The Many Deaths of Jew Süss
Reading with Yair Mintzker (with Audio Recording)
In The Many Deaths of Jew Süss, historian Yair Mintzker presents an innovative historical work about one of the most infamous chapters in the history of antisemitism.
Joseph Süß Oppenheimer – Jew Süss – was appointed Court Jew to Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg in 1733. When Karl Alexander died unexpectedly, the Württemberg authorities arrested Oppenheimer, put him on trial and sentenced him to death for unspecified misdeeds. On 4 February 1738, Oppenheimer was hanged before a large crowd.
His fate was taken up in film, literature, and art. In a Nazi propaganda film commissioned by Joseph Goebbels in 1940, Oppenheimer was once again the victim of anti-semitic agitation.
In The Many Deaths of Jew Süss, Yair Mintzker explores the contradictory versions of Oppenheimer's life and death. He analyzes archival evidence and eyewitness accounts including those of the inquisitor of the criminal investigation, another Court Jew, and Oppenheimer's first biographer. The result is a horrifying story of greed, sex, violence, and infamy.
Yair Mintzker is professor of history at Princeton University. He is the author of the book The Defortification of the German City, 1689-1866.