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Bidding Information
Lot #    22197
Auction End Date    12/23/2008 10:56:00 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Jud Suess gehenckt worden A:1738, 4. Feb.
Author    [Colored engraving] Johann Andreas Mattsperger
City    Augspurg
Publisher    Johann Andreas Mattsperger
Publication Date    [c. 1738]
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   2 loose pages; 320:220 mm & 320:170mm; pages were probably removed from a book; engraving hand colored; pages with folds and tears.
   Descriptive page reads: "Wahrhafftige Abbildung des bey Stuttgart erbauten Galgens, woran vor 141 Jahren Georg Honauer und vor gar kurzer Zeit der berichtigte Joseph Suess, Oppenheimer Jud, dessen beede Portrait zu sehen, aufgehangen worden."

The engraving depicts the gallows on which Joseph Suess Oppenheimer was hanged in 1738. In the upper left corner it also features his portrait. The accompanying leaflet informs that the gallows were orginally created for the execution of the renaissance alchimist Georg Honauer (1572-1597) who had promised to transform iron into gold for Friedrich I (1557-1608), Duke of Wuerttemberg. When he failed he was executed in a dress which was covered with gold flitter. The gallows were made from 2500 kilogram of iron, the same amount that Honauer had promised to transform into gold. The gallows cost around 3000 Gulden.

Joseph Oppenheimer (also known as Joseph Suess or "Jud [Jew] Suess") (1698 1738), was executed on the same gallows as Honauer 141 years before him. Oppenheimer was a Court Jew and confidential financial adviser to Karl Alexander, Duke of Wuerttemberg (1684-1737). In order to free the duke from his dependence on the allocations of the states, Oppenheimer endeavored to establish new economic foundations for the state income. He leased enterprises and properties to Christians and Jews, at the same time authorizing Jews to settle in the country. Through his supervision of the division of private property in cases of marriage or inheritance and his control over the appointment of government officials, Oppenheimer sought to enrich the state treasury and concentrate governmental power in the hands of the duke. Exercising his authority in an autocratic fashion, he imitated the life of a contemporary nobleman, dwelling in luxury and splendor. With the support of the duke, he even made two unsuccessful applications for noble status to the emperor. His efforts to establish an absolute rule based on a system of mercantile economy aroused the fierce opposition of the conservative elements in the country, an opposition that was fanned by the fact that the duke was a Catholic while the country was Protestant, and that the change in the system of government had been assisted by the Jesuits and the army.

On March 19, 1737, the duke died suddenly. On the same day, Oppenheimer was arrested and charged principally with having endangered the rights of the country and embezzled the incomes of the state. Although the charges were not adequately substantiated, his property was confiscated and he was condemned to death. After the German Jewish communities had vainly attempted to obtain his release against a ransom, Oppenheimer was hanged on April 4, 1738, and his remains were publicly exhibited in an iron cage. While he was in prison, Oppenheimer, who during the period of his greatness had treated his religion with scant respect, rejected the offers of the clergy to save his life if he would accept baptism, proclaiming his intention of dying as a martyr. He died reciting the Shema. In the year after his death, the German Jewish communities lit memorial candles for him.

Contemporary legal authorities considered that Oppenheimer's death was an act of murder. Historians, too, have viewed it as judicial murder, the result of the conflict between various interests during the transition period from medieval to modern forms of government, in which Oppenheimer played a significant part. Traditional hatred of the Jews also served to bring about the downfall of a man who rose to considerable power in a Christian state at a time when the very idea of civic emancipation for the Jews was far distant.

Joseph Suess Oppenheimer was the subject of a story by M. Lehmann, and a novel, Jud Suess, by L. Feuchtwanger, both of which were translated into several languages, including English. The infamous German Nazi propaganda film adaptation made in 1940 by Veit Harlan under the supervision of Joseph Goebbels was a justification of anti-Semitism and is considered one of the most hateful depictions of Jews on film.

   EJ; JE
Associated Images
2 Images (Click thumbnail to view full size image):
  Order   Image   Caption
  1   Click to view full size  
  2   Click to view full size  
Listing Classification
18th Century:    Checked
Germany:    Checked
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    German
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica