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Pressburg Under Siege


The dawn of the nineteenth century found Europe in deep turmoil. Like a juggernaut, Napoleons legions were rolling across the continent in an irresistible advance, over- whelming the Austrian, Prussian and Russian armies. In 1806, his forces laid siege to the ancient city of Pressburg whose Jewish com- munity was led by the illustrious Rabbi Moshe Sofer, universally acclaimed as the Chasam Sofer. Only the mighty Danube River im- peded Napoleons onslaught. What followed was a terrifying siege lasting forty-two days during which the people of Pressburg experienced the unbridled fury of French firepower. The beleaguered city, pounded by an uninter- rupted rain of bombs, rockets and missiles was turned into a scene of utter devastation, its populace decimated. Miraculously, the Jewish population was shielded from harm and escaped virtually un- scathed. In his Sefer Zikaron, presently trans- lated under the title of Pressburg Under Siege, the Chasam Sofer offers a description of the spectacular events surrounding this blockade.

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