In 1349, Jews in Basle, Switzerland were burned alive in a wooden house, erected specifically for that purpose. The Jewish community of Basel had flourished until 1348, when they were accused of poisoning wells during the Black Plague. This triggered a variety of persecutions: Jewish children were forcibly baptized, 600 Jews were burned at the stake, and the remainder were burned alive in the wooden house. In modern history, Basel became better known as the host of the first Zionist Congress in 1897. Ironically, on this date in 1949 -- exactly 600 years after the massacre in Basle -- the State of Israel elected its first president, Chaim Weizman.
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