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The Butcher's Tale by Helmut Walser Smith

            The Butcher's Tale - Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town by Helmut Walser Smith tells the story of anti-Semitism in the small eastern German town of Konitz in 1900. The action starts off when various body parts start turning up and are later identified as a missing boy, Ernst Winter. The autopsy indicated that the boy's blood was drained before he was dismembered. It was theorized that because the cuts were so precise, they must have been committed by one of the two town butchers, one being Christian and one being Jewish. The Christian butcher, Gustav Hoffman, who was well connected in the community through his family and linked to the community newspaper, concocted a theory that the murder had to be carried out by his neighbor, a Jewish butcher, Adolph Lewy, basing his ideas on the ritual of using blood for libel to bake the Matzo. His fantasy led the people to believe it must be the Jewish butcher and craziness ensued with the townspeople developing a deep anti-Semitic belief and hatred for Jews. The newspapers participated in the propaganda scheme and riled up the public. Stories were made up by the general public that went so far as to say they had witnessed Lewy committing the murder. .
             An actual riot took place where the mayor had to call in the Army. When some of these false accusations were counteracted, the people started to think that the authorities were being paid off to protect the Jews. The crime was never legally solved because the testimony was so wrapped up in mistruths that it was difficult to unravel truth from fiction. Smith portrays how hatred can be so potent that it can bring more than 30 people to come up with a belief that they actually saw something they did not. According to Smith (144), "By the time of Lewy's trial, in February 1901, thirty witnesses had come forward to claim that they had seen the two together - a remarkable phenomenon that highlights the various ways in which Christians, in an environment ripe with accusations, manufactured evidence against the Jews of Konitz.

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