Butcher's Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Butcher's Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town

Norton, Aug 2002, 25.95, 269 pp.
ISBN: 039305098X

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.
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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.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of Butcher's Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town

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Kind Of History

Time of history:    -   20th century History of disaster/tragedy?    -   Yes Kind of disaster:    -   Holocaust History of religion?    -   Yes Nationality?    -   Polish Religion?    -   Jews!

Subjects of this Historical Account

Religion? (if plays a major part)    -   Jews! Ethnicity (if plays a major part)    -   European/White Is the portrayal sympathetic?    -   Sympathetic From a certain profession/group?    -   simple laborers Intelligence of subject of history:    -   Smart


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Poland If applicable, liberal/conservative?    -   Historian is very moderate

Writing Style

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...    -   depressed/sad How much focus on stories of individuals?    -   Focuses mostly on history of key players Minor characters feature lots of:    -   farmers Length of book    -   350-400 pages How much emphasis on small details?    -   4 ()

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Helmut Walser Smith Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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