|Plot Summary of Butcher's Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town|
Norton, Aug 2002, 25.95, 269 pp.
In March 1900 in Konitz, Prussia, two townsfolk find a package containing the upper body of a missing young man. Other body parts wrapped inside packing paper typically used for meat are subsequently found throughout the town. Though the authorities believe the local Christian butcher killed the lad, false rumors abound even way beyond the town's borders that the Jews performed an ancient ritual using the blood of Christians in the baking of Passover matzo. Taken seriously by many Christians, riots and other violent acts against the Jewish community occurred.
THE BUTCHER'S TALE is an excellent look at a true crime incident that led to unproved accusations followed by anti-Semitic rioting and acts of violence against the Jewish population. Dr. Helmut Walser Smith provides deep insight into the historical evidence, especially collected in minute detail by the police and uses this anecdotal case to prove the "process" of turning personal bias and local quarrels into a structured vicious attack on a weaker relation in this case the Jews. Generalizations can be drawn from this powerful work that takes a specific medieval belief applied at the beginning of the twentieth century and yet the use of accusing a scapegoat seems so commonplace throughout the world of today.
This synopsis report prepared by Harriet Klausner
|Chapter Analysis of Butcher's Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town|
Ratings are on a 1-10 scale (Low to High)
Kind Of History
Time of history:
- 20th century
History of disaster/tragedy?
Kind of disaster:
History of religion?
Subjects of this Historical Account
Religion? (if plays a major part)
Ethnicity (if plays a major part)
Is the portrayal sympathetic?
From a certain profession/group?
- simple laborers
Intelligence of subject of
If applicable, liberal/conservative?
- Historian is very moderate
How much gore?
- 4 ()
How fast-paced is the book?
- 7 ()
Accounts of torture and death?
- generic/vague references to death/punishment
Book makes you feel...
How much focus on stories of individuals?
- Focuses mostly on history of key players
Minor characters feature lots of:
Length of book
- 350-400 pages
How much emphasis on small details?
- 4 ()
Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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