Joseph Süss Oppenheimer – better known as ״Jew Süss״ – is one of the most iconic figures in the history of antisemitism. In 1733 Oppenheimer became the “court Jew” (financial advisor) of Carl Alexander, Duke of the German state of Württemberg. When Carl Alexander died unexpectedly in 1737, the local authorities arrested Oppenheimer, put him on trial, and condemned him to death for unspecified “misdeeds.” In 1738, Oppenheimer was hanged in front of a large crowd just outside Stuttgart. He is most often remembered today through a vicious Nazi propaganda movie made about him in 1940 at the behest of Joseph Goebbels. This lecture will discuss the original legal case against Oppenheimer as well as one especially important Jewish reaction to his rise, trial, and fall.
Yair Mintzker is professor of European History at Princeton University. A specialist in the history of early modern and modern Germany, his latest monograph, The Many Deaths of Jew Süss (Princeton UP), is a retelling of the trial and execution of Joseph Süss Oppenheimer. The book was translated into Hebrew and German, won the National Jewish Book Award in History, and was chosen by the Financial Times as one of the best books of the year.