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KONITZ (Pol. Chojnice ), town in Poland, until 1918 in Germany, scene of a 20th-century *blood libel. Although a few Jews probably lived and traded in Konitz from the middle of the 15th century, the first Jewish resident is mentioned in 1767. After *Hardenberg's decree of 1812, a steady stream of Jewish emigrants came to the town (80 attained citizenship in 1813–50), and in 1856 the Jewish population totaled 429. On March 15, 1900, the dismembered body of Ernst Winter, aged 19, was found in the river. The police charged a number of Jews on flimsy and insubstantial grounds. The first defendant, Israelski, was acquitted, but the crime was defined as ritual murder. Antisemites accused the authorities of shielding Jewish suspects and anti-Jewish riots broke out; the synagogue was attacked, and widespread agitation and unrest shocked the world. Adolf Lewy and his son Moritz, butchers, were accused of the ritual murder of Winter on the prefabricated evidence of a petty thief, B. Masloff. Moritz was acquitted of the murder charge but sentenced to four years' imprisonment for denying that he was acquainted with the victim. The jury awarded Masloff the minimal sentence, one year, for perjury, and petitioned for his pardon. However, William ii granted a pardon to Moritz but refused to give one to Masloff. The Jewish population of Konitz subsequently declined (many were economically ruined) to 257 in 1913. After World War i, when the town was annexed to Poland, the number of Jews declined further, to 110 in 1920. Jews have not lived there since World War ii.


Mitteilungen aus dem Verein zur Abwehr des Anti-Semitismus, 10 (1900), index s.v.Konitz, Mord in; Der Prozess gegen Massloff und Genossen (1900); G. Sutor, Der Konitzer Mord und seine Folgen (1900); R. Kleinpaul, Menschenopfer und Ritual-Morde (1900); G. Zimmer, Der Mord in Konitz am 11 Maerz 1900 (1900); F. Spaet, Die Gutachten der Sachverstaendigen ueber den Konitzer Mord (1903); W. Zeller, Wer hat Ernst Winter ermordet? (1904).