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Meyer, Paulus

MEYER, PAULUS

MEYER, PAULUS (alias Pawly ; originally Kremenetzki, Eliezer Baruch Ashkenazi ; 1862–?), renegade who published testimony claiming that he had witnessed a ritual murder. Meyer, a native of Ostrow (Poland), acted during the 1880s as a Protestant missionary among the Jews in Germany. He came into conflict with the Judenmission there and published pamphlets against it, attacking H.L. *Strack and others. In 1892 missionary periodicals identified him as an impostor and swindler and he was expelled by the police from Prussia and Saxony. Meyer went to Vienna in 1893 and contacted Joseph *Deckert. On August *Rohling's recommendation, Deckert suggested to Meyer that he write a "scientific" book on the *blood libel. On May 11, 1893 the Vaterland published a letter by Meyer in which he claimed to have been present at a ritual murder in his native town in 1875, naming several participants. Joseph Samuel *Bloch took up the case. With the assistance of Nahum *Sokolow and Ḥayyim Selig *Slonimski, he discovered the persons accused by Meyer and, in some cases, their heirs. Joseph Kopp, who had represented Bloch in the Rohling controversy, persuaded them to sue for defamation of character. Throughout the trial Meyer denied having written or signed the letter or been responsible for its contents, although he admitted that the handwriting was that of his fiancée. The jury found him, Deckert, and the Vaterland guilty and they received a nominal sentence. The outcome, however, was symbolically important in the context of the antisemitic agitation of the 1890s.

bibliography:

J.S. Bloch, My Reminiscences (1923), 385–570; H.L. Strack, Das Blut im Glauben und Aberglauben der Menschheit (900), index.

[Meir Lamed]

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