on tombstones
• Marrying only other members of their group
Their oral tradition explains that the Lemba are descended from seven Jewish men who left Israel 2,500 years ago, marrying Lemba women.
Their language at prayer is a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic. They have a religious artifact which is a replica of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant. This ark was built almost 700 years ago from the remains of the original ark which had stored the Ten Commandments.
Members of the Lemba priesthood, known as the Buba, have a priestly line, known as Kohanim.
According to Professor Tudor Parfitt, of the University of London, “the Jewish priesthood continued in the West by people called Cohen the same way it was continued by the priestly clan of the Lemba.”
While the Lemba have not yet proven that they are one of the lost tribes of Israel, DNA evidence shows that the Lemba of South Africa share a common ancestor with the Jewish people.
Modern genetic science has shown similar genetic characteristics of Jews with the Lemba people.
Israeli’s right of return law, which guarantees citizenship for any Jew, may be difficult to apply to the Lembas. They establish identity paternally, while under Israeli law, identity is established maternally.
But the Lemba consider themselves part of our Jewish tradition. We should welcome them.

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Fighting anti-Semitism with Anne Frank’s tree

Posted on 07 August 2019 by admin

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, as well as in the United States.
Whether we are Jewish or not, we should recall the horrors of the Holocaust, which began with a systematic program of anti-Semitic moves by the Nazis.
In response to this current rise in anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League is sponsoring a Walk Against Hate in Dallas on Sept. 15.
Various synagogues are holding discussion groups on the subject today, since a growing number of young people are not learning about the Holocaust.
With the advent of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness tests, teachers feel pressured to teach to certain objectives, allowing less time for meaningful discussions such as Hitler’s use of anti-Semitism and the resultant Holocaust.
Motivated and self-directed educators will make use of Holocaust centers, if possible, to provide an effective learning experience, but directives and guidelines will pressure teachers to move on.
Some educators are told not to spend too much time on Hitler’s Germany, putting greater emphasis on Germany after World War II. As a result, a growing number of school children are unaware of who Adolf Hitler was. Something more effective is needed in terms of educating young people about the evils of hate and anti-Semitism.
Many people have heard of the book, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” but have they read it? Everyone should because it provides a personal account of what life was like as a Jew hiding during the Holocaust. Her diary, historical records and the declining number of Holocaust survivors are some of the only tangible resources we have left to show our children.
While it is only mentioned three times, Anne found much joy in nature, commenting on the lone chestnut tree she observes from her hiding place in the Secret Annex.The tree provides insightful symbolism to readers.
On May 13, 1944, Frank’s diary reads, ”Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. It’s covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.”
Her tree symbolizes freedom and continues to do so through its saplings replanted at many locations worldwide.
Fifty years after Anne Frank and her sister lost their lives to typhus at Bergen-Belsen, her tree also succumbed to disease.
Thankfully, caretakers at the Frank House, discovering the tree’s plight early enough, created saplings to be later planted at various sites around the world.
Anne Frank trees have been planted in places like: the U.S. Capitol, the Boston Common, the United Nations, the W.J. Clinton Presidential Center, Central High School in Arkansas, Southern Cayuga School District in New York Liberty Park, the New York Children’s Museum and several other places.
Some teachers assign Anne Frank’s diary to their students and foster meaningful discussions, encouraging their entire school to plant a tree on campus as a memorial dedicated to Anne Frank.
So many of life’s lessons can be learned if today’s children read Anne Frank’s words.
“We’re all alive, but we don’t know why or what for; we’re all searching for happiness; we’re all leading lives that are different and yet the same… we have the opportunity to get an education and make something of ourselves…but we have to earn it. …doing good and working, not being lazy. Laziness may look inviting, but only work gives you true satisfaction.”
Demonstrations and discussions translate to short-term lessons, but the reading of Anne Frank’s diary, followed by the planting of a tree at a school in her honor, results in a lifelong remembrance.

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The nation that saved 50,000 Jews

Posted on 25 July 2019 by admin

Bulgaria’s church and government stood against Hitler

My wife and I recently returned from a river trip down the Danube from Budapest, Hungary, to Bucharest, Bulgaria.
The most historical center of my interest was Bulgaria and the story of how the country saved 50,000 Jews during the Holocaust, so unlike its neighboring countries. The story is also not as well-known as Oscar Schindler’s efforts on behalf of 1,200 Jews. The story, however, deserves to be told and retold.
Rather than fight a lost cause, the weak Bulgarian government at first agreed to allow the Nazis to remove their Jews to be sent to “work camps.” However, once Bulgaria learned the truth that these were “death camps,” the Bulgarian people began to oppose the Nazis’ plan. Leading the opposition was the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, under the leadership of Bishop Kiril. The bishop was supported by 300 church members.
An entire mobilization effort was undertaken, involving the printing of false baptismal certificates and hiding Jews among non-Jewish families.
Meanwhile, the political parties united in opposition to the Nazis, pressuring Bogdan Filov, the prime minister of Bulgaria, to stand firmly opposed to sending Bulgaria’s Jews to the death camps.
When the trains arrived to transport Bulgaria’s Jews to Treblinka’s death camp, they remained empty, while the church provided shelter for its Jews in hiding.
The czar of Bulgaria, Boris III, sent the trains back empty, stating that the Jews were needed at home as a labor force. However, to satisfy Hitler’s continuing demands, the king set up so-called “labor camps” within Bulgaria, ensuring the Jews that they would not have to leave the protection of their homeland. Jews were free to come and go as they pleased.
During the war period of 1939-1945, while Bulgaria was on the side of Germany, its army did not participate in military actions against the Russians, nor did it persecute Jews in any manner.
With the occupation of Bulgaria by Russian troops in 1944, communism expanded and took control by 1954. Bulgaria became part of the Soviet Bloc and suffered under the tight rule of communism until 1989.
Today, it is a thriving country, but still shows signs of past communist rule in its ugly buildings, referred to as “commie condos.”
The only European nation to refuse Hitler’s orders to surrender its Jewish citizens to the gas chambers, Bulgaria, has chosen to become a democratic nation. Over 90 percent of Bulgaria’s Jewish population has emigrated to Israel, establishing a special bond between the two nations. Only about 1,200 Jews remain in Bulgaria, most of them living in Sofia, the capital.
Israel recognizes this nation that managed to protect its Jewish population in spite of its being allied to Hitler.
Across the street from our hotel in Bucharest, on a main thoroughfare, was a souvenir shop whose owner wore a yarmulke and advertised his wares in Hebrew.

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Marco Polo was not the first world traveler

Posted on 11 July 2019 by admin

By Jerry Kasten
Every summer, children splash the pools trying to evade capture in a game called “Marco Polo.” The game is simple: A blinded tagger roams the pool shouting, “Marco!” while others respond, “Polo!” driving the tagger in the direction of his or her victim by sound.
I assume these children were taught that the game is named after Marco Polo, an early overland traveler merchant who helped the East meet the West.
Marco Polo crossed into Asia by a combined land and sea journey from southern Europe to India and China. His journey established trade routes and fostered the exchange of European and Asian knowledge.
However, Marco Polo was not the first to conquer this task.
Benjamin of Tudela, a Spanish Jewish scholar, made a similar journey 100 years before Marco Polo. His observations provided a more scholarly insight and perspective and might have served as a foundation for Marco Polo’s journey.
Since knowledge of life outside of Western Europe was limited, any eyewitness accounts by travelers helped contribute to the knowledge of the world. Benjamin’s travels took him from Europe to Asia and Africa.
We know that Benjamin left Tudelo, Spain, around 1160 and returned in 1172.
Places he visited included Barcelona, Marseilles, Rome, Naples, Rome, Salonica, Constantinople, Corico, Jerusalem, Damascus, Mosul, Bagdad, Cairo and Palermo.
He visited both Jewish and non-Jewish communities, keeping a travel diary titled “The Travels of Benjamin,” during his journey of a dozen or more years.
Benjamin’s observations describe each area’s sociological and geographical features, in addition to its Jewish community.
Originally written in Hebrew, his book was deemed important enough to be translated into the major European languages for all to read, including future travelers such as Marco Polo.
World history publishers need to credit Benjamin of Tudela (Spain) in addition to Marco Polo (Italy) with helping to provide significant geographic knowledge of our early world.

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Correcting a Buchenwald historical inaccuracy

Posted on 27 June 2019 by admin

One of the world’s greatest horrors unleashed on mankind, the mass extermination plan against Jews and others deemed inferior by the Nazis under Adolf Hitler, is known as “the Holocaust,” which was carried out throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.
One of the first and largest of the concentration camps was Buchenwald, located near Weimar, Germany. More than a million people each year visit Buchenwald, which operated from July 1937 to April 1945. When visitors travel through Weimar, they see signs crediting the Soviets for Buchenwald’s liberation. In truth, it was the American army, under General George Patton, who first reached the camp April 11, 1945. The Soviets did not come to the area until July 3, 1945, almost three months later. However, as a part of the Potsdam Agreement, the eastern sector of Germany, which included Buchenwald and its surrounding cities, was turned over to the Soviets.
Almost immediately after the Soviets took possession of Buchenwald, they took credit for the area’s liberation. However, since the Soviet Union’s fall and Germany’s reunification in 1990, there has been a need to place a historic marker to properly credit Buchenwald’s liberators, the U.S. Army.
According to Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, the cities closest to Buchenwald, Weimar and Thuringia, still have publicly posted signs crediting the Soviet Union with the Buchenwald liberation. But no signs exist crediting the United States.
The organization approached the Buchenwald Foundation with a proposal to pay for a single American Liberators Memorial to be placed at the front entrance, properly crediting the American forces with being the first to reach and liberate the camp. If approved, it would be the only Buchenwald memorial crediting Patton’s Third Army as the camp’s liberators.
Before the American rescuers arrived, many prisoners attacked fleeing Nazi guards, and were consolidating their control of the camp.
Instead of having to face the Nazi enemy, Patton’s troops had to fight the powerful stench and horrible unhealthy living conditions, while treating starving and sick survivors.
The Army medics did what they could to help save whom they could, as many were dying before their eyes. An enraged Patton sent military police with army interpreters such as Rudy Baum, my friend of blessed memory, to nearby towns, forcing residents to see, up close, how their death camp looked and smelled inside.
“Nothing I have experienced in my entire life can compare with the impact that Buchenwald had on me,” wrote Rudy, in his 1996 memoir, “Children of a Respectable Family.” “When I talk or think about the Holocaust, it brings back to my mind pictures of the emaciated, dying victims in the camp. It embodies all the evil inflicted by the Nazis on mankind in general, against the Jews and especially against my family. It is the epitome of man’s inhumanity to man, which hopefully will never happen again. Only through a miracle could a human being survive the indescribable brutalities and atrocities, including floggings, starvation and mass executions committed by the Nazis.”
Rudy is gone, as are many of his fellow veteran liberators. But hopefully, the American Liberators Memorial in Buchenwald will become a reality for those remaining survivors, liberators and all future visitors to see.

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Does history repeat itself? The choice is ours

Posted on 14 June 2019 by admin

One of my amusing former teaching experiences occurred when a student in my American History class asked me a question just as I began passing out the weekly 20-question, multiple-choice quiz, which covered the week’s work.
“Mr. Kasten, does history repeat itself?” Since his question did not relate to anything on this quiz, I assumed he asked, hoping that I would be so engulfed in answering his question that I wouldn’t have time to give the quiz, and might postpone the quiz altogether.
As interesting a question as it was, I wasn’t going to allow it to stand in the way of my prepared quiz.
I suggested instead, that they could earn “extra credit” when they returned Monday with an example of how history repeated itself or was in danger of doing so.
Here’s how history is in danger of repeating itself:
Many German Jews were highly assimilated — were decorated veterans of World War I and chose to stay in Germany — while others, especially after Kristallnacht, began to flee the country.
As the Nazi grip tightened, many German and Polish Jews fled to the countryside to join bands of guerrillas hiding in the woods — or tried to leave Europe for Canada, Africa or the Americas.
Sadly, there were also many Jews — especially the elderly and children, who could not escape and became Holocaust victims — reduced to slave labor, victims of “medical” experiments, or reduced to bones and ashes.
The “lucky ones” were the Jews of Germany, Austria and Poland that sent their children away to relative safety in Palestine, or in England on the “Kindertransport.”
The extent of the Nazis’ concentration camp system was much greater and diverse than most people realize. In 2013, researchers at the U.S. Holocaust Museum documented hard evidence that there were 42,500 camps and ghettos throughout Europe.
In addition to the more well-known death camps such as Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald and Dachau, there were other facilities where Jewish slave labor was used on a regular basis — where torture and “punishment” was a daily event.
A Holocaust research group issued the following stats: 30,000 slave labor camps, 1,150 ghettos, 980 concentration camps, 1,000 POW camps, 500 brothels, and thousands of other camps for killing and experimentation in all of Nazi-occupied Europe.
Forced labor camps were everywhere. Given that there were so many locations where prisoners were transported and used on a regular basis (3,000 camps in Berlin and 1,300 “Jew-houses” in Hamburg), the citizens of those cities had to know of the existence of those camps.
Today we have white nationalists parading anti-Semitism and other hatreds.
That is why Holocaust museums and museums of intolerance are so important. They display the truth and horror of what happened — what must not happen again to any people.
Many of the soldiers who freed the camp, including Lt. Rudy Baum (of blessed memory) and Mike Jacobs (of blessed memory), survived the camps to tell the stories they have passed on.
If history, this darkest page of history — the Holocaust — is not to be repeated against any people, it will be the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum — and all the other Holocaust museums — that will make it so.
In September 2019, the newest Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum will be open to help educate young and old as to the dangers of prejudice and discrimination, no matter what form it may take.
We must be alert to the great danger of history repeating itself. As the Dallas Holocaust Museum states: “An Upstander stands up for other people and their rights, combats injustice, inequality or unfairness, sees something wrong and works to make it right.”
Only then will Holocaust history not be repeated.

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American hero Maurice Rose modest about his success

Posted on 25 April 2019 by admin

Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colorado is considered one of the best maternity hospitals and a leader in women’s medical services. However, many might be unaware that it is named in honor of hometown hero, Maurice Rose. Rose, a highly-ranked officer who fought in both World Wars (as well as being a member of Colorado’s National Guard), wasn’t a publicity seeker. His accomplishments are mostly unknown. However, in my opinion, he was one of our best military leaders, and a Jewish guy, to boot.
Rose was born in 1899 in Middletown, Connecticut, and his family relocated to Colorado in 1902. Though raised in a family of rabbis, Rose was drawn to the military, rather than religion.
Falsifying his age, he joined the Colorado National Guard shortly after his high school graduation, joining the U.S. Calvary in its quest for Pancho Villa on the Mexican border.
However, when Rose’s parents notified the National Guard that he was underage, he was released, and went to work for a year in a meatpacking plant.
When the United States officially entered WWI, Rose joined the U.S. Army, and his parents relented, allowing him to rejoin the Army, whereupon he falsified his age once more in order to apply for Officers Candidate School.
Anxious to move up in the ranks, Rose trained both in the United States and France, where he commanded an infantry unit as a first lieutenant. . Early in combat, he was wounded by shrapnel and had to be forcibly removed.
He later returned to the battlefield against doctors’ orders.
During his service, Rose gained a reputation as a strong leader and fighter, continuing to serve in Germany after the war. He was discharged in 1919.
After working less than a year as a traveling salesman, Rose rejoined the Army with his previous rank of first lieutenant. However, after a review of his war record, Rose was promoted to the rank of captain the next day.
After a series of challenging, yet successful, training and leadership assignments, Rose saw greater opportunities for leadership advancement in the growing armored divisions. He finally ended up as leader of the Third Armored Division, after a promotion to the rank of major general.
One of the many accomplishments of the Third Armored was its longest single-day advance through enemy territory, in the history of mechanized warfare — 101 miles through Central Germany. He was, in fact, the first to cross into Germany.
Other accomplishments credited to Rose’s name included negotiation of the German army’s surrender in Tunisia and aiding the 101st Airborne at Carentan. His division also halted the German advance to the Meuse River.
On March 30, 1945, Rose was riding with his staff in a jeep near the front of a Third Armored column, when the troops came upon a German armored column. The American Jeep became wedged between the Nazi tank and a tree trunk as the driver attempted to escape, and the occupants were dumped out.
As Rose’s crew scattered, the German tank commander popped out of his tank, waving his machine pistol. The Nazi soldier fired at Rose, as the latter reached for his holster, either to shoot back or surrender his gun. Rose was instantly killed. .
What set Rose apart from the other military commanders was his aggressive style, commanding from the front, rather than from the rear. He was the highest-ranking American officer killed in Europe during the Second World War.
He is the recipient of many high awards and honors, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest award after the Medal of Honor. Rose is buried in the American Military Cemetery, in the Netherlands.
Throughout his Army career, Rose was more interested in service than in accolades. More than 70 years after his death, we can honor his life.

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More troops killed in training than in war

Posted on 11 April 2019 by admin

As a result of three Boeing 737 Max aircraft crashes since October, 2018, airlines have shut down operations using this plane, while investigations are undertaken.
A total of 346 people had lost their lives before the FAA decided to ground the aircraft, deeming it unsafe to fly.
Sadly, there are also an alarming number of American military air crashes which also account for much loss of life.
Lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee recently stated that “almost four times as many military died in training as were killed in combat,” a shocking and alarming statement.
If this were common knowledge at the time a recruit joins the service, our military might have an even greater problem in attracting personnel.
Featured in the April 2019 issue page of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA Annual Calendar is a brief story of one of its members, 28-year-old Marine Captain Samuel Schultz, of Trevose, Pennsylvania. He was recently killed in a training accident in Southern California, along with three of his crew while piloting the CH-53.
The military aircraft which appears to carry the highest accident record is the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, used by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines, yet it is considered the most versatile model, able to lift the heaviest of equipment.
Hopefully, the recent lobbying efforts of the JWV and others will result in improved training and equipment maintenance of the CH-53E and therefore fewer accidents, until they are replaced in 2020.
Adequate upkeep and repair to our current fleet must continue to ensure the optimum safety of our military personnel.
Since there are never enough military funds to buy the latest development in planes, ships, tanks and weaponry, and as well as maintain the current equipment, the number of accidents have increased; 132 of our nation’s finest have been sacrificed since 1974 on new aircraft.
There are many possible causes of training accidents, injuries and deaths. I recall basic training many years ago at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, with freezing temperatures and foot-deep snow on the ground. One of the recruits, complaining about his ears hurting, wanted to report to “sick call” but our Company Commander refused in order to maintain his unit’s perfect training attendance record.
By the time the recruit did get medical help, it was too late and frostbite took his ear. As a result of this “incident” the commander was court-martialed.
Everyone in the military is rated or judged by their performance record. I wonder how many and how often “shortcuts” are taken in order to maintain “high performance.”
Pentagon budget cuts began in 2013 and may be a factor in fatality increases. Military pilots are not flying as many training hours as they have in the past.
Planes are grounded for repairs for longer periods of time by an inadequate number of trained mechanics to handle the workload.
Adequate funding for equipping our military is one thing, but the safety of our military in training should be our greater priority.
We mourn all who die in our military, including Captain Samuel Schultz and his crew, lives that should not have been lost.

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The first Jew in Texas — before it was Texas

Posted on 28 March 2019 by admin

Before there was Mexico, there was New Spain, formed by the conquests of the Indians by the Spanish conquistadors in the New World.
The names of Pizzaro, Coronado, Cortez, Verrazzano, DaVaca and Balboa are just a few conquistadors you may recall from your history classes.
You might not have read of Luis de Carvajal, an adventurer seeking to offer his ship, crew and services to New Spain’s growing Spanish government. Born Jewish, Carvajal claimed he was a “converso,” a Jew in 14th- and 15th-century Spain or Portugal who converted to Catholicism.
Carvajal made an impression on the Spanish viceroy by capturing more than 70 Englishmen who had been marooned on a beach after a shootout with the Spanish fleet. After he received his captain’s commission, Carvajal was sent to punish native Indians who had mistreated Spanish shipwreck victims on Padre Island. On this mission, he became the first Spaniard to cross the Rio Grande.
Each successful venture seemingly emboldened him further, eventually leading to a grand plan, presented in Spain to the king’s appointees overseeing the Indies.
Carvajal’s plan was to develop and build mines, and to connect ports across New Spain, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific coast. The crown, impressed with his plan, gave Carvajal a ship, manpower and supplies. He loaded the ship with many family members, who were also conversos.
Though Carvajal always sent glowing progress reports about village settlements, conflicting reports also surfaced of slave raiding and the sale of hundreds of Indian captives. Additionally, village, road and port development was not progressing as Carvajal had claimed.
Added to the charges of working with slave trade renegades, he was accused of heresy by not revealing that members of his family, conversos like himself, were secretly practicing Jews.
Carvajal was tortured, and confessed to being a Jewish heretic. He also named his mother, brothers and sisters, all of whom were eventually executed.
Carvajal, meanwhile, was imprisoned in 1590. Once he realized there would be no escape, he began to write a miniature religious memoir, titled “Memorias.” The 3-by-4-inch, 180-page treatise was completed before Carvajal was burned at the stake at 30 years old.
Though his morality was questionable and his life ended violently, Carvajal is credited with being the first Jew in Tejas (Texas), as well as author of the first book in the New World, written 20 years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock.

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