Letter by Martin Luther calling Jews 'devils incarnate' up for auction

1543 note expected to be sold for more than $300,000

July 10, 2018 15:34
1 minute read.
Letter by Martin Luther calling Jews 'devils incarnate'

Letter by Martin Luther calling Jews 'devils incarnate' . (photo credit: RR AUCTION)


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A letter written by German theologian Martin Luther that is critical of the Jews is up for sale at an auction house in Boston.

RR Auction is selling the letter, dated September 1, 1543, and written in German to fellow German theologian Georg Buchholzer.

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“You have preached against the Jews and fought serious battles over that with the Margrave [provincial Roman military governor, later noble]… And you were quite right to do so,” Luther wrote in the letter, according to the translation provided by the auction house. “Stand fast and persevere! ...

For these Jews are not Jews, but devils incarnate who curse our Lord, who abuse His mother as a whore and Him as Hebel Vorik and a bastard, this is known for certain... You may show this letter to whomever you wish.”

Luther, a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation, is referencing the Hebrew words “hevel varik,” found in the Jewish Aleinu prayer: “They [non-Jews] worship vanity and emptiness.”

Bidding on the letter began at $25,000, and stood at $94,948 as of Tuesday afternoon. The auction house estimates the item could be sold for more than $300,000 before bidding closes on Wednesday evening.

The handwritten letter is being auctioned off along with more than 1,000 other items, including a 1954 letter from Albert Einstein comparing McCarthyism in the United States to the beginnings of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Other letters in the lot are written by George Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and many others.

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