August Rohling Upholder of Ritual Murder Charge Against Jews Dies Aged 92.
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August Rohling Upholder of Ritual Murder Charge Against Jews Dies Aged 92.

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Professor August Rohling, the notorious antisemitic author, who at the time of the Tisza-Eszlar blood libel trial nearly 50 years ago was the scientific expert who upheld the accusation that Jews practise ritual murder, has died at the age of 92.

Professor Rohling, who was born in Hanover, in Germany, studied at Muenster and Paris, and was successively Professor of Catholic Theology at the Universities of Muenster, Milwaukee, in the United States of America, and Prague, which was then in the Austrian Empire and is now Czecho-Slovakia.

He made himself notorious by his attacks not only against Judaism but also against Protestantism. of his anti-Jewish works “Der Talmudjude”, which has run into many editions, was for years the standard work for antisemitic authors and journalists. The book first appeared, at the time when Bismarck inaugurated his anti-Catholic legislation, as a retort to the attacks made by the liberal journals on the dogma of infallibility and on the Jesuitic text-books of morals, it being usual for the anti-liberals to pretend that all liberal newspapers were controlled by Jews. The book was very extensively quoted by the Catholic press and created quite a literature, but it did not become a political force until the appearance of antisemitism, and especially until the Tisza-Eszlar trial in 1883, when Franz Delitzsch defended Judaism against the attacks of Rohling. Dr Josef S. Bloch also accused Rohling of ignorance and of forgery of the texts. Rohling sued Bloch for libel, but withdrew the suit at the last moment. Later on he greeted the appearance of Zionism as a solution of the Jewish question.

Those of Rohling’s works which concern the Jews are in addition to “Der Talmudjude”: “Katechismus des 19. Jahrhunderts fur Juden und Protestanten”, Mayence, 1878; “Franz Delitzsch und die Judenfrage”, Prague, 1881; “Funf Briefe uber den Talmudismus und das Blutritual der Juden”, 1b. 1881; “Die Polemik und das Menschenopfer des Rabbinismus”, Paderborn, 1883; “Die Ehre Israels: Neue Briefe and die Juden”, Prague, 1889; “Auf nach Zion”, 1b. 1901; and “Das Judenthum nach. Neurabbinischer Darstellung der Hochfinanz Israels”, Munich, 1903.


Mr. Chaim Bloch, the well known Jewish writer, who collected the Golem legends, had a talk with Rohling a few months back at Salzburg, where he was living, having opted after the war for Austrian citizenship, and receiving a monthly pension of 170 Schillings. Rohling was under the impression, Bloch reported after the interview, that he had been speaking with the son of his old opponent, Dr. Bloch of the days of the Tisza-Eszlar blood libel, while in reality there is no relationship.

It is wrong, the old man assured him, to regard me as an enemy of the Jews. I never hated the Jews. I never wanted to rouse enmity against them. What I hated was the religious error into which they had fallen by refusing to accept the Catholic teachings, by rejecting the Messiah and by holding fast to the Talmud. That is their error. But I have never been a race-antisemite, and I have never recognised race-antisemitism.

When Bloch recalled Rohling’s attacks on Judaism and his contention that Jews practise ritual murder, an accusation in which he was opposed by some of the most famous Christian Orientalists, Rohling’s answer was: Those Orientalists were Protestants, who have fallen into error just like the Jews, and I never took them seriously. As for Jews practising ritual murder, I found passages to support this, not in the Talmud, but in the Zohar and in the book “Halikutim” by the Cabbalist Vital.

But the Christian experts found no mention of ritual murder in these works either Bloch objected.

They were influenced by the Jews, Professor Rohling replied.

I never claimed that the Jews practise ritual murder, Professor Rohling went on, but I contended that there is a Jewish sect which lauds the murder of Christians. You recall the case of Pater Thomas of Damascus?

Bloch pointed out to Rohling that the Damascus blood libel to which he referred had been disproved, and that Christian theologians had altogether rejected the blood libel, and that several Popes had issued “Bulls” denouncing the blood accusation against the Jews.

It is all due to Jewish influence, Professor Rohling answered.

So you still believe that the accusation which you made against the Jews nearly fifty years ago is right and you do not withdraw from your error, Bloch asked him at the end of the interview.

The Jews must first realise their error and recognise Christ was Rohling’s parting word.

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