Letter Called Jews “Devil Incarnates”
Boston’s RR Auction is selling a letter written by Martin Luther, the 16th-century German theologian. The letter’s content criticizes Jews and labels them as devil incarnates. Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation in 1517 with his Ninety-Five Theses.
Martin Luther was generally thought of as accepting of Jews. Luther sympathized with the poor treatment the Catholic Church gave to anyone who was Jewish. However, he became anti-Semitic at the end of his life.
The letter is a single page with Luther’s handwriting on both sides. Robert Livingston, the executive vice-president of RR Auction, was confident the letter would be sold at a high price. Martin Luther’s effects rarely come to auction and the letter is in excellent shape for a piece of paper which is 500 years old. Bidding on this particular letter started from $25,000 and went up to $94,948 on July 10. The auction house is confident that the amount of the bid will be around $300,000.
Martin Luther wrote this letter during the latter months of 1543. The recipient of the letter was Georg Buchholzer, a fellow German theologian and a senior official of the St. Nicholas Church in Berlin. The letter was a reply to Buchholzer who asked Luther’s views about a few Biblical verses which other theologians had used to justify a positive treatment towards Jews.
Luther wrote that Buchholzer has done the right thing to preach against Jews and urged him to continue in his actions. According to the auction house translated version, Luther wrote that the Jews were engaged in cursing God. Luther then accused Jews of abusing their mothers as sex workers. The letter ends with Martin Luther declaring that Jews worship emptiness and vanity.