From Mohels to <i>Mein Kampf</i>: Syphilis and the Construction of Jewish Identification

Jay Geller

in The Other Jewish Question

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780823233618
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241781 | DOI:
From Mohels to Mein Kampf: Syphilis and the Construction of Jewish Identification

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This chapter chronicles how the construction of Judentum became increasingly infected with representations of syphilis from the earliest epidemic outbreaks in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to the Third Reich. It examines how this confluence was shaped by such factors as: documented syphilis transmissions from mohels (ritual circumcisers) to infants, presumed and actual associations of Jews with white slavery and prostitution, the linkage of Jews to money, the medical diagnosis and treatment of venereal disease by Jewish doctors, telegony and other animal-breeding lore, and theories about the threats of syphilis and interracial sexuality to heredity. The fateful conjunction of antisemitic representation, syphilis, diseased reproduction, and the threatened destruction of the German people is brought to light in extensive analyses of Arthur Dinter's Sin Against the Blood and Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Keywords: antisemitism; Arthur Dinter; heredity; Adolf Hitler; medicine; mohel; ritual circumciser; money; prostitution; reproduction; syphilis

Chapter.  17936 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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