Antisemitic Feelings and Activities in Medieval England: The Ritual Murder Charges
Voss, Viola (University of Exeter – 1997)
Rutgers, School of Communication and Information (2004)
Thinking about Langmuir’s reflections I tried to become aware of the reasons why I decided to write a paper about antisemitism in medieval England. I think that as a German student, who has been taught the history of the holocaust at school over and over again, I unconsciously try to demonstrate that although the Germans have committed the most recent indescribable atrocities against the Jewish people they were by no means the first ones to do so. Under no circumstances do I try to justify what has happened in Nazi-Germany. I would rather like to stress that it was no new phenomenon and that there are rational explanations behind this.
As our seminar “Persecution and Toleration in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe” has shown intolerance and persecution are often motivated by the fear of difference and deviance and the need of a scapegoat; they serve the purposes of ensuring uniformity, group- formation and defining one’s one identity in contrast to “the alien other”. The reasons for persecution must therefore be searched to a great extent in the persecutors themselves, as the only triggering factor on the side of the victim is most often only its “otherness”, its deviance from the rest.