A South African historian says he may have identified Jack the Ripper as a Polish Jew. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that
Charles van Onselen’s new book notes parallels between the unsolved London case and the exploits of Joseph
Johannesburg. Toward the end of “The Fox and The Flies: The
World of Joseph Silver, Racketeer and Psychopath,” van Onselen cites overlap between the life and personality of Silver, a Polish-born Jew also known as “King of Pimps,” and Jack the Ripper, who killed at least five prostitutes in the late 19th century.Silver was in Whitechapel during that period, and as a brothel owner would have had access to local prostitutes, van Onselen noted. He also shared Jack the Ripper’s hatred of women and his tendency to write litigious letters.Van Onselen, a crime historian, acknowledged that these could be coincidences, but “in terms of a template for this person, in terms of age,
personality, mental illness, pattern for rest of life, this is the
best fit there has ever been,” he told the AP.
A Polish-born Jew was a prime suspect in the case at the time, leading to an anti-Semitic backlash. Silver was executed by Poland in 1918 for spying.