The Butcher's Tale by Helmut W. Smith
Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town

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In 1900, in a small country town in the eastern reaches of the German Empire, a German boy is found frozen beneath the ice. He has been brutally murdered, the blood drained from his dismembered body. The crime resembles traditional blood libel accusations against the Jews. When a Jewish butcher is accused of committing the murder, the town explodes in an anti-Semitic fervour. Using vast amounts of previously undiscovered material, Helmut Walser Smith, a professor of German history, has pieced together the web of false stories and accusations, the abundance of rumour and malice that engulfed this Prussian town. Reminiscent of a true historical thriller in its dramatic intensity, The Butcher's Tale presciently anticipates the Nazi pogroms that would descend on Germany three decades later.

About Helmut W. Smith

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Helmut Walser Smith is an associate professor of German history at Vanderbilt University.
Published January 1, 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, War. Non-fiction

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As well, he charts the mutual influence of oral and print cultures, the creation of a spectacle, economic and class factors, and, most importantly, “the dynamics of personal power, with Christians typically asserting power over the Jews they worked for, or had once been injured by, or .

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Smith, who teaches German history at Vanderbilt, does a masterful job exploring the history of the blood libel (the charge that Jews commit ritual murder of Christian children), as well as of community and how people band together to bring about great good or—in the case of Konitz—genuine evil.

Jun 17 2002 | Read Full Review of The Butcher's Tale: Murder an...

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