Ritual Murder in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Beyond: New Histories of an Old Accusation

Ritual Murder in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Beyond: New Histories of an Old Accusation

Ritual Murder in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Beyond: New Histories of an Old Accusation

Ritual Murder in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Beyond: New Histories of an Old Accusation

Synopsis

This innovative reassessment of ritual murder accusations brings together scholars working in history, folklore, ethnography, and literature. Favoring dynamic explanations of the mechanisms, evolution, popular appeal, and responses to the blood libel, the essays rigorously engage with the larger social and cultural worlds that made these phenomena possible. In doing so, the book helps to explain why blood libel accusations continued to spread in Europe even after modernization seemingly made them obsolete. Drawing on untapped and unconventional historical sources, the collection explores a range of intriguing topics: popular belief and scientific knowledge; the connections between antisemitism, prejudice, and violence; the rule of law versus the power of rumors; the politics of memory; and humanitarian intervention on a global scale.

Excerpt

On June 10, 1636, after the end of the Shavuot celebration and on the eve of Pentecost, the butcher woman Leskowa told her neighbors that her son was missing “and ‘no doubt’ had been ritually murdered by Jews.” Word quickly spread throughout the town of Lublin that the Jews had killed the Christian boy drawn his blood for religious rituals, and thrown the corpse in the river. Late that evening, a mob of townsfolk broke into the Jewish quarter. As students and journeymen looted Jewish homes and shops, two Jews, Nahman and Baruch, were charged with the crime of ritual murder and locked up in a castle dungeon. Another Jew named Joseph was caught hiding out in a nearby town and was also chained up in the same prison.

In accordance with the inquisitorial process, a criminal code used in early modern Europe to prosecute serious crimes such as witchcraft, heresy, and murder, all three men were brought into the torture chamber for questioning and face-to-face confrontations. the judge was particularly interested as to why the Jews killed the Christian boy and what they wanted to do with the blood. “I don’t know why [the boy died],” Baruch answered the judge, “and no Jew, whether [old or young], knows why. We Jews do not need Christian blood, and we do not kill any Christian children.” To the question “What do Jews use Christian blood for?” Nahman responded, “They do not need it, and you will hear nothing about this among Jews.” He continued, “Jews do not kill children,” averring that “This child perhaps drowned, but Jews had nothing to do with it. I don’t know, I don’t know!”

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.