Posted Saturday, May 19, 2001

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The author's widow, Lady Isabel Burton, asked in her will for it to be burned.

London, Saturday, May 19, 2001


A MANUSCRIPT by the Victorian explorer Sir Richard Burton, which claimed that Jews performed human sacrifices, has been released after nearly 100 years.

The paper, written in 1877, is to be sold by the Board of Deputies of British Jews through Christie's auctioneers on June 6 and is expected to fetch around £200,000.

The manuscript, "Human Sacrifice among the Sephardine or Eastern Jews" was never published. The author's widow, Lady Isabel Burton, asked in her will for it to be burned.

This week's Jewish Chronicle discloses that the Board of Deputies obtained the manuscript in 1909 and locked it away for fear it would spark anti-semitism. Der ewige JudeNeville Nagler, the board's director general, said it had agreed that the manuscript was now no more than an "historical document".

Sir Richard wrote the manuscript after a spell as consul in Damascus. His claims centred on the disappearance in 1840 of a Capuchin friar and the arrest of 13 Jews accused of ritual murder. They were all acquitted."

Picture: An anti-Semitic Poster for the Nazi exhibition, the Wandering Jew (1938). From our website dossier on the Origins of Anti-Semitism


A reader comments:

I see that today your excellent website features a report on the decision of the internet auction house eBay to remove auctions of Third Reich memorabilia from its online operation. My comments :-

  1. This Board of Deputies of British Jews is an organisation which acquires a document, apparently in breach of the wishes of its author's widow and hides it away for years so no-one can read it. Absolutely in line with its present-day policy of seeking to suppress freedom of speech and writing.
  2. Rather than destroy it or donate it to a library as an "historical document" the organisation sees an opportunity to make a substantial amount of money out of it by auctioning it at Christies!
  3. This organisation, along with others of its ilk, places extreme pressure on internet auction houses not to accept auctions of Third Reich memorabilia. Presumably these are not "historical" documents or artefacts in its opinion. Perhaps the organisation itself has been acquiring them to prevent others seeing them as with the Burton manuscript and will sell them at Christies in the future.


Bill Hardman

The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical

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