The operated Jew

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Cover picture for Visions (1893) by Max Hagen .

Der Operirte Jud ' is a satirical - grotesque short story by Oskar Panizza , which he published together with nine other stories in 1893 in the collection " Visionen. " Published by Wilhelm Friedrich in Leipzig . Sketches and Stories ”published.


Nobody will blame me, ” the narrator opens the story, “ if I wish to erect a memorial to my friend Itzig Faitel Stern. “His Heidelberg college friend is a phenomenon that he can only deliver piecework to describe and rely solely on his five senses. According to the “ currently prevailing literary school ”, these would also be sufficient to deliver a work of art; a comedy was certainly not intended.

The following, grotesque description of “Faiteles” barely leaves out an image or an idea from the arsenal of anti-Semitic stereotypes. Dealing with the “ horrible piece of human flesh ”, according to the narrator, did not result from pity, but from anthropological curiosity for the “ monster ” and to learn more about Itzig Faitel Stern's “ religious book ”, the Talmud . He submits to the “ immensely rich ” Faitel the suggestion of an elaborate “ conversion in a somewhat modern sense ”, which the latter immediately accepts. Excruciating operations, blood transfusions, the conversion to the Protestant faith, behavior and name changes follow one another. Finally, with the help of financial influence from Father Salomon, Itzig Faitel's engagement with a “German woman ”, the “ flat-haired civil servant's daughter Othilia Schnacksucceeds . But the apparently so successful transformation can not transform his original “ Jewishness ”, it breaks out of the operated body again and again the " Palatinate-Jewish flood " emerged. At the wedding banquet in the Gasthaus zum Weißen Lamm in Martergasse in Heidelberg, a final emotional outburst is looming after a lot of alcohol consumption. Itzig Faitel exclaims, not asking questions, but rather clarifying: “ Am I - human ate well and valuable than all of you! “Horror spreads among those present, especially as a“ bloodthirsty, violet human face with a salivating mouth, limp drooping lips and bulging eyes gawked at them . ”Faitel now begins the fictional query, imitating various voices, exuberantly and accompanied by obscene gestures parody a rabbi 's daily routine of Jehovah . The same recitation is found elsewhere in the story and ends with God playing with the Leviathan in the afternoon . Once again he defiantly remarks: “ Am I a Christian image of man ate fine, ate you all are! Without all Jewishness! - Mise machine! "

At the end and only in the presence of his surgeon Dr. Klotz, " the Jew ", as he is now called by the narrator , wallows in his physical excretions, " a tricky Asian picture in a wedding tails, a lying piece of human flesh, Itzig Faitel Stern. "


In the year of its publication, the implacable narrative, infused with countless anti-Semitisms, prompted Otto Julius Bierbaum to write a literary tribute to Panizza about the only “anti-Semitic work of art” known to him. At the end of 1927, the “Münchener Beobachter”, a supplement to the Völkischer Beobachter , published a National Socialist interpretation of Panizza's main work Das Liebeskonzil and the reprint of his story Der Operirte Jud ' . The writer, National Socialist cultural functionary and editor of Panizza's works, Kurt Eggers , also published excerpts from the unprinted and undated anti-Semitic pamphlet Mach 'Mores Jud'! that Panizza had written around 1893.

Today's interpretations of the grotesque narrative are shaped by different perspectives. Basically, it is interpreted either as an expression of an anti-Semitic attitude, which was also not atypical for anarchist-opposition German intellectuals at the turn of the century. On the other hand, Operirte Jud ' could be read as a parody of the tragic failure of Jewish assimilation efforts.

The French German scholar Patrice Neau first compared the story with contemporary literary productions of Panizzas up to around 1895, including the unpublished manuscript Mach 'Mores, Jud'! considered. For Neau, the texts used are "unmistakable declarations of war on the German Jews" and it is in no way surprising that Panizza was partially taken over by National Socialism. By denying the Jewish religion any transcendence in order to turn it into a religion "whose value is exhausted in practical advice and which is frozen in formalism", according to Neau, the influence of an anti-Semite like Wilhelm Marr becomes noticeable. In the " Teutonism " satirized by Panizza, the compulsion to adapt is made ridiculous, but the "criticism of materialism, of ostentatious wealth" should not be understood generally as a criticism of Wilhelmine Germany. The power of money appears "more like the result of a conscious corruption of the Germans by Jewish money, because Stern buys everything, he also buys what cannot be bought, a new identity."

The linguist Hans Peter Althaus , on the other hand, believes he recognizes a conflict with anti-Semitic slogans, such as those of Richard Wagner , in Operirten Jud ' . Althaus emphasizes Panizza's skepticism towards Jewish assimilation efforts, "in which the language and culture change did not take place in mid-life, but was due to economic or social constraints." A life lie, such as the forced cultural assimilation represented, could, according to Panizza, the "basic conflict" not solve. With the description of an unsuccessful assimilation, Panizza took up considerations "which led to completely different concepts for the future of Judaism."

Among the most recent analyzes, the first to be mentioned is that of the Germanist Joela Jacobs, who extends Althaus' approach. She judges, "the story reveals that national identities are built on an illusion of purity, universalism, and coherence - an illusion that is a lie." In conclusion, she states "optimistically": "By showing how identity is constructed and deconstructed on the." Basis of language and other categories, the tale provides the opportunity for a reconsideration of identity altogether. "

The literary scholar Ariane Trotske, on the other hand, counts the story “one of the greatest excesses of anti-Semitic demagogy that the German literary landscape has produced.” The operating Jew combines anti-Semitic agitation “with blunt criticism of the authoritarian Wilhelmine society .” But the “Jewish” otherness is “ written down, generalized and 'made recognizable' about the prevailing power discourse, so that assimilation becomes impossible for those affected by these ascriptions. ”All physical characteristics are cataloged in this discourse and“ deviations from the norm are classified as 'degeneracy'. ”Of course, it could the narrative can also be read as a caricature of “one's own”, which is created and stabilized through “the foreign”: “Nevertheless, the text repeats the common anti-Semitic stereotypes of the time completely unbroken and contributes to their dissemination, which makes it rightly racist Satire class Panizza functionalized “the Jew” in order to expose the “identity-creating performance of the German nation-state.” In a comparable way, Trotske describes the “Yiddling - Prussian hybrid” in the story Die Kirche von Zinsblech as a transcultural hybrid in which Panizzas are The idea of ​​a Wilhelmine society perceived as totalitarian allegorize: "The 'Trinity' of Prussian officialdom, Christian bigotry and animalistic - rascal Judaism."

Using literary and cultural studies methods, Nike Thurn tries to investigate the question of whether the text is an “expression” or “demonstration” of anti-Semitism in her treatment of the material. It is true that Panizza's “criticism of normalization” is obvious, especially since he rejected the contemporary eugenic discourse, but, according to Thurn: “As the starting point is clearly presented negatively [...] that is, an inevitable negative Jewish essence is suggested, the text loses its impact [... ] “Panizza's recourse to“ the Jewish ”proves to be problematic because it ultimately suggests an“ alleged imprint of the blood ”like a law of nature. The incorrigible Jew embodies deviance all the more vividly, "the more precisely here the attempt to level out all visible differences begins." The text also remains in the balance as to how it positions itself on the extreme implications of eugenic ideas regarding the improvement of humanity: exclusion or extinction of the "incorrigible elements".

Provided with an approach that accompanies her own text interpretation self-critically, Anika Reichwald tries to break the "interpretive dualism". She explores a third reading "alongside the anti-Semitic and the Jewish anti-assimilatory". She believes that she can recognize that the text “tries to expose the underlying ideology by means of stereotyping.” It is true that Judaism in Panizza's text also allegorically stands for a “disease”, but it is interpreted as curable. As Reichwald writes: “An extra-Jewish interpretation of Judaism, which was unusual for the end of the 19th century, and a further reference to an orientation of the text in favor of Judaism and its assimilation.” Ultimately, the text keeps the discomfort “before the invisible absorption of the minority in the homogeneous majority society to the end. ”For Reichwald Panizza's grotesque story is primarily a criticism of the“ inaccessibility of German society ”caused by nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism, which was unable to allow“ new elements from outside ”. As a grotesque and with the chimerical figure of Itzig Faitel Stern, “alongside the criticism of the text of the Jewish self-abandonment through assimilation, there is also a criticism of German society, its system of order and its values. The interpretation of the text itself becomes a chimerical being, without being committed. "The text combines the" criticism of the dream of German Jewry to become a full part of German society with a general criticism of society. "The Wilhelmine Society was no longer able to to open up to the “foreign” and instead resorted to anti-Semitic prejudices in order to cement a further isolation of the “own”. Panizza's story makes it clear that ambiguity is possible, "if not necessary at all, in order to understand the complexity of the assimilation issue."

For the extensive investigations of the last few years, which are presented here in broad outline, it must be noted that the majority of them were carried out side by side and that not all of them were able to critically examine each other.

Notes on the "late" Panizza after 1896

The literary historian Rolf Düsterberg noted that Panizza took an anti-Semitic stance in his early literary productions . However, he would have completely overcome this “position” from the Zurich Discussion Zone . Does not preclude the Michael Bauer's report, already as chairman of a Munich rally against the so-called Lex Heinze on January 2, 1893 have Panizza to bring a small group of anti-Semites not least silenced attempts by the Social Democrats present Georg von Vollmar to invited to a contribution to the discussion. Against the votes of the anti-Semites, the assembly passed a resolution which, among other things, spoke out against the restriction of artistic freedom. The incident also makes it clear, however, that Panizza, as a representative of literary modernity, was primarily against state censorship, whereas organized anti-Semites represented a conservative understanding of art. In this sense, even a passage by Panizza in the first number of the Zurich Discussions , with which he justified his essay Heine's illness : " [...] even at the risk of anti-Semites, priests and similar culturally hostile screamers Take the opportunity to throw dirt pulled from your own chest at the celebrated darling of the Germans in its anniversary year. "

In any case, after his one year imprisonment in 1895/96 , he began to express himself in more differentiated ways, for example in January 1897 in The Miss Vaughan case and with reference to the Taxil fraud : “ The Arge is particularly targeting the Jews. If the Christians want to get to the bottom of things in the world, they have to step over the terrible corpse of Christ and put their conscience to death: but the Jews who crucified Christ, who have no conscience at all, are of course a welcome feast for Leo Taxil - I wanted to say for Satan. And so, from Moses Mendelssohn , the author of the 'Phädon', up to Börne and Heine - the beautiful Henriette Herz not excluded - every Jew who has somehow distinguished himself through thought appears in the suspicious satanic tailcoat and with the poisonous one Pig-fur-green complexion loaded ... "Compare the recently published essay The Classicism and the Penetration of Variety :" After all, I like to believe that in our day, too, Stöcker and Treitschke tried to poach the dead Heine as a "Jewish boy" with a strong Germanic fist because they knew well that this fine artist and international vaudeville artist had also deprived them of the basis for their great German mouth-heroism. "

As a later comment by Panizzas on the “ Jewish question ”, his critical review of the book by Ottokar Stauf von der March , published in 1899 under the pseudonym Severus Verax , “The public opinion of Vienna. Wiener Pressgeschichten ”apply. In his own orthography, Panizza described the book as “ a brilliant attack on Jews and clericals, loveism and Catholicism. "You could admit, so Panizza:

A people who have their entire press, literature, sciences, dißertazjonen, theater pieces, that is, all of the scientific and fine-scientific literature (with the exception of sermons) written by an“ immigrant people ”, that is, the entire public opinion as far as it is in writing to the expression, let the Jews take care of it […] is subject to strangers in its tastes, in its spiritual life, in its impulses, in its public opinion about the good, the truth and the beautiful. […] But against this, no shouting helps, but writing; not rebellion [...] it means taking a pen in hand, founding a Schurnale, building a theater, buying a printer, writing your own poetry, writing yourself a drama. If you can't do that, then you can't do without the stranger at all. In Europe we will not be able to renounce the Jewish Nuanße at all. As little as the Chinese bark, the morfium and the tobacco. But also in political terms, a mass emigration of Jews would be a loss for us. As long as we live in times like today, where the princes declare themselves for God and consider the people to be Drek [...] we cannot do without these "strangers" with their ancient past and political weariness. With their so much purer concept of God and their metaphysical views that have been cleansed of all superstitious human work, they only have a few moods of cheerfulness for the desires of the occidental princes for deification, where the occidental people are believingly amazed. And when the time comes when the above-mentioned Saz is reversed, when a daring man comes who claims that the people are God and the princes are Drek, the Jews will perhaps be the only ones to understand this saying, and maybe be the only ones to give the indispensable chorus for this saying. - So don't scold me so much about the Jews! "

In this quotation from Panizza, the reflex of his earlier anti-Semitism still appears, as well as his ambiguous stance towards “his own” and “foreign”, but what Joela Jacobs believes to have already found in “Operirten Jud '” of 1893 (“the tale provides the opportunity for a reconsideration of identity altogether ”), only this text from 1899 comes close to Jacob's judgment.

A satirical reply: The operated Goy

Under the pseudonym Mynona, Salomo Friedlaender published a counterpart to Operirten Jud 'in 1922 . Out of love for a Jew, the “Aryan” and flawless anti-Semite Kreuzwendedich Count Reschok transforms step by step into the Jew Moische Kosher. If wrong, racist stereotypes are retained. According to Nike Thurn, however, the comedy of reversal arises “by associating the stereotypes that are traditional and established as 'negative' and not desirable with desire” and in this way are questioned. In addition, the adaptation succeeds "to a discriminated minority, which is not the origin to be abandoned, but the goal to be reached." Mynona / Friedlaender show in an ironic way "nature" as a cultural construct, "adaptable like aspects of culture and education."

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. For the origin, see Avoda sara (mixed natractate) . Panizza took the version put in the mouth of the protagonist, in particular those "three hours" in which God "men and women" copulate, the abridged revision of "Discovered Judaism" by Johann Andreas Eisenmenger . This first appeared in 1892 in several series and as a book in 1893, edited by Dr. Franz Xaver Schieferl (pseudonym), see p. 499, Entdecktes Judentum
  2. A curse, a curse, actually mise meschinne .
  3. Otto Julius Bierbaum: Oskar Panizza , in: Die Gesellschaft 1893, pp. 977 - 989, here p. 986. Online
  4. ^ Oskar Panizza, in: Münchener Beobachter of January 8, 1927, p. 2
  5. Rolf Düsterberg: "The printed freedom". Oskar Panizza and the Zürcher Diskußjonen , Frankfurt am Main 1988, p. 14, note 18
  6. Jens Malte Fischer described the operated Jew ' as an "explosion of angry anti-Semitism as it was only achieved in this drastic form by the' striker '". ( German-language fantasy between decadence and fascism , in: Rein A. Zondergeld (ed.): Phaïcon 3, Almanach der phantastischen Literatur , Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt / Main 1978, pp. 93-130.)
  7. Alexander Bahar , The Most Terrible of All Tortures
  8. Patrice Neau: Anti-Semitism and Anti-Catholicism in Oskar Panizza , in: Acta Germanica, Vol. 24, 1996, pp. 21-33.
  9. Neau, p. 22f
  10. ^ Neau, p. 26
  11. Neau, p. 32, note 7
  12. Hans Peter Althaus: Mauscheln: a word as a weapon , Berlin / New York 2002, p. 154
  13. Althaus, p. 155
  14. Joela Jacobs: "... and the whole Palatinate-Jewish deluge came out." Monstrosity and multilingualism in Oskar Panizza's Der orperirte Jud ' , in: Dieter Heimböckel, Ernest WB Hess-Lüttich u. a. (Ed.): Journal for Intercultural German Studies, Bielefeld 3/2013, Issue 2, pp. 61–73.
  15. Jacobs, p. 72
  16. Jacobs, p. 73
  17. Ariane Trotske: The 'transnational body' as a battleground. Oskar Panizza's anti-Semitic Panoptikum in "Der operirte Jud '"
  18. Ariane Trotske: Consumptive Redeemers, Psychotic Priests and 'The Barbin Fall'. Oskar Panizza's aesthetic vandalism in the German Empire , in: Tim Lörke, Robert Walter - Jochum (ed.): Religion and literature in the 20th and 21st centuries. Motives, ways of speaking, media, Göttingen 2015, ISBN 978-3-8471-0375-2 , pp. 277 - 295, here pp. 288f
  19. Nike Thurn: 'False Jews'. Performative identities in German-language literature from Lessing to Walter , Göttingen 2015, p. 248f
  20. Thurn, p. 273
  21. Thurn, p. 26
  22. Thurn, p. 275
  23. Anika Reichwald: The Phantasm of Assimilation. Interpretations of the “Jewish” in German Fantasticism 1890 - 1930 , Vienna University Press 2017, p. 304
  24. ^ Reichwald, p. 316
  25. ^ Reichwald, p. 322
  26. ^ Reichwald, p. 330
  27. ^ Reichwald, p. 332
  28. ^ Reichwald, all citations on p. 333
  29. Rolf Düsterberg, p. 32
  30. Michael Bauer: Oskar Panizza. A literary portrait , Munich / Vienna 1984, pp. 139f
  31. Quoted from Dietmar Goldschnigg, Hartmut Steinecke (ed.): Heine und die Nachwelt , Volume 1: 1856 - 1906, Berlin 2006, p. 376
  32. ^ Wiener Rundschau, No. 4 of January 1, 1897, pp. 147 - 152. Online
  33. ^ Die Gesellschaft, year 1896, fourth quarter, pp. 1252-1274, here p. 1256. Online
  34. Zürcher Diskuszjonen, Vol. 2 (1899), No. 20/21, p. 14.
  35. Mynona: The operated Goy. A side piece to Panizza's operated Jew , in: Ders .: Trappist strike and other grotesques , Freiburg 1922, pp. 67–80.
  36. ↑ In detail Nike Thurn, pp. 276 - 293, here pp. 283, 289 and p. 293