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Blood Libel in Late Imperial Russia: The Ritual Murder Trial of Mendel Beilis

Overview

On Sunday, March 20, 1911, children playing in a cave near Kiev made a gruesome discovery: the blood-soaked body of a partially clad boy. After right-wing groups asserted that the killing was a ritual murder, the police, with no direct evidence, arrested Menachem Mendel Beilis, a 39-year-old Jewish manager at a factory near the site of the crime. Beilis's trial in 1913 quickly became an international cause célèbre. The jury ultimately acquitted Beilis but held that the crime had the hallmarks of a ritual murder. ...

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Blood Libel in Late Imperial Russia: The Ritual Murder Trial of Mendel Beilis

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Overview

On Sunday, March 20, 1911, children playing in a cave near Kiev made a gruesome discovery: the blood-soaked body of a partially clad boy. After right-wing groups asserted that the killing was a ritual murder, the police, with no direct evidence, arrested Menachem Mendel Beilis, a 39-year-old Jewish manager at a factory near the site of the crime. Beilis's trial in 1913 quickly became an international cause célèbre. The jury ultimately acquitted Beilis but held that the crime had the hallmarks of a ritual murder. Robert Weinberg's account of the Beilis Affair explores the reasons why the tsarist government framed Beilis, shedding light on the excesses of antisemitism in late Imperial Russia. Primary documents culled from the trial transcript, newspaper articles, Beilis's memoirs, and archival sources, many appearing in English for the first time, bring readers face to face with this notorious trial.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Eugene M. Avrutin

"A concise historical reconstruction of one of the most publicized and notorious ritual murder trials in the modern world. Written in a clear and engaging style, the book analyzes a wide array of archival and published primary documents... all of which help capture the drama and complexity of the Beilis case." —Eugene M. Avrutin, author of Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia

Jarrod Tanny

"Lucidly written, well argued, and rich with primary source material... the story unfolds like a gripping detective novel.... It is social history at its finest." —Jarrod Tanny, author of City of Rogues and Schnorrers: Russia's Jews and the Myth of Old Odessa (IUP, 2011)

From the Publisher
"Lucidly written, well argued, and rich with primary source material... the story unfolds like a gripping detective novel.... It is social history at its finest." —Jarrod Tanny, author of City of Rogues and Schnorrers: Russia's Jews and the Myth of Old Odessa (IUP, 2011)

"Weinberg has assembled and translated a collection of documents from the case, such as contemporary newspaper accounts and excerpts from the verbatim trial scripts […] The documents convincingly illustrate not only the virulent anti-Semitism of the right wing press, which pushed forward the ritual murder idea at the time when most investigators found the concept ludicrous, but also the contradictory testimonials and unreliable witness statements that the prosecution used to builds its case against Beilis." —Times Literary Supplement

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robert Weinberg is Professor of History at Swarthmore College and author of The Revolution of 1905 in Odessa: Blood on the Steps (IUP, 1993) and Stalin's Forgotten Zion: Birobidzhan and the Making of a Soviet Jewish Homeland.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Dramatis Personae
Introduction: A Murder Without a Mystery
1. The Initial Investigation
2. The Case Against Beilis
3. The Trial
4. Summation and Verdict
Epilogue
Documents
Bibliography
Notes
Index

Indiana University Press

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