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The old town of Salzburg with the Rathaus in the background
photo by Rhonda Spivak

In Salzburg, in the old town i came across a stolperstein or "stumbling block", a monument created by Gunter Demnig which commemorates a victim of the Holocaust. Nazism. I first noticed this in front of a building on what was Jew Alley-Judengasse in the old town. The stolpersteins are most often placed in the sidewalks by the houses or apartments where the victims lived before they were arrested, imprisoned and often later killed.
photo by Rhonda Spivak

I was unable to read anything on this stolperstein memorial to a Jewish victim of the Holocaust by just standing and looking down. The only way I managed to read it was by actually sitting down next to it, on the street, which is not something most people would do in all likelihood
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Uncovering More Anti-Semitic Secrets: Salzburg , the Jews' Sow, Jingle Bells and how the Nazis Abused Mozart

by Rhonda Spivak, October 16, 2014




In the old town of Salzburg which I visited recently I  came across  the former town hall, (known as the Rathaus)   a medieval building  built in 1407 with a clock and bell tower. 






Unbeknownst to me at the time I walked by the Rathaus was the fact that in 1486 the Mayor and City council of Salzburg commissioned a well-known sculptor   Hans Valkenower to carve a marble frieze for the tower that depicted a classic "Jews' Sow" - an insulting picture of Jews sucking at the teats of a female pig (an animal Jews refused to eat because it was not kosher). To make matters worse, the Jew's Sow on the Rathaus was mounted so as to face the nearby synagogue.  All of this was done in medieval times in order to vilify Jews who were accused of killing Jesus Christ.





The only reason I  learned about the existence of the "Jews' Sow" on the Salzburg Rathaus is becasue I  have read snippets of an obscure little book, "Salzburg and the Jews; A Historical Walking Guide" (by Stan Nadel, edited by Will Deming).  





The "Jews' Sow" frieze exhibited in this central location in Salzburg should by no means be seen as an isolated incident. In fact, the Judensau (German for "Jews' sow") was a standard feature of medieval churches, especially in Germany. Although the depiction of the Jews' Sow no longer exists on the Salzburg Rathaus today, over 25 of these insulting depictions of Jews still survive on churches in Germany.




These sculptures no doubt illustrate the Christian anti-Semitism that the Nazis were able to draw upon, hundreds of years later, and it can be no accident that during the Nazi period classes of school children were taken to see them.  Today the term Judensau survives as a neo-Nazi insult.




At the time the Jews Sow frieze was put on the Rathaus, Jews were allowed to live in Salzburg on the basis that they paid hefty tax payments to the Emperor and archbishop of the city. As in other cities in Europe in the medieval period, Jewish men were required a pointed hat (it was called a "horned hat" and it may have contributed to the popular Christian belief at the time that Jews had horns). 



According to Nadal's book, Jewish women in Salzburg at the time "were required to wear a bell, like lepers." (Just think of the fact that people would hear a Jewish woman approaching as the bell would jingle--which is why I have used the phrase "Jingle Bells" in the title of this article.) As Nadal writes,




"Salzburg was the only place ever known to have required Jewish women to wear bells."




Shortly after the "Jews' Sow" frieze was put up on the  Rathaus, it was taken down,  but then in  1498, after the expulsion of the Jews from all of  what was then known as the land comprising the Archbishop of Salzburg, the Archbishop  Leonard von Keutschach ordered the "Jews' Sow"  to be put back up. He also ordered the "cleansing" of the synagogues--a terminology later used by the Nazis (This too shows how the Nazis were able to draw on practices and terminology that occurred centuries earlier in medieval Christian Europe.) 



Interestingly enough, the insulting "Jews' Sow" stayed up on the Rathaus until 1785 when it was ordered removed by the "Enlightenment" Archbishop.



Nearby the Rathaus I passed by the house on Getreidgasse 9 where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756, at a time when Jews were prohibited from being in the city of Salzburg for more than an hour. As Nidal writes: 



It is unlikely that he [Mozart] ever saw a real Jew in Salzburg, but he could not have missed the Jews depicted on the "Jews' Sow " just up the street."  According to Nidal, Mozart first met Jews when his father took him on a tour of London as a child prodigy, where he met Jews who had converted outside the faith (although anti-Semites still thought of converted Jews as Jews).



In the 1930's, the Nazis tried to claim that Mozart was an anti-Semite (as he was too popular among the people to claim otherwise) and Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels declared Mozart as the greatest German genius ever. But in his book Mozart and the Nazis published in 2011, author Erik Levi reveals how the Nazis manipulated Mozart's life and work, airbrushing the contribution made by Mozart’s Jewish born librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte to prevent Mozart from being contaminated through direct creative association with a Jew.


Nidal concludes that Mozart was not an anti-Semite:



"Like other Enlightenment Christians of his time Mozart may have retained some negative cultural stereotypes about Jews but as a liberal freemason he was an active promoter of tolerance and equality for Jews and was clearly not an anti-Semite."




But the Nazis were anxious to abuse Mozart and claim him as their own.



Accordingly, it is likely no accident that the 150th anniversary year of Mozart’s death took place in 1941 at the very height of the Second World War. The Nazis appear to have launched a nationwide celebration of the works of Mozart in an unprecedented manner in order to deflect attention away from the war and also to create a sense of well- being on the home front.



The Mozart celebrations ended in a huge festival in Vienna where Goebbels and former Hitler youth leader, Baldur von Schirach  have addresses about Mozart, to  which allied politicians from all over occupied Europe were invited. 




At the close of the festival Mozart was honoured with a formal Nazi burial ceremony and a memorial flame was erected in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna with wreaths from Hitler, Goering, the SS, the Wehrmacht and others on prominent display.  



In choosing St. Stephen's Cathedral as the location for this event, the Nazis were again effectively able to play on centuries of Christian anti-Semitism, since according to the fifth book of the New Testament; the Jewish born St. Stephen was killed by Jews for following Christ.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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