Thursday, June 28, 2007

Yes, There Were Unsavorable Jews

No one single national group is immune to problems of individuals.

Like this guy:-

Joseph Silver or Joseph Lis, was born in 1868, in the smallish Jewish community of Kielce, in south-eastern Poland. Both Silver’s father and grandfather engaged in various kinds of petty criminality; but young Joseph was not to be confined either to the place of his birth or to the minor misdeeds of his progenitors. Joining the tide of poverty-stricken Jews fleeing westwards, at the turn of the last century, from the systematized exclusions and state-sponsored pogroms of Eastern Europe, he arrived in London at the age of sixteen.

Over the next thirty-five years he was to be repeatedly imprisoned for his crimes in a variety of countries – among them Britain, the United States, the Transvaal Republic, the Cape Colony, the Orange Free State, the former German West Africa, Germany itself, France, Belgium, Brazil (with a sustained sideways excursion to Chile), and then Britain and the United States once again. His chief occupation throughout was that of brothel-keeper and trafficker in women; his stock in trade usually consisted of handfuls of Jewish women recruited for the industry either from the utter destitution of the Pale of Settlement alongside the Russian border, or from the sweatshops of the West.

But he was always ready to turn his hand to auxiliary activities, whenever the opportunity arose: burglary; gambling; brawling; selling friends and enemies down the river; corrupting police and licensing authorities; beating up the women in his power; constantly keeping his eye open for further female “remounts”, either to sell on to other pimps or as substitutes for those who had become too worn out by illness and drink to be of further use to him.

In the midst of the First World War he chose, for unexplained reasons, to return from the United States, via neutral Holland, to his birthplace, Kielce, where he fell foul of the Austrian forces which were then in control of that part of Poland. On this occasion, however, he was unable to get away with a brief sentence, as he had done surprisingly often elsewhere. About a year after his “homecoming”, the Austrians transferred him to the larger garrison town of Przemysl, where he was sentenced to death and executed, either for espionage, or theft, or possibly both.

But was Joseph Silver none other than Jack the Ripper, Britain’s most notorious serial killer?

Read Charles van Onselen
The world of Joseph Silver - racketeer and psychopath
656pp. Cape.

1 comment:

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