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May 17, 1991 - Image 50

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-05-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

17

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50

FRIDAY, MAY 17, 1991

Dissecting The Case
Of Jack The Ripper

ELLEN BERNSTEIN

Special to The Jewish News

I

t was the case that baffl-

ed Scotland Yard — the
grisly murders of six
prostitutes in 1888 by a no-
torious killer known as Jack
as Ripper.
The victims' bodies were
found in London's East End
on the edge of the Jewish
ghetto. And in the mind of
an hysterical public, the
Jews were to blame.
The site of the slayings
and the riots that terrorized
the "poor yidden" are but
two of several Jewish con-
nections in the yet unsolved
murder case, William
Fishman, a British political
historian, said in a recent
lecture at Georgia State
University in Atlanta.
From anti-Semitic under-
currents to a Polish Jewish
immigrant fingered as one of
several suspects, the Jack
the Ripper case has endless-
ly fascinated scholars such
as Dr. Fishman.
Impoverished conditions in
London's East End and the
flood of Jewish immigrants
starting in the 1880s made
Jews the scapegoat for the
murders, said the Queen
Mary College professor, who
specializes in the social and
political climate of London's
East End during periods of
Jewish immigration.
"The East End around the
time of Jack the Ripper was
an over-pressured ghetto of
displaced, poor laborers,"
said Dr. Fishman, drawing a
comparison to the oppressed
working class that fomented
anti-Semitism in the case of
Leo Frank, who was falsely
accused of killing a girl in
Atlanta in 1913. After his
death sentence was com-
muted by Georgia's gover-
nor, Mr. Frank was lynched
by an angry mob.
Dr. Fishman said the na-
tive population was angry at
the Jewish laborers who set-
tled in London's East End,
the first stop en route to
freedom from Russian
pogroms. One-half million
Jews passed through
England during the 1880s
and 120,000 immigrants
stayed.
"The indigenes felt Jews
were competing for jobs.
They were really just cheap
labor," said Dr. Fishman, in

Ellen Bernstein is a staff
writer for the Atlanta Jewish
Times.

his 60s and a son of East
London immigrants. He de-
scribed the Jewish ghetto as
sordid slums, where 100,000
lived in bug-ridden, dilap-
idated cottages.
Seething anti-Semitism
exploded on Sept. 12, 1888,
the night after the third
Jack the Ripper slaying.
Torch-brandishing ma-
rauders raided the Jewish
ghetto crying, "The bloody
Jews did it." Jews were
beaten coming out of syn-
agogue.
Police intervened to pro-
tect Jews, a riot prevention
policy that weeks later con-
tributed to wiping out the
only real clue believed to
have been left by Jack the
Ripper.
On the night of the fifth
slaying, the murderer was
said to have gone into the

The killer's surgical
finesse lays waste
to the theory that a
Polish Jewish
laborer was Jack
the Ripper.

heart of the Jewish ghetto
and scrawled a message on a
wall.
"The Jewes (sic) will not be
blamed for nothing," the
message said. A bloody han-
dkerchief was found in a
nearby water fountain.
"We think it was written
by the murderer," Dr.
Fishman said. "He was a
paranoid maniac, a pervert.
It's believed he would have
hated Jews as much as pros-
titutes."
Clues to the identity of
Jack the Ripper center
around the gruesome
method used to slay the
prostitutes. With the preci-
sion of a surgeon, the killer
removed their wombs.
Believing Jack the Ripper
had medical knowledge,
Scotland Yard police pro-
pagated the theory that the
Duke of Clarence, the son of
the royal physician, was the
murderer. But any in-
vestigation that linked Jack
the Ripper to the monarchy
was hushed up by the upper
class, Dr. Fishman said.
Queen Victoria and the
royal family as well as
Britain's conservative poli-
ticians feared revolution by
the working class.
"Tying Jack the Ripper to
the monarchy was bound to
be more arsenal for a revo-
lution," Dr. Fishman said.

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