French Revolutionary leader Georges Danton was born 26 October 1759 and is often credited as the chief force in the establishment of the First French Republic.
His eventual opposition to Robespierre’s Reign of Terror led to his execution on 5 April 1794 at the age of 35. His last words were: “N’oubliez pas de montrer ma tête au peuple, elle en vaut la peine (Don’t forget to show my head to the people, it is well worth seeing).”
Danton was a remarkably beloved figure in Yiddish culture. In pre-War Warsaw and New York, audiences clamored to see both Romain Rolland‘s Danton and Georg Büchner’s Danton’s Death — in which Danton famously remarks (in the Yiddish translation) “Di revolutsye, glaykh vi saturn, frest uf di eygene kinder (The revolution, like Saturn, is devouring its own children).”
The images featured here are from DANTON, the Yiddish translation of an introductory book on revolutionary history by Tsvi Fridland. Fridland’s volume was published in Moscow (in Soviet orthography, without traditional final letters) in 1935. The volume includes an in-depth history of revolutionary France and a handful of period engravings depicting key moments of the French Revolution.
Hirsh-Tsvi Fridland, also known as Grigory, was born in Minsk on 27 September 1897. Fridland was a leading Soviet historian and the first dean of Moscow State University’s faculty of history. He was murdered in Stalin’s Great Terror, executed in Moscow on charges of counterrevolution, on 8 March 1937. He was 39 years old.