During the 1880s and early 1890s, animal-protection, veterinarian, and
antisemitic societies in Saxony, and in much of Germany, lobbied for
slaughterhouse reforms. They sought the licensing of slaughterers, the
restriction of the abattoir (slaughterhouse) to men only, the
implementation of stricter inspection procedures, and the stunning of
animals into a state of unconsciousness before their slaughter. These
groups called for change because they believed that the current state of
affairs in the municipally run slaughterhouses posed a risk to the
public's health. In their view, the abattoir allegedly encouraged brutal
behavior, attracted unsavory characters as employees, and facilitated the
accumulation of contaminants from its dirty and bloody surfaces. Saxon
animal protectionists also expressed concern with the traditional ways in
which animals were slaughtered for food. At that time, most European
butchers slaughtered conscious animals with sharp knives
(Schächten), and animal protection advocates warned that such a
method cruelly allowed animals to feel their own murder. The activists
admonished that the slaughter of conscious animals could affect people's
behavior toward one another and lead to domestic violence, verbal abuse,
and drunken scuffles. By making these demands, the animal protectionists
and their supporters gradually raised questions concerning the character
of German citizenry, the power of the German government, and the place of
minority communities and institutions in the modern state. [End Page
In 1892, the Kingdom of Saxony acquiesced to the animal protectionists
and promulgated reforms that mandated the promulgation of stricter
inspection procedures, the licensing of slaughterers, the restriction of
the abattoir to men only, and the stunning of animals into a state of
unconsciousness before their slaughter. 1 Even though these slaughterhouse reforms did not
necessarily target Saxon Jews, they influenced Jewish life significantly.
Shehitah (kosher butchering), a subset of Judaism's dietary laws,
dictates that a conscious animal must be slaughtered by rapidly severing
its trachea and esophagus with an extremely smooth knife. Because the
government refused to exempt the Jewish community from its regulations
despite several appeals, the passage of the abattoir reforms forced
religiously observant Jews to make a choice— transgress Jewish law by
stunning the animal before its slaughter, slaughter meat illegally, or
procure kosher meat from another source. 2 The Saxon legislation remained unchanged until 1910,
when the minister of the interior deemed that certain exemptions be put
into place. 3
Although Saxony was the only state in Imperial Germany to allow a
statewide ban on kosher butchering, the events there were not unique.
During the 1890s and early 1900s, many German towns and states engaged in
some form of debate concerning animal stunning and the Jewish method of
animal slaughter (Schächtfrage), regardless of the size of their
Jewish population. 4 In almost all cases, the debates about kosher
butchering began as part of a larger campaign for slaughterhouse reform.
The nascent efforts by animal protectionists and their supporters to cast
these laws as mandatory for all citizens, and the subsequent attempt by
Jewish communities to receive exemptions, intensified the animal
protection campaigns and brought them to the attention of a wider
audience. By the late 1890s, the mainstream animal advocacy crusade—which
had once expressed little interest in Jewish rites—now raised questions
concerning the character of Jewish rituals, the rights of religious
minorities, and the possibilities for state or local control over
religious customs and, by extension, religious minorities.
Nothing has yet been written to set out the narrative of the late-
nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century German debates concerning kosher
butchering, and, I believe, the Schächtfrage deserves examination and
studies of its own. 5 This article uses the local, regional, and national
debates to provide a window into a fragmented German society, state, and
its minorities and to illuminate the complex processes of cultural,
social, and political interaction that took place among them. The
contradictory demands by animal protectionists concerning what regulations
Jews should observe within the abattoir, the cries for religious freedoms
on the part of Jews who may or may not have been religiously [End Page
118] observant themselves, the conflicting statements that governments
issued concerning the regulation of religious minorities, and the attempt
by administrative bodies at the local and regional level to use these
deliberations as a way to garner power complicate our understanding of
acculturation and minority integration in Germany. Furthermore, an
analysis of the Schächtfrage challenges traditional assumptions about
antisemitism's primacy in shaping the interactions between German Jews and
their local and state governments. By exploring the growing interest in
kosher butchering among Jews and non-Jews between 1850 and 1914, this
article sets out that narrative and suggests that the Schächtfrage's
widespread appeal lay in the very questions and paradoxes inherent in its
The Debates, 1850-90
The origins of the German kosher butchering debates can be found in the
birth of the German animal protection movement. Beginning in the late
1700s, animal-protection advocates began to call for the improved
treatment of all animals, particularly horses, cats, dogs, and hunted
animals. Motivated by an anthropocentric tradition, these individuals held
that animals were not to be defended for their own sake but to curb man's
brutality to fellow man. Immanuel Kant most famously articulated this
viewpoint in 1785 when he denied that animals had rights of their own
because they allegedly lacked the facility to reason, but he advocated
animal protection because he worried that a man who mistreated an animal
would be encouraged to act similarly with other humans. 6 Concerned that the targets for such brutality would
be those individuals who could not defend themselves, he and other animal
protectionists made parallels between animals and society's "vulnerable,"
namely women and children.
The sentimentalism of nascent animal protectionists took on an
organized form in the late 1830s with the creation of the first animal
advocacy society in the German states. 7 Over the next 40 years, these societies endorsed the
improved transport of animals, the teaching of animal protection in
schools, and the promulgation of animal protection laws. They also
endorsed other sentimentalist platforms, such as temperance campaigns and
the protection of children. 8 Portraying piety, kindness, and abstinence as ideal
characteristics, the publications of these early associations expressed
newfound delight and moralistic importance in nature and illustrated that
brutality against animals, children, and women led to ruthlessness against
all people. 9 The animal-protection [End Page 119]
societies' use of sentimentalist discourses also highlighted their
commonalty with other middle-class associations that similarly articulated
new sets of moral and social standards to dictate everyday life. 10
Individual states soon adopted animal cruelty legislation, and by the
time of unification in 1871 all German states except the city-state of
Lübeck had legal regulations or police orders against animal brutality.
Not surprisingly, these laws adopted the anthropocentric impulses of the
time and targeted forms of animal cruelty that affected women and
children, not necessarily forms of brutality that horribly mistreated
animals. The mid-nineteenth-century legislation steered women and children
away from abattoirs, cock fights, and bull-baiting, and it defined
unlawful animal mistreatment as that which took place in public. 11
At first, German animal protection societies, like their European
counterparts, expressed little interest in slaughtering practices or in
kosher butchering, but this was to change gradually. 12 The shift first occurred outside of the German
states. In 1855, the British Society for the Protection of Animals called
for widespread slaughterhouse reform. Charging that current slaughtering
practices forced animals to be aware of their own deaths, British animal
protection advocates petitioned for mandatory stunning laws. Stunning
practices at that time still were rudimentary, often relying on mallets or
hammers to stun animals into unconsciousness. Therefore, scientists and
politicians throughout England came to the defense of traditional
slaughtering techniques, and the debates over stunning remained dormant in
England for several decades. 13 There was, however, a slightly different outcome
when Swiss animal protectionists made similar demands that same year. In
1855, the canton of Aargau—responding to pressure from animal protection
societies there—passed legislation forbidding the slaughter of conscious
animals. The canton exempted the Jewish communities of Endingen and
Lengnau but rescinded this privilege 10 years later when it ruled that all
slaughterers, regardless of religious affiliation, were to stun their
animals before killing them. 14
The events in Switzerland and England had a significant impact on
animal protection discourses throughout Europe and helped to bring about
several changes within German animal advocacy. Interested in the abattoir
as a source of brutality and evil, some German protection societies began
to shift their focus away from the care of cats, horses, dogs, and hunted
prey to slaughtering techniques and slaughterhouse procedures. In Berlin,
Königsberg, Cologne, and Munich, animal protection societies gradually
criticized the lack of stunning laws in their cities. Their calls for such
reforms intensified after the 1880s, when [End Page 120] new
stunning methods became more widely available. These included the
bouterole, which covered the animal's head but left a space through which
butchers could stun it with a heavy mallet; the Bruneau's Mask, which
allowed for a slaughterer to drive a bolt or spike through the animal's
skull; and the Sigmund's mask, which was like the Bruneau's Mask but was
connected to a revolver. Before the invention of these devices, stunning
mechanisms were clumsy, difficult to utilize, and painful to the animal.
Now, animal protection advocates lauded the facility of these new
techniques and condemned current methods of slaughter as inhumane. These
crusaders did not limit their campaign to stunning laws. They also
denounced the method of transport used to carry the cattle to the abattoir
and the pens that slaughterers employed to restrain their animals. 15
In their campaign, supporters of these new stunning techniques pointed
to three interconnected concerns: the allegedly humane character of
stunning; Germany's character as a civilized and cultured state
(Kulturstaat) that should be opposed to cruelty; and the public
health benefits of stunning animals before slaughter. In their view,
slaughtering an unconscious animal was less bloody, faster (allegedly,
shehitah took more than 10 minutes as compared to the 3-5 minutes of
slaughter after stunning), and caused the animal fewer convulsions.
Moreover, it supposedly resulted in healthier meat that remained fresh for
a longer period of time. 16 Stunning also did not force a creature to be aware
of its own death. Drawing from theriocentric traditions, supporters of
stunning legislation emphasized that animals could experience pain and
terror and thus should be defended for their own sake. 17 Animal protectionists thus emphasized the horror
suffered by the animals themselves. Claiming that they "spoke on behalf of
the tens of thousands of animals who were murdered each day," they
graphically described the pain "innocent creatures" experienced at the
hands of their "cruel tormentors." 18 At a national meeting of animal protection
societies, for example, one member beseeched his fellow activists to
imagine the anguish animals experienced when the creatures died fully
aware of their surroundings. "When we cut our finger we feel the pain," he
cried. "We can hardly even imagine what severe anguish the animal must
This is not to suggest that animal protectionists dismissed earlier
claims that animal cruelty could have an adverse effect on behavior.
Anthropocentric concerns remained central to the debates as well.
Concerned that the slaughter of conscious animals could emotionally
devastate women and children or drive individuals to act brutally toward
one another, animal protectionists called for the prohibition of [End
Page 121] women and children from the abattoir and the regulation of
slaughterers who served as teachers. 20
In both anthropocentric and theriocentric accounts of Schächten's
brutality, animal protection advocates threatened that the slaughter of
conscious animals risked the country's character as a Kulturstaat.
Comparing Germany to other Kulturstaaten that had passed mandatory
stunning laws (Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands), German animal
protection advocates suggested not only that Germany's reputation was at
stake but also that, if such forms of brutality existed, they could infect
the entire population. 21 This anxiety concerning Germany's reputation as a
civilized state was particularly salient to German authorities and to many
middle-class citizens during and after German unification (1869-71) when
they attempted to define state and society.
Between 1850 and 1890, local animal protectionists advocated slaughter
reform on the basis of humanitarian, scientific, or cultural concerns, and
many groups tended not to target the Jewish method of slaughter. 22 Instead, most opponents of Schächten expressed
concern with the hundreds of European butchers who used this method and
not specifically (or solely) with the slaughtering practices of a Jewish
minority. 23 Some animal advocacy groups of the pre-1890 period
even believed that Schächten was a humane form of slaughter and that, by
decapitating the animal quickly, the butcher was avoiding causing the
animal tremendous pain. This disinterest in, or acceptance of, kosher
butchering could even be seen in the 1886-88 animal protection campaign to
bring about stunning laws. During the 1880s, hundreds of German animal
protection societies submitted petitions to the Reichstag requesting laws
that would mandate the stunning of animals, the slaughtering of animals in
government approved slaughterhouses only, and the licensing of
slaughterers. Unlike petitions introduced in future Reichstag debates,
some of the petitions submitted in 1886-88 recommended the exemption of
the Jewish community from state regulations; others did not mention the
Jewish community at all. 24 Local abattoir practices similarly allowed for
Jews to continue practicing kosher butchering despite the existence of
stunning laws. Throughout the 1880s and much of the 1890s, the majority of
local German communities that adopted slaughterhouse reforms exempted Jews
in the legislation itself or upon appeal. 25
The Transformation of the Animal Protection Campaign,
Public and governmental opinion concerning kosher butchering began to
shift over the course of the 1890s and early 1900s. In his 1904 [End
Page 122] trade journal article, the slaughterhouse director, Stier,
described his change in view. "In earlier years," he wrote, "I believed
that it was preferable if the conscious animal was slaughtered and then
bled. Now I know the practice of stunning is faster and painless." 26 Stier's experience was common among local
slaughterhouse directors and employees as well as among the municipal
administrators that oversaw the abattoir. In the 1890s and early 1900s,
German city and town councils increasingly limited or prohibited the
Jewish rite. Debates about stunning reforms then tended to look at the
Jewish method specifically and ask whether it was appropriate to engage in
particularistic customs in the post emancipatory age. Although not all
local governments endorsed a ban on slaughter without previous stunning,
they gradually agreed that kosher butchering needed to be subsumed under
the jurisdiction of the municipality and/or the state. 27
This shift occurred at the national level as well. Kosher butchering
assumed a central place in the Reichstag debates of 1899 and 1909- 11.
28 In addition, after 1890 the deliberations about
shehitah resulted in the widespread distribution of scientific and
pseudoscientific studies and surveys, the mobilization of several Jewish
and non-Jewish "apolitical" associations to defend or oppose shehitah, and
the formulation of religious reforms among Jews. During this period,
kosher butchering also became the focus of antisemitic postcards, Jewish
jokes, animal protection society newsletters, and scientific,
anthropological, and medical treatises. 29 As the form and content of the deliberations
changed, so too did the audience. No longer limited to a small group of
animal protectionists, the participants in the kosher butchering debates
represented a cross section of German middle-class society: members of
Germany's mainstream political parties, veterinarians, Catholic leaders,
biblical literary critics, scientists, anthropologists, dentists, and
What explained this major change? Why did a cross section of society
become increasingly interested in the Jewish method of animal slaughter
and why did local governments gradually force Jewish communities to
observe their slaughterhouse regulations? The answers lie in the dramatic
historical changes of the 1890s, including the exponential rise of
chauvinistic discourses, the attempt by governmental bodies to garner
control over previously unregulated spheres of behavior, and the belief by
a wide spectrum of society that the public's health was in escalating
danger. [End Page 123]
Antisemitism and Animal Protection
The dramatic political, social, and economic rearrangements of the
1890s encouraged many people to become increasingly interested in kosher
butchering. 31 During the 1890s, Germany experienced an economic
boom, dramatic urbanization, a rise in mass consumption, changes in living
conditions, and an increase in population. As the landscape transformed
and became increasingly populated, German society gradually became more
concerned with crime, degeneration, unemployment, and hygiene.
Extra-parliamentary groups and associations voiced and manipulated these
concerns. Advocating certain cultural standards and asserting German pride
and identity, these groups ushered in a new period of chauvinism and
patriotism that paved the way for opposition to Catholic, Socialist,
Polish, and Jewish groups. 32 The campaign against kosher butchering shared
several themes with the chauvinistic impulses of the time: a concern with
Jewish particularity and brutality, a desire to eradicate deviance from
society, a longing to return to a "utopian" past, and an anxiety
concerning political, economic, and social changes.
The kosher butchering debates attracted attention in part because they
tapped into these anxieties. 33 Some activists explicitly pointed to anti-Jewish
concerns as the reason for their involvement. In their view, the call to
enforce Jewry's compliance with the stunning laws provided a platform from
which they could address questions concerning Jewish particularities,
integrative abilities, and civic worthiness. 34 Moreover, the scientific character of the campaign
and its widespread audience lent them an element of respectability and
allowed for the normalization of chauvinistic discourse. In Potsdam, for
example, industrialist and Reichstag deputy Ernst Froehlich of the
antisemitic German Social Reform Party openly whipped up anti-Jewish
sentiment when he introduced proposals banning kosher butchering in 1901,
1903, and 1905. 35 In his public appearances, Froehlich emphasized
Jewish hostility toward Christendom, Jewry's propensity for cruelty, and
its contemptuousness for German culture and society. He repeatedly called
on "scientific experts" to prove the need for stricter regulations over
the Jewish minority. 36
Whether they were explicitly or implicitly invoked, anti-Jewish myths
were central to the debates about kosher butchering. The animal protection
literature consistently voiced concerns with the allegedly violent
character of shehitah, thus implying that the Jews were themselves deviant
and cruel. 37 The most egregious example of this accusation was
the linkage of kosher butchering with ritual murder. Radical opponents
[End Page 124] of shehitah conflated the charge that Jews
slaughtered animals in brutal ways with the medieval myth that Jews
ritually murdered Christians for religious purposes. Imagining the Jewish
butcher as the Jewish murderer, critics of kosher butchering compared
Jewry's alleged murder of children for the Passover service with the
supposedly barbarous method in which Jews slaughtered cattle. 38 It is interesting to note that, just as
antisemites used the libel charge to condemn Jewish religious culture,
they also pointed to shehitah as proof of ritual murder's existence. In
1892, for example, police authorities arrested a local Jewish butcher of
brutally murdering a child in Xanten (Rhineland). The police suspected him
because he was one of the few residents in Xanten who would be capable of
decapitating and bleeding a human, since he normally did so to cattle.
Eight years later, another Jewish butcher was indicted after a student was
killed in the West Prussian town of Konitz. A popular postcard from the
Konitz affair dramatized this link. The card depicted a man restrained in
chains and surrounded by 10 Jewish men (representing the quorum required
by Jewish law for religious services). One man appeared to be decapitating
the victim while another drained his blood into a bucket. The inscription
read, "Remember 11 March 1900. On that day, the grammar school pupil
Winter of Konitz was sacrificed by the shohet's knife
(Schächtmesser)." 39 A postcard circulated after an 1899 ritual murder
case (the Hilsner Affair) similarly portrayed a bound maiden surrounded by
three unkempt Jewish butchers. 40
Fin-de-siècle concerns with sexual deviance influenced the making of
these postcards, as well as other literature demanding the prohibition of
kosher butchering. 41 During a moment when social fears concerning
overpopulation, degeneracy, and criminality became fused with and
articulated through sexual anxieties, it is not surprising that depictions
of shohtim played into stereotypes of Jews as violent, oversexed,
and sexually different. The Jewish method of slaughter requires shohtim
with significant strength and cattle that are constrained in some way.
Antisemitic authors used these images of the powerful Jewish slaughterer
and the docile victim to invoke anxieties with Jewish sexuality. Their
illustrations of dewy-eyed calves bound with ropes and metal chains sent a
clear message: shehitah and the Jewish employees of the abattoir presented
a significant danger, possibly even to society at large. 42 One could note that this charge was the exact
opposite of the common antisemitic belief that Jewish men were emasculated
Another antisemitic myth invoked by the anti-kosher-butchering campaign
concerned Jewry's alleged bloodthirstiness. As antisemitic propaganda
exaggerated the bloody character of Jewish rites and described [End
Page 125] Jews as a "blood-thirsty" and "blood-drinking" people,
43 the conventional animal protection campaign and
the scientific community similarly propelled the alleged affinity between
Jews, blood, and kosher butchering into public discourse. 44 German veterinarians and pathologists studied the
blood of slaughtered animals and the process through which cattle lost
blood after their slaughter. 45 Traditional animal rights advocates similarly
expressed an interest in blood, demanding that slaughterhouse commissions
promulgate laws forbidding Jews from consuming the blood of animals
butchered by the Jewish method. They also insisted that kosher butchering
take place in a separate space within the abattoir for fear that the blood
might contaminate other meat. Many commissions eventually promulgated such
laws even though they were unnecessary because Judaism itself prohibits
the ingestion of this blood and requires the scrupulous inspection of the
animal and its fluids for contaminants. 46 This interest with blood was part of a larger
concern in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth- century culture. During
this period, German science and pseudo- science devoted itself to the
study of blood and its pathogens; a strand of German nationalism and
racism called for blood as the cornerstone for German national identity;
and blood served as the basis on which the state determined eligibility
for German citizenship.
As some scientists, animal protection advocates, and antisemites
condemned the bloodiness of kosher butchering, others voiced concern that
German Jews slaughtered more animals than they could physically consume
and then profited from their rate of slaughter. There was an element of
truth to their charge. In the Rhine town of Rheydt, for example, where
Jews constituted only 0.8 percent of the total population, slaughterhouse
records revealed that more than half of all cattle were slaughtered by the
Schächten method. In Bütow, allegedly 95 percent of the meat slaughtered
in the public slaughterhouses was killed according to shehitah, even
though Jews constituted less than 1 percent of the population. 47 However, the high number of cattle slaughtered
according to the Jewish method can be easily explained. First, some
non-Jewish butchers continued to slaughter animals with a knife without
stunning them first (Schächten), a method that had been approved by some
animal protection societies before the 1890s. These slaughterhouse
employees preferred to eat and sell this kind of meat, believing that the
slaughter of conscious animals produced a higher quality of meat that
remained fresh longer. 48 Furthermore, the high percentage of animals
slaughtered by shehitah had its roots in Jewish law. Judaism's dietary
laws prohibit Jews from ingesting the sciatic nerve or the fatty portions
of the animal carcass as well as animals that, upon further inspection,
[End Page 126] are found to have blemishes or lesions. In order to
produce a sufficient amount of kosher meat for their customers, shohtim
had to slaughter more cattle than non-Jewish butchers.
To many animal sentimentalists, slaughterhouse directors, and
government officials, the large percentage of animals slaughtered by the
Jewish method was problematic because it inferred that Jews profited from
killing, a charge that played into extant stereotypes of Jews as
economically shifty and driven by economic gain. 49 According to this view, Jews sold to Christians—at
a profit—what they themselves were forbidden from eating. 50 For example, in his 1896 article concerning the
income Jews earned when selling to Christians at inflated prices, Carl
Sedlaßek, the editor of the antisemitic Generalanzeiger, charged
that Jews intentionally sold the spoiled, infected meat that they
themselves could not consume. According to Sedlaßek, when a shohet found a
diseased animal, he would gleefully announce, "this is for the goyim!" The
Centralverein later successfully sued Sedlaßek for libel. 51 Seven years later, members of the radical Berlin
animal rights movement similarly expressed outrage when they discovered
that the German army served meat from cattle that had been "slaughtered
ritually." 52 The German military was one sphere, along with the
judiciary, diplomatic corps, and the higher reaches of the civil service,
in which Jews were historically unable to achieve positions of influence.
53 Concerned that Jews had chosen this sphere of
influence as a method of revenge, one antisemitic reporter bitterly
complained that "Jews have received their wish that German soldiers must
eat kosher meat." 54
Yet, even though antisemitism informed the campaign to restrict or
prohibit kosher butchering, antisemitic impulses did not motivate all
animal protection advocates. Promoters of mandatory stunning laws
justified their participation on a number of grounds. Hoping to protect
the well-being of animals, several animal protection advocates called for
restrictions on Schächten as one of several components to their crusade.
Georg Hilker, a teacher and active animal protection society member in
Paderborn, lobbied for local stunning laws as just one part of his
sentimentalist campaign. He also called for education reforms that would
incorporate animal protection into school lessons on religion, math,
history, or geography, and he encouraged parents to give their children
toys or dolls for presents rather than dogs, horses, or cats. 55 Whereas Hilker looked to education as
justification for his involvement, others pointed to concerns with health
or hygiene, intellectual interests in shehitah or Jewish customs more
generally, or political disputes as rationales for their participation.
Moreover, participants in the kosher butchering debates often acted
[End Page 127] in ways that were unexpected to their
contemporaries. There was, for example, a small group of Jews who promoted
the universal stunning laws. 56 In addition, a fair number of animal protection
societies voted against the animal society petitions of 1906 and 1910.
Concerned that a national mandatory stunning law would clash with the
concept of religious freedom, they allied themselves with the individuals
whose very practices they openly opposed. 57 There were other such cases as well. During the
1898-99 Reichstag debates, for example, Leonard Hoffman, an outspoken
opponent of shehitah and a member of the conservative Volkspartei,
rejected the animal protectionist request to ban kosher butchering. He did
so because he refused to endorse legislation that specifically targeted a
Regulatory Impulses and Religious Tolerance
Regulatory impulses also shaped the kosher butchering debates of
1890-1914. During this period, local, regional, and state authorities
maneuvered to position themselves as guarantors of social stability.
59 Governments created welfare legislation and social
insurance, intensified their expansionist efforts, turned to medicine for
assistance, and devised new social policies and models for constructing an
It was in this milieu that the slaughterhouse reforms took place. The
abattoir regulations were part of the impetus by government and science to
control a violent space, move it to the city's edge, and regulate its
employees and practices. In their efforts to protect the public's health,
all levels of government claimed some form of jurisdiction over the
abattoir. Whereas local town councils and magistrates managed
slaughterhouses just as they did other municipal institutions, state
governments claimed ultimate jurisdiction over issues concerning trade,
the licensing of public employees, and the crafting of health regulations.
As animal protectionists called for Jewry's compliance with the stunning
laws or the promulgation of strict reforms of the rite, they turned to all
levels of government agencies, claiming that intervention was a
protectionist measure for the public good.
Most of the deliberations took place locally. Under the guise of
service and protection, local slaughterhouse commissions, magistrates,
town councils, and mayors reformed shehitah, dramatically restricted it,
and/or encouraged its prohibition. Yet, though hundreds of towns debated
possible bans, only 22 prohibited Jews from slaughtering animals according
to the Jewish method. Instead, a majority of towns instituted laws that
restricted the Jewish rite in a way that did not change [End Page
128] the practice completely. These regulations prohibited non-Jews
from practicing shehitah, mandated the licensing of shohtim, restricted
the times when kosher butchering could be performed, limited the number of
cattle that could be killed, and demanded improvements in the ways in
which animals were restrained before slaughter. 60 The majority of prohibitions on kosher butchering
took place in Prussia, though there were others in Bavaria, Hesse, and
The promulgation of these mandatory stunning laws and reforms of kosher
butchering prompted supporters and opponents of the legislation to raise
two questions. Was it appropriate for government to mandate compliance
even if it meant that it would force the transgression of private
religious traditions? And, in the same vein, was it fitting for a
religious minority to receive an exemption from normative laws even if
these laws protected society's members from harm? These questions were
compelling in the post-emancipatory age when religious institutions had
diminished in authority; when Jews, who were now citizens of the state,
had generally conformed to the social standards around them; and when
government officials and active communal leaders struggled over the powers
of local, regional, and national authorities to intervene in what
previously had been autonomous affairs.
Finding a legal response to these queries was made more difficult by
the fact that the German state did not have a legacy of religious
tolerance, demonstrated clearly by the experience of the
Kulturkampf, the state-sponsored anti-Catholic campaign of the
1860s and 1870s. The constitution that united Germany in 1871 only
promised that religious differences could not be used to justify
inequality. It did not promise civil rights to its citizens and stipulated
that "the Christian religion shall form the basis of all institutions of
the state concerned with religious practice (Article 14)." 61
Some supporters of mandatory stunning laws seized on this murky
tradition of religious tolerance to justify a rejection of Jewry's right
to practice its religious customs. In their opinion, if slaughterhouse
commissions desired their butchers to stun all animals before slaughter,
then kosher butchering should be banned. During the Reichstag debates of
1898-99, for example, Conservative Reichstag deputy George Oertel endorsed
a national prohibition of kosher butchering. According to Oertel,
religious protection mocked the valued notion of assimilability within the
new German state. In his view, Jews did not deserve an exemption because,
as citizens, they were required to follow the laws of society and state.
62 Other advocates for kosher butchering's
prohibition, moreover, argued that the rite's brutality called for the
government to overlook its supposed tradition of tolerance and mandate the
[End Page 129] compliance of new abattoir regulations. Emphasizing
the brutality and public health risks inherent in Schächten, they called
for conformity and not religious particularity to shape governmental
Not all individuals called for a ban on shehitah. Supporters of the
Jewish community encouraged the government to allow for an exemption for
the Jewish community on the basis of religious freedom. This viewpoint
attracted individuals from across the political spectrum. Rabbi Ludwig
Philippson, the founder of Der Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums,
warned that a ban on kosher butchering would force all of society to "bid
adieu to religious freedoms and the pursuit of individual
conscience," 64 and Conservative Reichstag deputy Johannes Hoeffel
(1850-1939) rejected the Schächtverbot for similar reasons. To
Hoeffel, a ban on kosher butchering unfairly targeted a religious minority
and therefore could not be endorsed. 65
The murkiness of the constitutional dilemma was made clear in 1887.
That year, the leader of the Catholic Center Party, Ludwig Windthorst,
recommended a change in the wording of the proposed animal protection
amendment that would punish cruel forms of slaughter but explicitly exempt
any religious practices from its purview. 66 The Center Party's proposal was not surprising.
When Windthorst recommended his change to the animal protection bill, he
and his coreligionists had encountered almost two decades of anti-Catholic
animus and legislation. Possibly concerned that a prohibition of shehitah
would result in renewed attention to any religious ritual or custom that
was outside of the Protestant norm, Windthorst demanded that religious
tolerance dictate the Reichstag's consideration of the animal protection
question. Other Reichstag deputies did not agree fully. They
overwhelmingly supported the introduction of animal protection laws but
would neither advocate the creation of legislation that would protect
religious observances nor endorse animal protection laws that would have a
significant impact on a religious minority. After much deliberation, the
Reichstag rejected the animal advocacy petition and Windthorst's proposal
as well. These debates shaped and deadlocked future deliberations
concerning kosher butchering. With no legislation coming from the
Reichstag, it was left to individual state governments and municipalities
to determine whether or not it was appropriate for governments to enforce
Jewish communal compliance to stunning laws.
By 1914, there was little uniformity across Germany. Within Prussia and
Bavaria, most elected and appointed leaders—with the exception of town
council members or magistrates—were unwilling to throw away the concept of
religious tolerance. While they upheld local rights to institute
slaughterhouse reform, they demanded that some kind of [End Page
130] exception be made for Jewish communities, even if it meant
restrictions. Ministries of the interior and education tended to be most
sympathetic toward Jewish pleas for exemptions, whereas state courts often
were the most conservative in their rulings. The case became further
complicated in 1906 when the Prussian government declared that shehitah
was a form of trade and, as such, fell under the auspices of the state,
not the police who regulated animal protection. Soon after the ruling,
district presidents in Silesia repealed the previous prohibitions on
kosher butchering there. 67
Struggles for Internal Control
As governments struggled to determine some kind of balance between
regulation for the "public good" and protection of religious difference,
they also used the debates about kosher butchering to expand their own
power base. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
German towns were administered according to a system of representative
government that had been established in Prussia in 1808. Local
administrations were composed of an executive council (known as the
Magistrat in East Prussia and Bavaria and elsewhere as the
Senat or Kollege), responsible for the execution of all
imperial, state, and local laws; the Mayor (or Mayors) who chaired the
executive body; and the town council, a representative unit that had the
ability to pass laws but only upon the recommendation and approval of the
executive. 68 German town councils ratified legislation, but
magistrates executed or overturned them. Similarly, though town councils
had ultimate power in the spheres of finance, elections, the contracting
of loans, and the use and disposal of public property, executive councils
were responsible for all municipal institutions and enterprises. As the
responsibilities of municipalities increased, town councils and
magistrates attempted to expand their spheres of authority.
The local deliberations about shehitah acted as a site in which these
bodies struggled for control over previously unregulated spheres. Drawing
from the competing discourses of cruelty, difference, religious tolerance,
and animal protection, local communal agencies clashed over whether kosher
butchering should be regulated (or protected), if the Jewish community
deserved an exemption from the extant legislation, and who had the
authority to intervene. 69 However, though shehitah became a site for local
power struggles, the allegiances and positioning of government agencies
followed no clear path. In some cases, the executive councils promoted
mandatory stunning laws while [End Page 131] the town councils
urged for exceptions. In Soest, Küstrin, Sorau, and Hanau, for example,
local magistrates endorsed prohibitions on kosher butchering without the
previous approval of their town councils. Because the magistrates had the
ultimate authority to execute local law, the town councils then appealed
to the Prussian government to have the mandatory stunning laws overturned.
70 In other cases, town councils recommended
mandatory stunning laws that the magistrates overturned and the town
councils tried to reinstate. 71 The fact that town councils in Prussia had the
least opportunity to be representative can explain the high number of
internal conflicts there. Berlin, for example, should have had a council
of 300 with its population of over 2 million, but it had only 144 members
in its council. The municipal ordinance for the Rhine province had an even
lower ratio. 72 These local town councils thus attempted to gain
control within their municipalities by using the debates concerning the
The Defense of Kosher Butchering
The defenses of kosher butchering were similarly complicated. 73 Whether or not they ate kosher meat at home,
Jewish supporters of shehitah requested that Jews be allowed an exemption
to slaughterhouse laws on the basis of religious tolerance and the rite's
worthiness. 74 However, the demands for religious privileges and
exceptional treatment made Jewish leaders uncomfortable. Ironically, the
request for an exemption on the basis of religious tolerance publicized
the very existence of Jewish particularities, something that Jews
increasingly were hesitant to highlight. Whereas the shehitah defense
literature from the 1870s and 1880s emphasized the rite's religious value,
75 the literature from the 1890s and onward did not.
To downplay Jewish difference, defenses of shehitah affirmed Jewish
assimilability. Their campaigns emphasized the allegedly humane and
hygienic character of kosher butchering and asserted that the rite would
enhance the public good. According to their books, articles, petitions,
and letters, meat from ritually slaughtered animals tended to remain fresh
longer, was free of contagions, and tasted better. Furthermore, because
blood carried the dreaded syphilis and tubercular pathogens, it was
supposedly preferable that all animals be bled after their slaughter.
Finally, because the slaughter required by shehitah was so rapid, it
allegedly caused the animals little pain. The suggestion implicit in their
publications was clear. Jews did not eat ritually slaughtered meat because
of their religious orientation; they did so because [End Page 132]
they are good, rational, moral individuals. 76 In their meetings and private correspondence,
Jewish leaders increasingly encouraged one another to emphasize the
ritual's universal character over its religious significance. 77
Furthermore, supporters of kosher butchering accused animal
protectionists and stunning advocates of knowingly spreading falsehoods
about shehitah. Fashioning themselves as the bearers of truth, Jewish
leaders and their proponents dismissed the agitation against kosher
butchering as "garbage," "revealed" the antisemitic motivations behind the
anti-kosher-butchering campaign, and described animal protection societies
as "the enemies of the Jews." 78 In so doing, they cast themselves as respectable
and their opponents as the ones who were deviant.
In crafting their strategies, Jewish leaders revealed a sophisticated
understanding of the political milieu, broadening their efforts beyond
traditional practices of shtadlanut (traditional requests for
intervention from state and other influential non-Jewish authorities).
79 Opponents of the mandatory stunning laws
distributed letters, leaflets, and petitions, reported on what they feared
were "dangerous" non-Jewish organizations, tracked the activities of
diverse animal protection, veterinary, butcher, and conservative
associations, funded experiments to verify kosher butchering's benefits,
and produced volumes of letters documenting shehitah's hygienic and humane
nature. They also distributed questionnaires to Jewish and non-Jewish
butchers and veterinarians, published responses to specific inflammatory
books, and lobbied important non-Jewish officials. In their defense of
kosher butchering, Jewish leaders created new infrastructural and
organizational developments within the Jewish community by forming new
defense organizations and a complicated fundraising network. Jewish
leaders also defended shehitah by improving it. They created stricter
licensing laws for shohtim, 80 improved the pens used for shackling animals,
81 and put stronger inspection procedures into place.
Shehitah defense would provide Jewish leaders with unlikely bedfellows.
Even though German Catholics were traditionally motivated by anti-Jewish
animus in a number of political, social, and cultural settings, the
Catholic Center Party consistently supported the Jewish community's right
to practice kosher butchering. 83 Claiming that they wanted to "protect the ancient
tenets of the religion of our Jewish citizens," 84 Windthorst and his successors—and not Liberal
Reichstag deputies— defended Jewish slaughtering rights with speeches
about religious tolerance. Until 1908, Jewish leaders uniformly welcomed
the Center Party's assistance; after 1908, they increasingly voiced
concern with the Center Party's framing their defense around the religious
nature of [End Page 133] kosher butchering. 85 Although Jewish leaders were uneasy with making
themselves distinct, perhaps it was easier for Catholic Center Party
leaders to highlight Jewish—rather than Catholic—particularities while
requesting assurances for religious protection. 86
Furthermore, just as some scientists condemned kosher butchering,
others inverted the criticism lodged against the rite to accent kosher
butchering's hygienic character. 87 According to several biological, veterinary,
behavioral, and social scientists, kosher meat was free of contagions,
stayed fresh longer, and had a preferred taste and smell. 88 Furthermore, they tried to prove that slaughter
combined with stunning was an unmerciful form of killing. According to
this view, stunning damaged the brain and nervous system but did not
result in death. To believe otherwise, wrote Russian scientist I. Dembo,
"can only be the outcome of an utter ignorance of the elementary laws of
physiology and physiological chemistry." 89 Science remained an ally—and an enemy—of kosher
butchering throughout this period and on through the 1920s and early
In its report to the Bremen Senate in 1907, the independent city-
state's slaughterhouse commission described shehitah as a topic that had
been so widely discussed, published, and debated that the issue had come
close to being exhausted. Asserting that "we, as Christians, take our
religion quite seriously," commission members beseeched the Senate to
consider whether a set of animal protection laws whose purpose was to
combat kosher butchering's cruelty outweighed the rite's religious
importance to Jews. The Bremen debates, like other contemporary
deliberations concerning kosher slaughter, involved a wide cross section
of Bremen society—veterinarians, slaughterhouse directors, known
antisemites, dentists, Jewish leaders, shohtim, and non-Jewish butchers.
Defense and opposition both questioned whether the much-espoused ideology
of religious protection/tolerance warranted nonintervention in Jewish
religious affairs, and the debates, like elsewhere, were shaped by a
variety of interconnecting discourses concerning state and city growth,
antisemitism, animal protection, and humanitarianism. After prolonged
discussion, the executive council rejected the proposed prohibition and
allowed for an exemption on the grounds of religious tolerance. 91 Yet, even though Bremen did not institute a ban on
kosher butchering, the debates physically changed the landscape and
practices of the abattoirs there. [End Page 134] Like in the rest
of Germany, the slaughterhouse became a place in which Jewish slaughterers
were increasingly distanced from their non- Jewish colleagues and were
increasingly regulated by the state. 92
Although the Bremen Senate members were concerned that the Schächtfrage
had been so thoroughly discussed by them and their compatriots that they
had come close to exhausting it, little of today's scholarship has paid
attention to the German debates concerning kosher butchering or has
examined the ways in which an analysis of the deliberations speaks to
larger issues in Jewish or European historiography. At its core, the
Schächtfrage had fundamental questions concerning the power and limits of
the state, the character of its citizenry, the possibilities for religious
freedom, and the place of religious communities in the modern state. In
each case, participants considered who within the state or community was
to hold the locus of power and on what grounds and with what losses that
appropriation of power would take place. The dozens of laws concerning
shehitah that were promulgated between 1890 and 1914 marked a shift in
governmental policy toward minorities. As part of a governmental attempt
to solve society's "social problems," protect the public's health, and
delineate jurisdiction over a religious minority, the regulations
illuminate the ways in which state and municipal administrations moved
from protecting difference to intervening in previously autonomous
affairs. This shift toward homogenization was part of a larger trend
within the German state in the aftermath of unification and emancipation.
By endorsing the homogenization of German societies, supporters of
mandatory stunning laws kept discussions about Jewish deviance afloat. In
postcards, antisemitic cartoons, jokes, and leaflets, advocates for
mandatory stunning laws increasingly pointed to Jewish particularities.
The presence of such discourses in the Schächtfrage encouraged a wider
segment of the population to become interested in the Jewish rite. In some
cases, participants in the debates, who themselves had not been aligned
with conservative causes, came to support conservative objectives. 93 Thus, the Schächtfrage suggests many ways in which
Germans knowingly and unwittingly propelled antisemitism into the public
arena throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Yet the history of animal protection raises two paradoxes concerning
the antisemitic impulses of the nineteenth century. First, at the moment
that Jews experienced their emancipatory rights (1871), the animal
protection movement expressed little interest in the Jewish method of
slaughter. During the 1870s, many animal protection advocates—like their
compatriots more generally—focused their attentions outside of the Jewish
community. This period witnessed a state-sponsored campaign [End Page
135] against Catholics, not Jews. Only when Catholic persecution
ceased did Jews (and socialists) become objects of state and social
discrimination. It was after the conclusion of the Kulturkampf that local
governments and animal protection societies shifted their gaze
specifically to the Jewish method of slaughter.
Furthermore, an analysis of the Schächtfrage suggests that antisemitism
is not a sufficient explanation for the events that took place during the
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While antisemites happily
latched onto the campaign concerning kosher butchering for their own
purposes, many animal protection advocates distanced themselves from
explicit anti-Jewish thinking, even if they might have believed privately
in anti-Jewish stereotypes or myths. 94 Other animal protectionists endorsed kosher
butchering because they believed that it produced a healthier quality of
meat or because they did not believe that religious particularities
deserved punishment. The strange contradictory allegiances that were
created by the Schächtfrage suggest that, though antisemitism was crucial
to the narrative of the kosher butchering debates, it alone does not
explain the popularity of the deliberations.
The Schächtfrage's popularity can be explained because the debates were
part of larger historical phenomena and were themselves influential forces
in determining those events and trends. Imperial Germany functioned as a
multiethnic and multiconfessional entity, and the debates concerning
kosher butchering highlight the processes of cultural, social, and
political interaction that took place within it.
Robin Juddis Assistant Professor of Jewish and
European History at the Ohio State University. She is currently working on
her first monograph, We Jews Who Feel Most German: Jewish Ritual
Behavior and the Making of Modern German-Jewish Life.
I am grateful to Nicholas Breyfogle, Mitch Lerner, Lucy Murphy, Paul
Reitter, Judy Wu, and the anonymous reviewers of Jewish Social
Studies who read and commented on earlier drafts of this article. I
also wish to express my gratitude for the assistance I received at various
points of my research from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the
Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the National Foundation for Jewish
Culture, the Lady Davis Foundation, and the DAAD.
1. "Das Schächtverbot in Sachsen," Die Laubhütte:
Israelitisches Familien-Blatt 16 (1892): 152-53; "In Bezug auf das
Betäuben der Schlachtthiere," Deutsche Thierschutz-Zeitung "Ibis"
(hereafter Ibis) 5/6 (1892): 29; O. Hartmann, "Aus dem
Rechenschaftsbericht für 1889/92," Ibis 9/10 (1892): 49-51;
Regierungs-Präsident, "3 August Polizeiverordnung betreffend das Verfahren
beim Viehschlachten," Ibis 11/12 (1892): [End Page 136] 66;
J. Auerbach II, "Das Schächtverbot in Sachsen," Allgemeine Zeitung des
Judenthums (hereafter AZdJ) 6 (1894).
2. "Das Schächtverbot in Sachsen"; "In Bezug auf das
Betäuben der Schlachtthiere"; O. Hartmann, "Aus dem Rechenschaftsbericht";
Regierungs-Präsident, "3 August Polizeiverordnung."
3. Minister of Interior Order about Slaughtering Practices,
1910, Sächsischen Hauptstaatsarchiv, Dresden (hereafter SHD) MDI 16178 12;
Response of the Association of Slaughterhouse Veterinarians of the
Rhine-provinces, 1910, SHD MDI I 16178 18; minutes of the German Jewish
community of Saxony, Mar. 1910, Neue Synagogue Berlin Centrum Judaicum
Archiv (hereafter NSBCJ) 75CVe1 340 250-55; letter from the German Jewish
Community of Saxony to the Verband, Apr. 22, 1910, NSBCJ 75CVe1 243;
"Aufhebung des Schächtverbot in Sachsen," Lehrerheim: Unabhängiges
Organ für die Interessen der jüdischen Lehrer (hereafter
Lehrerheim) 52 (1910): 516; "Das Schächten in Sachsen weider
erlaubt!" Leipziger Neueste Nachrichten (Dec. 23, 1910), NSBCJ
75CVe1344 432; "Nachtrag Aufhebung des Schächtverbots in Sachsen," Im
deutschen Reich (hereafter IDR) 12 (1910): 831- 32; Y., "Das
aufgehobene Schächtverbot," Lehrerheim 52 (1910): 516-17.
4. Robin Judd, "German Jewish Rituals, Bodies, and
Citizenship" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 2000), chaps. 3-6. The
shehitah debates continued through the Weimar period and resumed after
World War II.
5. Despite the ubiquity of the kosher butchering debates,
historians of German-Jewry have expressed little interest in them. Sander
Gilman's study of Kafka, Richard Levy's examination of Germany's
antisemitic parties in the 1890s, John Efron's analysis of German Jews and
medicine, and Dorothee Brantz's recently published study of the Reichstag
debates provide welcome exceptions to the existing scholarship. They
discuss the kosher butchering debates within their larger studies (even
if, in Levy's case, quite briefly), place the deliberations within
Germany's history of medicine and/or antisemitism, and limit their
examinations to published sources only. Brantz's article appeared after I
submitted this article for publication. Interestingly, her analysis of the
Reichstag debates supports my findings and only emphasizes the need to
examine the local deliberations and the Jewish communal responses to them.
See Sander L. Gilman, Franz Kafka: The Jewish Patient (New York,
1996); Richard S. Levy, The Downfall of the Anti- Semitic Political
Parties in Imperial Germany (New Haven, Conn., 1975); John M. Efron,
Medicine and the German Jews: A History (New Haven, Conn., 2001);
and Dorothee Brantz, "Stunning Bodies: Animal Slaughter, Judaim, and the
Meaning of Humanity in Imperial Germany," Central European History
35, no. 2 [End Page 137] (June 2002): 167-94. The kosher butchering
debate in England received attention in Geoffrey Alderman, "Power,
Authority and Status in British Jewry: The Chief Rabbinate and Shechita,"
in Outsiders and Outcasts: Essays in Honour of William J. Fishman,
Geoffrey Alderman and Colin Holmes, eds. (London, 1993), 12-31. On
Switzerland, see Pascal Krauthammer, Das Schächtverbot in der
Schweiz (Zurich, 2000).
6. Immanuel Kant, "Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten
(1785)," in Kant's gesammelte Schriften, vol. 4, Georg Reimer, ed.
(Berlin, 1902-03,) 385-464. See also Andreas Holger Maehle and Ulrich
Tröhler, "Animal Experimentation from Antiquity to the End of the
Eighteenth Century: Attitudes and Arguments," in Vivisection in
Historical Perspective, Nicolaas A. Rupke, ed. (London, 1987), 36-37,
and Richard Sorabji, Animal Minds and Human Morals: The Origins of the
Western Debate (Ithaca, N.Y., 1993).
7. Membership in these organizations consisted of
middle-class clergy, civil servants, policemen, town councilmen, medical
and veterinary doctors, teachers, and lawyers. See "Aus den Statuten des
Berliner Thierschutz-Vereins," Berliner Thierschutz-Verein
(hereafter BTV) 39 (1888-92): 2; Hermann Stenz, Dem Andenken
Hans und Neta Beringer's (Berlin, 1903); and Vereins gegen
Thierquälerei zu Königsberg, Schutz des Schlachtviehes and 4
& 5 Bericht über die Thätigkeit des Vereins gegen Thierqualerei zu
Königsberg in den Jahren 1873 und 1874 (Königsberg, 1875).
8. See, e.g., Georg Hilker, Der Lehrer, die Schule und
die Tierschutzsache (Paderborn, 1898); Vereins gegen Thierquälerei zu
Königsberg, III Schutz des Schlachtviehes (Königsberg, 1873); and
Wegener, "Das Neue Testament und der Tierschutz," in Kalender 1896,
Deutschen Theirschutz-Verein zu Berlin, ed. (Berlin, 1896), 41-42.
9. See the collection later published by H. Beringer, ed.,
Lesebüchle (Berlin, 1910), and Hans Albrecht, Kunst,
Wissenschaft, und Leben: Tierschutzbestrebungen der Gegenwart (1925),
Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (hereafter CAHJP)
AHW 568 157. See also Arne Andersen, "Heimatschutz: Die bürgerliche
Naturschutzbewegung," in Besiegte Natur: Geschichte der Umwelt im 19.
und 20. Jahrhundert, Franz-Joseph Brüggermeister and Thomas
Rommelspacher, eds. (Munich, 1987), 143-56; Celia Applegate, A Nation
of Provincials: The German Idea of Heimat (Berkeley, 1990); and Miriam
Zerbel, Tierschutz im Kaiserreich: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des
Vereinswesens (Frankfurt am Main, 1993).
10. See, e.g., Thomas Nipperdey, "Verein als soziale
Struktur in Deutschland im späten 18. und frühen 19. Jahrhundert. Eine
Fallstudie zur Modernisierung I," in Gesellschaft, Kultur, Theorie:
Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Neuren Geschichte, Thomas Nipperdey, ed.
(Göttingen, 1976), 174-205. [End Page 138]
11. Maehle and Tröhler, "Animal Experimentation," 14-47.
12. The animal protection society of Munich, however,
targeted kosher butchering from its inception. See J. J. Zagler,
Pflichten gegen der Thiere (Munich, 1844), Bayerisches
Hauptstaatsarchiv (hereafter BH) MA59906; J. J. Zagler, Bericht des
Münchener Vereins gegen Thierquälerei für das Jahr 1843, BH MA 59906;
and 1852 Report of the Munich Tierschutzverein, BH MA 59906.
13. "Die Anklage der jüdischen Schächter von London durch
die Gesellschaft gegen Thierquälerei," AZdJ 47 (1855): 599- 600. In
his guide for shohtim, Meier Danziger described the events in
England as worthy for concern among all European Jews. See Meier Danziger,
Der theoretische und praktische Schächter Nach dem Ohel Jisrael des
Rabbi J. Weil, 5th ed. (Brilon, 1858), 3. See also Alderman, "Power,
Authority and Status in British Jewry."
14. Swiss Jews experienced a resurgence of the
Schächtfrage in 1875 when animal rights groups pushed for a ban on ritual
slaughter in the canton of St. Gallen. Hermann Engelbert, "Die Anklage und
das Verbot des Schächtens der Thiere nach jüdischem Ritus in der Schweiz,"
AZdJ 3 (1867): 44-47, and Hermann Engelbert, Das Schächten und
die Bouterole: Denkschrift für den hohen Großen Rath des Kantons St.
Gallen zur Beleutchtung des diesbezüglichen regierungsräthlichen Antrags
und mit Zugrundlegung der neuesten mitagedruckten Gutachten (St.
Gallen, 1876). See also "Literarischer Wochenbericht," AZdJ 49
(1867): 335-36; "Aus der Schweiz," Jüdische Volkszeitung (hereafter
JV) 5 (1875): 37; and "Ueber das Schächten," AZdJ 12 (1876):
15. Because the slaughter of a conscious animal relies on
that creature remaining in one place, butchers chained their animals into
pens that held the bovine creatures on their sides and tipped them upside
down. This process was referred to as shackling, or Niederlegen,
and was the focus of much of the animal protection literature. Leipzig
Jewish community letters to and from H. Hermann Maeyer, 1863, CAHJP GA II
1507; Karl Dammann, Gutachten über das jüdische Schlachtverfahren
(Hannover, 1886); Gerlach, "Ueber das Schächten," Monatsschrift für
Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 16 (1867): 93-100.
16. Judicial Ruling of Dr. A. Mohr of Hamburg (May 10,
1878), CAHJP AHW 566 37-40; letter from the medical examiner to the
Minister of Interior, Baden, Apr. 6, 1881, NSBCJ 75BKa124 6; statement by
the Police Authorities and Magistrate of Erfurt, May 31, 1881, NSBCJ
75AEr1 97 1; August Müller, Bericht über die Thätigkeit des Vereins
gegen Thierqäulerei zu Königsberg (Königsberg, 1873); Vereins gegen
Thierquälerei zu Königsberg, 4 & 5 Bericht; "Zur Schächtfrage,"
Die jüdische Presse (hereafter JP) 30 (1886): 287; "Berlin,
20 August," JP 34 (1886): 330; "Die Petition der Thierschutzvereine
im [End Page 139] deutschen Reichstag," AZdJ 21 (1887):
326-29; and Verband der Thierschutzvereine des deutschen Reiches,
Pamphlet Concerning Schächten, CAHJP GA II/166.
17. Before the 1880s, the belief that animals warranted
protection because they had their own intrinsic value was unpopular but
not absent from debate. Rather, a small group of antivivisectionists who
followed Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher of pessimism,
advocated such a theriocentric position. The English utilitarian
philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham, an unlikely philosophical bedfellow
to Schopenhauer, had first articulated this belief in 1789. See Jeremy
Bentham, "An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
(1789)," in The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, J. H. Burns and
H. L. A. Hart, eds., vol. 2 (London, 1968), 11-12.
18. "Die unnöthigen Thierquälerein beim Schlachten des
Kleinviehes," BTV 2 (1888-92): 1-2; "Seid barmherzig—auch beim
Schlachten der Thiere," BTV 38 (1888-92): 1-2; "Seid menschlich
beim Tödten der Thiere," BTV 43 (1888-92): 1-2.
19. Otto Hartmann, ed., Bericht über die Elfte
Versammlung des Verbandes der Tierschutz-Vereine des Deutschen Reiches in
Düsseldorf vom 5. bis 8. Oktober 1908 (Cologne, 1908), 67.
20. See, e.g., Hillker, Der Lehrer. Also see
Philipp Klenk, Tierschutz in Schule und Gemeinde (Berlin, 1907).
21. Petition of the German Animal Protection Association,
1887, CAJP GA II/166. The laws and the punishments for breaking them
varied. In England, a fine of five pounds punished some kinds of animal
cruelty. In the Netherlands, those who tormented animals were punished
with a three-month prison sentence or a significant fine. Only in
Switzerland was kosher butchering specifically illegal.
22. There were, of course, several exceptions. See, e.g.,
C. Bauwerker, Das Rituelle Schächten der Israeliten im Lichte der
Wissenschaft. Ein Vortrag Gehalten im Wissenschaftlich-Literarischen
Verein zu Kaiserslautern am. 5 Dezember 1881 (Kaiserslautern, 1882),
23. See, e.g., E. Rothbarth, 50 Jahre Kiler
Tierschutzvereine (Kiel, 1922).
24. Still, there were petitions that did mention the
Jewish community explicitly, particularly those from animal protection
groups in Berlin and Munich. See the different viewpoints expressed in
Aus den Verhandlungen des Deutschen Reichstags über das Schächten (18.
Mai 1887, 25. April 1899, und 9. Mai 1899) (Berlin, 1909); petition
from the German Animal Protection Association, 1886, CAHJP GA II/721;
"Abermals das Schächten," AZdJ 29 (1886): 452-53; "Die Petitionen
für die fernere Freiheit des rituellen Schächtens," AZdJ 49
(1886): 771-72; "Die Schechitah-Angelegenheit vor dem detuschen
Reichstage" Der Israelit 45/46 (1886). [End Page 140]
25. Judd, "German Jewish Rituals, Bodies, and
Citizenship," chaps. 3-4.
26. Stier, "Die Beseitigung des Schlachtverfahrens nach
jüdischem Ritus 'Schächten' aus den öffentlichen 'Schlachthöfen,'"
Technisches Gemeindeblatt: Zeitschrift für die technischen und
hygienischen Aufgaben der Verwaltung 7.1 (1904): 8.
27. Judd, "German Jewish Rituals, Bodies, and
Citizenship," chap. 4.
28. The latter debates considered an amendment promising
national protection of the religious practice.
29. On Jewish humor and shehitah, see Hermann Blumenthal,
"Die Lehre vom Schächten," in Die besten jüdischen Anekdoten: Perlen
des Humors (Vienna, 1924), 26; Cassirer and Meier Danziger, eds.,
Für Schnorrer und Kitzinim: Sammlung gediegener jüdischer Witze und
Anekdoten (Berlin, 1889); Julius Dessauer, ed., Der jüdische
Humorist (Budapest, 18??); and Moritz Rund, Perlen jüdischen
Humors: Eine Sammlung von Scherzen und kleinen Erzählungen aus dem
jüdischen Volksleben (Berlin, 1914). On shehitah and antisemitic
literature, see "Die Dewaldschen Ansichtspostkarten," IDR 9 (1901):
457-63; Lorenz Curtius, Der politische Antisemitismus vom 1907-1911
(Munich, 1911); and Verein zur Abwehr des Antisemitismus, "Schächten," in
Abwehr ABC (Berlin, 1920), 105-6.
30. As middle-class professionals interested in science
and medicine, it is not too surprising that many dentists expressed
interest in shehitah.
31. For an excellent overview of these many changes, see
David Blackbourn, The Long Nineteenth Century: A History of Germany,
1780-1918 (New York, 1998), 351-99.
32. Roger Chickering, We Men Who Feel Most German: A
Cultural Study of the Pan-German League 1886- 1914 (London, 1984);
Geoff Eley, Reshaping the German Right: Radical Nationalism and
Political Change after Bismarck, 2d ed. (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1991);
Peter Pulzer, The Rise of Political Anti- semitism in Germany and
Austria, rev. ed. (Cambridge, Mass., 1988).
33. There were, of course, important exceptions. See
Thfrd. Linz, "Der Thierschutz in den öffentlichen Schlachthäusern,"
Ibis 28 (1899): 68-69; Pastor Brandes' testimony during the 1906
animal protection society meeting, in 1906 Minutes, NSBCJ 75 CVe1
344 156; and "Chemnitz," IDR 3 (1907): 188. Jewish emancipation in
Germany took place in 1869-71 with unification.
34. The literature on the Jewish Question of the late
nineteenth century is extensive. See, e.g., Pulzer, The Rise of
Political Anti- semitism; Peter Pulzer, "The Return of Old Hatreds,"
in German- Jewish History in Modern Times, Michael A. Meyer, ed.,
vol. 3 (New York, 1997), 196-251; and Reinhard Rürup, "Emancipation and
Crisis: The 'Jewish Question' in Germany, 1850- 1890," Leo Baeck
Institute Year[End Page 141]Book (hereafter
LBIYB) 20 (1975): 13-25.
35. "Die Vorbereitungen zum Schächten," AZdJ 3
(1905): 21- 22; "Ein Schächtverbot," Rundschau auf dem Gebiete der
Fleischbeschau, des Schlacht- und Viehhofwesens 10 (1901): 78;
"Korrespondenzen, Potsdam," IDR 4 and 8 (1903): 302 and 490-91,
respectively; "Korrespondenzen, Berlin," IDR 1 (1905): 34;
"Potsdam, 2 Januar," IDR 2 (1910): 100-105; "Zum Schächtverbot,"
Tages-Zeitung, Potsdam, May 20, 1909, NSBCJ 75CVe1 nr. 212; Ernst
Froelich, Das Schächten—ein mosaischer Ritualgebrauch? Beitrag zur
Lösung der Schächtfrage (Potsdam, 1899); Robert Kälter, "Die
Schächtfrage in Potsdam," AZdJ 5 (1905): 53-54.
36. Froehlich certainly was not alone. See, e.g.,
Bernardin Freimut, Die Jüdischen Blutmorde von ihrem ersten Erscheinen
der Geschichte bis auf unsere Zeit (Münster, 1895); Heinrich Pudor,
"Das Schächten und der Fall Fritsch," Der Hammer 210 (1911): 166;
Hans Wehleid, "Vom Schächten," Hammer 208 (1911): 102-4.
37. Statement by the First Mayor of Erfurt, Feb. 18, 1891,
NSBCJ 75aEr1 96 24; Reichstag transcript, 1899, CAHJP TD 475, 1- 2;
"Stuttgart, 12. August," Der Israelit 33 (1909): 6; Otto Hartmann,
Report of the 1910 meeting (Cologne, 1910), 44; "Wann wird der Qual
ein Ende gemacht werden?" Deutsche Tageszeitung, Nov. 19, 1913,
NSBCJ 75CVe1 341 186.
38. Many accused Jewish butchers of these crimes. See
"Seid barmherzig—auch beim Schlachten der Thiere," BTV 35 and 38
(1888-92): 1-2 and 1-2, respectively; W. Back, Schächten oder
Betäuben?—eine Bedürfnisfrage. Ein Beitrag zum Erlaß eines
Reichsschlachtgesetzes (Straßburg, 1911); Karl Klein, Sind
geschächtete Tier sofort nach dem Schächtschnitt bewußtlos? (Berlin,
1927); and Ernst von Schwartz, Das betäubungslose Schächten der
Israeliten: Vom Standpunkt des 20. Jahrhunderts auf Grund von
Schächt-Tatsachen geschildert und erläutert (Konstanz am Bodensee,
1905). For a study of this phenomenon, see Sander Gilman, The Jew's
Body (New York, 1991), and Gilman, Franz Kafka.
39. Peter Pulzer also refers to the postcard, though he
overlooks the centrality of shehitah to it; see his "The Response to
Antisemitism," in Meyer, ed., German- Jewish History in Modern
40. The reader would have known that they were butchers
because the card labeled them as such. It is interesting to note that the
man indicted was not a butcher but a cobbler.
41. On this, see Michel Foucault, The History of
Sexuality: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York, 1990);
John C. Fout, ed., Forbidden History: The State, Society, and the
Regulation of Sexuality in Modern Europe (Chicago, 1992); Jeffrey
Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality Since
1800, 2d ed. (London, 1989); and Jeffrey Weeks, Sexuality[End Page 142]and Its Discontents: Meanings, Myths and Modern
Sexualities (London, 1989).
42. "Aufruf und Bitte," BTV 39 (1888-92): 1-2;
"Seid menschlich beim Tödten der Thiere," BTV 43 (1888-92): 1-2;
Wehleid, "Vom Schächten," 102.
43. Von Schwartz, Das betäubungslose Schächten der
Israeliten; Ernst von Schwartz, "Das Schächten," Süddeutsche
Monatshefte (Apr. 1910): 518 and 523; Wehleid, "Vom Schächten."
44. On Jewish physicians who defended kosher butchering,
see Efron, Medicine and the German Jews, and Judd, "German Jewish
Rituals, Bodies, and Citizenship," chap. 6.
45. See the scientific and pseudo- scientific studies
cited by Karl Mittermaier, Das Schlachten geschildert und erlätert auf
Grund zahlreicher neuerer Gutachten (Heidelberg, 1902); and Karl
Mittermaier, "Die Schächtfrage," BTV 91 and 92 (1888- 92): 1 and
46. Saxon 1910 ruling about shehitah, SHD MDI 16178 12;
Police Order, 1910, NSBCJ 75CVe1 344 445; "Das Schächten im Schlachthof,"
General Anzeigen, Nov. 14, 1911, NSBCJ 75CVe1 341 nr. 13; "Eine
neue Polzeiverordnung über das Schächten," Deutsche Tageszeitung,
Dec. 13, 1910, NSBCJ 75CVe1344 423; "Mit der Schlachtmethode,"
Norddeutschen Allgemeinen Zeitung, Apr. 22, 1909, NSBCJ 75CVe1 nr.
159; "Ueber das Schächt-Urtheil des Oberverwaltungsgerichts," IDR
(1901): 141-54. The popular consumption of blood sausage in parts of
Germany also points to the contradictory nature of the animal
sentimentalists' claims. This contradiction was exaggerated by the
additional fact that the Christian sacrament calls for one to drink Jesus'
blood in the form of wine. Christian theologians were not ignorant of
these connections. In his article defending the Jewish rite, Pastor Willy
Staerck called for Christians to recognize the blood- centeredness of
their own tradition. See Willy Staerk, "Der Streit ums 'Schächten,'"
Der Protestant, June 10, 1988, pp. 419- 21.
47. "Bütow, i.P.," IDR 5 (1898): 270- 71;
"Schächten," Deutsche Tageszeitung, May 6, 1898; "Die Schächtfrage
in Rheydt," Der Israelit, May 6, 1897, pp. 691-92; "Die
ortsstatutarischen Bestimmungen der Stadt Rheydt über die Einschränkung
des Schächtens auf dem gemeinsamen öffentlichen Schlachthofe von Rheydt
und Odenkirchen: I, II, & III," IDR 8, 9, and 10 (1898):
363-70, 438-45, and 504-5, respectively. In 1898 alone, three town
councils in Prussia—Soest (Westphalia), Rheydt (Rhineland), and Bütow
(Pomerania)—passed dramatic restrictions on shehitah because the majority
of cattle slaughtered in their abattoirs were killed without previous
stunning, allegedly for Jewish consumption. See "Korrespondenzen, Soest,"
IDR 4 (1898): 222-23, and "Doppelte Schlachtgebühr fürs Schächten,"
Rundschau auf dem Gebiete der[End Page 143]Fleischbeschau, des Schlacht- und Viehhofwesens 14 (1903): 137.
Future debates saw similar complaints. 18 February 1914 letter from H.
Werner to the Centralverein NSBCJ 75Dco1 68; "Korrespondenzen, Aachen,"
IDR 1 (1899): 45; "Ueber das Verbot des Schächtens," Rundschau
auf dem Gebiete der Fleischbeschau, des Schlacht- und Viehhofwesens 14
48. Letter from H. Hildesheimer to J. Cohen, Nov. 14,
1907, NSBCJ 75D Co129 237-38; report of the Bremen Senate, Oct. 29, 1907,
NSBCJ 75CVe1 344 199- 200; "Butow, i.P."; "Das Schächten: Gießen,"
JP 96 (1909): NSBCJ 75CVe1344 417.
49. See, e.g., "Korrespondenzen, Dresden," IDR 6/7
(June/July 1903): 431-32; "Umschau," IDR 5 (1904): 280-81;
"Quedlinburg," AZdJ 2 (1904): 2; Quedlinburg," IDR 1 (1904):
38; "Angermünde, Brdbg," Jüdische Rundschau, May 19, 1911, p. 20;
"Das Schächtverbot in Angermünde," DIZ 23 (1911); "Doppelte
Schlachtgebühr"; and "Unverhältnismäßig große zahl der geschächteten
Tiere," Rundschau auf dem Gebiete der gesamten Fleischbeschau und
Trichinenschau, des Schlacht- und Viehhofwesens 16 (1908): 247. See
also "Bekämpfung des Schächtens," Rundschau auf dem Gebiete der
gesamten Fleischbeschau und Trichinenschau, des Schlacht- und
Viehhofwesens 16 (1908): 241.
50. Animal sentimentalists voiced this charge with greater
frequency during and after the Reichstag debates of 1898-99. See Reichstag
transcript, 1899, CAHJP TD 475, 1-2.
51. "Fleischbesudelungs-Prozesse (Referat und Diskussion)
in der ordentlichen Versammlung des Central-Vereins deutscher Staatsbürger
jüdischen Glaubens am 12. Oktober 1896," IDR 10 (1896): 465-95.
52. Its source was the army cannery in Haselhorst. See
"Schächten in den Kaiserlichen Konservenfabriken," Rundschau auf dem
Gebiete der Fleischbeschau, des Schlacht- und Viehhofwesens 15 (1903):
161; "Zur Schächtfrage," Das Recht der Tiere 2 (1905): 10-12.
53. Werner T. Angress, "Prussia's Army and the Jewish
Reserve Officer Controversy Before World War I," LBIYB 27 (1972):
19-42, and Peter Pulzer, Jews and the German State: The Political
History of a Minority, 1848-1933 (Oxford, 1994).
54. "Zur Schächtfrage." See also the report of the
comments of Berlin-based Dr. E. Biberfeld in "Dänemark: Der 16.
Internationale Tierschutz-Congress in Kopenhagen, Schluß," Der
Israelit 34 (1911): 6-7.
55. Hilker, Der Lehrer, die Schule und die
56. See, e.g., the much-contested Jacob Stern, Das
Schächten: Streitschrift gegen den jüdischen Schlachtritus, Ein Mahnwort
an die deutschen Tierschutzverein von einem Juden (Leipzig, 1891).
57. The local chapters that voted against a national
prohibition in 1906 were AltGlienicke, Altona, Augsburg, Blankenburg,
Breslau, Bruanschweig, Burgdorf, Casel, Charlottenburg, Darmstadt, [End
Page 144] Fürth, Graudenz, Halberstadt, Hanau, Kattowitz, Landeshut,
Laurahütte, Liegnitz, Lübeck, Ludwigshafen, Nürnberg, Offenbach,
Stuttgart, Wilmersdorf, and Zabern. Minutes of the Animal Protection
Society Meeting (1906), NSBCJ 75Cve1 344 154. See also "Korrespondenzen,
Neu- Ruppin," IDR 1 (1899): 42; "Chemnitz," IDR 3 (1907):
188; and "Nürnberg, 14 Januar," IDR 2 (1907): 127.
59. Wolfgang Köllmann, "Von der Bürgerstadt zur Regional-
'Stadt': Über einige Formwandlungen der Stadt in der deutschen
Geschichte," in Die deutsche Stadt im Industriezeitalter, Jürgen
Reulecke, ed. (Wuppertal, 1978), 15-30; Paul Weindling, Health, Race,
and German Politics Between National Unification and Nazism, 1870-1945
(Cambridge, Engl., 1989).
60. Erfurt ruling concerning shehitah, 1891, NSBCJ 75a
Er196 24; Kattowtiz police order, 1891, NSBCJ 75Dco1 28 5-8; Kattowitz
police order, 1896, NSBCJ 75D Co1 24 19-22; Hannover ruling, 1907, NSBCJ
75 CVe1 344 368; Paderborn ruling concerning shehitah, 1908, NSBCJ 75CVe1
344 397-98; "Danzig," Der jüdische Kantor: Kultusbeamten- Zeitung
22 (1894): 130. See also "Die ortsstatutarischen Bestimmungen der Stadt
Rheydt über die Einschränkung des Schächtens auf dem gemeinsamen
öffentlichen Schlachthofe von Rheydt und Odenkirchen: I," IDR 8
(1898): 363-70; "Kein Schächtverbot," Ibis 28 (1899): 71;
"Endgiltige Beseitigung des Schächtverbots," JP 28 (1909): 271;
"Hannover," IF, July 29, 1909, p. 5; "Quedlinburg," AZdJ 2
(1904): 2; "Quedlinburg," IDR 1 (1904): 38; "Stuttgart," Der
Israelit 33 (1909): 6; "W. Stuttgart," IDR 1 (1910): 33-34; and
letter from the slaughterhouse commission, Dec. 3, 1910, NSBCJ 75 A Ge229
61. As quoted in Reinhard Rürup, "The Tortuous and Thorny
Path to Legal Equality: 'Jew Laws' and Emancipatory Legislation in Germany
from the Late Eighteenth Century," LBIYB 31 (1986): 30. The
constitution left the question of civil rights to the states.
62. Transcript of 1899 Reichstag debates, CAHJP
63. This may have been a political ploy, but, as this
article will soon show, animal sentimentalists did express moments of
legitimate sympathy toward Germany's Jews.
64. Ludwig Philippson, "Die Schächtfrage," AZdJ 4
65. Transcript of 1899 Reichstag debates, CAHJP
66. Aus den Verhandlungen des Deutschen Reichstags über
das Schächten, 3-4. On Windthorst, see Margaret Lavinia Anderson,
Windthorst: A Political Biography (Oxford, 1981).
67. Letter to Rabbi Goldmann (Oppeln) from the
Centralverein, Feb. 21, 1914, NSBCJ 75Dco1 29 69; letter from Goldmann to
his rabbinical colleagues, Feb. 22, 1914, NSBCJ 75Dco1 29 70; Report
[End Page 145] of Councilman Wiener (1914), NSBCJ 75Dco1 29 78- 80;
letter from Felix Goldmann, Apr. 1914, NSBCJ 75Dco1 29 97; Oppeln Jewish
Community petition, 1914, NSBCJ 75Dco1 29 84-89; letter sent to city
councilman Wiener, Apr. 3, 1914, NSBCJ 75Dco1 29 92-96; "Aus Reich und
Provinz, Bunzlau," Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, July 27, 1906,
NSBCJ 75CVe1344 118; "Korrespondenzen, Bunzlau," IDR 12 (1906):
722-23; "Schächtverbot," Schlesische Zeitung, Nov. 4, 1906, NSBCJ
75CVe1344 118; "Schächtverbot, Bunzlau, 28 September," Deutsche
Tageszeitung, Sept. 29, 1906, NSBCJ 75CVe1344 118; "Schweidnitz,"
IDR 7-8 and 11 (1907): 444 and 651, respectively; "Verfügung zur
Schächtfrage," Breslauer Zeitung, Feb. 21, 1914. The Prussian
minister of the interior later upheld this ruling in 1914 (NSBCJ 75Dco129
68. Although each local administration was not identical
in structure, scope, or character, they shared enough similarities that
they can be examined as a group. See, e.g., the different systems
described in Theodor Ilgen, "Organisation der staatlichen Verwaltung und
der Selbstverwaltung," in Die Rheinprovinz 1815-1915: Hundert Jahre
preußischer Herrschaft am Rhein, Joseph Hansen, ed., vol. 1. (Bonn,
1917), 87-148, and Wolfgang Hofmann, "Preußische
Stadtverordnetenversammlungen als Repräsentativ-Organe," in Reulecke, ed.,
Die deutsche Stadt im Industriezeitalter, 31-55.
69. See Judd, "German Jewish Rituals, Bodies, and
Citizenship," chap. 4.
71. On Rheydt, see "Die Schächtfrage in Rheydt," Der
Israelit, May 6, 1897, pp. 691-92; "Die ortsstatutarischen
Bestimmungen der Stadt Rheydt über die Einschränkung des Schächtens";
Ueber das Schächt-Urtheil des Oberverwaltungsgerichts," Im deutschen
Reich 3 (Feb. 1901): 141-54; "Aufhebung des Schächtverbotes,"
Rheydter Zeitung, June 3, 1906; and "Die Aufhebung des
Schächtverbots in Rheydt," IDR 7/8 (1906): 451- 53. On Potsdam, see
"Die Politik: Die Antisemiten über den Reichstag und Der Schächtantrag der
Antisemite," IW 11 and 21 (1899): 164 and 324, respectively; "Die
Vorbereitungen zum Schächten," AZdJ 3 (1905): 21- 22;
"Korrespondenzen, Berlin," IDR 1 (1905): 34; "Potsdam," IDR
2 (1905): 101-2; "Potsdam," IDR 2 (1910): 100-105; Froelich, Das
Schächten; and Kälter, "Die Schächtfrage."
72. William Harbutt Dawson, Municipal Life and
Government in Germany (London, 1916), 52- 53; Friedrich Lenger,
"Bürgertum und Stadtverwaltung in Rheinischen Grossstädten des 19.
Jahrhunderts: Zu einem vernachlässigten Aspekt bürgerlicher Herrschaft,"
in Stadt und Bürgertum im 19. Jahrhundert, [End Page 146]
Lothar Gall, ed. (Munich, 1990), 97-169.
73. A more detailed study of the political responses to
the Schächtfrage can be found in Robin Judd, "Jewish Political Behaviour
and the Schächtfrage, 1880- 1914," in Toward Normality?
Acculturation and Modern German Jewry, Rainer Liedtke and David
Rechter, eds. (Tübingen, 2003), 251-69.
74. Letter and petition from the Berlin Jewish Community,
June 21, 1886, CAHJP DA/648; letter and petition from the Berlin Jewish
Community, Jan. 10, 1887, CAHJP GA II/166; Engelbert, Das Schächten und
die Bouterole, 4; "Die Petitionen für die fernere Freiheit des
rituellen Schächtens," AZdJ 49 (1886): 771-72.
75. See, e.g., letter from Rabbi Kobak to the Jewish
Community of Bamberg, July 2, 1871, CAHJP VBIII, 11 (2); letter defending
shehitah (Jan. 10, 1887) drafted by the Berlin Jewish Community, CAHJP GA
II/166; letter defending shehitah (Mar. 1887) drafted by Esriel
Hildesheimer, CAHJP GA II/166; letter defending shehitah (Oct. 5, 1886)
from the Rabbis of Berlin, NSBCJ 75AEr1 97 18, 1886; "Ueber das
'Schachten,'" AZdJ 12 (1876): 191-93; M. Benjamin, Egeret
Mordechai: Das Schächtfach (Leipzig, 1874); Engelbert, Das
Schächten und die Bouterole; Vorstande der Freien Vereinigung für die
Interessen des orthodoxen Judenthums, Auszüge aus den Gutachten der
hervorragendsten Physiologen und Veterinärärzte über das "Schächten"
(Frankfurt am Main, 1887); M. Kayserling. "Ist Schächten Thierquälerei?"
AZdJ 17 (1876): 332-33; J. Klingenstein, "Die
Schächter-Angelgenheit zu Wiesbaden," Jüdische Volkszeitung 9
(1875): 65-68; Ludwig Philippson, "Die Schächtfrage," AZdJ 4
(1875): 49-50; S. Pucher, Mitgefühl mit den Thieren eine heilige
Pflicht der jüdischen Religion: Eine Wort an seine Glaubensgenossen
(Mitau, 1876); Israel Michel Rabbinowicz, Die thaludischen Prinicipien
des Schächtens und die Medicin des Thalmuds, verglichen mit Hippokrates
und der modernen Wissenschaft, trans. S. M. (Trier, 1881). This is not
to suggest that these texts overlooked shehitah's alleged hygienic or
76. On this, see Judd, "German Jewish Rituals, Bodies, and
Citizenship," chaps. 3-6.
77. "Vereinsnachrichten," IDR 11 (1903): 678-83;
minutes of the Schächtkommission meeting, Oct. 23, 1906, NSBCJ
75Dco1 28 209-13.
78. Esriel Hildesheimer, Letter and Statement,
1888, NSBCJ 75AEr1 96 3; letter from the German Rabbinical Assembly, 1901,
CAHJP A/W 1392; Alliance Israélite Universelle, Press Release, Dec.
1, 1896, NSBCJ 75DCo128 24; "Die Politik: Versuchtes Schächtverbot,"
IW 11 (1899): 164; "Judenthum und Thierschutz,"
Antisemiten-Spiegel: Die antisemiten im Lichte des Christenthums, des
Rechtes, und der Moral (Danzig, 1892), 247-51; "Von der
parlamentarischen [End Page 147] Thätigkeit der Antisemiten,"
Antisemiten-Spiegel (Danzig, 1900), 30-37; Leopold Hamburger,
Herr Otto Hartmann in Cöln und sein Kampf gegen die Schlachtweise der
Israeliten: Den verehrlichen Mitgliedern der Tierschutzverein gewidemt von
einem Collegen (Frankfurt a.M., 1889); Alphonse Levy, "Umschau,"
IDR 6/7 (1899): 351-52; Alphonse Levy, "Antisemitischer
Thierschutz," IDR 10 (1900): 501-5.
79. On traditional forms of politics and changes in other
contexts, see Jacob Borut, "The Rise of Jewish Defence Agitation in
Germany, 1890-1895: A Pre-History of the C.V.?" LBIYB 36 (1991):
59-96; Evyatar Friesel, "The Political and Ideological Development of the
Centralverein Before 1914," LBIYB 31 (1986): 121-46; Eli
Lederhendler, The Road to Modern Jewish Politics: Political Tradition
and Political Reconstruction in the Jewish Community of Tsarist Russia
(New York, 1989); Jehuda Reinharz, Fatherland or Promised Land: The
Dilemma of the German Jew, 1893- 1914 (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1975); and
Ismar Schorsch, Jewish Reactions to German Anti-Semitism (New York,
80. Statement from the Posen Jewish community, Oct. 30,
1906, NSBCJ 75Cve1 344 9; letter (Königsberg), Jan. 2, 1911, CAHJP
KN/II/E/III/e 285; letter to the community of Königsberg from the Vienna
Jewish community, Jan. 1912, CAHJP KN/II/E/III/3.
81. Albert Währer, Schlachtmaschine (1900), NSBCJ
75Aer1 96 65; S. Goldberg, Deutsches Reichspatent für stossfreies
Neiderlegen von Grossvieh jeder Art zu Schlacht- und
Operationszwecken, 1905, NSBCJ 75 Cge1 893 95-96; letter from the
Verband to Robert Drucker about Niederlegen, Apr. 21, 1907, NSBCJ 75Cve1
350 14; letter from Julius Bier to Rabbi Cohn, Apr. 27, 1907, NSBCJ 75Dco1
28 217; letter to the Verband, June 24, 1907, NSBCJ 75Cve1344 159-60;
letter from L. Rosenak to the Bremen Jewish community, 1908, NSBCJ 75Cve1
344 389; Hugo Silberbach, Neue! Niederlegerapparat Neu!, 1914,
NSBCJ 75Dco1 29 112-13; Schwarzenberg & Co., Beschreibung!,
1914, NSBCJ 75Dco1 29 116. See also "Halberstadt, 2. Februar," IDR
2 (1905): 100-101, and "Korrespondenzen, Oldenburg," IDR 10 (1906):
82. Statement from the Posen Jewish community, Oct. 30,
1906, NSBCJ 75Cve1 344 9; letter (Königsberg), Jan. 2, 1911, CAHJP
83. A second unlikely bedfellow could be found in
conservatives who had voiced anti-Jewish animus in the past but believed
in shehitah's humanitarian character. Most interesting was Christoph
Willners von Tiedemann, of the German Reich Party, who, though he had
articulated antisemitic concerns elsewhere, supported the method of animal
slaughter without stunning because he believed it to produce a better
quality of meat. He therefore rejected the animal protectionists' campaign
during the [End Page 148] 1898-99 Reichstag debates. See statement
issued by the Butchers Associations of Berlin and Mainz, 1913, CAHJP
TD/942; "Cleve," AZdJ 9 (1892): 2-3; "Berent I & II,"
AZdJ 15 and 24 (1894): 2 and 1, respectively; and Transcript of
1899 Reichstag debates, CAHJP TD/475, 8.
84. Aus den Verhandlungen des Deutschen Reichstags über
das Schächten, 3.
85. In 1908, Center Party deputy Adolf Gröber proposed a
bill that recommended the reform of the state's penal code and the
prohibition of any regulation that interfered with a community's religious
laws (specifically those concerning slaughter). Gröber's bill essentially
would have banned the possibility of a Schächtverbot. Jewish defense
activists expressed ambivalence over the proposed amendment. Although they
supported the bill's intentions, they justifiably worried that it would
stir up a tremendous amount of anti- shehitah agitation and were
uncomfortable with Gröber's description of kosher butchering as a
religious custom that was legally binding for all Jews. See statement by
M. Loewenthal, Dec. 1909, NSBCJ 75Cve1 344 44-49, and Graef, 1911
Speech, NSBCJ 75Dco1 29 1-8. See also "Die Strafgesetznovelle
(Schächtparagraph)," DIZ 49 (1911): 19; "Zur Schächtdebatte im
Reichstage," DIZ 3 (1911): 1- 2; F. Rosenthal, "Zu dem Antrage
Gröber," Lehrerheim 52 (1910): 515-16; and Y., "Die Schächtfrage im
Reichstag," Israelitisches Gemeindeblatt, Jan. 20, 1911, pp. 23-24.
86. The fact that Germany's persecuted Catholics
championed individual and civil rights prompted Margaret Anderson to
declare that the Catholics were Germany's true liberals— though, as Noel
Cary has shown, the Center Party provided liberal policies with Christian
rationales. See Margaret Lavinia Anderson, Windthorst: A Political
Biography (Oxford, 1981), and Noel D. Cary, The Path to Christian
Democracy: German Catholics and the Party System from Windthorst to
Adenauer (Cambridge, Mass., 1996).
87. M. Friedlander, "Sprechsaal," AZdJ 15 (1911):
180; Hirsch Hildesheimer, Replik des Dr. Hirsch Hildesheimer auf das
Druckwerk, welches der Buchdruckerei-Besitzer F.W. Glöss seiner Klage-
Beantwortung entgegengestellt hat (Berlin, 189?). For a sophisticated
analysis of the science of kosher butchering, see Efron, Medicine and
the German Jews.
88. See the letters exchanged between Drs. Kahn, Preyer,
and Dembo in 1893 and 1894, CAHJP File 1349/1-3; the experiments cited in
Verein zur Abwehr des Antisemitismus, Schächten oder Schlachten,
CAHJP A/2 1388 6; Josef Kallner, "Einiges zur jüdischen Fleischhygiene,"
in Die Hygiene der Juden im Anschluß an die Internationale
Hygiene-Ausstellung Dresden 1911, M. Grunwald, ed. (Dresden, 1911); D.
H. Mayer, "Die jüdische Schlachtmethode," AZdJ 19 (1895): 222-23;
Preyer, Die Schächtfrage: Widerlung des von[End Page 149]Herrn Magistrats-Vice-Director Preyer in der Ausschuss-Sitzung des
Wiener Thierschutz-Vereines vom 9. December 1899 (Vienna, 1900); Josef
Weigl, "Das Schächten," DIZ 49 (1912): 1-3; and Josef Weigl, "Das
Schächten vom Standpunk der Physiology, Hygiene u. Humanität," DIZ
7 (1926): 5-7.
89. J. A. Dembo, The Jewish Method of Slaughter
Compared with Other Methods from the Humanitarian, Hygienic, and Economic
Points of View, trans. Trustees of J. A. Franklin (London, 1894), 93.
90. See, e.g., Bela Galandauer, Zur Physiologie des
Schächtschnittes: Ist das Schächten eine Tierquälerei? (Berlin, 1933);
Hans Goslar, ed., Hygiene und Judentum: Eine Sammelschrift
(Dresden, 1930); Josef Kallner, "Schächtvorschriften und Volkshygiene," in
Goslar, ed., Hygiene und Judentum, 36-41; Klein, Sind
geschächtete Tier; and Bruno Lauff, Schechitah und Bedikah
(Rituelle Schlachtung und Innere Untersuchung): Auf Grund
Alttestamentlichen, Talmudischen und Neu-Hebräischen Quellenstudiums im
Lichte der Modernen Hygiene und Fleischbeschaugesetzgebung (Leipzig,
92. Ibid. In some communities, like that of Erfurt,
slaughterhouse directors posted notices on abattoir doors denouncing the
practices of specific shohtim who continued to refrain from stunning. See
statement by the First Mayor (Erfurt), Feb. 18, 1891, NSBCJ 75aEr1 96 24.
93. For example, though Liberal deputies of the 1880s
supported the Jewish community's right to practice kosher butchering, by
the late 1890s a new generation of Liberal party members expressed
ambivalence about the rite. By 1910, Liberals were more explicit about
their unease with the Jewish rite and about extending privileges to Jews
based on their religious needs. See Reichstag transcript, 1899, CAHJP TD
475, 7, and Back, Schächten oder Betäuben?— eine Bedürfnisfrage.
This shift may have been part of a larger phenomenon that Robert Wistrich
has examined—namely, the antisemitic impulses of the Left. See Robert
Wistrich, "Radical Antisemitism in France and Germany (1840-1880),"
Modern Judaism 15 (1995): 100-135.
94. Minutes of the 1906 German Animal Protection Society
Meeting, NSBCJ 75Cve 1 344 154.